Exactly where are the Poconos? That’s a question I get asked pretty often. It surprises me because we’re kind of a big tourist destination. I just assume everyone knows where we are, like people from, say, the Ozarks, assume the rest of us know exactly where they are. To be honest, I have a vague idea of where the Ozarks are, but couldn’t really point to them on a map.
The Poconos, first and foremost, are in Pennsylvania. For those on the other side of the world who do not know US geography, we’re in the Northeast. We’re the yellow blob on the map below. Sorry, I stink at graphic programs. I tried to trace the state all pretty, but I’m pretty sure I cut off a few towns in the lower-west portion. I don’t think anyone lives there anyway. In any case, the Poconos are not down there, so it’s not relevant.
Fun Facts About Pennsylvania
- We buy beer pretty much by the case from a beer distributor (or pay a fortune for six-packs in a bar) and liquor from a state-run liquor store. You cannot get beer in a liquor store or vice-versa. Nor can you have alcohol shipped to your house, because we in PA are not considered grown-up enough to handle that. (Update: in the last year or so, PA has started allowing “beer cafes” to open in certain grocery stores, so we’re making some progress).
- We are a Commonwealth, not a State. Basically, as far as I can tell, this just means that we really love very, very archaic laws, like you can’t buy beer in a liquor store and vice versa.
- We allow frat houses, but not sorority houses, because apparently that many women living together constitutes a brothel. Like I said, archaic laws are our specialty.
- We can’t buy fireworks at our own fireworks stores. In fact, I don’t even think we’re allowed inside of them. You have to have an out-of-state license to purchase the fireworks. People from New Jersey flock to buy fireworks that they can’t legally take back to their own state, nor legally use here. Totally confusing, but the fireworks people make a killing every year, so somehow people get around all these catch 22s.
So Where Are the Poconos?
Now that you know where PA is, and a little about our wacky little Commonwealth, it’s time to figure out where the Poconos are. Well, that answer varies depending on who you ask. We make up a good chunk of Northeastern PA, and technically places like Wilkes-Barre and Scranton are part of the Poconos. But vacationers typically come to a much smaller section in Monroe and Pike Counties. The map below shows the actual Poconos. I used a blue line to indicate where the unofficial Poconos actually are (everything to the right of the line, or basically to the right of I81). I even circled my town in red for you, cause I’m crafty like that.
Fun Facts About the Poconos
- Our population practically doubles or triples on the weekend, when everyone from NY and NJ flees their city life and invades our once-peaceful region looking for an escape. I curse a lot on the weekends because I can’t even drive to the grocery store 5 miles down the street without either almost getting into an accident or sitting in 30 minutes of out of state traffic.
- My part of the Poconos isn’t exactly a peaceful, wooded wonderland anymore. Most of our pretty trees have been chopped down to make room for stores, so those from NY and NJ can come buy clothes untaxed. Why the heck are those states taxing clothes anyway? I thought essentials were not to be taxed, and last I checked, walking around naked was a crime in most states. Except maybe California. They get to have all the fun! There are still lots of trees in areas like Greentown, Promised Land, and what not though. I’m personally not complaining about all the new stores, it sure beats driving to Allentown or Scranton to get stuff.
- The Poconos are home to the Delaware Water Gap, which is really pretty, especially in the fall. If you are driving on the PA side and look up at the mountain at the right spot, you can see the face of a Native American.
- We have good ski resorts, or so I’m told. The last time I went skiing 20 years ago, I slid backwards down the bunny slope, landed flat on my back with twisted skis, and had to ask an elderly couple to rescue me because I was stuck. But lots of people come here for the skiing, so I imagine we’re pretty good.
- We used to be a rockin’ honeymoon destination, but I think a lot of those resorts closed down over recent years. Hopefully we’ll make a comeback someday. Hey, we have water falls too, you know! Fine, they’re not as impressive as a certain honeymooner-hogging place that I won’t mention, but they’re pretty AND surrounded by the last bit of nature that we have left!
Despite my joking about NY and NJ drivers , over-population on the weekend, and lack of remaining wooded wonderlands, I really do like my area for the most part. Except on weekends and holidays. Then I find myself wishing I lived in some little idyllic town with a single dirt road down the middle of it.
Great article Nicole. I was curious where exactly the Poconos began and ended so I decided to google it but I got a wide variety of answers which I didn’t exactly agree with. Your answer was great and I love how much fun you had with it. FYI, I’m also one of those drivers checking the plates assuming it was NY or NJ that almost hit me. In their defense though, with the bumper to bumper traffic in NYC and the surrounding NJ areas they have to drive within close proximity all of the time so they’re so used to it that they don’t even think about it. I just wish they’d realize when they hit the open roads like ours that they can leave 5 (or here’s a thought, maybe even 10) feet between cars. Whereas with us we are so used to having so much space that whenever anyone gets within 5 feet of us we think they almost hit us (at least that’s the case with me).
Thanks for the article, D.L.