Pennsylvania is one of the mid-Atlantic's loveliest states, home to vibrant metropolises Pittsburgh and Philadelphia on its western and eastern ends. Couples can enjoy world-class dining, shopping, and cultural attractions in both cities or explore some of the nation's loveliest small towns in the state's interior. Amusement parks abound, including Pittsburgh's Kennywood, Allentown's Dorney Park, Altoona's Lakemont Park, Erie's Waldameer Amusement Park, and Hersheypark, the anchor attraction of chocolate-focused tourist town Hershey. The Lehigh Valley is home to charming cities like Bethlehem, while Bucks County is noted for its historic city downtowns in areas such as Doylestown and New Hope. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.The Pocono Mountains
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The Pocono Mountains, commonly known as the Poconos, are one of the Eastern United States' top outdoor recreational destinations, stretching for over 2,400 square miles throughout northeastern Pennsylvania within the Lehigh and Wyoming Valleys. The mountain region, which is one of the most popular getaway destinations for New York and New Jersey residents, is home to nearly a dozen state and national parks, including the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, which stretches for 74 protected miles and preserves the historic Delaware and Hudson Canal. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area offers year-round opportunities for fishing, hunting, swimming, and skiing. Beautiful landmarks include Bushkill Falls, which offers hiking trails and photo opportunities, and Lake Wallenpaupack, a popular fishing and boat launch area.
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Gettysburg is a lovely historical town in central Pennsylvania, best known as the home of Gettysburg National Battlefield, which preserves one of the American Civil War's most important battle sites. Gettysburg National Military Park is home to the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center, which showcases Civil War-era artifacts and weapons. Nearby, the Gettysburg National Cemetery commemorates the site of United States President Abraham Lincoln's iconic 1863 Gettysburg Address speech. A plethora of living history museums detail the region's civilian history, including the Jennie Wade House, the Shriver House Museum, and the David Wills House. Visitors can explore the region's cultural heritage at the Gettysburg Heritage Center, explore the former home of a United States President at Eisenhower National Historic Site, or tour the city's delicious food scene as part of tours by Savor Gettysburg.
Jim Thorpe is a lovely eastern Pennsylvania town named in honor of professional athlete Jim Thorpe, the first indigenous American to win an Olympic gold medal for the United States team. Visitors can explore the town's history and learn about Thorpe's athletic legacy at the Mauch Chunk Museum and Cultural Center, which also features exhibits related to the region's mining industry. Nearby, the No. 9 Mine and Museum preserves an historic 19th-century anthracite coal mine and offers guided tours. Abstract expressionist art is on display at the Anita Shapolsky Art Foundation, while area cultural history is showcased at the preserved 1861 Asa Packer Mansion. Lehigh Gorge State Park offers excellent outdoor recreational opportunities, including chances for scenic railroad rides aboard the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway.
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Kennett Square is a charming Chester County borough that has been acclaimed as the "Mushroom Capital of the World" for its extensive mushroom farming operations, which produce over a million pounds of the funghi each year. The city's mushroom-growing heritage dates back to the late 19th century, as a complement to utilize wasted space underneath carnation-growing beds in the region's farmlands. Today, the city hosts an annual Kennett Mushroom Festival each September, which showcases an elaborate parade, mushroom farm tours, and food vendors. Annual holiday festivals include a Cinco de Mayo celebration in the city's downtown district and an annual Kennett Brewfest beer tasting event. Visitors can explore beautiful Longwood Gardens, attend summer concerts at lovely Anson B. Nixon Park, or peruse area art galleries and studios as part of the city's monthly First Friday Art Strolls events.
Altoona is a lovely Blair County city that is one of Pennsylvania's most populous cities, originally founded in the mid-19th century as a railroading town. Today, it is home to several amusement parks, including the historic Lakemont Park, which preserves the world's oldest roller coaster, Leap-the-Dips, dating back to 1902. Nearby DelGrosso's Amusement Park and Laguna Splash Waterpark, connected to the food company of the same name, features family-friendly midway attractions, water rides, and a miniature golf course. Visitors can catch Altoona Curve minor league baseball games or attend performances by the century-old Altoona Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1928. The Railroaders Memorial Museum preserves exhibits related to the region's railroading history, while the Baker Mansion History Museum operates a living history home museum offering guided tours.
