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These Towns in Pennsylvania Have The Best Main Streets

Main Street is the lifeblood of any small town and depicts the overall mood of a locality. It is an epicenter where community members come together to shop, dine, and interact. A vibrant main street represents the character and soul of its town. Pennsylvania is home to charming destinations with remarkable downtowns. Spread across the Keystone State, these towns have nurtured their main streets into bubbly hubs where tourists can find entertainment and fulfillment.  Visitors will encounter local boutiques with unique finds, family-owned restaurants serving up regional specialties, and true small-town charm. Whether it is strolling through historic storefronts or people-watching from a cafe patio, these main streets invite leisurely exploring and discovering in towns both new and old. Below, we explore towns in Pennsylvania with the finest main streets, highlighting what makes each one special. 


Street in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Street in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Most tourists to Gettysburg visit for its rich historical heritage. Hosting the site of the infamous Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War, it has an impressive collection of historical markers showcasing a momentous period in America’s history. However, Gettysburg boasts a bustling downtown that seamlessly blends history with contemporary comforts like shopping and fine dining. Strolling through the lively corridor reveals an exciting mix of shopping boutiques, art galleries, quaint cafes, and interesting museums. You will find the main tourist drag along Steinwehr Avenue, where guests can shop for an exquisite piece of jewelry at Body and Soul Silversmith. 

Further down, a host of historical gems await discovery, including the Children of Gettysburg 1863. This interesting kids' museum presents an interactive adventure for budding historians. When you need to eat after hours of walking and exploration, you can stop by the historic Dobbin House Tavern, which has been operating since the mid-1800s.


Shops along the Main Street in Lititz are a destination for tourist visiting Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Shops along Main Street in Lititz are a destination for tourists visiting Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, via Amy Lutz /

Lititz constantly features on lists of “Coolest Small Towns” in Pennsylvania and America because of its unique rural vibe and rich Moravian heritage. However, it also has a thriving downtown that tourists instantly fall in love with. Boasting a cluster of at least fifty shops, cafes, coffee shops, and other businesses, its main drag is an excellent backdrop for the town’s major events and entertainment. You cannot afford to miss 2nd Fridays when stores downtown reward shoppers with special offers and fun events. Inside Main Street Peddler, you will find a nice collection of antiques, crafts, gifts, furnishings, and other collectibles. 

The corridor is home to the historic Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, America’s first pretzel bakery, dating back to the 19th century. You can stop by for a sumptuous snack or learn how to twist and make a pretzel from a recipe that has undergone centuries of perfection. Not too far away, the serene Lititz Springs Park provides the ideal atmosphere to relax. This urban oasis in the heart of the town is a popular events venue and draws nature lovers with its greenery, fountains, and ponds. 

State College

Person skating in Downtown State College taken on Calder way near Allen st. facing Southwest,
Person skating in Downtown State College taken on Calder way near Allen st. facing Southwest, By Goonsnick - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

State College, also known as “Happy Valley” is home to the Pennsylvania State University main campus. The sizable youthful population in the town has resulted in an upbeat vibe that shines through the streets of its vibrant downtown. Exploring the heart of downtown brings you to a quaint and quirky main street, which hosts an impressive cluster of galleries, coffee houses, boutiques, bakeries, and restaurants. The lane is perfect for anyone in need of retail therapy. You can pop into Penn State Berkey Creamery, the country’s largest university creamery, for a delicious scoop of ice cream, served in a bowl or cone. 

If you come with kids, the Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania is an ideal stop along the busy corridor. You can keep the young souls busy with interactive exhibits and hands-on activities as they learn interesting science facts at the magnificent facility. Afterward, a stop by Sowers Harvest Café allows you to replenish with delicious and wholesome meals in a family-friendly outdoor atmosphere. 


Downtown Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Downtown Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Image credit Oksana Tysovska via Shutterstock

Carlisle ranks among the cutest small towns in Pennsylvania because of its bustling downtown. Recognized for having the best Main Streets in the region, the neighborhood is a bee-hive of activities, allowing tourists to walk, explore, shop, eat, and drink from a diverse collection of restaurants, boutiques, antique stores, craft breweries, and galleries. Surrounded by scenic landscapes and gorgeous architecture, downtown presents a wealth of family-friendly attractions and experiences that can keep you engaged and entertained for the day. 

