Exploring Wilkes Barre: Your Ultimate Travel Guide

Exploring Wilkes Barre Your Ultimate Travel Guide
Exploring Wilkes Barre Your Ultimate Travel Guide

Nestled in the heart of Pennsylvania, Wilkes Barre is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by travelers seeking a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. In this ultimate travel guide, we’ll take you on a journey through the charming streets of Wilkes Barre, offering insights into its rich history, top attractions, culinary delights, and much more. So, fasten your seatbelts and get ready for an unforgettable adventure!

Getting to Know Wilkes Barre

A Brief History of Wilkes Barre

Before we dive into the city’s treasures, let’s explore its roots. Wilkes Barre boasts a storied history, dating back to the late 18th century. Named after John Wilkes and Isaac Barre, British Parliament members who supported American colonial rights, the city played a significant role during the American Revolution. Today, remnants of this history can be seen in its well-preserved architecture and landmarks.

Geographical Overview

Wilkes Barre’s strategic location in northeastern Pennsylvania places it within a few hours’ drive of major cities like Philadelphia and New York. Nestled in the Wyoming Valley, it offers picturesque views of the Susquehanna River and the Pocono Mountains. This proximity to both urban and natural attractions makes it an ideal travel destination.

Unique Characteristics

What sets Wilkes Barre apart are its charming neighborhoods, each with its own personality. From the historic charm of Downtown Wilkes Barre to the serene suburban areas, the city caters to a variety of tastes. Additionally, the warm hospitality of its residents, often referred to as “Valleyites,” adds a unique touch to your visit.

Planning Your Trip

When to Visit

The best time to explore Wilkes Barre depends on your preferences. If you enjoy vibrant festivals and pleasant weather, plan your trip during the summer months. Fall offers a spectacular display of colorful foliage, making it a photographer’s dream. Winter, on the other hand, transforms the city into a snowy wonderland, perfect for cozy getaways.

How to Get There

Wilkes Barre is accessible by air, road, and rail. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (AVP) connects the city to major hubs. If you prefer driving, major highways like Interstate 81 provide easy access. Amtrak’s Keystone Service offers a scenic train journey to and from the city.

Accommodation Options

For a comfortable stay, Wilkes Barre offers a range of options. Whether you’re seeking the luxury of upscale hotels, the cozy ambiance of bed-and-breakfasts, or the local experience of Airbnb, you’ll find accommodations to suit your style. Consider staying in Downtown for convenient access to attractions.

Exploring the City

Must-Visit Attractions

Wilkes-Barre Public Square: Start your exploration at the heart of the city, the Public Square. Admire the historic architecture and relax in the park while sipping coffee from a nearby cafe.

Mohegan Sun Arena: Sports and entertainment enthusiasts will love catching a game or concert at this state-of-the-art arena.

Luzerne County Historical Society Museum: Delve into the city’s past at this museum, showcasing artifacts and exhibits that bring history to life.

FM Kirby Center for the Performing Arts: Experience the arts through a variety of live performances, from Broadway shows to concerts.

River Common: Stroll along the picturesque River Common, where you can enjoy a picnic, paddleboat ride, or simply soak in the scenic views of the Susquehanna River.

Outdoor Activities

Ricketts Glen State Park: Just a short drive away, this park is a hiker’s paradise, with waterfalls and lush forests.

Lehigh Gorge State Park: Explore scenic trails and go biking or white-water rafting along the Lehigh River.

Frances Slocum State Park: Perfect for a day of fishing, picnicking, or bird-watching, this park offers a tranquil escape from city life.

Arts and Culture

Sordoni Art Gallery: Immerse yourself in the world of art with rotating exhibitions featuring contemporary and classic works.

F.M. Kirby Center: Check their schedule for live performances, including music, theater, and comedy shows.

Downtown Arts District: Wander through the arts district to discover galleries, street art, and live performances.

Dining and Culinary Delights

Local Cuisine

No visit to Wilkes Barre is complete without trying some local specialties. Be sure to savor the famous “Pierogies” and indulge in a “Garbage Plate,” a local delicacy that’s both hearty and delicious. For dessert, try the iconic “Tastykake” treats.

Best Restaurants

Abe’s Hot Dogs: A local institution since 1924, serving up mouthwatering hot dogs with all the fixings.

Cork Bar & Restaurant: Enjoy a fine dining experience with a diverse menu and an extensive wine list.

Anthracite Cafe: Dive into comfort food classics like wings, burgers, and mac ‘n’ cheese in a relaxed atmosphere.

Isabella Restaurant and Bar: Experience Italian cuisine with a modern twist at this upscale restaurant.

Shopping and Entertainment

Shopping Districts

Wilkes-Barre Township Marketplace: A large shopping complex with a wide range of retail stores and dining options.

Public Square Shops: Explore charming boutiques and souvenir shops around the Public Square area.

Nightlife and Entertainment

The Susquehanna Tavern: A local favorite for craft beer and live music.

Mohegan Sun Pocono: Try your luck at the casino or enjoy a night of dancing and entertainment.

Day Trips and Nearby Destinations

Nearby Cities

Consider taking day trips to nearby cities like Scranton and Bethlehem, each offering their own unique attractions and cultural experiences.

Outdoor Adventures

Hickory Run State Park: Explore the Boulder Field and hike the scenic trails in this nearby park.

Bear Creek Preserve: Discover serene hiking trails and wildlife observation opportunities.

Practical Information

Local Transportation

Public transportation is available, but renting a car provides flexibility. Parking is generally easy to find, and apps like Uber are also popular for getting around.

Safety Tips

Wilkes Barre is a safe city, but it’s always wise to exercise general precautions, such as securing your belongings and being aware of your surroundings.

Language and Currency

English is the predominant language spoken in Wilkes Barre, and the currency used is the United States Dollar (USD).


Wilkes Barre, with its rich history, diverse culture, and natural beauty, offers a travel experience like no other. This ultimate travel guide has provided you with insights into planning your trip, exploring the city’s treasures, savoring its cuisine, and enjoying entertainment options. Now, it’s your turn to embark on this exciting journey and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Additional Resources

For more information, maps, and updates on events and attractions in Wilkes Barre, visit the official Wilkes Barre tourism website and the websites of individual attractions mentioned in this guide. Happy travels!

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