Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. Alizada Studios - stock.adobe.com

11 Most Underrated Towns In Pennsylvania To Take A Trip To

Several factors draw tourists to Pennsylvania, from a rich Revolutionary War history and beautiful natural landscapes to captivating annual festivals. While famous cities like Pittsburg and Philadelphia grab the headlines with their towering skyscrapers and electric nightlife, several charming towns away from the major highways remain grossly overlooked. But even with a small fraction of travelers visiting them, they deliver a fresh and exciting experience.

From quaint mill villages along pristine waterways to historic railroad towns in scenic valleys, these underrated destinations invite tourists to explore the true heart and soul of the Keystone State. They promise the perfect off-the-beaten-path adventure in the state's backcountry with their captivating history, unique culture, rich natural scenery, and wealth of outdoor opportunities. On your next travel itinerary, skip the crowds in the city and embrace the ambiance of these underrated small towns in Pennsylvania.


Reading Spring Park in the downtown area of the Lititz, Pennsylvania.
Reading Spring Park in the downtown area of Lititz, Pennsylvania. Editorial credit: Amy Lutz / Shutterstock.com.

Although its name generates a substantial level of interest, there is so much more about Lititz compelling tourists to book a ticket to the town. This charming Lancaster County borough offers a range of attractions to address all tastes and preferences. It has an interesting history intertwined with Moravian settlers that is well documented at the Lititz Historical Foundation, promising to delight visiting historians. Lititz notably plays host to the oldest pretzel bakery in the country, established in 1861. The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery is still operating to date, and guests can tour the antique brick structure to savor a taste of America's "original" pretzel.

Lititz offers travelers generous opportunities to experience its delightful small-town charm by exploring its secluded green spaces. Many visitors gather at Lititz Springs Park to revel in a tranquil oasis in the middle of the town. Numerous accommodation options ensure your nightly stay is well catered for in Lititz, including Lititz Springs Inn.

Jim Thorpe

Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania
The Mauch Chunk Opera House in historic downtown Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. Image credit: zimmytws - stock.adobe.com.

A mixture of unique history, interesting culture, heritage, and scenic natural scenery makes Jim Thorpe a darling for tourists on a Pennsylvania itinerary. Set in the heart of the Pocono Mountains, the town is surrounded by a picturesque wilderness, flanked by rolling hills and dense forests, especially irresistible with the changing foliage in spring. By boarding the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway for a sightseeing tour, visitors can fully appreciate the wonderland that is the Pocono Mountains.

Jim Thorpe's rustic charm screams from the cluster of historic sites it harbors, providing visitors with an interesting perspective of its bygone eras. Historians can explore gems like the Asa Packer Mansion Museum, a 19th-century homestead that once housed the coal and railroad entrepreneur Asa Packer. Meanwhile, the Mauch Chunk Museum and Cultural Center will shed light on the colorful history of Jim Thorpe, including how it ended up being named after an iconic Native American athlete. When it is time to rest at the end of the day, consider checking into the historic Harry Packer Mansion Inn for a rustic accommodation experience.


Downtown York, Pennsylvania
Downtown York, Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania stands out for its storied past, and York is one of the most historically significant towns in Pennsylvania you can visit. This unassuming destination served as the nation's first capital as the city birthed the Articles of Confederation. Strolling through its historic downtown, York's heritage comes full circle with the display of old-world architecture and a cluster of historical landmarks. Notable among these is Bonham House, 19th century Colonial Revival home representing middle-class family life in old-world York. The Appell Center for the Performing Arts is another historic venue that continues to captivate audiences with diverse stage shows.

York promises opportunities for all, including the outdoorsy traveler. At Rocky Ridge Park, adventurers can access countless recreation amenities in the open, ranging from walking trails and picnic pavilions to ball fields. There is no shortage of hotel options with the presence of Wyndham Garden York and the Yorktowne Hotel, among others.

Grove City

Shoppers at Grove City Premium Outlets. Editorial credit: David Kentie / Shutterstock.com.

Grove City is home to Grove City College and comprises a sizable student population that helps inject a vibrant aura into the town's atmosphere. The presence of Robert E. Thorn Field attracts droves of sports fans, especially during football and athletics seasons. Grove City is also known for its premium shopping opportunities, and those craving a remarkable retail therapy session can head to Grove City Premium Outlets. Housing more than 100 stores, visitors get to shop from big-name brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, and Adidas.

Multiple green spaces and park areas across Grove City make it a prime destination for nature lovers. Among its top tourist draws is Keystone Safari, a small but charming zoo offering travelers awesome encounters with exotic species from around the world. While there are countless lodging choices in Grove City, Best Western Grove City Inn is among the top-rated offerings.

New Hope

Main Street in New Hope, Pennsylvania.
Main Street in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Editorial credit: JWCohen / Shutterstock.com.

This eastern Pennsylvania town is famous for its string of festivals and storied historical heritage. Running throughout the year, New Hope's festivals and fairs are a significant tourist draw and serve as the best times to visit the small town, including the New Hope Arts and Crafts Festival. However, the fun continues outside the festival season. New Hope hosts a couple of historical sites hinting at its captivating past. The 1784 Parry Mansion Museum is a popular stop among history buffs and offers a window into pre-Victorian era New Hope.

Art plays a vital part in the local community, and enthusiasts can delight in a number of venues that showcase entertaining local productions, as highlighted by the Bucks County Playhouse. New Hope impresses with its mix of hotel options, although many people gravitate towards Olivia's Bridge Street Inn for its historic charm.


