Hidden Gems of Wilkes Barre: What to See and Do

Hidden Gems of Wilkes Barre
Hidden Gems of Wilkes Barre

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, often overshadowed by its more famous neighbors, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by the intrepid traveler. Nestled in the heart of Luzerne County, this charming city is teeming with history, natural beauty, culinary delights, and cultural treasures. Join us on a journey to uncover the hidden gems of Wilkes Barre and experience the best it has to offer.

Wilkes Barre might not be the first place that comes to mind when planning a trip, but that’s precisely what makes it so special. As we delve into this guide, you’ll see that this city has a lot to offer. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, foodie, art enthusiast, or simply seeking a unique experience, Wilkes Barre has something for everyone.

Historical Charms

The Past Beckons

Our exploration begins with the historical charms that Wilkes Barre has preserved over the years. History comes alive in this city, where you can step back in time and walk in the footsteps of those who shaped the region.

The Luzerne County Historical Society

The Luzerne County Historical Society is a treasure trove of artifacts and exhibits that vividly tell the story of Wilkes Barre’s past. Explore the meticulously curated exhibits that showcase the area’s coal mining heritage, Native American history, and the role Wilkes Barre played during the American Revolution.

Eckley Miners’ Village

Eckley Miners’ Village, a short drive from Wilkes Barre, is an outdoor museum that transports you to a 19th-century coal mining town. Wander through the authentic company houses and gain insight into the lives of coal miners and their families.

Wilkes-Barre History Museum

The Wilkes-Barre History Museum is another historical gem, offering a closer look at the city’s evolution over the centuries. From the early settlers to industrialization and beyond, this museum provides a comprehensive view of Wilkes Barre’s past.

Natural Beauty

A Scenic Retreat

Wilkes Barre’s natural beauty is often underestimated, but those who seek it will be rewarded with picturesque landscapes and outdoor adventures.

Wilkes-Barre River Common

Start your journey at the Wilkes-Barre River Common, a lush green space along the Susquehanna River. Stroll along the riverfront, have a picnic, or simply enjoy the serenity of the water.

Seven Tubs Nature Area

For those craving a more immersive nature experience, the Seven Tubs Nature Area beckons. This hidden gem offers hiking trails that lead to natural tub-shaped pools, created by the flowing waters of Wheelbarrow Run. It’s a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Kirby Park

Kirby Park is another favorite among locals and visitors alike. With its tree-lined paths, serene lagoon, and beautiful gardens, it’s an ideal spot for a leisurely walk or a family picnic. Keep an eye out for outdoor concerts and events held here during the summer months.

Culinary Delights

Savoring the Local Flavors

No trip is complete without exploring the local culinary scene, and Wilkes Barre has an array of eateries that will tantalize your taste buds.

Pierogies Plus

If you haven’t tried Polish cuisine, now’s the time, and Pierogies Plus is the place. These delightful dumplings, stuffed with various fillings, are a local favorite. Be sure to savor the authentic flavors and perhaps chat with the friendly owners.

Abe’s Hot Dogs

For a quick and satisfying bite, head to Abe’s Hot Dogs. These iconic hot dogs have been a fixture in Wilkes Barre for decades. Order one “all the way” for the full experience, complete with chili, onions, and mustard.

Cork Bar & Restaurant

If you’re in the mood for a more upscale dining experience, Cork Bar & Restaurant is a must-visit. With a menu that features locally sourced ingredients and a wine list that impresses even the connoisseurs, this restaurant offers a taste of the region’s culinary sophistication.

Arts and Culture

A Flourishing Arts Scene

Wilkes Barre’s arts and culture scene is vibrant and thriving, with a mix of traditional and contemporary offerings.

F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts

The F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts is a cultural hub that hosts a wide range of events, from concerts and Broadway shows to film screenings and lectures. Check their schedule for upcoming performances during your visit.

Sordoni Art Gallery

Art enthusiasts will appreciate the Sordoni Art Gallery at Wilkes University. This gallery showcases a diverse collection of contemporary and traditional art, providing a visual feast for visitors.

Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre

For a taste of local theater, catch a show at the Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre. This community theater group presents a variety of plays and musicals throughout the year, showcasing local talent.

Hidden Shopping Treasures

Retail Therapy

Wilkes Barre offers a shopping experience that goes beyond the ordinary, with unique boutiques and stores waiting to be explored.

