Pennsylvania, the "Snack Food Capital of the World," is the nation's largest producer of canned fruit and vegetables, chocolate and cocoa products, potato chips, and pretzels. It is home to the renowned chocolate bar town of Hershey, as well as performance venues, scenic railroads, canals, and the Poconos Mountain range.
Transform a regular weekend into an extraordinary affair in one of the Keystone State's noteworthy small towns. Have a go at two Christmas-themed capitals, college towns, art-laden streetscapes, a different planet, and even America's coolest city. Each of these small towns offers an ideal escape for an unforgettable weekend.
The town named after the city in Israel is a charming escape, only about 1.5 hours from Philadelphia. Come to "Christmas City USA" during the holiday season and prepare to be floored. The magical town transforms into a picture from a storybook page, with decked storefronts and fancy horse carriages trotting down the cobblestone streets along decorated lamposts and with cheer, unlike any other place in the country. The town is filled with history and culture for an anytime visit, like the National Museum of Industrial History within a 100-year-old steel factory with insights into Bethlehem and Pennsylvania's role in America's steel industry and more.
Stroll the main thoroughfare amidst thousands of twinkling lights and decorations, along the boutique stores, gift shops, themed cafes, and restaurants with a special menu. Peruse the goodies from the outdoor huts or join a guided tour through some of the town's historic sites to relive this special time of the year back in the 1700s. Come any weekend from mid-November through Christmas to the legendary Christkindlmarkt with collectible nutcrackers from Germany's Käthe Wohlfahrt and baked goods galore like succulent strudels, logs, and more.
Bloomsburg is a tiny college town and one of the best US places to visit on a weekend getaway amidst the vast Susquehanna Valley. Come during the summer and you will have many attractions to yourself, along with memorable sights to enjoy the unobscured views in a real small-town feel. Visit when school is in session, and you will be met by a lively atmosphere in the area with plenty of local cultures to observe in one short weekend.
The small stroll-worthy affair is filled with shopping opportunities, art galleries to peruse, and entertainment venues with plays and performances, like the resident Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble. Soak in the artsy vibe along the main Market Street with the Artspace Gallery, featuring different exhibits every six weeks, and buy some local artwork. Try some of the unique eats of your life while in Bloomsburg, like the must-have hoagie sandwich from a cafe specializing in small-batch goodies and locally owned bakeries like the Nannycakes Bakery.
Easton is a match made in heaven for history buffs and art lovers and is perfect for a memorable family weekend escape. Feel the warm embrace of this small, picturesque town with a vibrant Easton's Centre Square main thoroughfare and long-standing attraction. The historically significant square hosted three public readings of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. For years the square was home to the atmospheric Easton Farmers' Market, the longest continuously running open-air market in the nation. You can now find the Market along the riverfront from May-December and on Northampton Street January-April.
Young tourists rejoice in the colorful Crayola Experience building with a giant crayon just outside. Join them in the immersive activity to create a personalized Crayola crayon with melted wax to make spin art, or watch them go wild at the crayon-themed playground. Continue the day at the renowned Klein Farms Dairy and Creamery with a farm-fresh ice cream where you can come face-to-face with friendly animals and mischievous goats. No weekend in Easton would be complete without a ride on the legendary mule-drawn canal boat, the only one of its kind in Pennsylvania. Watch history unravel at the National Canal Museum for insights into the golden age of canals in the US, and take an evening stroll down the canal to catch a show at the State Theatre Center for the Arts, like stand-up comedy, live music, or Broadway on tour.
Only two hours from the Big Apple, Honesdale is an ideal getaway into a small-town natural environment for a weekend respite from the city. It is set idyllically near the beautiful Poconos range, with awe-inspiring vistas each way. The town is host to some vibrant attractions that are sure to please every taste, like the Wayne County Historical Society's Museum and Research, enjoyed by the culturally inclined, and the annual Honesdale Roots & Rhythm Music & Arts Festival if you seek entertainment.
The colorful streetscape is a delight on a stroll, with downtown buildings and hotspots housed within the 1800s amidst more architectural marvels. Revel in the choice of shops, restaurants, and cafes. For more history, sneak a peak into the childhood home of the composer of "Winter Wonderland," Dick Smith's, and hop-on the popular Stourbridge Line Train for a scenic journey from the town through the breathtaking Lackawaxen River Valley.
The Christmas Tree Capital of the World comprises a wonderland experience anytime but is especially lovely to visit on the weekend during the winter holidays. Escape to Indiana for a throwback into yesteryear before Christmastime and bring back the most one-of-a-kind souvenir. Head to one of the many Christmas tree farms around to find and cut down your very own tree.
The magical town boasts stroll-worthy downtown fare any time of the year, with the main Philadelphia Street to shop for unique finds and dine in a truly special atmosphere. Visit during the holidays and find yourself amidst the real-life Bedford Falls from "It's A Wonderful Life." Learn some regional history and gain insights into the life of an Indiana native son at the Jimmy Stewart museum.
