Jim Thorpe PA is an interesting travel destination for a variety of reasons. For starters, this county seat of Carbon County is known for its lovely architecture. The town also features an attractive mountain setting that has earned it the nickname of the Switzerland of America. This isn't the only nickname that Jim Thorpe Pennsylvania has, however, and the town's real is certainly unique in and of itself.
Jim Thorpe PA was originally founded under the name of Mauch Chunk in 1818, and due to its proximity to the famed Pocono Mountains region, it is often called the Gateway to the Poconos. Not long after its founding, Mauch Chunk became an important coal and railroad center, and this gave rise to the Mauch Chunk Switchback Gravity Railroad. This railroad, as its name would imply, depended on gravity for getting coal cars down to the Lehigh Canal. By the 1850s, thrillseekers had taken notice. In fact, the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company even started selling tickets to those who wished to take a ride on its gravity railroad. The result was what many historians believe to be the first roller coaster in the US.
Approximately 100 years after the Mauch Chunk Switchback Gravity Railroad started giving rides to thrillseekers, the town of Mauch Chunk decided to rename itself. The new name was partly intended to honor the Olympic medal winning athlete, Jim Thorpe, who passed away in 1953. It was also a move to boost tourism, as Thorpe was quite the national hero. Around the time of its name change, Jim Thorpe PA was hoping to draw attention to the fact that it was moving into a post-industrial economy. Among the things that it thought tourists might be interested in is the town's delightful architecture. There was good reason for this assumption. Architectural styles such as Federalist, Greek Revival, and Romanesque Revival are on display in Jim Thorpe PA. Among the most fascinating edifices are the Asa Packer and Harry Packer Mansions.
The Asa Packer Mansion is among the best preserved examples of the Italianate Villa style of architecture in the US and has been a museum for more than 50 years now. Standing next to it at 19 Packer Avenue is the Harry Packer Mansion, which also boasts the Italianate style and is today a bed and breakfast. One of the best Jim Thorpe Pennsylvania hotels, the Harry Packer Mansion offers plenty of historic charm, not to mention some tempting lodging packages. Some of these packages revolve around the popular Murder Mystery Weekends, which see couples trying to figure out a crime that is set in the Victorian era. It is interesting to note that the Haunted Mansion attraction at Walt Disney World was inspired by the Harry Packer Mansion.
No visit to Jim Thorpe Pennsylvania would be complete without visiting the Packer mansions, though checking out old edifices certainly isn't the only option for things to do. Thanks to the mountainous terrain and the state parks that can be found near Jim Thorpe PA, the town makes a great destination for those who enjoy the great outdoors. Popular recreational pursuits include hiking, mountain biking, and whitewater rafting.
Back in town, shops mix with restaurants, and there are a few businesses that offer spa-related services for visitors who like to pamper themselves. Perhaps those who like to be pampered will book a stay at The Inn at Jim Thorpe. Also one of the best Jim Thorpe Pennsylvania hotels, this hotel at 24 Broadway offers a lot of historic charm itself, not to mention an onsite spa with certified therapists.
Jim Thorpe PA can be an excellent place to escape to at any time of year. Three major Pennsylvania ski resorts are found within a 30-minute drive, which helps to make winter a great time to visit, and a number of fun events bring joy to each and every season. Among the annual events are the Fall Foliage Weekends in Jim Thorpe. These weekend celebrations see residents and visitors alike embracing the fall colors and enjoying all kinds of activities. Suffice it to say that any and all Jim Thorpe PA visitors will want to keep the town's events calendar in mind.