The town we know today as Jim Thorpe was founded in 1818 as Mauch Chunk, possibly a local Indian phrase meaning "bear mountain." In its early days, Mauch Chunk thrived on its coal industry, which hauled the coal from the nearby mountains into town via rail. One of the routes, called the Mauch Chunk Switchback Gravity Railroad, is cited as being the inspiration for early roller coasters, as locals flocked to ride the train down an exciting 9 mile route.
Jim Thorpe was born on an Indian reservation in Oklahoma, to an Irish Catholic father and a mother who was half Sac and Fox Indian and half French. Jim Thorpe was raised as a Sac and Fox Indian, but also as a Catholic. At the age of 16, Jim Thorpe enrolled in the Carlisle, PA Indian School and he learned to play football from Pop Warner himself. Jim Thorpe loved to play football and was a spectacular star, but he became even more famous by competing in the 1912 Olympics and winning gold in both the pentathlon and the decathlon. It was reveled that Jim Thorpe had violated the Olympic rules against professional athletes competing, so Thorpe's medals were stripped, only to be restored in the 1980s. After the Olympics, Jim Thorpe played professional football and baseball until about 1928.
Jim Thorpe died in 1953, and his wife brokered a deal with Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania. The town could change its name to Jim Thorpe if they would bury his body in the town and erect a fitting memorial for one of the greatest athletes our county has known. The monument site contains his tomb, two statues of Jim Thorpe, and historical markers describing his life story. It is said that Jim Thorpe's grave rests on soil from his native Oklahoma and from the Olympic stadium in Sweden.
Catch a show at the Civic Theatre of Allentown. Check out their website for current and upcoming shows. The organization also shows films across the street at 514. Again check out the website for current and upcoming films.
We decided to spend a family day at Dorney Park after my Mom got group tickets from her work.
This park is huge! We barely had enough time to see all the rides and we didn't even get to try the Waterpark this time around.
For the price of one admission, you can go to either amusement park, or water park, or both (if you start really early in the day and stay there until closing).
The best was the lineups for the rides were short.. I think the most anyone waited for a ride was 20 minutes. If you think that is long, come up to Montreal and go to Laronde for the day where you are lucky if you get to go on 2 rides for the entire day!
Anylise's Hava Java. Mention the little coffee house to any local in Allentown and they'll point you in the direction of great coffee and tea, eclectic atmosphere and a fun experience. I love this place!
The location of Hava Java makes it quite artsy. It's across from the local civic theater and walking distance to Muhlenberg College. Despite being so close to a school, the clientele is varied. From elderly couples reading the newspaper near the large front windows to high school kids gossiping in the back.
Drinks are priced fairly. Not nearly as high as what you'll find at Starbucks or Coffee Bean. There is seating inside, but there isn't a whole lot of room so when the weather is nice tables and chairs are also placed on the wide sidewalk outside. All drinks are also available for take-out so if there is no room you can take it to go.
On weekend nights you'll often find local bands or single acts playing live music inside. It can get cramped, but it's a nice way to spend an evening in A-town.
This area of Allentown is busy but safe. You can feel safe walking around the blocks surrounding Hava Java. This is good since street parking can sometimes be tough to find.
One Warning: since street parking can be tough people are often tempted to park in the lots across from and next to the coffee shop. Your car WILL BE TOWED if you park there. I've seen it done, the proprietors of those establishments don't waste time. So drive around the block a few times to find a nice spot to parallel park :).
Strawberry Acres is a farm where you can pick your own fruit or buy produce, baked goods and other fresh food items from their food stand. In the summer, the farm offers strawberrys and blueberrys and in the fall apples and pumpkins are available. This is a great family place, with a large playground and a petting zoo.
Around the Allentown area you'll find a lot of pumpkin patches and apple orchards. This one is near mall area on McArthur Blvd so the access is easy for people visitng the area or families living in Allentown.
The Zion Reformed Church of Crist was built in 1886. From the fall of 1777 to the summer of 1778, it housed the liberty bell. Revolutionary soldiers wanted hide it from the British because they worried the bell would be melted down and used for musket balls. Where to put it where no Englishman would look? Allentown, of course!
Every May the area around Cedar Beach hosts a music and art festival called "May Fair". Up until recently, the fair was free to get in, but now demands an entrance fee (as a result, business has suffered at the fair).
If you do cough up the entrance fee and go see the fair, you'll be greeted with a wide variety of foods...from greek salads and gyros to philly cheesetakes and friend cheesecake (seriously, weird but yummy). Local artists sell their work, jewlery, pottery, and crafts. There are also live bands playing nightly and kids performances during the day.
Every May the Cedar Beach area of Allentnown holds MayFair, an art and music festival. You now have to pay to get in, but the food, music and local vendors make for a good evening out. During the day there are activities for kids.
Cedar Beach is great if you're looking for a place to go for a run. There are are running tracks that go through the park which stretches across Ott St. into Trexler Park. Just be careful to avoid the local school soccer and cross country teams which practice here in the summer and fall.
Great places to go for picnics on sunny days. Charcoal grills and picnic tables available first come first serve.
Modern Art sculptures abound!
Annual Musikfest held on Main Street in Bethlehem! Every August for 10 days, the dates change so check out the site. http://www.musikfest.org/
Musikfest allows you the opportunity to see all forms or art, music, dancing, pictures, food from many cultures and...lots of beer! It's a grand old time!
There is an amazing fireworks display as well!
Christmas in Bethlehem is magical! You must walk downtown, cobble stone streets, lights and christmas music in the air! They have a Christmas festival here which is wonderful called Christkindlemart. Bethlehem is home to Moravian College therefore the area boasts the Moravian Star, it can be seen everywhere!