Thursday, November 04, 2010

A visitor's guide for people attending the Sideshow Gathering

Please note that this is in no way officially connected to the Sideshow Gathering or its sponsors, or to any of the businesses mentioned herein.  I'm just this guy, you know?

I'm trying to think of things that could be of value to people coming to the Sideshow Gathering.  The Woodlands, while a fine multi-purpose facility that houses a hotel, restaurants, clubs, and (of course) convention facilities, can feel like it's in the middle of nowhere.  Actually, there's quite a bit of stuff just over the next hill...

First things first:  You're not in Wilkes-Barre anymore.  Seriously.  You're in Plains Township.  You may need to know that at some point.

Route 315 is your friend.  It runs parallel to Interstate 81 for several miles.  You can use 315 to pick up 81 in either direction - there is one interchange at Wilkes-Barre to the southwest and another near Pittston to the northeast.  You can also pick up the Pennsylvania Turnpike in either direction:  if you are heading north on the Turnpike, pick it up at Pittston, and if you are heading south, pick up 115 south at Wilkes-Barre and follow it to the Turnpike.  Following 315 south will also take you to Business Route 309, which has some places of interest on it.  Taking 315 north will get you to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport at Avoca, which you can also get to on 81 north.

Starbucks:  We actually have a Starbucks!  It's located at the Wilkes-Barre Township Marketplace, which houses several other places of interest, including a Wal-Mart, a Cracker Barrel, a Liquor Store, and the Super Kings Chinese Buffet.

To get there from the Woodlands:
- Turn left (south/west) on 315
- Take 315 about one mile until it becomes Business 309
- Take Business 309 about one mile
- Make a left on Mundy Street and follow for about a half mile (this is actually the second intersection with Mundy Street; you can actually get there by following the first, but then you will make a left in the next instruction)
- Make a right on Highland Park Boulevard and follow for about half a mile
- Wilkes-Barre Township Marketplace and Starbucks will be on your right

Google Maps address: 2030 wilkes barre twp mkt Place, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702 (Starbucks)

Barnes & Noble:  Sadly, this is the only bookstore left in the area.  Oh, and it also has Starbucks coffee.  This is located at the Arena Hub Plaza, which also houses a Lowes, an Olive Garden, an Outback Steakhouse, a Best Buy, and several other retail stores (including clothing stores - no sales tax on clothing in Pennsylvania!)

To get there from the Woodlands:
- Turn left (south/west) on 315

- Take 315 about one mile until it becomes Business 309
- Take a left at the first intersection with Mundy Street and follow for about half a mile  (stay in leftmost lane)
- Take a left at the traffic light (actually your second or third traffic light) onto Tambur Boulevard into the Arena Hub Plaza
- Barnes & Noble will be on the right

Google Maps address: 421 Arena Hub Plaza, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702 (Barnes & Noble Booksellers Wilkes-Barre)

Note:  When you make the turn onto Highland Park Boulevard or Tambur Boulevard, you will be turning directly opposite an entrance to the Wyoming Valley Mall, which may have some stores of interest.

Hospital: Now, let's say that the light bulb you ate yesterday doesn't agree with you today, or that angle grinder burn is really starting to feel funny, or you've accidentally sawed something off.  There are several hospitals in the area, but the closest is definitely Geisinger Wyoming Valley hospital.

To get there from the Woodlands:
- Turn right (northeast) on 315 about one mile
- Turn right at Jumper Road 0.2 mi
- Take the first right onto East Mountain Drive 0.5 mi
- Turn left

Let's say you're in the mood for unlimited food cheap, but you don't want Chinese for some reason.  There's also the Old Country Buffet in the East End Shopping Center.

 To get there from the Woodlands:

- Turn left (south/west) on 315
- Take 315 about one mile until it becomes Business 309
- Continue along 309 for a few hundred more feet until you see the East End Shopping Center on your left

This shopping center also houses a Red Lobster.

If gambling is your thing, you're in luck!  The Woodlands is a stone's throw from the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, one of Pennsylvania's first casinos, now featuring table games as well as slot machines, dining and shopping.
To get there from the Woodlands:

- Turn right (northeast) on 315 about 1.3 miles
...and you're there!

These are just some of places along routes 315 and 309.  If you drive around the area, you'll see the place is loaded with shops, restaurants, and little holes-in-the-wall.  I've just listed a few.

Also of interest:

Giant Cow (Three-O-Nina)
As featured on
Located along route 309 (hence the name) near the Georgetown Deli and Four Keys Plaza, 720 Wilkes-Barre Township Boulevard.
(For being a giant cow it's surprisingly easy to miss.  It's right behind the STIHL sign  If you find yourself looking at a McDonald's, a Kmart, and a sign for CINEMA 309 XXX, you've gone too far.)

Gallery of Sound
One of a dying breed:  an independent record store.  Stop in and see what they might have that you might need!  Located at 186 Mundy Street.

Gertrude Hawk Chocolates
The finest chocolates around!  Right next to the Gallery of Sound at 174 Mundy Street.

Houdini Museum
A bit farther afield, located in Scranton, PA.

From their site:
1433 N. Main, Scranton, PA 18508. Tel. (570) 342-5555

GPS Latitude: 41.432156 Longitude: -75.663338
Take I-81 to Exit 190 the Main Ave Exit, LEFT onto Main exactly 2 miles to 1433 N. Main Ave. Scranton, PA. Free Parking. Enter front or back.

Knotty Pine restaurant
And one last thing, a vanishing bit of Americana.  An old-fashioned diner/restaurant located in Hazleton, PA at 26 North Church Street just off route 309.  It was announced earlier this week that this place will be closing as of November 13.  This place is easy to get to for those traveling south on 81, 309, or picking up Interstate 80 - all of these highways converge at Hazleton.

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