If you’re a marathoner, are married to one, or are friends with one, chances are you’ve traveled out of town for a race or two. One of the most iconic races in the country is the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The course winds through 14 towns and features rolling hills and lots of runner support. It’s also become known as a great spot to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
If you’re headed to the Electric City for race weekend, you might be wondering what else there is to do in the area. Fortunately, there’s plenty to check out in this historic and picturesque part of northeastern Pennsylvania.
Here are nine things to do in Scranton during the Steamtown Marathon weekend.
1. Visit The Steamtown National Historic Site
To get a feel for Scranton’s industrial past, check out the place the marathon is named for. The Steamtown National Historic Site downtown will delight any train enthusiast. Located at the former yards of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad, the site includes some of the railroad’s original facilities, and all of the buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum complex contains exhibits on the history of steam railroad engines; you’ll learn how the railroads changed our country and opened it to the Industrial Revolution. A number of historic locomotives and passenger cars are also on display.
Steamtown is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and admission is free.
2. Learn How Scranton Got Its Nickname
Scranton is called the Electric City because it’s where the electric trolley system was first developed in the 1880s. The innovative technology took off, and many major cities adopted it. The Electric City Trolley Museum is dedicated to the historic mode of transportation; there are old trolleys on display as well as exhibits focused on the history and science behind the trolleys.
The museum is open year-round, and admission costs $6 for adults.
3. Explore The Incredible Everhart Museum
For more than 100 years, the Everhart Museum has welcomed visitors to explore its wonderfully eclectic collections and galleries of natural history, science, and art. It’s the largest public museum in northeastern Pennsylvania, and it truly has something for everyone, from mineral specimens and dinosaur bones to fine art in a variety of media and even a mummy! The Everhart is located inside Scranton’s Nay Aug Park.
Admission costs $7 for adults. The museum is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
4. Hike Through Nay Aug Park
After your time at the Everhart, consider stretching your legs before the big race with an easy hike through Nay Aug Park. Nay Aug is Scranton’s largest park, and like the Everhart, it has something for everyone. The gorge inside the park was created during the most recent ice age and is a popular (but illegal) swimming spot. To stay in line with the law, stick to the hiking trails that run along the park’s 22-foot waterfall. For the best view of the gorge and the surrounding area, head to the David Wenzel Treehouse. The park once housed an amusement park as well, but it was shut down in the 1990s. Now you’ll discover a much smaller version near the swimming pools. Be sure to wander past the gated entrance to the old Brooks Coal Mine, another reminder of Scranton’s industrial past.
5. Be Amazed At The Houdini Museum
To experience a true Scranton original -- with a generous bit of magic mixed in -- head to the Houdini Museum, which opened in 1989. The legendary magician Harry Houdini appeared several times in Scranton and performed a few death-defying feats here. The museum is dedicated to his career and memory and features a movie about his life, a guided tour, a variety of his possessions, and an hour-long magic show. The museum also offers special séance evenings and hosts spooky private events.
The Houdini Museum is open every weekend, and tours begin at 1 p.m. Admission costs $20 at the door, but you can save $2 by making a reservation.
6. Tour The Lackawanna Coal Mine
Scranton, like much of northeastern Pennsylvania, boomed during the coal-mining era. To see what a day underground was really like for miners, consider a tour of the Lackawanna Coal Mine. You’ll pop on a hard hat and ride a mine car down a slope 300 feet to an anthracite (or hard coal) mine first opened in 1860. Once you’re there, a guide will explain what mining operations looked like in the 19th century, what technology was used to strip the coal from the veins, and what dangers and risks were involved. You’ll learn how hard the men and boys employed there worked to pull the coal out of the Earth and move it to the surface. Coal was how homes and businesses were heated for years, and the industry helped change our economy. Remember to bring a jacket, since the temperature at the bottom of the mine is 53 degrees year-round.
Tours are offered daily, and adult admission costs $20.
7. Scout Locations From The Office
NBC’s quirky sitcom The Office aired from 2005 through 2013. The show centered on the exploits of the people who worked at the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, which was located in Scranton. While the show’s been off the air for several years, the entire series has streamed on Netflix and remains hugely popular. While the vast majority of the show was shot in Los Angeles, when you’re in Scranton, you can check out some of the sites featured or mentioned on the show. Poor Richard’s Pub, the watering hole and bowling alley where the staff occasionally gathered, is a real spot, as is the quirky Cooper’s Seafood House. Of course, fans of the show will want to drive by the old Pennsylvania Paper & Supply Company, the tower seen in the show’s opening sequence. To snap a selfie at the “Welcome to Scranton” sign also featured in the opening sequence of the show, head to the second floor of the Marketplace at Steamtown to find the prop that was used.
8. Carb Up At The NePizzA Festival
Pizza is the perfect carb-laden food to eat before a marathon. Northeastern Pennsylvania (or NEPA as the locals call it) is chock-full of places to pick up the perfect pie, but there are far too many to mention here individually. Fortunately for you, nearly 20 top pizza purveyors will be in one spot on race weekend! The inaugural NePizzA Festival will take place at noon on Saturday, October 12, at Montage Mountain Resorts. Admission to the extravaganza, which includes 10 sampling tickets, costs $29 in advance and $40 at the door. This would be the perfect place to fuel up for the big race -- and get a true taste of Scranton.
9. Enjoy A Post-Race Spa Day
Chances are that once you’ve participated in the Steamtown Marathon, you’ll be looking for a bit of pampering. There are several places in and around Scranton where you can celebrate your achievement with a day of relaxation. Abington Spa in nearby Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, offers a variety of massage options -- including Swedish and deep-tissue massages -- as well as spa packages. If you want to pay particular attention to your feet (and why not -- they’ve carried you 26.2 miles!), Sanderson Place Salon & Spa’s Spa Pedicure includes a foot soak, salt scrub, hydrating mask, therapeutic foot massage, and polish. You’ll leave with extra pep in your step!