Bucks County Playhouse theater in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Image credit EQRoy via Shutterstock.com

12 Top-Rated Small Towns In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is one of the largest states on the country's east coast, with a proud heritage and an adventurous atmosphere. The Great Lakes border the state to the north, while the Appalachian Mountains stretch through the southern and western regions. It’s home to the infamous Battle of Gettysburg and the memorial park and graveyard commemorating all who perished there during the Civil War. 

The state has a vibrant history, as well as a welcoming culture. Pennsylvania has a way of making anyone feel right at home. The many top-rated small towns within its borders provide a warm environment that supplies the ideal backdrop to explore the state.

New Hope

New Hope is a popular travel desitation where one can find many driving exotic motorcycles and cars down Main Street.
Downtown street in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Image credit JWCohen via Shutterstock.com

New Hope sits on the shores of the Delaware River, which acts as a natural boundary between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It’s just under an hour north of Philadelphia and isn’t far from Newark; however, this little town is a haven of tranquility and slow-paced fun outside city life. It’s also a simple walk from Lambertville, New Jersey, for those hoping to cross the footbridge over the river to its neighboring town and state.

One of New Hope’s main attractions is its downtown area, filled with shops selling the finest artisan crafts made by talented residents. The Art Gallery and More shop on Stockton Avenue is just one great example, with Monique’s Art Jewelry right around the corner. Nektar, a friendly location on West Mechanic Street, is the best place to mingle with the townspeople and for a refreshing beverage.

To spend a few days in New Hope, consider staying at one of the many historic homes with rooms for rent. The Aaron Burr House Bed and Breakfast is a fully refurbished Victorian home that is perfect for couples seeking a weekend escape. It’s centrally located near top-rated attractions like the New Hope Railroad and the Bucks County Playhouse.


Main Street in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.
Main Street in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

Stroudsburg rests about an hour and a half north of New Hope and is one of the best towns in the Poconos. While the community began in 1815 as a military fort designed to protect the local settlers, today, it’s one of the premier locations for vacationing and rest. Excellent examples of the city’s relaxing atmosphere are its spas, luxury hotels, and pristine nature sites. 

Pure Day Spa on Main Street is one of the best destinations for travelers to reinvigorate their energy and health. While their massages are top-notch, they also offer facials, nail manicures, and other beauty treatments. For those seeking a more adventurous time, Klues Escape Room is the place to be. They have unique sets, including the Curse of the Pharoah, Moonshiner Room, and much more. 

The town has a couple of gorgeous community parks, like Glen Park along Brodhead Creek. This area is an idyllic wooded region suitable for picnics and hikes. The Penn Stroud Hotel is a lovely place for tourists to spend the weekend, refresh, relax, and sleep peacefully. The boutique hotel is part of the Ascend Hotel Collection, offering guests a luxurious stay in a historic building in town.


Once known as "Buggy Town" the community of Mifflinburg includes a Buggy Museum.
Once known as "Buggy Town," the community of Mifflinburg includes a Buggy Museum. Image credit George Sheldon via Shutterstock

Mifflinburg has a reputation for being one of Pennsylvania’s quaintest and coziest towns. It’s approximately two hours west of Stroudsburg in the Susquehanna River Valley. The city began as a buggy manufacturing center, a heritage they still cherish in their community.

The Mifflinburg Buggy Museum on 548 Green Street is a beautiful place for visitors to begin their travels through town. The museum showcases the buggy designs and structures that made the area famous back in the day. Guests can schedule group tours of the site as well, which is an excellent way to learn more about the region.

Just north of the museum is the stunning Hassenplug Covered Bridge. This covered bridge takes travelers over Buffalo Creek and offers lovely views of the surrounding landscape. Anyone planning a trip during the holiday season must visit Mifflinburg Christkindl Market and celebrate with the locals. This site has the honor of being the oldest Christmas market in the US, going back 30 years and offering young and old a festive experience.


Spring on the streets of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Spring on the streets of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Gettysburg is one of the most well-known towns in Pennsylvania since it's the location of the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War. The town is home to several essential memorials and preserved historical homes that help tourists better appreciate the town's legacy. The most notable location, The Gettysburg National Military Park, sits a couple minutes south of the main center of town. The park is home to memorials commemorating those who fought and died in the battle and immortalizing important events through reenactments.

There is no shortage of historic homes and sites in town, either. The Seminary Ridge Museum and Education Center and the Jennie Wade House are two crucial, well-preserved sites from the Civil War era. Seminary Ridge served as a field hospital for wounded soldiers, but today, it houses priceless Civil War artifacts that line its many displays. The Jennie Wade House is the site of one of the civilian casualties of the battle, where the locals work to preserve her memory forever.

After a long day exploring the parks and historical landmarks, tourists should consider dropping by Garryowen Irish Pub for draft beer, whiskey, or even just a bite to eat. The pub is conveniently located close to the Gettysburg Hotel, a breathtaking place dating back to 1797 that offers warm hospitality and clean, comfortable bedrooms.


Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

Punxsutawney is an adorable little town situated more than three hours northwest of Gettysburg and about an hour and a half northeast of Pittsburgh. It is highly rated for its annual Groundhog Day Celebrations, with Punxsutawney Phil, a groundhog, serving as the famous mascot of the holiday. The town’s also not far from the Susquehanna and Allegheny rivers, with the Allegheny National Park under an hour north of Punxsutawney.

The Allegheny National Forest sits atop the Allegheny Plateau, giving it a spectacular view of the mountainous region. Hikers and explorers will enjoy trekking through the 514,029 acres of woodlands. However, there is no need to travel out of the city to have fun. One of the first places to check out is the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center, which is ideal for learning more about the town’s legacy as a weather-centric location.

There are also a few charming nature sites within the city’s boundaries. In particular, Mahoning Creek and the Mahoning Shadow Trailhead are lovely places to spend a few hours. The Midway Inn serves cocktails, food, and other refreshments close to the trailhead. Guests planning to travel during the Groundhog Day Celebration may want to spend a few days at the Barclay Bed and Breakfast to feel comfortable the whole time.


Downtown DuBois in Pennsylvania.
Downtown DuBois, Pennsylvania. Image credit By Doug Kerr - Flickr: DuBois, Pennsylvania, CC BY-SA 2.0, File:DuBois, Pennsylvania.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

DuBois is a gorgeous town with pristine natural scenery about half an hour's drive from Punxsutawney. Several creeks and streams run through the town, including Juniata Run, Beaver Run, and Sandy Lick Creek. A couple minutes Northeast of the town is Bimini Lake and Beach, a stunning site for a weekend getaway. Treasure Lake KOA Holiday is the primary resort along the lake, with over 130 campsites and twenty cabins.

Beaver Meadow Trail takes tourists along Sandy Lick Creek on just over 4 miles of trail. It takes just over an hour to complete and is a beautiful place to walk the dog, jog, or ride a bike. The trial is near the community parks and recreation centers, including a playground, a skate park, and a baseball field.

The Hitching Post offers delicious home-style meals, like sausage gravy for breakfast and the robin egg burger for dinner. There are many splendid hotels to stay at if planning an extended trip in town; however, the Homewood Suites by Hilton is undoubtedly one of the finest.


Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania: Street View of Ohiopyle with Falls market general store
Downtown Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania. Image credit gg5795 via Shutterstock.com

The unique town of Ohiopyle is one of the smallest towns in Pennsylvania in population, housing only 37 permanent residents as of 2021. However, despite its small population, it has the most exciting natural beauty in the area. The Youghiogheny River travels along the town’s borders and helps create fantastic watersport activities and outdoor adventures.

The Ohiopyle State Park is an idyllic site that is the central hub for most of the community’s outdoor fun. Travelers can enjoy participating in white water rafting, fishing, watching wildlife, and camping. There is lots to see and do in the park (including camping), which encompasses over 20,000 acres of nearly untouched woodlands and mountains.

While checking out the park, visit the Ferncliff Peninsula Natural Area. It has some of the most spectacular fall foliage, making it the ideal spot to visit in autumn. It also has many extensive nature hikes where hikers can choose between walking, biking, or jogging. Ohiopyle has several hotels that offer comfort and luxury for those who don’t want to spend their time camping in the wilderness. The Heart of Ohiopyle Vacation House is definitely the most unique and charming.


People waking around in Lititz, Pennsylvania
Downtown streets of Lititz, Pennsylvania. Image credit Amy Lutz via Shutterstock

Lititz is one of the loveliest and most welcoming cities in Lancaster County, offering tourists a wonderful time in Amish, Pennsylvania. The town has terrific German food, including handmade pretzels from Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery. The bakery is much more than just a place to get pretzels. They also host tours of the facility that showcase how they make the pretzels and teach guests how to make their own.

The natural scenery of the town is also worth checking out. The Oak Street Wetlands offers splendid natural scenery and is the starting point of the Warwick-to-Ephrata Rail-Trail Trailhead. This trail takes adventurers on a 14.9-mile hike throughout southeastern Pennsylvania. The route is extensive but is excellent for cycling enthusiasts hoping to get an up-front view of the stretches of woods and farmland.

Tourists planning to stay a few days have several hotels and resorts, but the most popular site by far is Lititz Springs Inn. The inn served Lititz since 1764, offers guests a luxurious stay in one of their rooms, and serves the best food and drink in their pub.


Strasburg, Pennsylvania: A steam locomotive returns to the station from a passenger excursion in rural Lancaster County.
A steam locomotive, Strasburg, Pennsylvania. Image credit George Sheldon via Shutterstock.com

Strasburg is another adorable town in Lancaster County, situated about a half-hour south of Lititz. The town showcases some of the finest train-themed attractions in the state and exhibits Amish Country's beauty. Just outside the town’s main center is the Strasburg Rail Road, an exciting place to spend a few hours touring the region.