Historians will want to check out Dickinson College, an iconic town landmark with a lot of heritage to explore. The institution was established in 1773, making it the first college founded after the formation of the United States. Another interesting stop to make is at the historic Carlisle Theater, where theater lovers gather to enjoy engaging concerts, music shows, stage acts, and film screenings. After working up an appetite from all activities, do not forget to pass by 1794 The Whiskey Rebellion for a hearty meal, alongside a glass of crisp whiskey.


Indiana, Pennsylvania.
Indiana, Pennsylvania.

Indiana is famous for being the childhood home of celebrated Hollywood actor, Jimmy Stewart. The town sits 46 miles from Pittsburgh, offering a laidback rural escape from the big city. However, you are not devoid of urban comforts in Indiana, thanks to a lively downtown. The popular area is rife with shopping stores, galleries, cafes, bakeries, and coffee shops. A self-guided tour of downtown Indiana will bring you to the beautiful historic district, punctuated with old-world architecture and historic buildings. Remember to step inside the Historical & Genealogical Society of Indiana County for a glimpse into local history. Among the most noteworthy points of interest to check out is the Jimmy Stewart Museum. This interesting center invites fans to pay tribute and the public to explore the legacy of Jimmy Stewart. It displays a range of memorabilia, merchandise, and other collectibles related to the actor. Walking along Philadelphia Street provides exciting dining opportunities. You can stop by the Artists Hand Gallery & Espresso Bar to enjoy a refreshing beverage while admiring an amazing art selection by local artists. 


Bradford historic Main Street looking at Hooker Fulton Building, Pennsylvania.
Bradford historic Main Street looking at Hooker Fulton Building, Pennsylvania. Image credit michasekdzi via Shutterstock

Bradford is steeped in history and its rich heritage is expressed through the number of historical societies and museums dotting its quaint downtown. Exploring the town center is a surreal trip down memory lane, with several gems telling the story of the town. Fortunately, the pedestrian-friendly downtown district is devoid of heavy crowds and traffic, leaving you with plenty of space to explore at your own pace. 

One of the first stops to consider is the Zippo/Case Museum and Store. This interesting museum introduces you to the origin of the Zippo Lighter. A tour of the facility showcases a remarkable selection of lighters, clothing, knives, candles, and other souvenirs related to the brand. You also get an opportunity to buy a unique souvenir at the gift shop. At the Marilyn Horne Museum and Exhibit Center, you can learn about the career, achievements, and legacy of celebrated mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne inside a 3,400-square-foot exhibition space. Finally, cap off the day with a stop at A Slice of the 80s for a piece of delicious pizza served with a side of nostalgia. 


Downtown center Clearfield South 2nd Street and Market Street
Downtown center Clearfield South 2nd Street and Market Street

The first town to be incorporated in Clearfield County, Clearfield is a rich tapestry of regional history. It is known for the Old Town Historic District, which features an intriguing mix of historic homes and ancient structures, with some dating to the 1800s. The intricate architecture of the well-preserved Victorian homes makes it a popular point of interest for tourists in the town. Thanks to the walkable streets in downtown Clearfield, you are free to explore gems like the Historica Plus Antique Gallery. Housed inside is an impressive collection of antiques, vintage furniture, glassware, jewelry, coins, and tools that are a collector’s paradise. 

Meanwhile, the Clearfield County Historical Society offers a look into the area’s captivating past through old photographs, archives, documents, relics, and other memorabilia. Walking a few blocks from the establishments brings you to Legends Sports Bar & Grill, the perfect hang-out after a long day of exploring downtown. It has a laid-back setting and serves tasty American dishes and refreshing cocktails. 

Final Thoughts

While Pennsylvania houses lovely small towns, the main streets bring out distinctive characters and qualities that elevate them amongst the rest. Whether appreciating history, supporting local artisans, enjoying the great outdoors, or simply taking in small-town charm, these main streets offer a glimpse into the heart of their communities. By preserving historic buildings and supporting hometown businesses, these small towns in Pennsylvania ensure their special main streets will remain vibrant gathering places for years to come, inviting tourists from around and beyond to experience their charm. 

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