The town of Jim Thorpe buildings in winter. Image credit Lisa Rapko via Shutterstock

These Towns in Pennsylvania Come Alive in Winter

One of the most anticipated seasons of the year is upon us! Winter brings a lot of cheer and excitement, offering an excellent opportunity to fulfill those travel plans you have had all year long. While Pennsylvania’s natural landscape can be stunning any time of the year, add a blanket of white powder, and the scenes are nothing short of magical. This makes the Keystone State one of the best travel destinations during the cold season. From the jagged peaks of the Appalachians to the shiny surface of Lake Erie, Pennsylvania is dotted with cozy small towns that transform into winter wonderlands. Teeming with exquisite natural landscapes, a relaxed atmosphere devoid of rowdy crowds, and a raft of fun winter activities, they present the ideal setting for a laidback winter vacation. Check out these towns in Pennsylvania that come alive in the winter. 


Street view in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.
Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Image credit benedek via

When the snow starts to fall, the Victorian town of Bellefonte transforms into a storybook scene. One of the best places to explore in this little town is the Bellefonte Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The various styles of Victorian architecture are a gorgeous sight to behold when covered in snow. A stroll along the Bellefonte waterfront Walkway allows you to appreciate the winter scenery and listen to the soothing sound of Spring Creek. 

Talleyrand Park offers a cozy atmosphere you can soak in with a lazy walk or admire the setting from the comfort of the park’s gazebo. Just next to the park is the Historical Railroad Society, another family-friendly space with a playground where you can stretch your legs to stave off the winter chill. Meanwhile, you can spend the night at the rustic Gamble Mill, but remember to sample the freshly-made draft beer at the onsite microbrewery while there.  


The St. Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church on Main Street in Smethport, Pennsylvania, USA.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church in Smethport, PA, USA. Editorial credit: Nolichuckyjake /

This sleepy town of under 2,000 comes alive in the winter thanks to the stunning natural landscapes surrounding it. There are multiple winter activities to help you stay warm, including skiing, ice skating, and ice fishing, a popular activity in the frozen waters of Hamlin Lake. When not fishing, the surrounding Hamlin Lake Park is ideal for snow-shoeing while inspecting its historical structures. 

The town is also home to picturesque trails leading into the nearby Allegheny National Forest, offering an excellent opportunity for cross-country skiing and wild exploration of the snow-covered trees. Alternatively, you can roam about the deserted grounds of Smethport Country Club and breathe in some fresh winter air. For pet lovers, you can meet cute furry friends and spread some winter TLC at the Rainy Day Farm. 

Eagles Mere

A view of small boats on a wooden deck near a lake in Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania.
 A view of small boats on a wooden deck near a lake in Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania. Editorial Credit: By Doug Kerr - originally posted to Flickr as Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania, CC BY-SA 2.0,

The little town of Eagles Mere oozes postcard vibes when covered in snow, charming winter enthusiasts with diverse cold-season offerings. You can join the locals in a long-held tradition at Lake Avenue, featuring a fun toboggan slide down the hill with a hot cup of chocolate waiting at the bottom to keep warm. The village comes to life with holiday decorations in the quaint town center, snow-capped boats, snow-covered gazebos, and the town’s footbridge, which you can stroll around for remarkable photo opportunities. 

There are countless winter activities to partake in in the open spaces of Eagles Mere. For one, you can venture into the isolated trails of Eagles Mere Conservancy for cross-country skiing or enjoy an entertaining ice skating session on the frozen surface of Outlet Pond. Furthermore, Eagles Mere Lake offers fantastic iceboating opportunities that you will not forget about soon. 

Jim Thorpe

Aerial view of Jim Thorpe buildings in the Poconos, Pennsylvania
Downtown Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, in the winter.

Jim Thorpe is easily one of the best small towns in Pennsylvania for a winter getaway. Nicknamed the “Little Switzerland of America,” the town boasts a breathtaking alpine setting surrounded by the Pocono Mountains. Hopping aboard the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway is the perfect way to take the stunning winter scenery in Jim Thorpe on an exciting journey, passing over rivers, cliffs, and dense forests into Lehigh Gorge State Park. 

If you are not enjoying the train ride, you can slip into your snowshoes to take on the 26-mile Lehigh Gorge Trail and explore the lush valley of the Lehigh River Gorge. Alternatively, try climbing to the summit of the 100 Mile View Overlook to soak in spectacular panoramas of the rugged and raw nature that encircles the town. Finally, one of the best times to visit Jim Thorpe is during the annual WinterFest, which brings the community together for fun activities like ice carvings, magic shows, and carriage rides. 


