From Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s cities attract thousands of visitors every year. But the Commonwealth has far more to offer than just its metropolises and famous sites, including a vast history that influences its many adorable and historic small towns.From the Poconos to Amish country to the scenic Delaware River, Pennsylvania is defined by the richness of variety available to locals and travelers alike, whether you want to unwind in nature or enjoy some arts and culture. Many of the towns are easily accessible from New York City, Philadelphia or D.C. train or bus, and all offer a sense of individuality not always found elsewhere. For those looking for a weekend away or perhaps to completely relocate to somewhere new, here are 16 of the most charming small towns in Pennsylvania.
16 Charming Small Towns in Pennsylvania You Might Just Want to Move to
1. New Hope, PA
- Things to Do: Bucks County Playhouse, Ferry Market, Delaware Canal State Park, New Hope Arts Center, New Hope Railroad
- Where to Stay: Harvest Moon Farm (from $200/night, sleeps 4); Carriage House (from $230/night, sleeps 3); Luxury Private Entrance Master Suite (from $285/night, sleeps 2)
Located on the Delaware River, New Hope is a scenic small town in the heart of Bucks County. It’s home to the celebrity-friendly Bucks County Playhouse and known for its eclectic, delicious restaurants, which include riverside spot The Landing and Stella of New Hope. Stop by the New Hope Arts Center, local spot Nakashima Woodworkers, the historic Parry Mansion or take a ride on a vintage train, which run on the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad to nearby Lahaska. It’s small and quaint, and the river location makes for nice walks through town.
2. Johnstown, PA
- Things to Do: Heritage Discovery Center, Johnstown Flood Museum, Johnstown Inclined Plane, Sargent’s Stadium, Wagner-Ritter House and Garden
- Where to Stay: Home In Johnstown (from $88 per night, sleeps 4); Historic Johnstown Vacation Rental (from $114 per night, sleeps 5); Cozy 2 Bedroom Home (from $89 per night, sleeps 4)
The fall leaves are impossibly bright in Johnstown, found in the Allegheny region of Pennsylvania, but that’s not the only time to enjoy this quaint town. Explore the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, see a performance by the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra or investigate the tragic history of the area at the Johnstown Flood Museum, which showcases how a massive flood destroyed Johnstown in 1889. Thrill seekers should look for the Johnstown Inclined Plane, a funicular built back in 1891, which is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “steepest vehicular inclined plane in the world.”
3. Ridgway, PA
- Things to Do: Flavors of Fall Festival, Clarion River-Little Toby Rail Trail, Ridgway Chainsaw Carving Rendezvous, Elk County Council on the Arts
- Where to Stay: The Church Loft (from $68 per night, sleeps 3); Lily of the Valley (from $74 per night, sleeps 3); Bear Creek Cabins (from $129 per night, sleeps 8)
Found on the edge of Allegheny National Forest, Ridgway embraces local business and an artsy vibe. The population and the town itself are quite small, but there’s a lot do, especially when it comes to annual events. Come for the Tasting in the Wilds Festival or learn more about the art of chainsaw wood carving at the Ridgway Chainsaw Carving Rendezvous, the biggest gathering of its kind. Its proximity to Allegheny National Forest, which is filled with trails, boating, horseback riding and camping, means visitors can easily enjoy the great outdoors. In the fall, the Clarion River-Little Toby Rail Trail is especially popular with those looking for the famous Pennsylvania fall foliage.
4. Ohiopyle, PA
- Things to Do: Ohiopyle State Park, Fallingwater, White Water Adventurers, Cucumber Falls, Great Allegheny Passage
- Where to Stay: Ohiopyle Luxury Treehouse (from $350 per night, sleeps 6); Hidden Gem (from $199 per night, sleeps 6); Ohiopyle Getaway (from $138 per night, sleeps 4)
If you prefer trees to people, get away from it all in Ohiopyle, which is home to a mere 100 inhabitants. It boasts the Ohiopyle State Park, perfect for hiking in its 20,000 acres of beautiful wilderness (look for the trail that goes to Ohiopyle Falls), and the Great Allegheny Passage, a 150-mile hiking and biking stretch that passes through town. Of course, the main attraction in
Ohiopyle is Frank Lloyd Wright’s famed home Fallingwater, a memorable feat of architecture that was partially built over an actual waterfall. This is the destination for those who want a moment of respite and some peaceful time in the woods.
