Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. By Doug Kerr, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

8 Underappreciated Towns to Visit in Pennsylvania

The second state was admitted to the Union, and once a part of the famed Thirteen Colonies, Pennsylvania is one of the most historically important and culturally fascinating places in America. Together with its splendid natural geography, the “Keystone State” remains an inviting and special place that will surely enrich any potential holiday plans. While major cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh continue to attract much attention, Pennsylvania’s smaller charming towns are also worthy of exploration. Here, some of the best in American history can be discovered, while scenic outdoor getaways are never in short supply. So when visiting this state, do not overlook its awesome, yet often underappreciated, smaller towns, and be ready for a renewed appreciation of the great Pennsylvania.


A streetscape of West 4th Street between Court and Market Streets in Williamsport, Pennsylvania
A streetscape of West 4th Street between Court and Market Streets in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, via Wikimedia Commons

A cultural and financial center of north-central Pennsylvania, the town of Williamsport serves as the seat of Lycoming County, where a population of just under 28,000 resides. Settled by colonists in the 1760s, the historic character of Williamsport is most evident, and tourists can expect to discover an abundance of historic markers and landmarks that transport one back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Visit the Millionaire’s Row Historic District, where over 260 buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Add in historic cobblestoned streets, mature neighborhoods, and a welcoming assortment of restaurants, cafes, galleries, and museums, and any time spent in Williamsport will surely never be short on cultural delight.

Meanwhile, the outdoor lover can also appreciate the town and its quaint natural beauty. Situated along the Susquehanna River, visitors can partake in activities like cycling and jogging along the riverbanks, while a number of pretty public parks are great places to spend an afternoon. And with hot summers and mild winter temperatures, being outside in this town is welcoming no matter what time of year.


Church Street in Hawley, Pennsylvania
Church Street in Hawley, Pennsylvania, via File:Hawley, PA - Church Street View.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Hawley is scenically situated along the banks of the Lackawaxen River, and indeed this modest community of nearly 1,300 inhabitants is a nice place to spend a weekend in the outdoors. Considered a Poconos Mountain resort town, guests can enjoy activities like swimming, fishing, kayaking, sailing, and even tubing! With some beautifully panoramic hiking and biking trails in the area, there is always a chance to truly relish the wonders of nature, and do not forget to visit the nearby Bushkill Falls (the “Niagara of Pennsylvania”) for a truly wonderful scenic delight. In addition, the history enthusiast can also appreciate Hawley, and several landmarks in town are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These include the Hawley Silk Mill (1880) and the Hotel Belvidere (1902), where guests can enjoy a most old-fashioned setting to spend a night or two. Add in charming little shops, restaurants, and other local businesses, and any time in Hawley (even a short sojourn) will definitely leave a most positive impression of genuine Americana.


Intersection of Northampton Street and 6th Street in downtown Easton, Pennsylvania, USA
Intersection of Northampton Street and 6th Street in downtown Easton, Pennsylvania, USA. Editorial credit: quiggyt4 /

Seat of Northampton County, the town of Easton’s colonial history can be traced back to the 1730s, and today this historic town remains a most charming, old-fashioned destination. Located at the confluence of the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers, this pretty town of just over 28,000 residents is a perfect place for a weekend trip. Guests can enjoy plenty of historic intrigue and beautiful natural surroundings. Take a special ride on a canal boat drawn by mules while learning more about the area’s economic development at the National Canal Museum, which is a most insightful experience. From there, stop by the historic Centre Square, where, in addition to local businesses and markets, one can honor the casualties of war at the imposing Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument. During the Christmas season, the Peace Candle monument is installed, standing some 106 feet tall.

Finally, as a river town, guests can enjoy activities like cycling and hiking along the banks, while swimming during hot days is a nice way to cool down. And with the beautiful Farmers Market set up not too far from the water’s edge, a most rustic and charming outing for the whole family awaits, where special souvenirs and the best in locally produced food can be purchased.


The cityscape of Indiana, Pennsylvania, in winter.
The cityscape of Indiana, Pennsylvania, in winter.

Seat of the same-named county, Indiana was formally established in the early 1800s, and today it is home to a population of just over 14,000. Affectionately known as the “Christmas Tree Capital of the World,” an abundance of tree farms can be found in the area, and they form an important part of the local economy during the Yuletide period. Indeed, for those visiting during this time of year, the beautiful smell of pine permeates the air, while the chance to choose and cut one’s Christmas tree is a unique and special experience. But Indiana is also a nice place to discover the rest of the year, and a charming array of shops, restaurants, and galleries populate the landscape, making it an authentic snapshot of small-town USA. And do not forget about the beautiful campus of Indiana University of Pennsylvania (1875), where old-style architecture and lush foliage make it a most picturesque outing.