 Farmington High School is located at 32000 Shiawassee Road in Farmington, Michigan.
Farmington High School is located at 32000 Shiawassee Road in Farmington, Michigan. Editorial Credit: By Dwight Burdette - Own work, CC BY 3.0,

Farmington has a modest population of about 1,000 residents, but the sleepy town roars to life in the winter with various fun activities. One of the best winter accommodation experiences in the town is at Nemacolin Resort. The hotel goes above and beyond to ensure guests have a memorable winter stay. 

There are numerous snow sports opportunities to take advantage of at their Mystic Mountain ski facility, including cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing. Guests can soak in sweeping views of the snowy town landscapes from the hotel or venture outside and experience the scenes up close. 


The entrance to Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA, a popular attraction in Chocolatetown USA.
The entrance to Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA, a popular attraction in Chocolatetown USA. Editorial credit: George Sheldon /

Most people know Hershey for its sprawling theme park, a popular spot for summer crowds looking to indulge in family-friendly fun. However, this small town remains an exciting destination for the winter season. Not too far from Hersheypark is the charming Hershey Gardens, which opens its doors to visitors around the year. During winter, the atmosphere is calm and the air fresh, perfect for a lazy stroll. You will also love the Christmas tree showcase and poinsettia displays decorating the garden. ZooAmerica is another exciting winter attraction in the town, where you can visit to watch over 200 animals from across North America in their enclosures. But if you cannot brave the cold, stay indoors at the Hershey Hotel and enjoy a soothing massage therapy session at the Hershey Spa. Alternatively, you can catch a live performance at the Hershey Theater featuring musicals, plays, and Broadway shows. 


An aerial view of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, located in Adams County.
An aerial view of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, located in Adams County.

Although Pennsylvania can get pretty chilly during winter, there is an upside to visiting that few people experience. This small town of about 7,500 has a lot to offer, and you can stop by the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum to get familiar with the best spots to check out in town. The Gettysburg National Military Park spreads over 600 acres and houses numerous trails that turn in beautiful snowshoeing routes in the winter. This is an excellent opportunity to explore the expanse of the park and discover its historical treasures. 

Another spot worth checking out is the Sachs Covered Bridge. This historical landmark dates back over a century and a half and stretches 100 feet over Marsh Creek. The water passing underneath is soothingly calm, and the snow-covered, lush forested surroundings look stunning. When you have explored enough of the outdoors, you can pop into Reid’s Winery Tasting Room and Cider House to shake off the chill with a glass of freshly made wine. 


An aerial view of Hawley, Pennsylvania, during winter, with snow scattered throughout the landscape.
An aerial view of Hawley, Pennsylvania, during winter, with snow scattered throughout the landscape. Editorial Credit: By Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 3.0,

This small Wayne County community hosts just under 1,500 residents and lies on the scenic banks of the Lackawaxen River. While there are various ways to explore the town, Soarin Eagle Rail Tours offers a fascinating rail biking journey with a unique perspective of the Poconos. It gets even better during winter when it snows and the surrounding forest is blanketed in white. The beauty of the imposing mountains during the winter makes the experience magical, especially when you take a trip with a loved one.  

Another charming public space you can check out is Bingham Park, which hosts an ice skating rink during winter. This is a chance to get your favorite pair of skates and join locals in a fun outdoor skating session. You can also explore the nearby historic downtown when you finish skating. 


An overlook view of the small town of Milford, Pennsylvania, on a sunny fall day.
An overlook view of the small town of Milford, Pennsylvania, on a sunny fall day.

Milford is an excellent destination for outdoor explorers, offering endless recreational opportunities around the year—the scenic hiking trails during summer transform into the perfect snowshoeing and cross-country routes when it snows. The Milford Knob Trailhead presents a fun nature walk through a green lowland forest comprising a mixture of scrubland and hardwood. Although climbing to the summit can be challenging, you will be rewarded with beautiful views of the town and the Delaware River. 

Another site to check out during your outdoor adventures is Raymondskill Falls, the tallest waterfalls in the state. It is surrounded by green trees and dark rock edges, culminating in picture-perfect scenery with a tranquil atmosphere. Also, do not forget to look for more adventures at the Cornelia & Florence Bridge Nature Preserve. This 300-acre park delights with a serene setting, with a lush forest, wetlands, and meadows to explore. 

Embrace Winter's Wonder in Pennsylvania's Picturesque Towns

The cold season does not have to confine you indoors. There is endless winter fun to take advantage of, but only if you dare to step outside. Luckily, the small towns in Pennsylvania promise to keep your winter holiday fun and full of activity. If you are planning a trip to the Keystone State, any of the above locations will be a viable winter getaway. 

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