Historic New Hope, Pennsylvania, across the Delaware River from Lambertville, New Jersey, via EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

10 Most Scenic Small Towns in Pennsylvania

Few things embody bucolic landscapes with historic charm than Pennsylvania, a refreshing state of liberal renown. In this land of many trees, the most scenic small towns, there are places that should not be dismissed. Where Amish culture thrives, and ancient Native Americans have stamped an enduring legacy in several sites, these small towns possess a great deal of charm and opportunities for many adventurers. Whether you are climbing the Pocono Mountains into breathtaking towns like Wilkes-Barre and Stroudsburg or exploring historical sites as seen in Gettysburg and Hershey, the most scenic small towns in Pennsylvania provide the freedom and liberties the American ancestors fought to have.


Downtown Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania.
Downtown Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania. Image credit gg5795 via Shutterstock.com

The mountainous borough of Ohiopyle, located at the Laurel Highlands, promises breathtaking access to several destinations for in Pennsylvania’s outdoors. One can wade and paddle down the sinuous Youghiogheny River or go trekking across the vast Ohiopyle State Park. Those looking for more scenic adventurers can cross the Great Allegheny Passage, a series of treacherous biking and hiking trails spanning 150 miles from Pittsburgh and snaking all over the Laurel Highlands. Nearby, the 100-acre botanical reserve of Ferncliff Peninsula shelters many of Pennsylvania’s flora and fauna. The Ferncliff Peninsula also promotes a grand view of the Youghiogheny River atop Baughman Rock Overlook or endless sights of Cucumber Falls and Ohiopyle Falls. Consider staying a while in Ohiopyle, especially in fine establishments like Heart of Ohiopyle Vacation House and Stay In Ohiopyle.


The cityscape of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
The cityscape of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

Wilkes-Barre endures as a prosperous paradise for those seeking the cool atmosphere of the Pocono Mountains, or the Poconos for short. One can go on exciting explorations through the Bear Creek Camp Conservation Area and the Pinchot State Forest and all over the Wyoming Valley, a region once owned by the Iroquois Confederacy. You can also watch spectacular Art Deco performances at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, as well as the Fine Arts Fiesta in the month of May. Wilkes-Barre is also a town steepled in history, as it used to be a vital coal-mining town in the Poconos in 1770, feeding fuel for railroads and trains in Pennsylvania from the quarries and mines around the Susquehanna River. The Luzerne County Historical Society Museum provides more context on Wilkes-Barre’s intriguing past, or you can always visit the Frederick Stegmaier Mansion to see how residents used to live in Wilkes-Barre. Do spend your lovely evenings at the Mohegan Pennsylvania or The Woodlands Inn & Resort.


Directional Route Signs on the Main Street of Wellsboro in Tioga County, Pennsylvania
Directional Route Signs on the Main Street of Wellsboro in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, via George Sheldon / Shutterstock.com

Approximately 52 miles from Williamsport, Wellsboro is a welcoming borough in Pine Creek Gorge, more affectionately known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. Pine Creek Gorge is riddled with nearly 60 miles of hiking trails and biking routes, all sandwiched between Colton Point State Park on the west rim and Leonard Harrison State Park on the east rim. Adjacent to Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon is the Tioga State Forest. The forest earned its name from Tioga, which is a Seneca phrase “meeting of two rivers.” But the real magic occurs while walking down Wellsboro’s gaslit streets and avenues, as if you were walking through one of Norman Rockwell’s lively illustrations of the Americana life. For those seeking the history of the town, the Robinson House Museum offers a comprehensive narrative. And for those wanting to spend the night at Wellsboro, the Penn Wells Lodge, La Belle Auberge Bed & Breakfast, and the Ski Sawmill Family Resort have all the accommodations you will need to rest easy.

New Hope

Historic downtown street in New Hope, Pennsylvania
Historic downtown street in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Image credit EQRoy via Shutterstock.com

Give yourself some hope in the graceful town of New Hope. Situated on the Delaware River's banks and near the border of New Jersey, New Hope preserves much of its historical ties of the past 200 years. For example, the 19th century Locktender's House now functions as the headquarters for the Friends of the Delaware Canal. It is there that visitors can learn more regarding New Hope’s contributions to the canals. Another historic structure is the vivacious Parry Mansion, built in 1784 by one of New Hope's founders, Benjamin Parry. It has endured as an architectural wonder merging different architectural genres throughout the centuries. Last is the Bucks Country Playhouse, America's most famous summer theater which played host to celebrities like Grace Kelly, Dick Van Dyke, and more. If you ever get tired from all the traveling in New Hope, then refresh and rejuvenate at the New Hope Lodge, Aaron Burr House, or Logan Inn in New Hope.


Main street in Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Main street in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, By Dough4872 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, File:Main Street NB at State Street Doylestown.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

The borough of Doylestown is an hour-away getaway from Philadelphia. The place was named after William Doyle's 18th Century Inn, and for years Doylestown has been a major crossroads between nearby towns. Several world-class museums entreat visitors and locals alike in Doylestown, such as the Mercer Museum—a six-story, reinforced concrete castle produced by Henry Chapman Mercer in the early 1900s. The fortressed museum exhibits premier artifacts originating from pre-Industrial American culture. Fonthill Castle was also built by Mercer between 1908-1912, and the building now serves as a masterclass in architectural design. Meanwhile, the Michener Art Museum showcases the culture and arts of the Delaware Valley. For those wanting to spend more days and nights contemplating Doylestown architectural ingenuity, then book a room at tthe Doylestown Inn or the Mainstreet Inn.


