Despite being one of the largest cities in Pennsylvania, Wilkes-Barre often gets overlooked by people traveling through northeastern PA or those travel to nearby Scranton. However, for those that are looking for some of the best things to do in Wilkes-Barre and Luzerne County, there’s a lot to love about this region.
Here are a few of my favorite things to do in Wilkes-Barre and Luzerne County, Pennsylvania:
Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen State Park
In my opinion, there is no better hike in Pennsylvania than the Falls Trail in Ricketts Glen State Park. This 7.2-mile trail features more than 20 beautiful waterfalls. This challenging trail allows hikers to get a great view of each of these falls and to enjoy one of the most majestic places in the eastern United States.
During the winter, seeing the frozen waterfalls of Ricketts Glen is another amazing adventure, but make sure you take the proper precautions if you attempt it during the colder months of the year as the trail is officially closed.
Eckley Miners’ Village
The coal industry was once a major employer in Luzerne County, and nowhere can you better learn about its history in the county than at Eckley Miners’ Village.
Eckley Miners’ Village is an authentic company town that was built in the 1850s. After more than 100 years of use, the town was beginning to deteriorate when it was fixed up as a set for the late 1960s movie, “The Molly McGuires”.
Thanks to that movie, the village got a new lease on life and is now run as both an active community and a historical attraction.
Seven Tubs Recreation Area
Seven Tubs Recreation Area sits just outside of Wilkes-Barre and is one of the most unique landscapes in all of Pennsylvania. Here, water has cut a series of waterfalls, flumes, and tubs into the rock.
Visitors come here to marvel at this unique landscape and climb along the rock walls to stare into the deep caverns carved by the rushing waters.
While here, don’t miss the two secret waterfalls which are hidden on the property.
The Luzerne County Courthouse
Without a doubt, the interior of the Luzerne County Courthouse is one of the most beautiful in the state. The building’s ornate rotunda is an amazing piece of architecture, and it’s well worth taking the time to pop your head inside and see it if you are visiting Wilkes-Barre, PA.
While you can’t go beyond the ground floor unless you have business elsewhere in the building, you’ll certainly want to take a few minutes to marvel at this grand interior.
Susquehanna Brewing Company
If you love beer, a trip to Susquehanna Brewing Company should be on your list of things to do near Wilkes-Barre.
Located in the northern Luzerne County community of Pittston, Susquehanna Brewing Company is one of the most tasty breweries in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Stop by their tasting room for a sample of their delicious beers, including some you can only get at the brewery. You can also stop in for a free brewery tour on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Greater Hazleton Historical Society Museum
If you want to learn more about the history of Luzerne County, the Greater Hazleton Historical Society Museum is a fascinating place to visit.
Located inside an old fire station in downtown Hazleton, this museum showcases the history of southern Luzerne County through a variety of well-done displays. Whether you want to learn about the history of the region’s industries or what life was like here in past decades, this is a great destination.
If you are looking for things to do in Wilkes-Barre, there are few better choices than attending a baseball game at PNC Field. Home of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, a Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, games at the park provide a lot of fun for the whole family. Plus, since the players here are just one step from the majors, you can see some of the game’s top prospects without having to pay the prices of a Major League game.
While technically PNC Field is in Lackawanna County and not Luzerne County, I decided to include it since the team represents both cities.
Little Shickshinny Falls
Located on state game lands just outside of the community of Shickshinny, Little Shickshinny Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in Luzerne County.
While unmarked, the trail to Little Shickshinny Falls is fairly short and reaching the waterfall is relatively easy.
At 25-30 feet in height, this waterfall is quite impressive. In addition to its natural beauty, there is an old dam and other evidence of a mill that was once in the area just above the falls.
Directions to this waterfall can be found in the excellent “Hiking the Endless Mountains” by Jeff Mitchell.
Forty Fort Meeting House
Forty Fort Meeting House is located just a few miles outside of downtown Wilkes-Barre and is the only New England-style meeting house ever constructed in Pennsylvania.
