Whether it’s a quaint eatery tucked away in the mountains or a friendly local storefront off a quiet road, Pennsylvania boasts main streets and small towns that have something for everyone. Shop, dine and explore these charming regions of PA to uncover hidden gems and one-of-a-kind experiences.
New Hope - Philadelphia and the Countryside
New Hope, a charming, historic town on the Delaware River, was incorporated in 1837 and has since grown into one of the East Coast's best-loved getaway destinations. The old-town industrial economy of New Hope has evolved into a community that embraces the arts, tourism and cuisine. Antique shops, restaurants, B&Bs, and more than 200 arts and crafts galleries line the quaint streets of this village. Just a short drive from Philadelphia, New Hope is equally suitable for family fun and romantic weekends with bakeries, eateries, and specialty shops to suit everyone’s interests.
Erie - Pennsylvania's Great Lakes Region
Named for the Native American tribe that resided along its southern shore, Erie has been called the Gem City because of its "sparkling" lake. The atmosphere in downtown Erie makes it the perfect place for a brisk stroll through historic storefronts, friendly pubs, and unique coffee spots. With all the charm of local artisans and boutique shops during the day, Erie comes alive at night with live music, theater, comedy shows, and more. The downtown area is also home to the Erie Playhouse, the third oldest community theater in the country. Nestled on the shores of Lake Erie, this destination is filled with Queen Anne-style homes and mom-and-pop shops adored by residents and visitors alike.
Jim Thorpe - Pocono Mountains
Jim Thorpe, known as "the Switzerland of America," has enchanted visitors for three centuries. Named in honor of Olympic medal winner James Francis Thorpe, Jim Thorpe’s winding streets and wandering trails offer something for everyone to enjoy. Visitors can stroll and shop the Old Mauch Chunk Historic District, absorbing the magnificent Victorian architecture, or tour the many notable sites - eight of which are listed on the National Historic Register. A fine selection of restaurants and pubs can be found in and around downtown Jim Thorpe, and a blossoming cultural scene features art galleries and live performances of theater and music.
York - Dutch Country Roads
It’s easy to see why Travel + Leisure recently named York one of America’s “greatest main streets,” with its abundance of restaurants, shops, and nightlife. The first Friday of every month, merchants and venues throughout the downtown district hold extended hours, host special events and live entertainment, and offer refreshments, promotions, and discounts. Visitors can stop by Art Studio 323 or Antiquita Glassworks for a taste of local gallery-style art, or grab a ticket to a show at the Capitol Theatre or many other performing arts venues nearby.
Doylestown - Philadelphia and the Countryside
Henry Mercer, a 19th-century archeologist and industrialist, built the cheerful borough of Doylestown and its three most striking landmarks: Fonthill, a sprawling 44-room concrete palace; the Mercer Museum, a six-story Gothic and Byzantine historical repository for pieces of early Americana that Mercer collected; and Moravian Pottery & Tile Works, where employees preserve fading methods of production. In 2016, the Mercer Museum will celebrate 100 years of showcasing daily life in America before the Industrial Revolution. The downtown area offers an array of independent shops including the Doylestown Bookshop, and is home to the County Theatre, an art-deco theater from the 1930s that specializes in art and independent and foreign films.
Bethlehem - Lehigh Valley
In the last decade, Bethlehem - or the “Christmas City” - has experienced its own renaissance. The historic district, originally an area rich with the cultural traditions and religions of its many immigrants, is now home to the affectionately named “Restaurant Row,” as well as art galleries and shops, including the oldest bookstore in the world, the Moravian Book Shop. Today, Bethlehem is known for its many annual events like Musikfest, one of the largest music festivals in the nation, and Christkindlmarkt, a world-class Christmas market held annually in November and December. Both events are housed in the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, a former Bethlehem Steel plant property transformed into a multi-use performing arts center.
Lititz - Dutch Country Roads
Known today for its tree-lined streets and eclectic architecture, Lititz was first settled in the 1720s by Pennsylvania Germans, but was established in 1749 by Moravians who sought freedom to worship in the Commonwealth that was tolerant of all religions. Today, the Moravian star still hangs from hotel porches, store windows, homes, and churches. Lititz is known as a "foodie town" for its attractions that offer a sneak peek behind the making of some of Lancaster's sweet and salty favorites, including Wilbur Chocolate Factory and Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, the first commercial pretzel bakery in America. In 2013, Lititz was recognized as “America’s coolest small town” by Budget Travel.
Johnstown - The Alleghenies
Johnstown is best known for a famous tragedy: the bursting of a dam in 1889. The resulting Johnstown Flood killed thousands and created an unprecedented media frenzy. The Johnstown Flood Museum commemorates the disaster, and an award-winning documentary tells the story in heartbreaking detail. Luckily, Johnstown was a tough steel town that 20 million tons of water could not destroy. Today, the city boasts a symphony orchestra, a nationally recognized Folk Fest, a gallery of the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, and a branch campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Visitors in search of a thrill can ride the Johnstown Inclined Plane, built in 1891 and listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "steepest vehicular inclined plane in the world.”
Lawrenceville - Pittsburgh and its Countryside
This historic neighborhood near downtown Pittsburgh is known for its welcoming vibe, walkable streets, locally grown businesses, and creative stores. Visitors can celebrate Pittsburgh's diverse local art scene at shops like Wildcard, Fresh Heirlooms or Julep, and right next door to the Strip District and Bloomfield, Lawrenceville is also full of rich history. The Butler Street business district offers plenty of charming activities, including a single screen movie theatre, pinball cafÃ©, and bowling alley - all within two blocks. Whether you like to shop, dine, or simply walk around and explore, Lawrenceville is the place for you.
DuBois - Pennsylvania Wilds
Situated 100 miles north of Pittsburgh, DuBois boasts a strong presence of local entertainment and the arts. The Paul G. Reitz Theater in downtown DuBois, an 1887 church converted into a community theater, highlights local groups such as "Reitz Theater Players" and "Cultural Resources Inc.," while the Winkler Gallery of Fine Art showcases more traditional artists in the area. Visitors to DuBois can sit back and relax as they dig into home-cooked meals and treats at mom-and-pop establishments like Mum’s Bakery, Fort Worth Restaurant, and Luigi’s Restaurante.
Bloomsburg - Valleys of the Susquehanna
The relaxed rural atmosphere of Bloomsburg is balanced by stimulating cultural and recreational activities. Visitors can explore local art galleries, enjoy historic architecture, or grab a seat for a theatrical performance. From specialty hoagie shops and fine dining to custom cakes and charming bakeries, downtown Bloomsburg has something to please every palate. And for visitors staying overnight, bed and breakfasts and quiet inns provide a charming neighborly feel to end the day.