5. Honesdale, PA
- Things to Do: Wayne County Historical Society Museum, Tanner Falls, Art Factory of White Mills, Stourbridge Line Train, Cooperage Project
- Where to Stay: The Overlook (from $234 per night, sleeps 6); Honesdale Retreat (from $69 per night, sleeps 5); Wonder Honesdale (from $131 per night, sleeps 6)
Only a two-hour drive from New York City, Honesdale is the perfect small town for a weekend away in the Poconos. Whether you want to explore the Wayne County Historical Society’s Museum and Research Center or dance the afternoon away during the annual Honedale Roots & Rhythm Music & Arts Festival, the colorful town has something for everyone. The downtown buildings, made up of shops, restaurants and cafes, date back to the 1800s and visitors can glimpses the boyhood home of Dick Smith, composer of “Winter Wonderland.” Be sure to book a ride on the Stourbridge Line Train, which travels from Honesdale along the Lackawaxen River Valley.
6. Yardley, PA
- Things to do: Shady Brook Farm, Touchstone Art Gallery, 9/11 Memorial Garden, Vault Brewing Co., Masters of the Skies
- Where to stay: Historic Tiny Cottage (from $177 per night, sleeps 3); 3 Bedroom River House (from $195 per night, sleeps 5); Centrally Located Cottage (from $150 per night, sleeps 2)
Pennsylvania’s small towns are filled with history, but none more so than Yardley. George Washington crossed the Delaware River on Christmas Night in 1776 in this charming town, which has been memorialized with the picturesque Washington Crossing Historic Park and with Bowman's Hill Tower. Today, Yardley is known for its historic town center, which is filled with boutiques, taverns and old-timey buildings. Families (and childless animal lovers) should head to Shady Brook Farm, one of the largest family-friendly farms in Bucks County, where you can pick your own crops and enjoy annual festivals.
7. Milford, PA
- Things to do: Grey Towers National Historic Site, Raymondskill Falls, Columns Museum, the Upper Mill, Milford Beach
- Where to stay: Forest Cottage (from $143 per night, sleeps 6); Mountain Laurel (from $291 per night, sleeps 6); Poconos – Views – Streams (from $335 per night, sleeps 8)
You won’t have to go far to end up on one of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area’s many trails when staying in Milford, located in Pike County. The town has a lot of history, which can be uncovered in the Columns Museum, home to the Lincoln Flag, and the Grey Towers National Historic Site, the scenic former home of Gifford Pinchot. The walkable downtown is filled with shops and eateries (look for Bar Louis in the sleek Hotel Fauchère), and visitors arrive every year for the Black Bear Film Festival and the Milford Music Festival. For something a little more adventurous, rent a canoe or kayak at Kittatinny Canoes (which also boasts a zip line and paintball range). Because Milford is only 90 minutes from New York City, it’s the perfect spot for a quiet weekend or even just a night away from your usual busy life.
8. Wellsboro, PA
- Things to Do: Leonard Harrison State Park, Pine Creek Rail Trail, Deane Center for the Performing Arts, Tioga Trail Rides
- Where to Stay: Nature’s Edge (from $101 per night, sleeps 6); Sunrise Ridge (from $186 per night, sleeps 8); Lazy Bear Lodge (from $256 per night, sleeps 10)
Many travelers may not realize that Pennsylvania has its own Grand Canyon, the 50-mile long and 1,000-feet deep Pine Creek Gorge. It’s a sight to behold even for those who aren’t inclined to hike around its trails, and Wellsboro is the entry point for all visitors. Staying in the Victorian town, which gives the sense of stepping back in time, is a great way to experience Pennsylvania’s impressive nature, from the scenic Tioga Central Railroad to the Pine Creek Rail Trail, which runs across the Appalachian Mountains from north of Wellsboro. Don’t miss the old school Wellsboro Diner, which serves up inexpensive American fare, and the Frog Hut, an old-fashioned ice cream shop.