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Ambler is a charming Montgomery County borough located approximately 15 minutes north of the city of Philadelphia, known for its lovely cultural attractions, including the Barrymore Award-winning Act II Playhouse professional theater. Visitors can attend performances by the Ambler Symphony Orchestra or view showings of independent and art films at the 1927 Ambler Theater, originally opened in 1927 as a Warner Brothers cinema and recently completely renovated into a nonprofit community theater. Unique murals are on display at the city's post office, created by artist Harry Sternberg and commissioned by the United States Section of Painting and Sculpture. Nearby, Wissahickon Creek offers hiking experiences, while Fort Washington State Park offers opportunities for disc golf. Once a month, the city's First Fridays events bring live music performances, art gallery openings, and food vendors to the city's downtown district.
Bethlehem is a lovely Lehigh Valley city near Allentown, known for its annual 10-day Musikfest, which draws more than a million attendees and showcases free live music performances. The city, which is part of Pennsylvania's third-largest metropolitan region, is known for its lovely historic downtown district, which is home to attractions such as the unique Banana Factory arts complex and the Touchstone Theatre. Visitors can peruse the city's lovely boutiques and restaurants or enjoy opportunities for urban recreational experiences at Sand Island Park, which is home to a children's playground, clay tennis courts, and hiking and biking trails. Nearby, the SteelStacks campus hosts festivals and concerts throughout the year, while Dutch Springs offers summer water thrill rides and attractions.
Bloomsburg is a lovely historic town in Columbia County, known for its laid-back atmosphere and lovely cultural attractions. The city, which was once a hub of textile mill production in the central Pennsylvania region, is now home to a beautiful National Historic District downtown lined with charming shops, boutiques, cafes, restaurants, and galleries. Visitors can enjoy theatrical performances by the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble or bring families to Town Park, which is home to the massive Kidsburg 2.0 community children's playground. Each year, the city hosts the annual Bloomsburg Fair in September, which offers carnival rides, food vendors, and live entertainment. Other annual special events include the Town Park Ice Cream and Cake Festival and the Renaissance Jamboree.
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Bucks County is a lovely district just north of the city of Philadelphia, located along the banks of the Delaware River. The charming region is known for its Revolutionary war attractions, including Washington Crossing Historic Park, which marks the spot of an important river crossing attack by George Washington's army. Visitors can explore the charming downtown district of quaint towns like Doylestown, New Hope, and Bristol, which are known for their delicious restaurants, eclectic boutiques, and unique antique stores. Peace Valley Park, anchored around the banks of Lake Galena, offers excellent outdoor recreational opportunities. Couples traveling with children in tow can enjoy the lively rides and attractions of Sesame Place. More than 15 breweries are located along the Bucks County Ale Trail, which is also home to several vineyards.
, Michigan beaches
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Bushkill is a lovely unincorporated community in Pike County, best known as the home of its namesake falls, considered to be the "Niagara of Pennsylvania." Visitors can explore the iconic eight-tiered falls via a network of hiking trails and bridges that are open to the public throughout the year. The Pennsylvania Wildlife Exhibit, located near the entrance to the falls' grounds, showcases displays related to the area's indigenous wildlife. Excellent outdoor recreational opportunities are offered throughout the region, including chances for all-season snowtubing, ziplining, and ropes adventure courses. The Pocono Environmental Education Center showcases exhibits related to the region's ecology, while the Pocono Indian Museum tracks the history of the region's indigenous tribes.
