The state of Pennsylvania is known to the world for being a natural getaway into the mountains, its rich culture, varying historical roots, and significant events which have contributed to the country's look at the present day. These towns all come with charming downtown centers, telling of their rich past and treating the visitors to their quintessential atmospheres.
Sitting within the Susquehanna Valley, Bloomsburg makes for a great culture trip, being a real conglomeration of art, architecture, and history. Small and atmospheric, the college town also has an array of shops, art galleries, and entertainment venues, while its food specialties are better than anywhere around, including the hoagie sandwiches in the cafes and the goodies at the local independently owned bakeries like the Nannycakes Bakery throwing together ingredients on the spot to be baked in small batches.
The central Market Street brims with art destinations, such as the Artspace Gallery with changing exhibits every six weeks and works by local artists for sale, and the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble resident theater company. Whenever in town, one is likely to stumble upon one of the annual events, such as the Renaissance Jamboree, or the WHLM Parade of Lights.
Perfect to visit year-round, there's never a lack of activity in Bethlehem's historic downtown, including an almost non-stop parade of events. Still many love touring the town during the atmospheric Christmas season to engage in an array of shopping and dining options and admire the historical sites between the festivities.
The Hoover Mason Trestle comes with the Sands Casino and live music, while the National Museum of Industrial History offers a lesson on the people and the machines that helped build the state. The Lehigh University has a community-made Lehigh Millennium Folk Arch, while fine arts can be explored at the quirky-named Banana Factory and SteelStacks. Featuring various stages for regular showings of art films, documentaries, live music, and comedy performances, one will see the top-notch local talent. The Bolete Restaurant and Inn serves delectable oysters and butterscotch pudding for an extravagantly homey meal.
A charming town with a complimenting name is nestled cozily within the Poconos Mountains in the north-eastern portion of the state. Founded in 1826, a couple of hours' drive from Philadelphia and New York, Honesdale grew to become a thriving arts and culture mecca where the creative minds gather to be inspired by the mountains. Making for a quiet, romantic destination for couples' alone-time in a picturesque setting, it is also perfect for the outdoor pursuit seekers being the getaway to hiking, biking, and backpacking through the vast range next door.
Among the whole lot of attractive historic buildings dating back to the 1800s, the towering church spires peak in between cozy cafes, boutiques, and restaurants, adding to the auric feel of the town. Being the 'Birthplace of the American Railroad', one can take a charming train ride along the Stourbridge Line, the first steam locomotive line in the nation, through the Lackawaxen River Valley. The boyhood home of Dick Smith, composer of "Winter Wonderland," is also in town, while the annual Honesdale Roots & Rhythm Music and Arts Festival offers to dance one's heart away in the colorful streets.
Set in the Allegheny region in Pennsylvania, the quaint Johnstown was made famous by the tragic flood that took place because of a burst dam in 1889. Commemorated through the Johnstown Flood Museum, one will learn of the devastating effects of 20 million tons of water on the little steel town and how it was transformed. The Heritage Discovery Center shows the town's rich immigrant history during the iron and steel industrial era, which is still relevant today.
With a prominent arts scene, the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art is one of the top in Pennsylvania. Classical music fans can enjoy a performance by the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, while there's also an annual, nationally recognized Folk Festival, which is a real multicultural event of the town. Johnstown's Inclined Plane of 1891 is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the "steepest vehicular inclined plane in the world".
Set just outside of Pittsburgh, the ultra-creative community of Lawrenceville is a conglomeration of small local businesses welcoming visitors all along the town's 2.5-square mile area. The two blocks of Butler Street near the Allegheny River is the main business area, where one can find a special art bit to take home or an outfit piece from one of the boutique shops. The Row House Cinema is a single-screen cinema with only 83 seats for a cozy and romantically old-feel night out.
The Arsenal Park lets one promenade the former Allegheny Arsenal that served as a supply center for the Union Army during the Civil War days. The neighboring Allegheny Cemetery is one of the largest and oldest in the nation. There's also the quirky and memory-bringing Doughboy Statue, the atmospheric Arsenal Field reminiscent of its ball player, Johnny Unitas, and the historic Stephen Foster House to visit.
This Dutch town is known for its great American treats featuring the famous Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery as the nation's first commercial pretzel bakery offering a tour and a lesson on twisting pretzels. The Wilbur Chocolate Factory running since 1894, is famed for its Wilbur Buds, while the unique architecture on the streets is almost the same as it was during the town's settlement in the 1720s.
Established by the Moravians believing in the acceptance of all religions, the Moravian star hanging from most homes, hotel porches, and churches signify the town's heritage today. Coming complete with the Lititz Historical Foundation and Museum telling of the town's rich past, the Lititz Springs Park for a scenic, relaxing stroll, as well as lots of homey bed-and-breakfasts to choose from, the enchanting Lititz has been named the "Coolest Small Town in America."
While some towns may be less known, New Hope has been a popular and picturesque getaway from Philadelphia and New York for many decades, set in the state's far east. Perched on the Delaware River's West Bank, the town is a huge art and culture mecca with significant historical sights and cultural landmarks. The historic Bucks County Playhouse is renowned nationally for fantastic Broadway shows, musicals, and theater productions. Hundreds of art galleries, antique stores, and unique boutiques dot the town along its scenic streets, along with an array of eclectic and delicious restaurants that include riverside settings, such as The Landing and Stella by Jose Garces.
The charming old railway station comes with engrossing sights and splendid scenery, especially at the Bowman's Hill Tower and Washington Crossing Historic Park on the way to Yardley via a vintage train ride along the Ivyland Railroad to nearby Lahaska. Strolling through the town along the river, one must also visit the New Hope Arts Center, the local spot Nakashima Woodworkers, and the historic Parry Mansion.
Set in eastern Pennsylvania, Stroudsburg is perfect for families, outdoor fanatics, nature lovers, honeymooners, and wine aficionados. With spellbinding scenery of the Poconos Mountains all around the charming town, it is a very popular and picturesque getaway that brims with outdoor pursuits, while the town itself acts as a commercial mecca for the surrounding communities.
The downtown area is filled with shops, restaurants, and a wide choice of staying options with hotels and B&Bs. For a diversified experience, the Academy Hill Historic District showcases mesmerizing architectural wonders, while the Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm offers to teach one about the local life in the region. With nature at the doorstep, the year-round good-for-the-heart opportunities include hiking, cycling, and skiing, while the magnificent waterfalls, rivers, and even wineries are tucked in between the mountains and forests for a preferred kind of reward after an active time spent.
Just half-an-hour drive from Pittsburgh, the pleasant small town of Zelienople has a charming look and an atmospheric feel, set on the south bank of the Connoquenessing Creek. A real treat for any taste, the town features an optimal mix of old and new, where modern businesses and stays with all the comforts sit in-between significant historic buildings and cultural landmarks. The awe-aspiring story of the town being founded in 1802 involves a German aristocrat, Dettmar Basse, who named it after his daughter, Zelie.
Being set along the route from Pittsburgh to Erie helped the town flourish with a settled-in feel today, featuring many quaint coffee shops and restaurants, several historic homes, and the atmospheric old Strand Theater. The downtown Main Street also contains the Buhl House as the town's oldest erect building, and the Passavant House teaches one about the town's history through preserved artifacts and framed art made of human hair.
Clearly, these towns thrive through their art and culture scene, the mountains, and deep-rooted history to be explored by the curious tourists. The hardworking residents have also made them the commercial meccas they are for the region while making every tourist feel at home.