Why plan vacations in other states when you can vacation right here in Pennsylvania? Our charming state has so much to offer; from it's rich history to the breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, it's truly no surprise there are no shortages of sightseeing options. So broaden your horizons and pack your bags because you won't want to miss these 15 adorable must-see Pennsylvania towns.
Content disclaimer: We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit a potentially hazardous location, you check for the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. The locations listed below may or may not have changed their regulations in regards to what you can or cannot do on site since the article was last updated. Always consult with local authorities. If you do plan to visit a location, know the risks beforehand and respect the environment.
Where: Lawrence County, Western state; about an hour and a half north of Pittsburgh
This predominately Amish village offers a unique and historical experience for anyone who is unfamiliar with the Amish's simple way of life. You will witness many Amish horse-drawn buggies roll by while you tour the shops, and if you head further away from the commercial portion of the town you may be lucky enough to see some of the tiny Amish schoolhouses and their extraordinary farms.
Most of the town's shops are full of Amish-crafted goods, including hand-spun fabrics and carefully crafted woodwork. Oh, and you can't miss out on trying a locally-famous Amish donut.
Next, you can rest your feet by the creek while taking in the country scenery and smells. Additionally, every year the store owners get together to hosts a wizardly Harry Potter themed festival that draws thousands of tourists to the town.
Note: The Amish don't like Instagram —in fact, they don't like photos at all. Remember to be respectful and avoid taking photos of people.
Conneaut Lake Park
Where: Crawford County, Western state. About an hour south of Erie and nearly two hours north-west of Pittsburgh.
Nestled close to the Ohio border is this little town on Conneaut Lake — centered around a once-popular amusement park built in the 1890's. It was once a bustling area but now boasts less than 1,000 people. Thankfully, the park has been kept alive for over 100 years with nearly original features, offering anyone who comes here the ability to virtually step back in time and ride the same rides our ancestors enjoyed as children.
Only a few blocks away is the equally exciting must-see Hotel Conneaut. Built in 1893 as a place to stay while visiting the park, this hotel still has the same/now retro decor and a spookily haunted history. There are plenty of ghost stories to go around. If you're feeling brave why not stay the night in their most-haunted room?
Personal tip: The majority of the park is not fenced and shuts down after summer for the offseason, so if you enjoyed the Dark Carnival map on Left for Dead, visit the park in late summer/autumn where the silence and eerie atmosphere is sure to get your zombie-apocalypse-loving imagination flowing.
Where: Fayette County, South state. About 2 hours south-east of Pittsburgh and 2 hours south-west of Altoona.
According to public record, Ohiopyle's population was at 57 in 2016 — you read that right, FIFTY-SEVEN! That's pretty crazy, but the low population doesn't stop this itty-bitty town from bringing in thousands of tourists throughout the year. Founded in the late 1860's this town still makes visitors feel like they have walked back in time to an old-fashion village.
While the town is sure to capture your heart alone, Ohiopyle is known for its beautiful waterfalls and rocky trails. There are several waterfalls throughout the park and miles of trails to keep those with itchy feet busy for hours. There's also places to kayak, raft, and swim. When you're done being a busybody, grab a bite to eat at the town's conveniently located cafe and let the sound of running water lull all of your worries away.
The Village of Sweden Valley
Where: Potter County, North Central state. About 2 1/2 hours north of Altoona, 3 1/2 hours north-east of Pittsburgh and 5 1/hours north-west of Philadelphia.
This hidden gem of a village was founded in 1807 and named by the group of Swedish settlers who founded it. Like much of Potter County, it's not densely populated — the current population in Sweden Valley is estimated to be in the 200's. Not only is the village rich with Swedish history, it's also considered "Dark Sky Country" because it's only a short drive to Cherry Springs State Park — one of the few places in Pennsylvania with low enough light pollution for stargazing.
While you're here, don't forget to check out the infamous Ice Mine. This underground oddity is an ice cave (open only for tours during the warmer months) that forms icicles during the spring and summer months but never during the winter.
Where: Westmoreland County, South West state. Just over an hour drive east of Pittsburgh and just an hour to the south-west of Altoona.