Finally, for all movie lovers, visiting Indiana would not be complete without time spent at the Jimmy Stewart Museum. Celebrating the life and career of the beloved Hollywood icon who was born in the town in 1908, guests will get an insightful, behind-the-scenes look at the highs and lows of Indiana’s beloved native son.


Beautiful brick building in Middleburg, Pennsylvania
Beautiful brick building in Middleburg, Pennsylvania, via File:Middleburg, Pennsylvania.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

A welcoming place of just some 1,300 residents, Middleburg is picturesque, historic, and a delightful snapshot of small-town Pennsylvania. The seat of Snyder County, the town can trace its modern history to the mid-18th century, and guests can continue to marvel at a number of historic landmarks spanning several centuries. These include the Old Stone Jail, the County Courthouse, and others that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. And do not forget about the Shade Mountain Winery, where some of the very best in locally produced alcohol can be tasted and brought home. Meanwhile, with Middleburg’s location in the Susquehanna Valley, there is always a splendid vista to see and photograph. From mountainous heights to lush greenery and imposing wooded surroundings, spending time outside in this part of Pennsylvania will truly leave an impression. Go hiking or cycling, or simply stroll the downtown; Middleburg’s charm is evident to anyone who experiences it directly.


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

Established in the late 1700s, Stroudsburg is a charming and historic community where today a humble population of nearly 6,000 resides. The seat of Monroe County and conveniently located just 75 miles from New York City, this town blends historic intrigue and quaint natural beauty in a most delightful way, making it a great spot for a weekend getaway in the Poconos region of Pennsylvania. Spend time at the Academy Hill Historic District and explore landmarks like the Stroud Mansion (1795) and the County Courthouse (1890), among others listed on the National Register of Historic Places, to truly get a sense of time travel. Meanwhile, nature-minded tourists can appreciate stops like the Glen Onoko Falls and McMichaels Creek for relaxing and quiet opportunities for fishing, meditation, and awesome cascade views. Add in a fine assortment of cute stores, cafes, restaurants, and bed-and-breakfast establishments, and Stroudsburg definitely leaves one with a positive set of memories of small-town Pennsylvania.


 A distinctive monument located in Market Square in the downtown area of the Town of Bloomsburg
A distinctive monument located in Market Square in the downtown area of the Town of Bloomsburg. Editorial credit: George Sheldon /

Bloomsburg is an inviting college town that can trace its modern roots to the early 1800s; today, this seat of Columbia County continues to be a lively and charming place with a population of nearly 13,000 residents. Home to Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania (1839) and scenically located along the banks of the Susquehanna River, this town is full of natural beauty and small-town allure, making it a great spot to discover for anyone taking a road trip in the “Keystone State.” Enjoy calming afternoons near the water’s edge, where swimming, jogging, and cycling are always popular, while strolling through downtown and discovering the many welcoming shops, restaurants, galleries, and parks makes it ideal for all ages.


The downtown streets of Wellsboro still illuminated with authentic gas street lamps
The downtown streets of Wellsboro still illuminated with authentic gas street lamps, via George Sheldon /

Wellsboro was founded in the early 1800s and today serves as the seat of Tioga County. It is home to a modest population of just under 3,500 inhabitants. This quiet and charming community offers splendid outdoor surroundings and historic sites, making Wellsboro a pleasant stopover for a variety of interests. Located near the Pine Creek Gorge (also known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania), it provides scenic opportunities for biking, hiking, and rock climbing, combined with stunning valley views for a memorable experience. With hot summers and mild winters, spending time outdoors in Wellsboro is enjoyable throughout the year. The town's historic character is showcased through its many landmarks and 19th-century architectural styles.

Visit the Historic District and Main Street, where notable buildings include the County Courthouse (1835) and the First Presbyterian Church (1894), among others listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The streets are lined with distinctive gas lamps and Victorian facades, creating a wonderfully photogenic experience in Wellsboro.

An important part of the northeastern United States, the “Keystone State” of Pennsylvania is a naturally stunning and culturally rich place that travelers of all ages can enjoy. While the major cities continue to rightfully dominate, Pennsylvania also boasts a number of smaller, charming towns that warrant a visit from anyone on a road trip. From Pocono Mountain resort towns like Stroudsburg and Hawley to historic centers like Williamsport, these inviting and picturesque Pennsylvania towns offer history, nature, and loads of charm that only a smaller community can provide. So when visiting the “Keystone State,” take a detour from the big city and explore these underappreciated towns, ready to welcome all and leave a lasting positive impression on both young and old.

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