Buildings upon Liberty Street, Franklin, Pennsylvania.
Buildings upon Liberty Street, Franklin, Pennsylvania. Editorial credit: woodsnorthphoto / Shutterstock.com.

A historic river town in Venango County, Franklin charms visitors with its antique flair, written all over the old-world architecture decorating its downtown district. A walk through the neighborhood feels like a journey back in time. It is an opportunity to soak in sights like the gorgeous St. John's Episcopal Church, representing the best of Victorian-era architecture in Franklin. The arts scene remains vibrant in the town, a credit to venues like Barrow-Civic Theater. This premium performance venue hosts a spectacular series of events featuring concerts, plays, and operas.

Franklin's location at the confluence of the Allegheny River and the French Creek presents awesome riverine adventures courtesy of local outfitters like Outdoor Allegheny River Services. Guests can enjoy a remarkable canoeing or kayaking trip down the river. And after a long day of fun, the nearby Holiday Inn Express & Suites assures them of a rejuvenating night's sleep.


Main Street in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.
Main Street in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

Stroudsburg is another hidden gem in the Pocono Mountains region, boasting exquisite natural surroundings with a magnetic effect on nature lovers. Taking a scenic tour aboard the Pocono Daytripper offers the fastest way to soak in as much as possible of the beautiful wilderness enveloping the town. But if you want a more up-close experience, you can head to the nearby Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, where a range of recreational opportunities, including kayaking, fishing, and hiking, await.

When not discovering Stroudsburg's enchanting outdoors, tourists can sample its lively winery scene at Eagles Rest Cellars. The establishment produces a variety of award-winning wines from the beautiful Cherry Valley worth a taste. When it comes to lodging, the Penn Stroud is just one of the many options in the town.


Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania.
Rafters on Lower Youghiogheny River at Cucumber Rapid in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania. Editorial credit: Marked Imagery / Shutterstock.com.

With its vast network of parks, sprawling forests, and river adventures, Ohiopyle is the ultimate escape for outdoor enthusiasts. Most tourists come to explore the over 20,000-acre Ohiopyle State Park, home to an array of thrilling adventures and recreational activities. This rugged wilderness features multiple waterfalls that are a popular subject for photographers. Hikers can also take on secluded trails to discover local wildlife and explore the scenery of Ferncliff Peninsula Natural Area.

Meanwhile, several local outfitters, such as Laurel Highlands River Tours and Outdoor Center, provide adrenaline-rushing rafting excursions down the choppy waters of the Youghiogheny River to make for an unforgettable experience. Ohiopyle's outdoorsy atmosphere calls for rustic accommodation, which you can find at the Ohiopyle Suites.


Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Farmington, Pennsylvania.
Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Farmington, Pennsylvania.

The first thing to do upon arrival in Farmington is to check into the famous Nemacolin resort to guarantee soothing night stays. This modest community boasts a broad range of attractions, highlighted by Fort Necessity National Battlefield, which preserves the site of the first battle in the French and Indian War. There are many more historical treasures to discover in the town, with the Mt. Washington Tavern taking tourists back to the 1800s. This building was once a stop for the Good Intent stage coaches and displays furnishings and other artifacts from its heyday.

Besides the captivating history, travelers come to Farmington for the Laurel Caverns. Considered the largest cave in Pennsylvania, the natural gem presents an unforgettable underground adventure with stunning rock formations to explore.


A civil war monument at the Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
A Civil War monument at the Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Editorial credit: George Sheldon / Shutterstock.com.

America's Revolutionary War history comes to life in the charming community of Gettysburg, which played a crucial role in changing the course of the infamous conflict. It was the site of the Battle of Gettysburg, which visitors can still witness inside the Gettysburg National Military Park. An on-site museum offers a look into the battle through a series of Civil War artifacts, including antique weapons.

But there is no shortage of historical treasures to explore in the town, which hosts a series of historic homes providing a window into bygone eras. The Shriver House Museum is one among many and dates back to the 1860s. It documents the life of an ordinary family and how it was affected by the Civil War. Gettysburg was once the hometown of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and tourists come to explore his legacy at the Eisenhower National Historic Site. Hotel options in Gettysburg include the Gettysburg Hotel and the Federal Pointe Inn.


Emmaus Theatre vintage sign, Emmaus, Pennsylvania
Emmaus Theatre in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. Image credit: jonbilous - stock.adobe.com.

This former mining town in Lehigh County offers visitors a little bit of everything to ensure a remarkable vacation. Emmaus' historical heritage involves its founding in 1759 and the discovery of iron ore in the early 1850s century. Those looking for a deep dive can visit the Emmaus Historical Society to browse a vast collection of artifacts documenting the town's past. Several trails run through its territory, offering the opportunity to explore a beautiful, wild nature space synonymous with the Lehigh Valley region. Outdoor adventurers will fancy immersing in the sprawling Wildlands Conservancy's South Mountain Preserve, which covers about 400 acres.

Elsewhere, a trip to Emmaus would not be complete without tasting its world-class craft brews. A tout of Yergey Brewing introduces you to a fantastic selection of local brews alongside cocktails and ciders. Hotel options abound in nearby Allentown, including the Holiday Inn Express.

Final Thought

From charming river valleys to scenic mountain hideaways, these unheralded towns in Pennsylvania demonstrate the charm and fun visitors are missing out on off the beaten path. They harbor a rich mix of experiences in the backcountry that could easily rival the hype in the big cities. Whether soaking in unique historical heritage, partaking in rare traditions, or getting lost in an unending wilderness, each destination guarantees lifetime memories of the Keystone State's untouched appeal and may just compel you to schedule a repeat visit.


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