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Doylestown is a lovely Bucks County town that has been named as the home of one of America's top small-town cultural scenes by USA Today's 10Best. Visitors can explore the city's lovely Mercer Mile, which is home to unique concrete castles constructed by archaeologist Henry Mercer at the turn of the 20th century. The Moravian Pottery and Tile Works Museum preserves the pottery works of Mercer, while the historic Fonthill Castle hosts an annual Old-Fashioned Fourth of July celebration. The James A. Michener Art Museum showcases an impressive collection of Pennsylvania Impressionist artwork, along with permanent displays such as the Nakashima Room, honoring the works of regional woodworker George Nakashima. In the city's downtown, the 1930s-era County Theater showcases independent and foreign films in an Art Deco building, while restaurants like the Lobster Claw Doylestown and the Pennsylvania Soup and Seafood House serve up excellent East Coast seafood dishes.
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DuBois is Clearfield County's most populous city, located approximately an hour and a half northeast of the city of Pittsburgh. The charming city is home to the beautiful Treasure Lake resort community, which offers 8,000 acres of recreational amenities for residents and visitors, including two PGA-rated championship golf courses, three swimming beaches, two boating and fishing lakes, and an overnight campground. Nearby, Cook Forest State Park preserves one of Pennsylvania's most important tracts of virgin timberland, offering opportunities for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. The city's downtown district is known for its cultural attractions, including the Winkler Gallery of Fine Arts, which showcases art exhibits and hosts the annual DuBois Arts Festival. Couples can also taste fine wines at several area wineries, including Laurel Mountain Vineyard and Wapiti Ridge Wine Cellars.
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Erie is a lovely northwestern Pennsylvania set on the banks of the Great Lake of the same name, located just two hours north of Pittsburgh's downtown. The charming city, which is commonly known as the "Gem City," is home to the expansive shorelines of Presque Isle State Park, which curves for more than 3,200 acres around Presque Isle Bay and offers opportunities for fishing, canoeing, scuba diving, and biking. The Erie Maritime Museum preserves the 19th-century US Brig Niagara ship alongside exhibits tracing the geology and maritime history of Lake Erie, while the Erie Art Museum focuses on the works of 20th-century artists. Waldameer Amusement Park and Water World is home to thrilling rides and attractions like the acclaimed wooden roller coaster Ravine Flyer II. After a long day on the beach or at the park, couples can enjoy delicious brews at area breweries like the Erie Brewing Company, Voodoo Brewing Company, and the Brewery at Union Station.
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Hershey is a lovely tourist town located just east of Harrisburg, originally established as a community for Hershey chocolate factory workers in the early 20th century. Today, the resort town is best known as the home of the Hersheypark amusement park, which is open seasonally and home to a plethora of high, mild, and family thrill rides. Visitors can enjoy world-class roller coasters like mega coaster Skyrush, launch coaster Storm Runner, and looping coaster Fahrenheit or explore the animal exhibits of adjacent ZooAmerica. The Hershey Story Museum chronicles the creation of the city and its attractions, while Hershey Gardens showcase a rose garden and butterfly house. Major international artists perform throughout the year at Hersheypark Stadium and Giant Center. Visitors can also shop at the city's lively Tanger Outlets center, enjoy craft brews at Troegs Brewing Company, or explore nearby Indian Echo Caverns as part of guided tours.
Johnstown is a lovely Cambria County city, located just an hour east of Pittsburgh near the city of Altoona. The city is known for its history of extreme flooding, including its "Great Flood" of 1889, which killed more than 2,000 residents after the collapse of the nearby South Fork Dam. The region's floods, including its subsequent 1936 and 1977 floods, are detailed at the Johnstown Flood Museum. Five National Historic Districts populate the city's downtown region, home to attractions like the Johnstown Inclined Railway and the historic Nathan's Department Store. Couples traveling with children in tow can explore the Heritage Discovery Center, while couples with arts interests can peruse the unique art exhibits of Bottle Works. Each year, the city hosts the annual Thunder in the Valley motorcycle rally, one of Pennsylvania's largest motorcycle events.
