BY TERRIE MORGAN-BESECKER
Tourists eager to learn more about the Pennsylvania roots of the president and first lady can hit the road for a new, self-guided tour of destinations from the Electric City to Philadelphia.
Joe & Jill: A Biden Trail, is a three-day journey that guides visitors to 14 spots that have special meaning to the couple.
Scranton headlines the list, with five locations — from Joe Biden’s childhood Green Ridge home to his favorite eateries.
It is the latest of 11 self-guided tours put together by the Pennsylvania Tourism Office designed to promote tourism in the commonwealth and boost local economies.
“This is an outstanding opportunity for our area,” said Curt Camoni, executive director of the Lackawanna County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “A lot of people are enamored with presidential history and like to visit all the places presidents lived.”
Lackawanna County commissioners applauded the tourism bureau for coming up with the idea.
“This is a great tourism boost for us,” the commissioners said in a statement. “Visitors come to see the locations and then spend money in our shops, hotels and restaurants. It also provides a glimpse of our quality of life that may lead to other economic development possibilities.”
While the tour is focused in Scranton, Camoni said it will benefit the entire county.
“We have a lot of other historic sites to attract folks. Hopefully, we can turn it into a full weekend and get them over to Steamtown, the trolley museum and the Lackawanna Coal Mining Tour,” he said.
The Biden tour begins where it all began for the president — his childhood home at 2446 N. Washington Ave. for selfies.
It continues to the Green Ridge Little League field, where an 8-year-old Biden played short stop and center field, then to St. Paul’s Church, where his family were active members.
Along the way, travelers can grab a bite to eat — Hank’s Hoagies, 1224 Woodlawn St., a regular stop by Biden when he visits Scranton, and Manning’s Farm Dairy, his favorite shop to get some chocolate chip ice cream. Manning’s has five locations, including two in Scranton.
Paul Manning, owner of Manning’s, and Tom Owen, owner of Hank’s Hoagies, said they are surprised to learn they’re on the destination list.
“I’m thrilled to hear about it,” Manning said. “Hopefully, we’re doing something right.”
Owen said he’s also excited to learn his business is highlighted. The president is a fan of his Italian hoagie, but enjoys the camaraderie as much as the food.
“He likes to come in to see what’s going on in the neighborhood and reminisce,” Owen said.
The tour also includes destinations in the Philadelphia area that are important to the first lady, who lived in that region for about 20 years.
The state tourism office has promoted self-guided tours for the past 20 years. They’ve become even more popular in the last year as the COVID-19 pandemic limited travel options, said Carrie Lepore, deputy secretary of marketing, tourism and film for the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
“A lot of consumers are still looking to stay closer to home as they being to travel again,” Lepore said. “Pennsylvania is in a perfect position to take advantage of the travel trends that are coming out of the pandemic.”
The tourism office chose the destinations for the Biden tour after consulting a destination marketing firm and local residents who knew the Biden family, she said.
For more information on the Biden Trail tours and others, visit the tourism office’s website at www.visitpa.com/trips-and-trails.
The locations on the Joe & Jill: A Biden Trail tour are:
- Biden Family Home on Washington Avenue in Scranton;
- Green Ridge Little League, the President’s childhood baseball team;
- Hank’s Hoagies, the President’s favorite sandwich shop;
- St. Paul’s Church & Grade School, the President’s elementary school and family parish;
- Manning’s Dairy Farm, Scranton-favorite ice cream;
- Lafayette College, where President Biden traced his PA roots back to 1875;
- Upper Moreland High School, the First Lady’s high school;
- Villanova University, the First Lady’s alma mater
- Kelly Drive, a favorite running route for the First Lady;
- South Philadelphia, home of the First Couple’s favorite Philly restaurant, Dante & Luigi’s;
- Franklin Fountain, the First Lady’s favorite ice cream spot;
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