Some Terrific Tourist Traps Pocono Alternatives Are Hokey But Fun

Posted: July 07, 1989

It's Day 5 of brilliant sunshine in the Poconos, and you just can't stand another game of volleyball with the kids. Whatcha gonna do?

If you checked out those billboards on the way up, you'll know the Poconos has lots of "attractions." Some sound hokey, but many turn out more pleasant than you'd imagine. Below, we give the lowdown on some of the bigger diversions.

BUSHKILL FALLS, also known as the "Niagara of Pennsylvania" fits the definition of a tourist trap: Nowhere in any ad, brochure or billboard do you read that it costs $4 ($1 for children 6-12) to look at the falls. But you can almost forgive this oversight: The wooden walkways and bridges are well- maintained and even enhance the natural beauty of the gorge, and the falls themselves, especially after the rainy spring, are spectacular torrents. The parking area is surrounded by shops, snack bars, a duck pond with paddle boats and miniature golf. This is a fun half-day trip rain or shine. Info: 717-588-6682.

CAMBELBACK, the Poconos' biggest winter ski area, keeps the activity going year-round with the Alpine Slide (the closest you'll ever get to fulfilling those luge fantasies), a water slide, batting cages, bumper boats, concessions, an outdoor bar and live music. It can get expensive: The Alpine Slide is $4 a ride, or $15 for a five-ride book, and the water slide is $5 for a five-slide book. If you and your family are tireless, get the all-day ticket for $22, allowing unlimited rides and slides as well as miniature golf. Info: 717-629-1661

POCONO ACTION PARK, near Camelback, has Water World (slides and flumes), bumper boats, go-carts, video games, action combat and real mini race cars. You need a driver's license for the race cars, but there's something for kids of all ages here. Info: 717-629-4411.

SHAWNEE PLACE PLAY AND WATER PARK at Shawnee Mountain Ski Area will especially appeal to younger kids. Designed by the same people who did Sesame Place, Shawnee offers 15 play elements and two waterslides, along with pony rides, magic shows, chairlift rides and video games. Info: 717-421-7231.

WATER GAP TROLLEY offers non-hikers impressive scenery and points of historic interest from a guided trolley on the Delaware River side of the region. The tour is about an hour and costs $3.50 adults, $2.50 children under 12. Info: 717-476-0010.

QUIET VALLEY LIVING HISTORICAL FARM, near Stroudsburg, is where farm life circa 1765 is re-enacted and children can pet animals. Info: 717-992-6161.

CLAWS 'N' PAWS WILD ANIMAL PARK near the Lake Wallenpaupack area features performing parrots, alligators and a petting zoo with llamas and lambs. Info: 717-698-6154.

JIM THORPE is a great half- or full-day trip for adults and older children, about a 20-minute drive down Route 903 from Lake Harmony. This thoroughly charming village of 5,300 notched into the Lehigh River Gorge between steep forested mountains features antique and crafts shops and small restaurants. Try the great sandwiches at the Black Bread Cafe along Old Stone Row (Race Street). A 40-minute train trip leave from the square for $3.50. Mauch Chunk Lake is nearby for picnicking, and the elegant Victorian mansion of Asa Packer is open for tours. Jim Thorpe, renamed in 1954 for the American sports hero who is buried there, was originally called Mauch Chunk, after the Indian word meaning "where there is a mountain the resort of bears." Info: 717-424-6050.

POCONO RACEWAY in Long Pond attracts more visitors than any other in the area, drawing 100,000 a race. "No other track in the world has three 500-mile races," said Bob Uguccioni, director of the Pocono Mountains Vacation Bureau. ''And on other weekends there are motorcycle and sports car races for participants." The AC Spark Plug 500 is July 23, the Quaker State 500 (Indy cars) Aug. 20, and the Sunoco Race of Champions for NASCAR modifieds Sept. 15-17. Ticket prices vary, depending on whether you sit in the grandstand or drive your monster RV into the infield and party hearty all weekend. Info: 1-800-RACEWAY.

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