9. Lititz, PA
- Things to do: Lititz Springs Park, Lititz Historical Foundation, Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania, Kissel Hill Fruit Farm, Wilbur Chocolate Retail Store
- Where to stay: Furnace Hills (from $91 per night, sleeps 6); 1781 Log Cabin (from $187 per night, sleeps 7); Adorable Cottage (from $75 per night, sleeps 3)
Once voted the coolest small town in America, Lititz is basically the definition of a charming town. Pay a visit to the Lititz Historical Foundation & Museum or stroll around Lititz Springs Park before touring the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, the U.S.’s first commercial pretzel bakery founded back in 1861. Lancaster County Food Tours are a great way to learn more about the culture of the area, from the Pennsylvania Dutch to Lititz’s historic (and delicious) Wilbur Chocolate Retail. For something truly magical, book a private tour of the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania, which provides refuge to 40 Pennsylvania wolves.
10. Lancaster, PA
- Things to do: Dutch Wonderland, Lancaster Central Market, the Amish Farm and House, American Music Theatre, President James Buchanan’s Wheatland, Fulton Theatre
- Where to stay: Vibrant Home (from $93 per night, sleeps 5); Quiet Cottage (from $200 per night, sleeps 4); Cozy Cottage (from $191 per night, sleeps 4)
The heart of Pennsylvania’s Dutch community can be found in Lancaster, which famously acted as the state capital from 1799 to 1812. The local farms mean lots of amazing food and fresh produce, which can be found at Lancaster Central Market (the U.S.’s oldest public market). The town is also the starting point for the Lancaster County Art Gallery Trail, which travels through several nearby towns and showcases the area’s most interesting (and affordable) art. To better understand the history of the Pennsylvania Dutch, head to the Amish Farm and House or book a tour at the Mennonite Information Center. In the fall, don’t miss Liederkranz, Lancaster County's version of Oktoberfest, which has been around since 1810.
11. Stroudsburg, PA
- Things to do: Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm, Olde Engine Works, the Sherman Theater, Pocono Mountains, Monroe County Historical Association
- Where to stay: Cozy Guest Cottage (from $89 per night, sleeps 3); BrickStone Lodge (from $133 per night, sleeps 8); Cozy Pocono Cabin (from $128 per night, sleeps 6)
You don’t have to go to Napa to winery hop. Stroudsburg, in the Poconos, has plenty of local wineries to enjoy, from RAW – Urban Winery to Tolino Vineyards. If you prefer some culture, head on a tour of Stroud Mansion or see a concert at the Sherman Theater. Nearby, the Levee Loop Trail boasts hiking and biking alongside Brodhead Creek (which is also known for its fishing) and Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm makes for a nice day out for families. Visit in August to experience the lively StroudFest, a free festival with shopping, live music and food. Bonus: There are several ski resorts in driving distance, including Shawnee Mountain Ski Area, which means you can also enjoy Stroudsburg in the winter.
12. Doylestown, PA
- Things to do: Fonthill Castle, Mercer Museum, Michener Art Museum, Monrovian Pottery and Tile Works, Vivat Alfa Winery, Doylestown Brewing Company
- Where to stay: Guest Cottage (from $120 per night, sleeps 4); Historic Private Stone Cottage (from $169 per night, sleeps 3); 1949 Borough Bungalow (from $230 per night, sleeps 4)
Wish you go to Europe and explore its castles? You don’t have to leave Pennsylvania to find historic luxury. Instead, head to Bucks County to discover Doylestown, a vibrant town that’s home to Fonthill Castle, a 20th-century mix of Gothic, Medieval and Byzantine architecture that offers daily tours. Art lovers should include the Michener Art Museum, which showcases Pennsylvania Impressionist paintings, and Mercer Museum on their itinerary, while those looking to get outside will find a lot to do in nearby Nockamixon State Park. Don’t miss the Peace Valley Lavender Farm, which comes into bloom in June and July.