Johnstown is a special town that has been through a lot to thrive and offer one of the best weekend getaways to tourists with diverse attractions. Find this quaint town amidst the Allegheny region and head straight to the Johnstown Flood Museum to get on first-name terms with this former steel town. Learn the story through sights of what happened when 20 million tons of water destroyed the area and the effort to rebuild it thereafter. The Heritage Discovery Center offers insights into the town's immigrant communities, which had to transform from the iron and steel industries into a new economy.
Johnstown is a tourist destination today for its history and strong arts scene, including the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, with only four others in southwestern Pennsylvania. The Johnstown Symphony Orchestra offers lovely performances, while the nationally recognized Folk Festival draws all nationalities to its annual galore of fun, dancing, food, and other entertainment. Don't leave Johnstown without seeing the Guinness Book of World Records' "steepest vehicular inclined plane in the world," the Johnstown Inclined Plane, built in 1891.
The town on the fringes of Pittsburgh is a must-visit for any weekend getaway. Escape to Lawrenceville to be inspired in this ultra-creative neighborhood with local small businesses galore. The tiny town of only 2.5 square miles is spliced by Butler Street, providing easy access to all the hotspots and the Allegheny River. Take an art stroll through many fantastic galleries and visit a unique boutique to bring home a little piece of Lawrenceville. End the evening at Row House Cinema, a single-screen cinema with 83 seats.
Start a new, historically inspired day in some fresh air at the renovated Arsenal Park at the former Allegheny Arsenal that supplied the Union Army during the Civil War. Other cultural landmarks include the Doughboy Statue, the Stephen Foster House, and the Arsenal Field, where Johnny Unitas played ball, and so can you. One of the largest and oldest cemeteries in the United States, the Allegheny Cemetery is a great place to get some tranquility.
No best town list in Pennsylvania is complete without the "Coolest Small Town in America." Lititz is a truly enchanting destination with year-round postcard views every way you look. Embrace the small-town atmosphere through some local shopping in the charming downtown area with its quaint storefronts.
Choose one of the cozy restaurants for a sit-down meal, or head straight to the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Company and twist your own special treat to go. Families love a unique tour at the Wolf Sanctuary, home to Pennsylvania's only wolves. Don't leave Lilitz without a taste test at the nation-renowned Wilbur Chocolate, and bring some home to share the joyful experiences with your friends and family.
The unique town of Mars is truly special for a weekend escape. Enjoy an out-of-this-world stroll through the whimsical streetscape amidst "Martians," as the townspeople proudly call themselves. Browse through the wealth of charming shops downtown for a unique find, and choose from one of the themed restaurants or cafes for a bite.
For a boast-worthy experience, you can dine with a view of a spaceship replica right in the middle of Mars. You will be lucky to experience the biennial Mars New Year with a truly one-of-a-kind holiday atmosphere and festivities. Pick up some alien souvenirs for your loved ones and mail a postcard to everyone you know, including yourself, from the Mars post office for a surprise when you return home.
Stroudsburg invites you on a wine-soaked weekend getaway amidst the scenic Poconos. Enjoy a glass amidst breathtaking views from one of the many local wineries, like the popular RAW Urban Winery, or stroll through the Tolino Vineyards. Work off the guilt on a bike or in sneakers along the Levee Loop Trail, which runs parallel to Brodhead Creek. Come to the creek the next morning for some tranquility while fishing. Visit in winter and go skiing at one of the nearby ski resorts in the area, like the Shawnee Mountain Ski Area.
Aside from some mindful zen and activities, Stroudsburg has plenty of cultural pursuits, like touring the Stroud Mansion, followed by an evening concert at the Sherman Theater. Come August, and you will experience the free, lively StroudFest, full of shopping, live music, and food. While the adults enjoy all of the entertainment, kids can head straight for the festival's water area to play and splash around. Families also enjoy visiting the Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm, which offers many discoveries through its sights and activities.
With its gas-lit streetlights, the enchanting Wellsboro is a perfect weekend respite to relax and enjoy light-hearted pursuits for every taste. Visit the small downtown area to shop and dine in eclectic places amid views and a yesteryear vibe. Wellsboro celebrates Christmas with a bang through several festivals like "Christmas on Main Street" and "Dickens of a Christmas." Immerse yourself in Wellsboro's flair for history on a stroll through the lovely center fare lined by awe-inspiring Victorian-style architecture amidst oversized boulevards.
The small town in Pennsylvania's Wilds region is home to the state's Grand Canyon, a 1,000-foot gorge through forestland. Hike to the Pine Creek Gorge for spellbinding views and set up a scenic picnic along the edge of the 50-mile-long gorge from either Leonard Harrison State Park or Colton Point State Park. Explore the area around via hiking, biking, and walking trails, with great wildlife viewings at both parks. Back in Wellsboro, hop on an evening Old Covered Wagon Tour or take a railroad car along the Tioga Central Railroad for a different view of the town.
Visit these towns any weekend, during a festival, or through the holiday season, and you will be astounded by the number of discoveries and activities that await you. Immerse yourself in the small-town atmosphere on a memorable escape with friends, family, or your special someone, and feel the city grit wash away with active pursuits in the refreshing nature. You could return home with a personalized Crayola crayon, a suitcase full of chocolate, a bottle of wine, or even a Christmas tree.