Tourists and storefronts on Broadway Street in downtown Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

8 of the Friendliest Towns in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has plenty to offer. A 2019 survey declared the state to be friendlier than most of its neighbors, ranking it as the 17th friendliest state in the country overall. After all, Philadelphia is known as the "City of Brotherly Love." However, beyond the big cities, the small towns of Pennsylvania truly capture the state's charm. These places boast tight-knit communities and a strong sense of pride, where Friday night football games can draw the entire town. If you're looking to visit Pennsylvania and are unsure where to begin, consider these friendly towns as a great starting point.

Eagles Mere

Waterfront in Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania.
Waterfront in Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania. Image credit Wikimedia Commons

The town of Eagles Mere, in northeast Pennsylvania, is an absolute delight. Surrounded by the Loyalsock State Forest and a short drive from the very popular Worlds End State Park, Eagles Mere never falls short of natural beauty to enjoy time and again. If you love waterfalls, you're in luck here. Dry Run Falls, Rusty Falls, and Cottonwood Falls are all nearby and each worth visiting in their own right.

Eagles Mere’s historic village is also impressive. The town has museums for both aeronautics and automotive enthusiasts, an ice block toboggan slide in winter, and events like their Water Carnival each year in August, where amateur actors and volunteers perform their original skits. Whether you're interested in relaxing in town or exploring the great outdoors, there's always something to do in Eagles Mere, regardless of the season.


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

Often described as the “Coolest Small Town in America,” Lititz is one of the most charming small towns Pennsylvania has to offer. With events and attractions galore, Lititz combines everything you'd want in a picturesque town. Visitors are especially encouraged to visit on Second Fridays, a once-a-month event when the town’s shops stay open late and live music fills the air.

The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery is another must-see attraction in Lititz. Founded in 1861, the Sturgis family has been busy perfecting their pretzel recipe ever since. Another unique attraction is the Wolf Sanctuary of PA, which offers a chance to see wolves and wolf dogs up close in a safe and educational environment. Finish off the day with a walk around the scenic Lititz Springs Park, a great spot to feed the ducks after a day of exploration.

Jim Thorpe

View of the landmark Mauch Chunk Opera House in the historic town of Jim Thorpe in the Lehigh Valley in Carbon County, Pennsylvania
View of the landmark Mauch Chunk Opera House in the historic town of Jim Thorpe in the Lehigh Valley in Carbon County, Pennsylvania, via EQRoy /

Known as the "Switzerland of America," Jim Thorpe is a uniquely named town full of character. Nestled within the Pocono Mountains, Jim Thorpe is an outdoor enthusiast's dream. Lehigh Gorge State Park offers over 6,000 acres of waterfalls, trails, and streams for fishing, and whitewater rafting is an exhilarating way to explore the park’s waterways. Alternatively, spend a relaxing day at the placid waters of Mauch Chunk Lake if battling against a roaring river isn't to your liking.

Jim Thorpe is also rich in history, and there’s no better way to learn about it than on a guided tour. Visitors can choose to explore the town via train, trolley, or even a motorcycle sidecar. The town hosts numerous events for visitors to enjoy, such as the Fall Foliage Festival and the renowned WinterFest, featuring live music, ice carvings, carriage rides, and the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway round-trip train.


Ridgway from Elk County Country Club
Ridgway from Elk County Country Club, By Pubdog - Wikimedia Commons

Artsy and eclectic, Ridgway brims with charm. Positioned on the edge of the Allegheny National Forest, it attracts hikers and nature lovers throughout the year. The forest is a significant part of Ridgway's culture, highlighted annually by a chainsaw wood carving event and the Tasting in the Wilds Festival, which showcases local Pennsylvania flavors. The Allegheny National Forest is incredibly diverse, offering activities such as horseback riding, camping, boating, and trails like the Clarion River-Little Toby Rail Trail for those eager to explore Pennsylvania's natural landscapes. Additionally, the Orvis Hot Springs, a mile south of town, offer a rejuvenating escape, allowing visitors to melt away their worries in the hot springs.


Winter scene of downtown Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
Winter scene of downtown Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Image credit EQRoy via

The heart of Bucks County, Doylestown, is uniquely vibrant and friendly. It boasts a lively arts culture, complemented by an array of excellent restaurants. The Doylestown Cultural District, featuring the Mercer Museum and James A. Michener Art Museum, is just off the main street. The town's cinema, the County Theater, is an Art Deco gem that's as captivating as the films it screens. For dining, East State Street is lined with the town's restaurants and outdoor cafes. A real highlight is Doylestown's concrete castles, such as the Mercer Museum, built over 100 years ago in Gothic, Medieval, and Byzantine styles, making it one of the state's most intriguing places.


A view of downtown Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA, from the Inclined Plane.
A view of downtown Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA, from the Inclined Plane. Editorial credit: GalPhotos /

Johnstown, known for the catastrophic flood of 1889, has evolved significantly since then. The town's history is meticulously documented in the Johnstown Flood Museum. Beyond its historical significance, Johnstown is culturally rich, boasting a symphony orchestra and hosting a nationally recognized folk music festival, Folk Fest, annually over Labor Day weekend. This festival features artists from bluegrass, swing, and folk traditions, among others. An unusual feature of Johnstown is its funicular, the Johnstown Inclined Plane, the world's steepest, which transports passengers 900 feet in about 90 seconds. For outdoor enthusiasts, the Staple Bend Tunnel Trail and the Path of the Flood Trail offer hiking and a nearly 14-mile bicycle ride that presents a rewarding challenge.


Main street in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania
Main street in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. Image credit aimintang via

A visit to Wellsboro is like stepping back into an era of civility and sophistication. The town’s Victorian-era charm is evident throughout, especially during its Dickensian-themed Christmas celebration, where townsfolk don Victorian costumes in harmony with Wellsboro's architectural backdrop. Beyond its historical allure, Wellsboro serves as a gateway to outdoor adventures, including the Pine Creek Gorge, known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. Stretching 50 miles long and 1,000 feet deep, the gorge is a geological wonder and a highlight for visitors. With two million acres of forest and farmland, activities such as ATVing, snowmobiling, hunting, and fishing await those exploring this quaint town.


The Heritage United Methodist Church located in the town diamond of Ligonier, Pennsylvania
The Heritage United Methodist Church located in the town diamond of Ligonier, Pennsylvania, via woodsnorthphoto /

Ligonier is often cited as one of the most charming small towns in America. Home to more than 60 boutique shops and restaurants, visitors to Ligonier are rarely left wanting. Eminently walkable, those exploring the town's lovely main street often encounter live music at the bandstand during the warmer months.

Fort Ligonier Days is a three-day festival that reenacts the Battle of Fort Ligonier. It features nearly 200 craft vendors, live music, a parade, and food vendors. Ligonier serves as an excellent base camp for exploring the Laurel Highlands, a region known for its skiing and hiking opportunities. Water sports on Loyalhanna Creek, near the highlands, are also popular activities.

Pennsylvania's Friendliness

Pennsylvania is renowned for its friendliness, often ranked as one of the friendlier states in the country. The Commonwealth offers a wealth of local events and natural beauty. From raging rivers to charming gas-lit streets and Victorian-era attire, there is a palpable sense of community spirit. Music festivals, woodcutting festivals, and long-standing holiday celebrations are just a few of the events that can be enjoyed when visiting Pennsylvania. When planning your next trip to the Commonwealth, consider including these towns on your itinerary.

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