17 Free Things to Do in Scranton, PA

Free Things to Do in Scranton, PA

Whether you're new to the area or you've called Scranton home for years, prepare to see this wonderful city like never before.

Strap in and join me as we uncover the free things to do in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Roxanne Pacheco, Mario Kamps, Bianca Spence, Lynn Campbell, Robert Gray, Barbara Duncan and Thomas Martinez.

Explore Industrial Heritage at Steamtown National Historic Site

View of Steamtown National Historic Site
George Sheldon / Shutterstock.com

Every so often, I find myself drawn back to the Steamtown National Historic Site, a place where history unfolds in the heart of my beloved hometown.

The hum of engines, the smell of old steam locomotives, and the sight of the massive machinery take me back to an era of industrial grandeur.

The sprawling grounds of the historic site are always impeccably maintained and provide a serene setting for leisurely strolls.

Each of my visits becomes a new adventure as I let my curiosity guide me through the vast yard filled with locomotives and passenger cars.

Admiring the sheer size of these mechanical beasts, it's easy to imagine the hustle and bustle of the once-thriving railroad yard.

Being a bit of a train enthusiast myself, I'm fascinated by the technology museum.

Each exhibit captures the evolution of railroad technology, revealing a tale of American perseverance and ingenuity.

The hand-pump car and engines in various stages of restoration are always a sight to behold.

They're like echoes from the past, reminding us of how far we've come.

Steam trains at Steamtown National Historic Site
George Sheldon / Shutterstock.com

One of my favorite things about the Steamtown National Historic Site is the "Scranton Limited" train ride.

As the train chugs along, the park ranger shares historical tidbits with the speaker, painting a vivid picture of our city's past.

It may not offer breathtaking sceneries, but the rich history and the sense of nostalgia make it a ride worth taking.

I've spent many summer days exploring the site, and I must warn you, it can get quite hot.

So make sure to bring bottled water and sunblock.

But don't let the heat deter you, as you can take refuge in the shade of the old ALCO and Baldwin class steam engines.

The afternoon excursions are a must-do during these hot days, providing a delightful respite from the heat.

Steamtown National Historic Site isn't just a place; it's an experience.

A tribute to the transformative power of the locomotive, and a testament to our city's significant role in shaping the history of American railroads.

Steam locomotive at Steamtown National Historic Site
Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock.com

Take Photographs at Mountain Lake

I often find myself drawn to the serene beauty of Mountain Lake, a gem located just a stone's throw away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The tranquility of the water, surrounded by lush greenery, is an ideal spot for those craving a quiet escape.

My loyal labrador retriever, Sandy, is always ecstatic when I grab his leash, and he sees me heading towards the car.

He knows we're off for a fun day at the lake.

Mountain Lake is the perfect place for Sandy to cool down with a quick swim, and I can unwind while watching him play and splash around in the water.

The landscape here is truly a sight to behold.

With each season, the scenery dons a new attire, each more spectacular than the previous one.

The vibrant colors of autumn leaves reflecting on the still waters, the snow-capped mountains in winter, the blooming flowers in spring, and the lush greenery in summer all make for picturesque views that never fail to leave me in awe.

Another aspect I love about this place is the peace it offers.

Away from the city noise, I can take a moment to reflect, read a book, or just embrace the beauty that surrounds me.

My visits to Mountain Lake always leave me feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

It's more than just a lake to me; it's my sanctuary.

The peace and serenity it offers make it a place I hold close to my heart.

Go Fishing at Sweeney's Beach

I can't think of a better way to spend a sunny afternoon than at Sweeney's Beach.

It's a hidden gem, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city – a serene oasis where I often go to relax and reconnect with nature.

The beach is my preferred spot to practice my fly fishing skills.

The calm, translucent water is home to an abundance of fish, making it an angler's paradise.

Beyond fishing, it's a great place to let my faithful companion run wild, burning off energy in the open air, a far cry from the confined space of the Southside dog park.