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16.The Laurel Highlands
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The Laurel Highlands are one of the most beautiful regions in western Pennsylvania, located approximately an hour southeast of the city of Pittsburgh. The region, which extends through Somerset, Cambria, and Fayette Counties, is home to the stunning Mount Davis, which stands more than 3,200 feet above sea level. Outdoor recreational opportunities abound, including chances for nature hiking and photography at areas like Ohiopyle State Park, home to the gorgeous Ohiopyle and Cucumber Falls waterfalls. Visitors can bike along the lovely Great Allegheny Passage, hike on the Laurel Highlands Trail, or enjoy year-round opportunities for fishing, hunting, and skiing throughout the area. Nearby, Fallingwater preserves one of architect Frank Lloyd Wright's most beautiful works, while Seven Springs Mountain Resort offers lovely opportunities for skiing and relaxation.
Lawrenceville is one of Pittsburgh's liveliest cultural neighborhoods, located just northeast of the city's downtown district on the banks of the Allegheny River. The former industrial neighborhood has experienced a major revitalization over the past decade, known today as one of the mid-Atlantic's top hipster meccas. Visitors can explore quirky shops and boutiques lining the neighborhood's Butler Street district, see independent movies at the Row House Cinema, or enjoy a night out at the lanes at Arsenal Bowl. The reservation-only Roberto Clemente Museum showcases an impressive collection of Pittsburgh Pirates-related memorabilia. A wide variety of excellent dining destinations abound, including renowned Tuscan bistro Piccolo Forno, creative hot dog joint Franktuary, and Industry Public House, known for its impressive draft beer and cocktail lists.
18.The Lehigh Valley
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The Lehigh Valley is one of eastern Pennsylvania's most populous regions, home to the lovely cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton. The valley, which is part of the larger New York City and Philadelphia metropolitan regions, is home to a plethora of cultural attractions, including the Allentown Art Museum, which showcases more than 11,000 works of art, and the ArtsQuest nonprofit organization, which presents cultural performances at Bethlehem's SteelStacks campus. Each year, Bethlehem hosts the annual Musikfest music festival over 10 days in August, attracting more than one million visitors. During the summer months, Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom offers high thrill amusement attractions, including the legendary Steel Force roller coaster, the first roller coaster to break the 200-foot height mark on the American East Coast. Other attractions include the Bear Creek Ski and Recreation Area, the Dutch Springs SCUBA amusement park, and the Wind Creek Bethlehem casino and resort complex.
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Lititz is a lovely Lancaster County borough that has been named as one of America's coolest small towns by Budget Travel. The town, which was founded by Moravian settlers in 1749, was Pennsylvania's first city to establish an historic district, which now preserves many 18th and 19th-century homes and businesses. Visitors can explore the quaint art galleries, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants in the city's Broad and Main Street district or relax in luxury at historic bed and breakfasts like the Alden House B&B or the General Sutter Inn. The city is also home to the nation's oldest commercial pretzel bakery, Julius Sturgis Pretzels Bakery, and the historic 1894 Wilbur Chocolate Company. Annual special events include one of the nation's oldest and largest Independence Day celebrations, held each year on the Fourth of July since 1813.
New Hope is a charming eastern Pennsylvania town that has been named as one of America's favorite small towns by Travel + Leisure, known for its delightful cultural attractions and dining destinations. The Bucks County town is renowned for its delicious restaurant scene, home to excellent restaurants like the Creole-style Marsha Brown, the historic Logan Inn, and the riverfront Martine's Riverhouse Restaurant. Quaint shops and boutiques line the city's Main Street district, which is connected to nearby Lambertville, New Jersey via walking bridge. Visitors can explore the exhibits of the New Hope Arts Center, hike along the route of a former canal at Delaware Canal State Park, or enjoy scenic train excursions offered by the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad. The historic Bucks County Playhouse has hosted international luminaries such as Liza Minelli and Robert Redford. The city is also known for its gay-friendly atmosphere, hosting one of eastern Pennsylvania's liveliest Pride celebrations each May.