13. Jim Thorpe, PA
- Things to Do: Asa Packer Museum, Old Jail Museum, Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, Bear Mountain Butterfly Sanctuary, Big Creek Vineyard
- Where to Stay: Historic Home (from $137 per night, sleeps 6); Bear Foot Lake House (from $225 per night, sleeps 8); Whimsical Home (from $180 per night, sleeps 4)
Known as the “Switzerland of Pennsylvania,” Jim Thorpe boasts a historic downtown and is home to the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, which takes visitors on scenic excursions along the Lehigh River. The town was named for Olympic gold medalist Jim Thorpe—and it’s also where he was buried, so look out for his memorial and statue. Visit the Mauch Chunk Museum and Cultural Center to learn more about the area’s coal mining history, or marvel at the opulent rooms in the Asa Packer Mansion, a historic house museum built in 1861. For those traveling in the fall or winter, Jim Thorpe’s Olde Time Christmas and Fall Foliage Festival are events not to be missed.
14. Benezette, PA
- Things to Do: Benezette Wines, Elk County Visitor Center, Mt. Zion Historical Park, Elk Life Store
- Where to Stay: Cozy Little Cabin (from $210 per night, sleeps 6); Camp David (from $198 per night, sleeps 5); Rustic Benezette Cabin (from $242 per night, sleeps 8)
Benezette, the so-called “Elk capitol” of Pennsylvania, is a small community with lots to do in the great outdoors. It’s known for its herd of wild elk, which numbers over 1,000, with the best viewing spot at the Elk Country Visitor Center. Elsewhere around town, Mt. Zion Historical Park and Quehanna Wild Area are great places to walk, and there’s plenty of hiking and biking in the surrounding wilderness. The town itself is only a few blocks wide, boasting rustic cabins and its own winery, Benezette Wines. Nearby, Moshannon State Forest and Quehanna Wild Area offer trails, camping areas and even more wildlife spotting. While Benezette isn’t the liveliest place, it’s scenic and peaceful.
15. Eagles Mere, PA
- Things to do: Eagles Mere Museum, Eagles Mere Beach, Eagles Mere Golf Course, the Laurel Path, Toboggan Slide
- Where to stay: Windswept Cottage (from $195 per night, sleeps 6); Mountain Modern (from $295 per night, sleeps 6); Eagles Mere Cottage (from $265 per night, sleeps 6)
Although the official population of Eagles Mere is less than 200, there’s still plenty to do in this woodsy town, located in northeastern Pennsylvania. During the summer months, thousands more flock to the town to enjoy its lake and watersports, as well as the Eagles Mere Museum and the adjacent Eagles Mere Air and Auto Museums. There’s also an annual Water Carnival, a golf course, a lakeside beach, a country club and several local eateries. Don’t miss the EM Country Store and The Barn Tavern, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant set in a red barn. In the winter, Eagles Mere becomes a famous destination for toboggan rides, which have taken place there on snowy days for over a century.
16. Mifflinburg, PA
- Things to Do: Shady Mountain Winery & Vineyard, Mifflinburg Buggy Museum,Rusty Rail Brewing Company, Koon’s Trail, Blueberries and Bluegrass Festival
- Where to Stay: Creek Valley Cove (from $250 per night, sleeps 14); Log Cabin With Spa (from $143 per night, sleeps 6); Scotty’s Cottage (from $122 per night, sleeps 2)
Located in the Susquehanna River Valley, Mifflinburg is a charming, historic town (technically, it’s a borough) that showcases quaint 19th century architecture. Explore the Mifflinburg Buggy Museum, or enjoy the annual Christkindl Market and Oktoberfest, which draw visitors to the area each year. Outdoor lovers can hike in Raymond B. Winter State Park or Sandbridge State Park, fish at Penns Creek or drive to Bald Eagle State Forest, known for its trails and campgrounds. Thanks to its history, which dates back to the 1700s, one of the best ways to experience Mifflinburg is via self-guided walking tour, where you can spot the Gutelius House and the Elias Center for the Performing Arts.
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