Travelers to Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, find a destination rich in tour opportunities. The county, located in the state’s northeast corner, has a rich history that continues to shape its modern identity.
“History books will tell you that steel, iron, coal, railroads, and textile production laid the foundation for Scranton [the county’s largest city] to become a prominent American city before and during World War II,” says Alexa Peregrim, director of sales at Lackawanna County Visitors Bureau. “But, the real catalyst driving the communities that would become Lackawanna County from the mid-1800s through today is its people.”
Jobs and opportunities drew Irish, Eastern European, and Jewish immigrants to the county, and those early residents fought for rights and protections that American workers still enjoy today. “While unions, workplace safety, child labor laws, and more were being born out of the coal mines, the immigrants who settled here were also building diverse communities that embraced hard work and the principles of America, but kept their traditions and cultural heritage,” Peregrim explains. “Attractions such as the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour, Steamtown National Historic Site, Electric City Trolley Museum, Anthracite Heritage Museum, and even the Lackawanna County Pizza Trail and the Lackawanna County Wine Trail tell the story of our cultural past.
We hope that groups take away a new understanding of what our ancestors went through and brought to the region during the early part of the 20th century, and that they go home with incredible memories and a desire to come back and see more,” Peregrim adds.
The city of Scranton also has a long history in the performing arts, playing host to renowned performers such as Yul Brenner, Harry Houdini, Will Rogers, Frank Sinatra, and many more. The area is filled with small theaters and more prominent venues like The Ritz Theater and Performing Arts Center and the Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple, both of which are available for group tours and events.
“In Lackawanna County, you can experience our rich history in a variety of unique and exciting ways, but you’ll also want to spend some time enjoying the modern attractions and events that make our area the perfect destination,” Peregrim says. “Visitors of all ages will be overjoyed at the abundance of activities you can choose from when you combine educational adventures with exhilarating entertainment.”
As a four-season destination, Lackawanna County has a thriving events calendar. Groups enjoy fall festivities such as Bonfire Fall Festival at the Scranton Iron Furnaces, fall foliage train rides at Steamtown National Historic Site, tours of the Dunmore Cemetery, Lackawanna Historical Society’s Scranton After Dark Walking Tours, and La Festa Italiana. In winter, groups won’t want to miss the Holiday Light Spectacular at Nay Aug Park, Scranton Ballet’s performance of “The Nutcracker,” Lackawanna Winter Market and Festival of Trees, and Clarks Summit Festival of Ice, among many others.
Peregrim recommends groups spend three to four days exploring Lackawanna County. The bureau has accommodated groups of all sizes with the largest being up to 500 guests. While each attraction cannot handle 500 people at one time, Peregrim and her team help tour planners devise an itinerary that keeps everyone occupied at different attractions with a rotational schedule.
With so much to see and do in Lackawanna County, groups will easily work up an appetite. Luckily, the county is home to more than 500 restaurants, many of which are locally owned, mom and pop venues. “There are plenty of group dining options, and we have a list of recommendations available for planners,” Peregrim says.
To learn more about group tours to Lackawanna County, check out visitnepa.org/groups.
Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour
Credit: Lackawanna County Visitors Bureau