Often, I pack a picnic to enjoy under the plentiful shade provided by the towering trees.

Sweeney's Beach is equipped with a pavilion and a designated fire pit, perfect for roasting marshmallows or cooking up some fresh catch.

On lazy afternoons, I abandon the provided bench, preferring to lay a blanket on the soft grass and relax to the soothing sounds of the lapping water.

The restored river bank is perfect for a leisurely stroll, the gentle rustling of the leaves and birds chirping, creating a tranquil soundtrack to the walk.

Sweeney's Beach is my slice of freedom, a breath of fresh air away from the concrete jungle.

Cool Down at McDade Park

Signage of McDade Park
Billy Hathorn at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I'll never forget the day I discovered McDade Park.

My morning jog turned into an exploration of a hidden gem in our city.

This spacious park, tucked away in Lackawanna County, has quickly become my favorite spot to unwind and enjoy the great outdoors.

One of the park's highlights is its Olympic-sized swimming pool. It's been a lifesaver during the summer heatwave.

The pool is delightfully deep, reaching 8 feet at its deepest point, with a gently sloping shallow end perfect for the little ones.

The entry is free, which means it can get crowded, so plan to arrive early to snag a good spot.

Just a heads up, though, the parking situation can be a bit tricky.

If you don't want to haul your gear up a steep hill, I recommend dropping everything off at the top first.

The splash pad is another great feature of the park, a hit with kids of all ages.

If you're there for more than just a swim, McDade Park also boasts an interesting history tour.

The coal mine tour, in particular, is an eye-opening experience.

It sheds light on the challenging working conditions that the miners had to endure, providing insights into a crucial part of our local history.

Even in the summer heat, bring a medium jacket for a comfortable trip underground.

Frolic at Rockwell Park

You wouldn't believe how much joy a small park could bring until you've seen Rockwell Park.

Nestled in the heart of our community, this park is an everyday delight for my family and many others in the area.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, it's a place where you can enjoy the tranquility of nature and the laughter of children.

Many a day, I have taken my toddlers there to play on the baby swings and mini playground.

There's little that matches the delight on their faces as they slide down the tiny slides or swing high on the baby swings.

The best part is it's not crowded at all, making it the ideal spot for some quiet and quality family time.

On most weekends, Rockwell Park is filled with cheerful shouts and roars from the local softball teams.

It's a common sight to see them engaged in a friendly match, adding to the lively atmosphere of the place.

I must say, Rockwell Park is not just for kids; it's a sanctuary for adults as well.

Recently, the park underwent a revamp, making it even more appealing.

The new and improved playground is an absolute hit with the little ones.

My kids can't get enough of the swirling rides and spend hours running around, letting their imaginations run wild.

Reflect at Lackawanna Veterans Memorial Plaza

Signage of Lackawanna Veterans Memorial Plaza
Billy Hathorn at English WikipediaCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I often find myself drawn to the tranquility of the Lackawanna Veterans Memorial Plaza.

The beautifully sculpted wall, adorned with inspirational quotes about life and the experiences of veterans, is truly a sight to behold.

Whenever I need a moment to myself or a place to reflect, this tranquil plaza is my go-to spot.

The benches scattered across the area provide a perfect opportunity to sit and soak in the beauty of the surroundings.

On a hot summer day, the gentle breeze that rustles through the shaded areas carries a certain tranquility that's hard to find elsewhere.

But the plaza isn't just about peace and tranquility.

It's also a powerful tribute to our soldiers who have been lost or gone missing in the past few wars.

This profound display of support and respect is heartwarming and gives the plaza a deeper meaning.

If you're in the area, I suggest you take a moment to visit this place.

It's more than just a beautiful area to walk around; it's a place imbued with a sense of honor and respect that frames beautifully with the courthouse.

It's definitely worth a quick run-through, and I can assure you that you won't be disappointed.

