10 Things To Do In Scranton, Pa.

10 Things To Do In Scranton, Pa.

From whitewater rafting to exploring a coal mine, there are so many hidden gems just waiting for you to enjoy!
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Scranton, Pennsylvania is filled with so many fun and amazing activities and places! As a sophomore at the University of Scranton I found myself looking for things to do on the weekends, and here is what I found.

1. Nay Aug Park

I have actually been to this park for some leisurely walking/hiking and I am always amazed at its beauty! Its crazy to me that a park as big and beautiful as this one is located in an old city like Scranton. This park has so many activities like hiking, a playground, a tree house and even a waterslide complex!

2. Lackawanna Coal Mine

I haven't yet visited this place; however, it is definitely on my list! It is located in McDade park, and visitors can ride a mine car and travel through the mine. There is also a museum to go along with the mine car experience.

3. Lahey Family Fun Park

This is more for younger kids. However, it's a park for all ages, with go-karts, mini golf and more!

4. Electric City Escape Room

Right in downtown Scranton, Electric City Escape Room can be a fun and challenging activity to do with your friends!

5. Montage Mountain Resort

This can be a fun place in the summer or winter. There is a waterpark, skiing and a ZipRider. They also offer student discounts on certain nights, so it can also be affordable for a college student like myself.

6. Lackawanna River Heritage Trail

This is one stop on a 70-mile multi-purpose trail along the Lackawanna River. There is also a program along this trail called Bike Scranton, which rents out free bikes to ride on the trail.

7. South Side Bowl

Bowling can be a fun activity for anyone! South Side Bowl offers 34 lanes and a snack shop that's perfect for college students.

8. The Lost Trails ATV Adventure

This place is in Dunmore and offers ATV tours that is fun for anyone and everyone. Follow your tour guide on your own ATV through trails in the area! It is more expensive than other activities on this list, however, so make sure this is in your budget.

9. Roba's Family Farm and Roba's Family Orchard

While these are two separate places, they are run by the same people and deserve to be in the same category. At Roba's Family Farm you can go pumpkin picking, explore a corn maze, go on a hay ride and so many other fun activities. At Roba's Family Orchard you can go apple picking! Apple picking is one of my favorite fall activities, so I will definitely visit this place.

10. Pocono Whitewater

This place is great for when it's warm out because it offers whitewater rafting! You and your group of friends can enjoy the warm weather while riding the Lehigh River.

Cover Image Credit: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-I8WpDS8Q1V4/VN0VthkzAYI/AAAAAAAAY18/Ipan1SqJ26o/s1600/Scranton%2C_Pennsylvania%2C_restored_historic_Electric_City_sign_by_Carol_Highsmith_(LOC_highsm_04369).jpg

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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Out Of All The Places I Call Home, Maine Is My Number One

More than a place, more than a feeling, even more than a tattoo.

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Like most people I am most often asked, "Where do you call home?" or "Where are you from?" As much as have always struggled with staying still in one place, I am very proud to say, Maine. I have lived all up and down the east coast. I was born in Rhode Island, my early childhood was spent in Maine, I spent a few years in New Hampshire, then drastically moved way down to South Carolina where I spent a decade living under the hot sun. More recently, I now live in New Jersey.

While I never considered Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and New Jersey home. Maine and South Carolina, being complete opposites are where my heart lies most. Don't get me wrong, I have friends and family I adore in all the states I once got to call myself a resident of, however, my heart was never meant to be there.

When I think of South Carolina, I am appreciative of all the blessings that came in the time I was there. I spent my teens and early twenties there. I went to high school there, I learned how to drive there, I drank my first *legal* beer there. I discovered my love for traveling there. If it wasn't for growing up in South Carolina, I would have missed out on a big world that I didn't know existed out of New England.

On the other hand, when I think of Maine. I remember what it was like to feed my curiosity. I remember summer days that didn't make me want to stand in front of an air conditioner, and how beautiful a fresh blanket of snow can be. Maine is what made Autumn my favorite season of the year. Maine also made me a snob when it comes to seafood, especially lobster.

Maine taught me the beauty in nature and the joy in living minimally. Maine blessed me with an adventurous and rustic childhood, one where no matter how hard I tried, I would never be able to survive within a city grid. Maine has been so kind to me in being so stable. It doesn't matter where this crazy world takes me, how big and old I get, no matter what zip code fits into my address, Maine always stays the same for me.

Sure, the trees get taller and the grass gets higher, but the feeling I get when I visit. That deep breath of fresh air and whole feeling, well that, never changes.

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