9 Most Charming Small Towns in Pennsylvania
The state of Pennsylvania is known around the world for being a natural getaway in the mountains, its rich culture, varied historical roots, and significant events that have contributed to the country’s current image. These cities all boast charming town centers, telling of their rich past and delighting visitors with their quintessential atmospheres.
Located in the Susquehanna Valley, Bloomsburg is a great cultural trip, being a veritable conglomeration of art, architecture, and history. Small and atmospheric, the university town also boasts an array of shops, art galleries and entertainment venues, while its food specialties are better than anywhere else, including hoagie sandwiches in cafes and sweet treats in bakeries. local independents like the Nannycakes. Bakery gathering ingredients on site to be baked in small batches.
The central market street is packed with arts destinations, such as the Artspace gallery with changing exhibitions every six weeks and works by local artists for sale, and the resident theater company Bloomsburg Theater Ensemble. Whenever you’re in town, you’ll likely stumble upon one of the annual events, such as the Renaissance Jamboree or the WHLM Parade of Lights.
Perfect for year-round visiting, there’s never a shortage of activity in historic downtown Bethlehem, including an almost non-stop parade of events. Many still like to visit the city during the atmospheric Christmas season to indulge in an array of shopping and dining options and take in the historic sights between the festivities.
The Hoover Mason Trestle includes the Sands Casino and live music, while the National Museum of Industrial History offers a lesson in the people and machines that helped build the state. Lehigh University has a community-created Millennium Lehigh Folk Arch, while fine art can be explored at the original-named Banana Factory and SteelStacks. With different stages for regular screenings of art films, documentaries, live music and comedy, the best local talent will be seen. Bolete Restaurant and Inn serves delicious oysters and caramel pudding for an extravagant and hearty meal.
A charming city with a glowing name is nestled comfortably in the Poconos Mountains in the northeastern part of the state. Founded in 1826, a short drive from Philadelphia and New York, Honesdale has become a thriving arts and culture mecca where creative minds congregate to draw inspiration from the mountains. Making a quiet and romantic destination for single couples in scenic surroundings, it is also perfect for outdoor enthusiasts being the getaway for hiking, biking and hiking through the vast range next door.
Among the many attractive historic buildings dating back to the 1800s, the towering spiers of churches tower between cozy cafes, shops and restaurants, adding to the auric atmosphere of the city. Being the “Birthplace of the American Railroad”, one can take a charming train ride along the Stourbridge Line, the nation’s first steam locomotive line, through the Lackawaxen River Valley. The childhood home of ‘Winter Wonderland’ composer Dick Smith is also in town, while the annual Honesdale Roots & Rhythm music and arts festival offers dancing in the colorful streets.
Located in the Allegheny region of Pennsylvania, scenic Johnstown was made famous by the tragic flood that occurred from a ruptured dam in 1889. Commemorated by the Johnstown Flood Museum, learn about the devastating effects of 20 million tons of water on the small steel town and how it has transformed. The Heritage Discovery Center shows the city’s rich immigration history during the iron and steel industrial era, which is still relevant today.
With a top art scene, the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art is one of the best in Pennsylvania. Classical music lovers can enjoy a performance by the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, while there is also an annual, nationally recognized folk festival that is a true multicultural event in the city. The 1891 Johnstown Incline is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the “steepest vehicular incline in the world”.
Located just outside of Pittsburgh, the ultra-creative community of Lawrenceville is a conglomeration of small local businesses welcoming visitors throughout the city’s 2.5 square mile area. The two blocks of Butler Street, near the Allegheny River, is the main business district, where you can find a special piece of art to take home or an outfit in one of the boutiques. The Row House Cinema is a single-screen cinema with just 83 seats for a warm, old-fashioned romantic evening.
Arsenal Park provides a walk through the former Allegheny Arsenal which served as a supply center for the Union Army during the Civil War. The nearby Allegheny Cemetery is one of the largest and oldest in the country. There’s also the quirky and evocative Doughboy statue, the Arsenal Field atmosphere reminiscent of its ballplayer, Johnny Unitas, and the historic Stephen Foster House to visit.
This Dutch town is known for its great American treats, including the famous Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, the country’s first commercial pretzel bakery offering a tour and lesson in twisting pretzels. The Wilbur Chocolate Factory, which has been in operation since 1894, is famous for its Wilbur Buds, while the unique architecture on the streets is almost the same as when the town was settled in the 1720s.
Established by Moravians believing in the acceptance of all religions, the Moravian star hanging from most houses, hotel porches and churches represents the city’s heritage today. Complete with the Lititz Historic Foundation and Museum telling the story of the town’s rich past, Lititz Springs Park for a scenic and relaxing stroll, and plenty of welcoming bed-and-breakfasts to choose from, charming Lititz has been named the ” The coolest little town in America.”
A new hope
While some towns may be lesser known, New Hope has been a popular and scenic getaway from Philadelphia and New York for many decades, located in the far east of the state. Perched on the west bank of the Delaware River, the city is a huge mecca of art and culture with significant historic sites and cultural landmarks. The historic Bucks County Playhouse is nationally renowned for its fantastic Broadway shows, musicals and theater productions. Hundreds of art galleries, antique stores and unique boutiques dot the city along its quaint streets, along with an array of eclectic and delicious restaurants that include riverside settings, such as The Landing and Stella by Jose Garces.
The charming old railroad station offers captivating sights and stunning scenery, especially at Bowman’s Hill Tower and Washington Crossing Historic Park on the way to Yardley via a vintage train ride along the Ivyland Railroad to in nearby Lahaska. While strolling through the city along the river, one must also visit the New Hope Arts Center, the local spot Nakashima Woodworkers and the historic Parry Mansion.
Located in eastern Pennsylvania, Stroudsburg is perfect for families, outdoor fanatics, nature lovers, honeymooners and wine connoisseurs. With spellbinding vistas of the Poconos Mountains all around the charming town, it’s a very popular and scenic getaway that’s teeming with outdoor activities, while the town itself acts as a commercial mecca for surrounding communities.
The city center is full of shops, restaurants and a wide choice of accommodation options with hotels and bed and breakfasts. For a diverse experience, the Academy Hill Historic District features intriguing architectural marvels, while the Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm offers insight into local life in the area. With nature at your doorstep, year-round heart-healthy opportunities include hiking, biking and skiing, while beautiful waterfalls, rivers and even vineyards are nestled between mountains and forests for a preferred type of reward after active time spent.
Just a half-hour drive from Pittsburgh, the pleasant little town of Zelienople has a charming look and atmospheric atmosphere, located on the south bank of Connoquenessing Creek. A real treat for all tastes, the city presents an optimal mix of old and new, where modern businesses and stays with all comforts are located between important historical buildings and cultural sites. The impressive history of the town founded in 1802 involves a German aristocrat, Dettmar Basse, who named it after his daughter, Zelie.
Being located along the road from Pittsburgh to Erie helped the town flourish with a settled feel today, with many quaint cafes and restaurants, several historic homes, and the old Strand Theater . Downtown Main Street also contains the Buhl House, the oldest erected building in the city, and the Passavant House teaches the city’s history through preserved artifacts and framed artwork made from human hair.
Clearly, these towns thrive on their arts and culture scene, the mountains, and a deep-rooted history for curious tourists to explore. The hardworking residents have also made it the commercial mecca they are for the region while making every tourist feel at home.