Have a Family Time at Connell Park

There's nothing as heartwarming as watching my dogs frolic around in the wide-open spaces of Connell Park.

They love it, and so do I. It is refreshing to interact with fellow parkgoers, who are not just friendly, but extend their kindness to all the dogs, making it seem like one big happy community.

I often find myself having endearing conversations with the locals who, like me, bring their personal water supplies, as the park is currently lacking in that department.

Connell Park is not only a haven for dogs, but it also has its charm for families.

There's plenty to offer, with swing sets and climbing structures for the kids, making it an ideal spot for a family day out.

And you don't have to worry about cleanliness or maintenance because the park always seems to be in top-notch condition.

Spot the Wildlife at Lake Scranton

The waters of Lake Scranton
Bruce Goerlitz Photo / Shutterstock.com

I wake up to mornings that most people only dream of. Sunlit views, fresh air, and the serene atmosphere of Lake Scranton.

It offers the most stunning views in the entire area.

Every time I walk around this divine lake, it's about 4 miles of walking, but with the tranquil environment, it feels like a seamless skywalk.

I often find myself immersed in the beauty of Mother Nature and the many creatures she cradles.

From the chirp of the birds to the rustle of the leaves, everything here is a melody to the ears.

During my visits, I've encountered a variety of wildlife – turkeys, chipmunks, and once, even a majestic bald eagle soared above me.

The sight of it was truly mesmerizing. I never forget to bring my camera along.

The landscape, the wildlife, the sparkling water of the lake – every moment here is a photo opportunity.

Especially during fall, the leaf colors add a mesmerizing vibrancy to the landscape, making it look like a scene from a movie.

However, it's not just the visual beauty that captivates me; the peacefulness also seeps into my soul.

Sometimes, I bring my lunch and spend time near the lake, just admiring the view and soaking in the tranquility the water offers.

Though the lake isn’t exactly what you see on "The Office," and you can't get too close to the water, it's a small compromise for the incredible experience it offers.

There are spots where you can get a closer look at the water and just sit, enjoy the peace, and lose yourself in the enchanting beauty.

Lake Scranton is more than just a place to me.

It’s an experience, a sanctuary, and a constant reminder of nature's splendor.

It's absolutely worth the visit and so beautiful.

Discover the Wilderness at Nay Aug Avenue Natural Play Area

Just a stone's throw away from my doorstep, I often find myself taking relaxing strolls down to the Nay Aug Avenue Natural Play Area.

The tranquil setting, nestled between a bustling road and the gentle lull of the river, serves as a charming retreat for my family and me.

We love the nature-inspired playground, where my daughter can play in the wide open spaces.

I often see her delight in the subtle charm of the worn wooden play structures, the essence of the natural world carefully crafted into their design.

The backdrop of the river adds an element of serenity, while the paved bike path caters to my fitness routine and offers an excellent spot for my daughter to ride her tricycle.

The park’s allure doesn't stop there; it offers quaint picnic tables, perfect for our weekend family picnics.

Here, we enjoy the soothing sounds of birds chirping and the gentle rustle of leaves in the wind.

Catch a Show at Scranton Cultural Center

Exterior of Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple
ARK NEYMAN / Shutterstock.com

There's something truly magical about spending an evening at the Scranton Cultural Center.

Its architectural grandeur and rich history have always been a source of pride for me.

But it's not just about the aesthetics; the Cultural Center is also known for its diverse range of performances, including ballet, theater, concerts, and comedy.

Night light of Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple
Noel Biesecker / Shutterstock.com

One of my most memorable experiences at Scranton Cultural Center was attending the NEPA Philharmonic Orchestra Christmas show.

The festive ambiance and the heartwarming performance were a delightful way to celebrate the season.

It was an experience that I will always cherish.

Night lights of Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple
Noel Biesecker / Shutterstock.com

Catch the Sunset at Renaissance Park

Have you ever been to a place that you felt was your little secret?

That's how I feel about Renaissance Park.

