A few weeks ago, my husband, tween-aged daughter and I headed to Lackawanna County for a bit of exploration. Having never been to that neck of the woods after living in the Northeast for over 20 years, I was looking forward to it. We were also in the midst of home renovations and living in flux, so it was going to be nice to get away for a few days and do what I love most – traveling, of course.
Our Weekend in Scranton
When I heard Lackawanna County, I immediately looked to Google to find out more about it (have you done that yet?). It’s an area just west of the Poconos, named for the picturesque river, which flows through it. Its largest city is Scranton, which was our destination. The only thing I knew about Scranton was it was the supposed home of the TV show The Office. The area is also known for producing coal at the turn of the century during the growth of steel production. This early industrial heritage gave the county a multi-cultural influence as the industry attracted immigrants from around the world.
Today Scranton has a varied population and diverse economy, which has contributed to a large variety of things to do and places to eat and stay in. It is seemingly a city on the brink of discovery, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time discovering it. The city is a bit sleepy but if you dig beneath the surface, you’ll find an abundance of offerings. Here were some of our favorites including where we stayed, what we did, where we ate.
Where We Stayed
The Hilton Scranton & Conference Center was a great place to rest our heads after a day of sightseeing. It’s conveniently located and a short walk to good restaurants, shopping and the Steamtown National Historic Site. The rooms are comfy and spacious and offer minifridges, flat-screen TVs and free Wifi. Breakfast is right downstairs in the restaurant, offering a full-on buffet. The hotel has a 24/7 gym and indoor pool (which my husband happily used) and a bar on the main level with a lovely bartender who somehow didn’t know what “Prosecco” is, despite being a bartender for 25 years. Tell you something about Scranton? It might just be that simple. But there’s nothing wrong with that.
What We Did
Being there right before the holidays gave us an insight to how Scranton celebrates and they do celebrate in style.
We went on the Steamtown Holiday Train to Santa’s Workshop, which took us from Scranton to the historic Moscow train station. Hosted by the L&WV Historical Society, the ride came with Christmas carolers and a visit with Santa at the station. My tween was slightly old for this ride, but the little kids on the train seemed to love it and it made me melancholy for her younger days. But if you do make it to Scranton, they offer train rides all year long, and you can find more info here.
We also made a trip to Scranton MADE Holiday Market, located at the Mall just a few blocks from our hotel, which is a collection of solid artists, vendors, music and activities, as well as the city’s Holiday Light Spectacular in Nay Aug Park.
A visit to the Anthracite Heritage Museum gave us an excellent education about the city’s history of coal mining, its related industries and the region’s immigrant culture. We learned about the people who came from Europe to work in the anthracite mining and textile industries and had a role in transforming the city. This museum was my husband’s favorite part of the trip. The museum is very well curated and provided a really good introduction to the history of the town. I’d recommend doing this first on a weekend visit.
The Everhart Museum is an art/history/science museum that features various exhibits throughout the year.
On our last day in Scranton, we went to see the David Wenzel Treehouse in Nay Aug Park, offering a viewpoint 150 feet below into the park’s valley creek and took a short hike through the park.
Where We Ate
We had heaping servings of seafood at Coopers Seafood, a Scranton landmark, where the decor is as eclectic as the restaurant’s exterior. We ventured to Osaka for Hibachi and sushi, just around the corner from the Hilton, which had a really fun atmosphere and great food. At Coney Island Lunch, we indulged in classic hot dogs, french fries and old-fashioned rice pudding. At the end of the weekend, we were thrilled to find Abe’s Kosher Deli, where we indulged in good old matzo ball soup and white fish on a bagel – not exactly like home, but good enough.
To Sum Up
Scranton/Lackawanna County is an interesting weekend away for New Yorkers. It’s just a 2-1/2 hour ride by car or bus, city offers a variety of options for adults and kids of all ages.