Built in 1807, the meeting house was built for a community of settlers from Connecticut, which was trying to claim the valley for their state. While the church hasn’t been in regular use for more than 150 years, it has been maintained and looks almost exactly as it did when it was first constructed.
Nathan Denison House
Located just down the road from the Forty Fort Meeting House is the Nathan Denison House. Just like the meeting house, Denison designed his home in a style more associated with New England than Pennsylvania. In addition to its interesting history, the Cape Code architecture of the home was much of the reason the home was preserved.
Denison himself was one of the leaders of the Connecticut colony in Pennsylvania and was one of the few soldiers to survive the Wyoming Massacre during the Revolutionary War.
Bear Creek Preserve
Located east of Wilkes-Barre, Bear Creek Preserve is a 3,500-acre swath of protected land that’s great for hiking. All told, there are more than nine miles of hiking trails on this land, and visitors can see several waterfalls and vistas on their hikes.
One of the highlights of the preserve is a roadside waterfall known as Bear Creek Falls or Buttermilk Falls. This 30-35 foot falls only runs well during times of high water, but is well worth a stop if you are in the area.
Luzerne County Historical Society Museum
Of all the things to do in Wilkes-Barre, few offer a better look at the region’s history than the Luzerne County Historical Society Museum. Housed in a purpose-built building from the 1890s, the museum tells the story of Luzerne County and how it has impacted the region and world.
The museum offers a great collection from the Native Americans that once inhabited the Wyoming Valley and features regularly rotating exhibitions.
The settlements in the Wyoming Valley were involved in one of the least-known events of the Revolutionary War: the Wyoming Massacre.
On July 3, 1778, the local militia went into battle against a band of soldiers and Native Americans loyal to Britain. At the end of the fighting, nearly all of the 300-400 American soldiers were killed, and the settlers that were left quickly fled the valley.
Today, the Wyoming Monument near Wilkes-Barre marks both the battlefield and the mass grave where many of the fallen were buried.
Paddy Run Falls
Paddy Run is located near Shickshinny, Pennsylvania, on State Game Lands 260. While the waterfall on Little Shickshinny Creek is somewhat known, the waterfalls on Paddy Run are very rarely visited.
There are two waterfalls on Paddy Run, as well as a handful of cascades and other interesting features.
The further downstream of the two waterfalls is the tallest at 10-12 feet and is pictured above. This is a unique waterfall in that the water falls off of of a very rectangular rock.
Bucky Harris’ Grave
While he might be little remembered today, Bucky Harris is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame and is buried in Luzerne County. Harris’ playing career stretched from 1919-1931, and he was a manager from 1924 to 1956. It was his managerial career that led to his election into the Hall of Fame in 1975.
Harris is buried in the graveyard at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Hughestown, PA. Stop by to pay your respects to this influential figure in baseball history.
The Evergreen Trail
Those that continue hiking are rewarded with an incredibly beautiful walk through some of the largest trees in Pennsylvania. While there are no more waterfalls along this trail, it’s worth hiking for the great scenery in this corner of the park.
Frederick Stegmaier Mansion
The Frederick Stegmaier Mansion is one of the most historic homes in Wilkes-Barre. The mansion was built in the 1870s, and Stegmaier, a local brewer, purchased it in 1906.
This ornate mansion has been beautifully restored and now functions as both a bed and breakfast and an event space. If you are looking for an historic place to stay in Wilkes-Barre, look no further than this amazing home.
Where to Stay in Wilkes-Barre
In addition to the aforementioned Stegmaier Mansion, there are many great places to stay in and around Wilkes-Barre.
The highest rated property in the city is the Hampton Inn and Suites in Wilkes-Barre. This hotel has an indoor pool and is centrally located.
If you want a little excitement with your stay, another popular choice is the Mohegan Sun Pocono in Wilkes-Barre not only offers a nice place to spend the night, but also all the expected amenities at a PA casino.
Lastly, consider The Woodlands Inn, which is an Ascend Hotel Collection Member. This independent property is perfect for those looking for an elegant place to stay while touring the region.
Do you have a favorite thing to do in Wilkes-Barre and Luzerne County that isn’t on this list? Let us know in the comments below.