City of Wilkes-Barre offers more than meets the eye



With nature trails, music festivals, and broadway quality shows, Wilkes-Barre has a lot to offer students at Wilkes University!

James Jaskolka, Editor-in-Chief

Welcome to Wilkes University (and to the returning students, welcome back)! This special summer issue is being sent to you so you can familiarize yourself with the campus, as well as the area and some of its surrounding businesses.

As you arrive on campus, you may find yourself looking for something to do for fun once the high energy of Welcome Weekend fades. Surely, the University will tell you all about the on campus activities: the free meditation sessions, Programming Board sponsored events, Adventure-Ed activities, trips to New York City, free bowling and so on.

What the University probably has not mentioned is the plethora of activities available off campus, as well. While you may need access to a car for some of these, others are located as close as downtown.

If you care to look, you’ll find a blossoming arts scene, local music of all kinds, University alumni performing classic plays and near breathtaking oases of nature tucked away in secret locations.


Located in Bear Creek, just four miles south of campus, the Seven Tubs Natural Area (pictured) was formed by glacial melt-water continuously flowing across sandstone for thousands of years, effectively creating large, water filled potholes.

Seven Tubs is home to a variety of birds and mammals, and is said to be a favorite of local hikers for its easy accessibility.

While Seven Tubs offers a break from the city, one need not travel too far to find other hidden gems like it.

Right across the bridge, for example, is Kirby Park, which offers a walking trail, tennis courts, a pond for fishing and more.

Kirby Park is home to the annual Cherry Blossom Festival (which arrives in time for a much-needed study break before final exams) and often finds students lounging in the grass on nice days.

Wilkes-Barre is also home to various overlooks, such as the infamous Giant’s Despair or the Top of the World in Larksville.

For a full list of parks in Wilkes-Barre, readers can click here.


While the Wilkes University Theatre Department regularly hosts plays, students can see even more at the Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre on N. Main Street.

Often starring University alumni, the community run theatre is entering its 92nd season, and has hosted many popular shows, including “RENT,” “Chicago,” “The Producers,” “Anything Goes,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “The Graduate,” “Footloose,” “Legally Blonde,” “Spamalot,” and “the Sound of Music.”

They were also one of three venues in the entire country to host a test run of “National Pastime,” an off Broadway production.

Originally co-founded by Dorothy Dickson Darte (whom the Wilkes building is named after), the Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre offers free admission to students with a valid Wilkes ID.

The Theatre’s next show, “Catch Me If You Can,” (a musical based on the 2002 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio) will arrive just in time for the start of the semester, with performances on Sept. 6, 7, 12-14.

To learn more about the Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre or its upcoming shows. readers can click here.


Once home to a thriving local and national music scene featuring multiple venues, Wilkes-Barre has dwindled in the past few years. That is not to say, however, that it has burnt out completely, as several locations still offer a place to enjoy live music.

The Factory (left, top left) and The Other Side (top right), for example, are both venues on Main Street that feature original local music frequently. Both venues have bars, but often host all ages shows, and are a good place to enjoy local punk, indie, rock and metal acts.

For those who are fans of a more mellow type of music, Bart & Urby’s on Main Street and the aptly-titled River Street Jazz Cafe regularly host jazz musicians, both local and national.

In addition to bar venues, local bands and concert attendees often embody the D.I.Y. spirit by hosting shows in art spaces (like the Downtown Arts Building on Franklin St.), VFW halls, houses, churches and even behind donut shops; the Curry Donuts on Pennsylvania Ave., for example, will be hosting a local showcase on Aug. 29.

Wilkes-Barre is also home to the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts and the Mohegan Sun Arena, both of which have hosted bigger names such as Willie Nelson and Green Day, respectively.

If full band performances sound too intense, readers can find solace in the fact that several places offer acoustic shows. Barnes & Noble’s, for instance, hosts open mic nights, and the Gallery of Sound on Mundy St. regularly offers in store acoustic performances from touring bands (The Wonder Years and The Menzingers, to name a few).

To keep up to date on local music in the area, readers can like the aforementioned venues on Facebook or visit their respective websites.

Third Fridays:

As the name indicates, the third Friday of every month is dedicated to a free art walk highlighting local artists in Wilkes-Barre.

Held downtown (in the area between Jackson St., River St., South St. and Washington St.) from 5-8 p.m., local restauraunts, galleries and cafes host work by local artists and often offer guests live music and refreshments.

Attendees are free to arrive as they please and visit the venues at their own pace, making it a convenient activity for college students on a Friday evening.

According to their website, Third Fridays serve “as a conduit to artists, connecting them to prospective venues, art lovers seeking entertainment, and venues looking to attract new customers. All of these are unified under the vision of using the arts to revitalize downtown Wilkes-Barre.”

For more information or to have art shown, readers can click here.