Photograph by Cathy Myers, My Shot
GPS: 40°52'N 75°44'W
This unassuming outdoors haven in the Pocono Mountains has 20 trailheads smack in the center of town. Cyclists and hikers share the Gorge Trail, which loops 19 miles (31 kilometers) past waterfalls and steep canyon walls. Seven ski areas are within a two-hour drive. Big-city perks are close at hand, too, with Philadelphia and New York City just an hour or two away, respectively. Or stay in town: The stellar acoustics of Mauch Chunk Opera House amp up live blues and rock.
Whether you're a novice mountain biker or an experienced pro looking to test your abilities, Jim Thorpe can teach you a thing or two. Start out easy on a beginner trail like Switchback, which is all downhill due to its former life as a gravity railroad route and graduate to the advanced Twin Peaks (www.bikejimthorpe.com/trails.htm). Blue Mountain Sports and Wear offers one-day bike rentals for $27 (www.bikejimthorpe.com). The snow doesn't fly until December here, but once it does it sticks around for months, transforming this rugged corner of the state into a winter sport playground. Of the many ski resorts in the area, Blue Mountain—just half an hour away—is one of the Poconos' best. It boasts PA's highest vertical drop, three terrain parks, and fully lit trails for skiing late into the night (skibluemt.com). Mauch Chunk Lake Park rents cross-country skis to access its 18 miles (29 kilometers) of Nordic trails around the 330-acre (134-hectare) lake (www.carboncounty.com/park).
The Victorian-style Emerald Restaurant in the heart of town serves up traditional American staples alongside such odes to Ireland as the Bubble & Squeak—that's a smoked ham and grilled chicken casserole for those on this side of the pond. (www.jimthorpedining.com). Flow Restaurant, named for the Mauch Chunk Creek that flows directly beneath it, is housed in a converted stone factory building from the 1800s. Its in-house bakery and restaurant farm guarantee that everything that lands on your table—from the duck confit spring rolls to the vegetarian tasting—is as fresh (not to mention chemical-free) as possible (www.thecccp.org).
The Inn at Jim Thorpe is a great combination of classic and modern. Relax outside on their elegant porches or get a massage in their spa (doubles from $89; www.innjt.com). Mary's Guest House is a laid-back option right on the main drag in town. Set in an 1860s townhouse, the guesthouse offers travelers comfortable, affordable shared living. A fully-equipped kitchen allows visitors to compare recipes while saving money for what you really want to spend it on: adventures (double $60; www.marysjimthorpe.com).