Nestled in the heart of Scranton, it's a small and quaint rooftop park that still feels like a secret gem to me, even though it's open to the public.

My frequent strolls have made Renaissance Park an integral part of my routine.

It's a beautiful little park that I often spend time in, soaking in the tranquility.

There's an incredible elevator/stairwell that leads up to it.

The changing lights give it a sense of whimsy that adds to the overall charm of the place.

The highlight is the amazing sunsets you can catch from the park.

The park is truly a beautiful spectacle, a place that I find solace in amidst the bustling city life.

Learn about Local Flora at Marywood University Arboretum

Trust me when I say that the Marywood University Arboretum is a hidden gem in our city.

I've lived here all my life and yet every visit to the Arboretum gives me a refreshing new perspective.

It's true that there isn't any parking or signage, and it might seem misleading to call it an arboretum.

But the beauty of it is that it's much more than just a campus with trees.

It's my personal retreat where I can stroll amidst over 40 species of trees, shrubs, and plants.

Anyone who appreciates nature will surely love it here.

One can argue that their yard, too, could be an arboretum, but can it match the splendor of a magnificent spring at Marywood University Arboretum?

Can they boast of fascinating buildings like the Rotonda with its muralled ceiling or the Learning Commons building that houses one of the only automated book robot libraries in the United States?

Moreover, the people here are simply wonderful. I have seen how welcoming and friendly the students and staff are.

It's these little things that make a big difference.

You don't just visit the Arboretum; you experience it.

Jog through Nay Aug Park

Boardwalk at Nay Aug Park
quiggyt4 / Shutterstock.com

There's something about the crack of dawn at Nay Aug Park that always gets me. I usually start my morning with a brisk walk along the park's trails.

They're generally well-maintained and clean, providing a refreshing green escape right in the middle of the city.

It's not uncommon to share the path with joggers and fellow nature enthusiasts, and the best part is that our furry friends are welcome, too.

Now, I can't talk about Nay Aug Park without mentioning the treehouse.

It's something straight out of a storybook.

The kids love it!

There's also a playground - albeit it could use some improvements.

One of the slides is barely two feet off the ground, not exactly a thrill ride for the little ones.

Just off the beaten path, things get a little less idyllic.

The outer trails aren't maintained as frequently.

Broken glass and large pieces of garbage mar the natural beauty, and at least one of the overlook platforms is in a sorry state.

It's a real shame because the views from these platforms are quite something.

Regardless of its shortcomings, Nay Aug Park is still a favorite weekend spot for my family and me.

We often set up a cozy BBQ station near the waterfalls, enjoying the sight and sound of cascading water as we dine.

And the facilities, like the porta-potties, are quite well maintained and clean.

Take Snaps with the Gettysburg Monument

Stepping out of my front door, I find myself often drawn to the historic Gettysburg Monument, a stone's throw away from the center of our downtown.

It's a beautifully serene spot, nestled right at the footsteps of the county courthouse, a place where history intertwines with the present.

The monument itself is an emblem of respect and gratitude, acting as a silent tribute to our brave war veterans.

It is one of several monuments, each representing a different aspect of our city's rich history and the sacrifices made by our brave forebears.

Every day, I witness people of all ages taking a moment to reflect, their faces lit up by the early morning sun or under the soft glow of the setting sun.

Parking is never an issue here. Even on a busy Monday morning, I've never had trouble finding a spot.

Around 11:00 AM seems to be a particularly good time, with fewer crowds and the park encircling the monuments providing a pleasant, peaceful atmosphere.

These moments of quiet reflection amidst the hustle of everyday life are what makes living here so special.

The Gettysburg Monument isn't just a part of our city's skyline, it's a part of our identity, a testament to our shared history, and a reminder of the legacy we've inherited.

As a resident, I feel immense pride in calling this place home.

It's not just about the monuments, it's about the spirit they embody and the stories they carry forward.