Street in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Street in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

About 50 miles away from Hershey, Gettysburg was a pivotal site of change and conflict in the US. It was the Battle of Gettysburg, the most famous and largest battle in the American Civil War, raged. And it was there that President Abraham Lincoln resided in the David Wills House before delivering his timeless Gettysburg Address. The Gettysburg Museum of History illuminates more details and contexts regarding these two monumental and momentous occasions. There is even a museum dedicated to a Gettysburg civilian casualty named the Jennie Wade House. You might be interested in taking self-guided bus tours through the Gettysburg National Military Park, where Civil War memorabilia remain. Should weariness keep you from going further, you can always rest up at the Federal Pointe Inn, Gettysburg Hotel, or The Gaslight Inn.


The new entrance to Hersheypark, a popular attraction in Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA.
The new entrance to Hersheypark, a popular attraction in Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA. Editorial credit: George Sheldon / Shutterstock.com

Want to experience a world of pure imagination? Then head over to the delicious town of Hershey, a two-hour-away place from Philadelphia reminiscent of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It is in Hershey that the globally renowned Hershey Company was established thanks to Milton S. Hershey in 1905. For a more immersive and lively experience in Hershey, venture into Hershey Park, a thrilling sanctuary where Hershey employees and town residents take breaks from all the nifty work. Or you can always ignore the chocolates and tour Hershey Gardens, where more than 500 hundred butterflies fly about. The Hershey Arena and the Hershey Story Museum are also noteworthy locations to visit, the latter chronicling the delectable events of both the town and the company. But the best places in town are definitely the Hershey Lodge and The Hotel Hershey, two of many lodgings that will make your visit in Hershey a treat.


Downtown shops in Lititz, Pennsylvania.
Downtown shops in Lititz, Pennsylvania.

Lititz is town as deliciously attractive as Hershey, which is only 26 miles away. In a land once inhabited by the Nanticokes—whose cultural relics have been found in Lititz Spring—Lititz is the home of the oldest commercial pretzel bakery in the US since 1861, the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery. The Wilbur Chocolate Company also treats visitors to the nation-famous Wilbur Buds that have been in distribution since 1894. The town is highly influenced by Moravian culture from central Europe, as Lititz was named by Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf—a nobleman from Dresden, Germany—after a Bohemian Castle near the village of Kunvald, Czech Republic. Finally, Lititz is also home to Linden Hall, the oldest all-girl boarding school in the US since 1746. No need to feel unwanted in the town, because fine lodgings like the Lititz Springs Inn, The Wilbur Lititz, and The Alden House will embrace you as any honored guest in Lititz.


The Restaurant District in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
The Restaurant District in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Image credit: Doug Kerr via Wikimedia Commons.

Located in heart of the Poconos and about an hour away from Wilkes-Barre, the splendid borough of Stroudsburg serves as a gateway to many mountainous features in Pennsylvania’s summits. For instance, the Levee Loop Trail campaigns refreshing hiking and biking paths winding through Brodhead Creek. Elsewhere, the Kettle Creek Environmental Education Center and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area give plenty more opportunities for rewarding explorations in the Poconos. One can venture into the ruins of Fort Hamilton, a military base that defended Stroudsburg from Native American raids in the past. For those seeking more interactive portrayals of the past, the Stroud Mansion, Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm, and Pocono Arts Council have a plethora of exhibits and artifacts for you to peruse. When it comes to accommodations, the Pocono Plaza Inn and The Penn Stroud are pristine examples for you to stay the night.


A block of West Main Street in downtown Johnstown
A block of West Main Street in downtown Johnstown. Image credit: Beyond My Ken, via Wikimedia Commons.

Johnstown is a vibrant settlement at the confluence of the Conemaugh River and Stony Creek. Once a Shawnee and Delaware village called Conemaugh, the town was renamed after Swiss Mennonite founder, Joseph Johns, to improve trade and commerce in the region. For generations, Johnstown has served as the Allegheny Portage Railroad’s westernmost terminus, playing a vital role as a vital route for the Pennsylvania Mainline Canal. Johnstown also produced a surplus of steel from several mills which churned the wheels of the US Industrial Revolution. However, history was not kind to Johnstown when it suffered one of the worst floods in the US due to a dam spill in 1889. The site of the damaged dam can be found at the Johnstown Flood National Memorial, and the Grandview Cemetery preserves many of the victims who perished in the unfortunate spillage. Only about 57 miles from Pittsburg, see more of what Johnstown has to offer while staying at the Sleep Inn Johnstown, Econo Lodge, or Comfort Inn & Suites.

The Takeaway

Long ago, Pennsylvania was one of the original 13 colonies that defied the British Empire for the sake of independence. It was there that the Declaration of Independence was signed, and where the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia continues to honor that moment. And for those of you who are fans of films, it was in Pennsylvania that Rocky Balboa left behind an enduring, cinematic legacy for many Americans. Today, the most scenic small towns in Pennsylvania continue to champion the liberties and freedom America is known for. Capture moments and remember to take photographs of the panoramic sights and sites of Pennsylvania’s small towns.

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