Scranton Tour Guide, Fall 2018
Entering the city of Scranton, Pennsylvania, you can’t help but lock eyes on the copper gabled roof top of the Board of Trade Building— adorning a huge, brightly lit sign, reading, “Scranton: The Electric City.” And what a fully-charged city it is.
Although Scranton’s most recent claim-to-fame might be its setting for NBC’s sitcom “The Office,” few realize the city rose to popularity many years prior, as a once nationally recognized industrial capital. In fact, the city earned its electrifying nickname for developing the first electric-operated trolley system in the United States. But that’s not all it’s known for. Today, this northeastern Pennsylvania city is filled to the brim with rich history, modern thrills and breathtaking scenery. Explore some of the best things to do in Scranton, PA.
Other Scranton Guides
- Dining in Scranton? Here is our list of the best places to eat in Scranton
- Staying in Scranton? Here’s our guide to the best hotels in Scranton
Most Exciting Things to Do in Scranton, Pennsylvania
Steamtown National Historic Site
As you enter the city, don’t be surprised to see a plump of puffy steam or hear the stark whistle of a train roaring across the bridge. Those along for the ride feel the breeze from the Lackawanna River— with a 30-minute narrated experience, in an authentic commuter coach from the early 1920s-30s.
This train is chugging from the Steamtown National Historic Site, a museum dedicated to the steam engines that give Scranton its second “Steamtown” nickname. In the mid 1800s, the city boasted the largest production capacity of any iron provider in the country. Nowadays, travelers flock from all across the country to tour this national park, eager to learn about the bygone locomotive era.
Located right off of Lackawanna Avenue, the museum has no admission fee. The site is packed with antique artifacts, hand-on activities for children, preserved train cars and rich stories of the city’s history told by local rangers, short films and beyond. Scranton’s Iron Furnaces are nearby too, for those interested in seeing the remnants of the Lackawanna Iron & Steel Company.
Nay Aug Park
Breathe in the fresh Pennsylvania air, listen to the splash of running water and overlook the valley from high in the treetops at Nay Aug Park— just minutes from downtown Scranton.
Located on Mulberry Street, this hidden gem has been named a National Natural Landmark for its beauty. Overlook the roaring gorge from the Paul Kanjorski Pedestrian Bridge, a covered overpass boasting picture-perfect sights. For the adventurous, each trailhead is marked with large maps, winding past trickling waterfalls. Be sure to marvel at Nay Aug’s iconic David Wenzel Treehouse, rising an awesome 150 feet above the gorge!
Then, let the kids run around the park’s enclosed playground, or even splash around at one of its two Olympic-sized swimming pools and waterslide complexes. History buffs can pay their respects to Scranton’s local soldiers at the Veteran’s Memorial, while organic lovers can appreciate Nay Aug’s lively greenhouse. The park is also home to the popular Everhart Museum. Only the noise from the nearby interstate will remind you how close you are to the city, immersed in this outdoor escape.
Lackawanna County Courthouse Square
The Lackawanna County Courthouse sits right in the middle of downtown Scranton, making its square the perfect focal point for visitors and locals alike. The grand three-and-a-half story brick building represents some of the city’s finest architecture, and its surrounding monuments, neighboring clock tower and fountains make it a picturesque and educational stop.
Read the inscriptions on the square’s monuments, stare up at Scranton’s iconic Electric City sign or walk the sidewalks for a view of all the surrounding shops and restaurants. If you decide to take a formal walking tour with Lackawanna Historical Society, you’ll pass through this lively city-center hangout— and learn about some of Scranton’s most popular historical landmarks.
No matter what time of the year you visit Scranton, there’s always adventures to be had at Montage Mountain. In the winter, hit the Pennsylvania slopes to ski, snowboard or tube—even airboard!— with the whole family. With 26 trails, there’s plenty of beginner, intermediate and expert slopes to choose from.
As summer hits, prepare for even more variety. Montage Mountain’s Water Park is home to a mild wave pool, lazy river and winding slides for hours of splashing around. There’s even a zip line! Climb up their five-story tower to the ski lift and ride the ZipRider (one of the highest points in NEPA), soaring 50 miles per hour above the gorgeous mountainside.
Make the most out of your day by renting your own private cabana, dining at their restaurant or sipping on a refreshing drink from the bar. There’s always concerts and festivals, including a fall wine fest, for year-round fun.
Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum
Descend 200 feet underground to witness Scranton’s abandoned coal miles beneath the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum. Once a booming industry in the early 1900s, the city’s coal mining era diminished only a decade after the Knox Mine Disaster of 1959— forcing the mine to close in ‘66.
Hear stories of the struggles of the great workers of yesteryear, told by former miners themselves, who often work as tour guides. Explore the museum too, which includes relics, video presentations and many interesting facts about how mining shaped the history of Electric City.
Get yourself some peanuts and Cracker Jacks at PNC Field. Located just 10 minutes down I-81, this baseball field on Montage Mountain Road is a short drive from the downtown Scranton and offers a full ballpark of flyaway fun.
Home to the RailRiders, this clean and comfortable stadium offers everything from traditional bleachers to premium views of the big game. Chow down on hot dogs from the left field’s picnic tables and pavilion, hug their furry porcupine mascot, Champ, and support the city’s minor league team one sunny day in the city.
Lucchi Family Wine Cellars
For those who love Italian wine, enjoy a glass of bubbly from true Italian grape connoisseurs at Lucchi Family Wine Cellars. The owner’s parents immigrated here from Bologna, Italy in the early 1900s— and today, Robert Lucchi upholds the family tradition of winemaking here in the lush mountains of NEPA.
Sample flavors from the original vines, planted in the 70’s, which produce barrel after barrel of Concord Estate wine. Located on North Main Avenue, this winery is a convenient stop for a tasting of local grapes, sure to satisfy dry to sweet palates alike.
The Electric City Trolley Station and Museum
Just a few steps away from the Steamtown National Historic Site lies the Electric City Trolley Station and Museum. Named after Scranton’s claim to fame as the home to the first electric streetcar in the United States, the self-guided tour leads you through a tale of the city’s transportation history.
Stand next to century-old vintage trolleys, let your children play in the toy train room and marvel at antique mechanics of these once-acclaimed electric locomotives. Then, climb aboard a restored trolley for an hour-long excursion through Nay Aug gorge. You’ll travel through a mile-long tunnel— past beautiful Pennsylvania forests— on a narrated tour. Your destination: Scranton’s long-retired trolley repair station. Once there, you’ll have a quick chance to explore the shop and learn about its history, before returning to the station.
Scranton Cultural Center
With its big black doors, intricate stone mosaics and Neo-Gothic architecture, the Scranton Cultural Center resembles a grand temple— in fact, it once was. Originally built as the Masonic Temple and Scottish Rite Cathedral in the early 1930s, this historic structure on North Washington Avenue now stands as Scranton’s regional center for the arts.
Today, the center functions as an event venue, featuring national Broadway, dance, concert and comedy tours. The temple has been graced by musical legends such as Frank Sinatra, Barry Manilow and Britney Spears, but welcomes national and local talent alike.
Enjoy a performance from the vaulted seats of the center’s vintage theatre, under its artfully-dressed ceilings and surrounding antique craftsmanship. Be sure to check their events calendar to save some seats at this iconic cultural hub.
Houdini lives! At least he does in spirit, at Scranton’s unique Houdini Museum. There’s a reason this museum was featured in USA Today and the Philadelphia Inquirer as well as on NBC, CBS and ABC TV. It’s so well-acclaimed, reviewers are saying it’s a must-stop for anyone within 100 miles of Scranton.
This illusive hotspot offers a compilation of Houdini’s iconic life, through a vast assortment of memorabilia, stories and modern-day performances. Your experience begins with a short movie about the man behind the magic, followed by a guided tour of their near unparalleled collection.
Then, enjoy a “flash act” magic show by world-class magician, Dorothy Dietrich, and her partner, Bravo the Great. Watch an audience member float before your eyes or some tricks that even Houdini himself never dared attempt. The kids will love the interactive tricks, featuring live animals, comedy acts and audience participation.
Your NEPA Adventure Awaits
This is only a taste of many things to do in Scranton, Pennsylvania. There’s also dozens of excellent eateries, more outdoor adventures and local shops awaiting.
For those who’ve already visited, what’s your favorite attraction? Share your experience in the comments below to help other travelers plan their itinerary! And for those out of the area, check out our recommended hotels in Scranton.