Discover Iron History at the Scranton Iron Furnaces

Stone buildings of Scranton Iron Furnaces
Noel Biesecker / Shutterstock.com

You wouldn't believe the kind of history that's nestled just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of the mall.

The Scranton Iron Furnaces is a hidden gem, a testament to our city's industrial past.

The second you step onto the grounds, you almost feel transported back to the 1840s when these stone blast furnaces were churning out iron and steel.

It's a quick visit, but trust me, it's more than worth it.

With every glance, you catch a new angle, a new opportunity to snap that perfect photo that screams 'history.'

And it's not just a feast for the eyes, either.

Dotted around the site are signs filled with fascinating facts about how Scranton Iron Furnaces were used in iron production.

One of the blast furnaces at the Scranton Iron Furnaces
Noel Biesecker / Shutterstock.com

Ever wonder how our city became such a powerhouse in the steel industry?

You'll find your answers here.

I've been to the furnaces several times, and even though it might not be a sprawling museum, it never gets old.

It's a place of reflection, of understanding our roots.

And the best part? Parking is absolutely free!

Plus, there are plenty of local events hosted on the grounds throughout the year.

The view inside one of Scranton Iron Furnaces
Noel Biesecker / Shutterstock.com

Take in the Views from Rie Rie Overlook

Every so often, I find myself drawn to the breathtaking beauty of nature and nothing captures it better than Rie Rie Overlook.

When the daily grind gets a little too much, it's the perfect place to escape.

It's the dramatic views from the hilltop that really steal the show, putting on a display that leaves you in awe of nature's grand design.

It's a short jaunt down to the overlook, and the walk itself is a joy.

The trails and walkways, though a bit worn and in need of some love, add to the rustic charm of this gem of a spot.

However, they can be a little tricky so make sure to wear the right footwear.

Also, if you're with kids, a bit of caution is advised.

The wooden platform and railings, showing signs of age and weathering, are reminiscent of a bygone era.

They add an air of nostalgia to this place.

Although, be sure to watch your step as some areas can be a little uneven.

But it doesn't end there.

The area surrounding the overlook is every bit as enchanting.

The various shades of green from the overgrown foliage create a beautiful contrast against the blue sky.

It’s like walking through an enchanted forest.

However, I’d advise not to stray from the path.

The area off-path does not have the same level of safety and can be a bit risky.

Discover the City's Natural History at Everhart Museum

Exterior of Everhart Museum in Scranton
Jeffrey from Dunmore, PA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What a delight it is to have a world-class museum like the Everhart Museum right here in my own hometown!

A gem nestled in our park, the Everhart Museum is a must-visit for anyone and everyone.

I've been a frequent visitor since my childhood, and I've seen the museum evolve over time.

Let me give you a peek into my hometown pride.

The Everhart Museum has been an integral part of my upbringing.

My childhood memories are filled with awe-inspiring exhibits of dinosaur fossils, the bird room, and the intriguing shrunken head.

Despite some exhibits like the worker bees and the shrunken head no longer being present, the museum continues to captivate with its modern, clean, and freshly painted galleries.

One particular highlight is the mineral and stones exhibit that light up under a black light, making it a truly mesmerizing sight.

Its resilience over the years, surviving the city's financial ups and downs, is nothing short of a miracle.

It's more than just a museum — it's a symbol of our city's resilience and a testament to our love for art, science, and natural history.

The museum also boasts a collection of modern works that are truly worth a see.

For just $5, you can explore these world-class exhibits.

Just make sure you keep an eye on the time, as the workers are punctual and expect visitors to respect their closing time.

It's a small price to pay for the rich culture and history that awaits you within the walls of the Everhart Museum.

Final Thoughts

Scranton, Pennsylvania is a treasure trove of free activities that offer unforgettable experiences.

With so many parks and historical sites, Scranton offers a wealth of opportunities for outdoor adventures, peaceful strolls, and fascinating trips into the past.

No matter who you are or what you enjoy, Scranton has something for everyone.

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