The railroad began servicing Strasburg in 1832 and serviced the area throughout the Civil War and World Wars. Today, it is a refined service that provides special-themed rides, including Christmas rides, Day Out With Thomas, and even murder mystery rides. Not far from the railway is the National Toy Train Museum, which has dozens of miniature displays of various railroads and their engines.

Although Strasburg isn’t all trails and locomotives, it also has high-end cafes, comfortable inns, and fun outdoor activities. Tourists visiting during the spring and summer should visit the Village Greens Miniature Golf Course, located just a couple minutes west of the town’s borders and ideal for people traveling with kids.

After exploring the regions around town, travelers can stop by The Strasburg Shoppes at Center Square and get splendid coffee at the Strasburg Creamery Cafe. The Strasburg Inn Bed and Breakfast is perfect for a romantic getaway and a peaceful retreat away from the city.


The sun shines over a bustling Main Street in the Borough of Zelienople, Pennsylvania.
Main Street in the Borough of Zelienople, Pennsylvania. Image credit Jenna Hidinger via Shutterstock.com

Zelienople rests more than four hours west of Strasburg. It is a lovely little community nestled along Connoquenessing Creek and is one of the most highly-rated locations on the crossroads between Pittsburgh and Erie. Several historic locations, including the Harmony Barn just north of town and the Zelienople Historical Society, are worth checking out.

The Historical Society works to preserve the city's early heritage and hosts several exciting events throughout the year. This includes Spring Tea, The Fallen Hero event on July 4th, and the Miracle on Main to celebrate the holiday season. The Harmony Barn, built in 1805, is fantastic for hosting an event or just visiting. There are walking tours of the grounds, tours of the museum, and a museum shop where tourists can get souvenirs.

There are a few hotels near town, with the Chapel Valley Estate located about 10 to 15 minutes west of town being one of the best. This site is a fully furnished and well-maintained historical farmhouse that grants guests a remarkable stay in the country. Two excellent campgrounds for staying in town are the Indian Brave Campground and the Zelienople-Harmony Sportsmen's Club.


Facade of the Omni Bedford Spring Resort hotel in Bedford, Pennsylvania.
Omni Bedford Spring Resort Hotel in Bedford, Pennsylvania. Image credit StudioGShock via Shutterstock.com

Approximately two and a half hours southeast of Zelienople is the breathtaking town of Bedford. The site once served as one of the last outposts between the East and the unexplored West, but today, it is one of the most excellent vacation spots. The National Museum of the American Coverlet is an ideal starting point for anyone hoping to learn more about the location’s history and heritage.

The museum showcases fabulous samples of local handcrafted quilts, bedspreads, and other exceptional hand-sewn items. Anyone hoping to indulge their refined tastes can drop by the Belle Terra Vineyards on Richard Street. The restaurant serves homemade pretzels, delicious sandwiches, and other foods paired with exquisite wines.

Not far from Bella Terra Vineyards is the Fort Bedford Museum, the location of one of the earliest forts in the area. While the current fort only dates back to 1958, it stands as a monument to the original fort, which dates back to the French and Indian War and serves to preserve its history and legacy. Travelers planning an extended stay in town can book a few nights at the Chancellor’s House Bed and Breakfast, which offers comfort, luxury, and beauty in the city's heart.

Bryn Athyn

Spring in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania
Spring in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania.

Bryn Athyn got its unique name in 1916 by blending Welsh terms from the Welsh and English dictionary, meaning Hill of Unity. It began as a religious community but is primarily dominated by open farmland and woodlands. For those hoping to understand better the area's founding, the Glencairn Museum offers plenty to see and explore.

The museum hosts several top-rated events throughout the year, like the annual Christmas Homeschool Day and their past JK Rowling-themed event, Myth and Magic at the Museum. The region around the town primarily consists of vast expanses of open spaces, including the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust. This site contains 38 acres of well-maintained land, including trails showcasing the area’s beauty.

The Creek Road Trail runs along Pennypack Creek, and with a slight deviation, trekkers can see the Outlook area. The town has a few lovely bed and breakfasts, such as the Bryn Ellis Guest House and Fetters Mill Bed and Breakfast.

Tourists planning a visit to Pennsylvania tend to think of Philadelphia, Erie, and Pittsburgh when taking their vacation. However, the truth is that some of the best locations in the state are the dozens of small towns hidden amidst its rolling hills. Areas in Lancaster County are fantastic locations, with the towns offering a splendid blend of modern convenience and slow-paced Amish culture. However, towns like Bedford and DuBois are perfect for those looking to hike in nature and indulge in the wild mountains of the region.

Whether tourists seek an escape into simpler farming communities, whitewater rafting in local rivers, or a hike in the hills, Pennsylvania is the perfect place to stay.

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