South Main Street Boutiques

South Main Street is a charming district filled with boutique shops. Explore the eclectic stores and discover handcrafted jewelry, vintage clothing, and one-of-a-kind gifts.

Midtown Village

Midtown Village is another shopping destination that caters to those with a penchant for the unique. From antique stores to artisanal shops, you’ll find treasures you won’t find anywhere else.

Vintage shops and thrift stores

If you’re a fan of vintage finds and thrifting, Wilkes Barre has you covered. Uncover hidden gems at local vintage shops and thrift stores, where you can score unique clothing, furniture, and collectibles.

Off the Beaten Path

Exploring Hidden Spots

To truly experience Wilkes Barre, venture off the beaten path and discover hidden spots that aren’t on the usual tourist radar.

The Market Street Bridge Views

Take a walk on the Market Street Bridge and enjoy panoramic views of the Susquehanna River. This spot offers a unique perspective of the city and is particularly stunning during sunset.

Public Square’s Hidden Gems

Public Square, the heart of downtown Wilkes Barre, has its own set of hidden gems. Seek out the lesser-known statues, sculptures, and historical markers that dot the square and learn about the city’s heritage.

Local Parks with Hidden Stories

Explore the various local parks and green spaces in Wilkes Barre, each with its own unique history. From the Revolutionary War-era Nesbitt Park to the scenic beauty of Coal Street Park, there’s always a hidden story waiting to be uncovered.

Seasonal Delights

Wilkes Barre Year-Round

Wilkes Barre’s charm is not confined to a single season; it offers something special in every season of the year.

Spring: Cherry Blossom Festival at Nesbitt Park

In spring, don’t miss the Cherry Blossom Festival at Nesbitt Park, where the cherry blossoms burst into bloom in a riot of colors. It’s a breathtaking sight and a perfect time for a leisurely stroll.

Summer: Outdoor Concerts at River Common

Summer in Wilkes Barre means outdoor concerts at the River Common. Grab a blanket, pack a picnic, and enjoy live music against the backdrop of the river.

Fall: Colorful Foliage Along the Susquehanna River

As autumn arrives, the banks of the Susquehanna River transform into a canvas of red, orange, and gold. Take a scenic drive or hike along the river to witness the fall foliage in all its glory.

Winter: Ice Skating at Coal Street Park

When winter blankets Wilkes Barre in snow, head to Coal Street Park for ice skating. It’s a quintessential winter activity that brings a touch of magic to the season.

Local Experiences

Immerse Yourself in the Community

To truly appreciate Wilkes Barre, engage with the local community and partake in their activities and traditions.

Attend a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Game

Sports enthusiasts can catch a game featuring the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the local AHL hockey team. The atmosphere at the Mohegan Sun Arena is electric, and it’s an experience that locals cherish.

Participate in a Local Festival or Event

Check the local event calendar for festivals and community events. Whether it’s a cultural festival, a craft fair, or a holiday celebration, these events provide an opportunity to connect with the friendly locals and immerse yourself in their traditions.

Volunteer Opportunities

For those interested in giving back, Wilkes Barre offers various volunteer opportunities. Consider contributing to local charities or participating in community cleanup initiatives to leave a positive impact during your visit.

Planning Your Visit

Practical Information

Now that you’re eager to explore Wilkes Barre’s hidden gems, here’s some practical information to help you plan your visit.

Accommodation Options

Wilkes Barre offers a range of accommodation options to suit every budget. From cozy bed and breakfasts to well-known hotel chains, you’ll find a comfortable place to rest after a day of exploration.

Transportation Tips

If you’re flying in, the nearest airport is Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (AVP). Renting a car is a convenient option for exploring the city and its surrounding areas. However, Wilkes Barre also has a reliable public transportation system, including buses.

Best Times to Visit

The best time to visit Wilkes Barre depends on your preferences. Spring and fall offer pleasant weather and scenic beauty, while summer is ideal for outdoor activities. Winter brings a touch of magic, especially if you’re a fan of ice skating and winter sports.


In conclusion, Wilkes Barre is a hidden gem in Pennsylvania that offers a delightful mix of history, natural beauty, culinary delights, arts, culture, and unique local experiences. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, a foodie, or an art aficionado, this city has something to captivate your heart.

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