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Philadelphia is one of the American East Coast's most vibrant major cities, located in eastern Pennsylvania just an hour south of New York City. Visitors can explore a wide variety of historic attractions connected to the city's Revolutionary War history, including Independence Hall, which served as the site for the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution. The iconic Liberty Bell can also be viewed, showcasing its famous crack. International artwork is on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which was immortalized in the feature film Rocky. Visitors can tour the Eastern State Penitentiary, peruse the stalls and food halls of the Reading Terminal Market, or take families to the Philadelphia Zoo, which is home to more than 1,300 native and exotic animals. On the city's waterfront, Spruce Street Harbor Park offers seasonal games and food vendors, while the BlueCross River Rink provides opportunities for seasonal ice skating.
Pittsburgh is western Pennsylvania's largest city, located at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers. The city is best known for its sports legacy, home to major national teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL football team, the Pittsburgh Pirates MLB baseball team, and the Pittsburgh Penguins NHL hockey team. Its industrial history is preserved via a number of Gilded Age attractions, including the beautiful Carnegie Museums of Natural History and Art and the lovely Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Renowned pop artist and area resident Andy Warhol is honored at the Andy Warhol Museum, which presents a plethora of diverse cultural programming throughout the year. Visitors can also explore the city's vibrant Strip District, lined with food vendors and ethnic grocers, or enjoy high-quality global cuisine at acclaimed restaurants throughout its East End district. During the summer months, Kennywood Park offers high and mild thrill rides, including acclaimed hyper coaster Phantom's Revenge and the Steelers-themed looping coaster Steel Curtain.
York is a lovely southern Pennsylvania city that is commonly referred to as the White Rose City, a reference to the symbol of the House of York. The city, which is located approximately an hour north of Baltimore, is the home of the annual York Fair, one of the nation's oldest festivals, dating back to 1765. Each September, visitors can enjoy 10 days of fair attractions, rides, games, and concerts by country music artists. Cultural attractions include the Belmont Theatre, the Pullo Center, and the Appell Center for the Performing Arts, which have hosted internationally-acclaimed acts like Kenny G, B.B. King, and Béla Fleck. Art and furniture are on display at the city's Historical Society Museum, while 19th-century culture is preserved at the Bonham House living history museum. Nearby, the Mason-Dixon Wine Trail showcases a wide variety of lovely boutique wineries.
23 Best Small Towns in Pennsylvania
- The Pocono Mountains, Photo: Linda Harms/stock.adobe.com
- Gettysburg, Photo: Paul James Bannerman/stock.adobe.com
- Jim Thorpe, Photo: AardLumens/stock.adobe.com
- Kennett Square, Photo: Lisa S. Engelbrecht and Danita Delimont/stock.adobe.com
- Altoona, Photo: Michael/stock.adobe.com
- Ambler, Photo: boomks/stock.adobe.com
- Bethlehem, Photo: FotoHamBorg/stock.adobe.com
- Bloomsburg, Photo: Kanyarat/stock.adobe.com
- Bucks County, Photo: Andrew Kazmierski/stock.adobe.com
- Bushkill, Photo: Kenneth Sponsler/stock.adobe.com
- Doylestown, Photo: David LoGiudice/stock.adobe.com
- DuBois, Photo: Charte Photography/stock.adobe.com
- Erie, Photo: Jill Lang/stock.adobe.com
- Hershey, Photo: Nicole Nierenberg/stock.adobe.com
- Johnstown, Photo: Stephanie/stock.adobe.com
- The Laurel Highlands, Photo: Keith Allen/stock.adobe.com
- Lawrenceville, Photo: Chris/stock.adobe.com
- The Lehigh Valley, Photo: Ritu Jethani/stock.adobe.com
- Lititz, Photo: Delmas Lehman/stock.adobe.com
- New Hope, Photo: eqroy/stock.adobe.com
- Philadelphia, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Pittsburgh, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- York, Photo: lspi138/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Pavel Losevsky/stock.adobe.com
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