Home to the American Folklore Institue, Ligonier is a neat little town with lots of history and things to do. Ligonier was once the second most populated town in Pennsylvania during the French and Indian War after being settled by the British Army in the 1760's. Originally named "Fort Ligonier" after John Ligonier, a field marshal in the British Army, "Fort" was expunged from the name, shortening it to Ligonier.
Learn about the local legends at the Folklore Institute. Take a day to visit the amusement park. And the historical society is bound to keep your attention for hours with the town's history. Whatever it is that you choose to do, don't skip out on this adorable town.
Where: Lancaster County, Eastern-Mid state. 2 hours and 45 minutes east of Altoona and 2 hours west of Philadephia.
Lancaster County is known for its seemingly endless acres of rolling hills and agriculture. While Lititz makes up only a small portion of the county, it's notoriously known for its 18th century-themed tourist attractions. This close-knit community has farmer's markets with stands full of farm-fresh produce, a downtown home to many locally owned (and old) mom and pop shops, and a reconstructed 1880's train station.
You can even learn how to hand-twist pretzels at America's first commercial pretzel shop, Julius Sturgis Pretzel, founded in 1861. Lititz was voted "America's Coolest Small Town" by Budget Travel in 2013. How do you like those pretzels?
Where: Carbon County, Eastern-Mid state. 2 hours north of Philadephia, 1 1/2 hours east of Harrisburg, 45 minutes north of Allentown and 3 hours east of Altoona.
While it's likely to cause some eyebrow raises, make sure you tell your boyfriend you HAVE to see Jim Thorpe. This enchanting town often makes list after list of "best" places to visit in America, and it's clear why. From the Victorian-inspired buildings to the breathtaking views of the Pocono Mountains, Jim Thorpe is totally ready for his — I mean it's — #closeup.
Where: Bucks County, East state (near Philadephia). 50 minutes north of Philadephia, 1 1/2 hour south of Allentown, and 4 hours east of Altoona.
Fall in love with the artistic history of Doylestown by visiting the several-mile-stretch "Genius Belt," nicknamed so after many renown artists moved to the area during the 1930's-1950's. This quaint town is also home to many mansions and large estates, most notably that of Henry Mercer's 1900's home, the Fonthill Castle.
Where: Butler County, West-Mid state. 30 minutes north of Pittsburgh, 2 hours west of Altoona.
*Cue trying to put in as many outer space-puns as possible* But no really, you will want to check out this totally-habitable Mars; complete with a spaceship and all. This town is full of down to earth "humans," who take full advantage of their homeland's name. Mail some mail at the local post office and have it stamped from Mars, or check out the Mars' school district sports team — the Planets. Whatever you do, just don't get abducted by the Martians.
Where: Chester County, South-East state. 1 hour south-west of Philadelphia and 3 1/2 hours east of Altoona.
Mario would be in heaven at this "Mushroom Capital" of the world. Unbelievably, the Kennett Square mushroom farming business produces over one million pounds of mushrooms a day. Well, maybe mushrooms aren't your thing. If so, luckily mushrooms aren't the only thing this town is known for. Kennett Square is also proud to be home to the world-famous Longwood Gardens, a bustling downtown full of independent shops and eateries, an underground railroad tour, and much more!
Where: Pike County, Eastern-Mid state. 2 hours north of Philadephia, 1 hour north of Allentown and 2 1/2 hours from Harrisburg.
Have you ever wondered what Pennsylvania's equivalent of Niagra Falls is? Now you've found it. Often referred to as "the Niagra of Pennsylvania," Bushkill is known for its stunning waterfalls. Tour the local town or go straight for the (Bush)kill — learn about the history and check out the waterfalls at the Bushkill Falls Park, where you can also get lost in their maze, check out the shops and pan for gemstones! Bushkill is the perfect day trip and a great place to take some epic #travelselfies.
Where: Lebanon County, Eastern state. 40 minutes west of Harrisburg, 1 1/2 hours west of Philadelphia, and 2 1/2 hours from Altoona.
This little "beach" town always has something going on! From festivals to art shows and nearly everything in between, there's something here to keep everyone busy. Perhaps one of the most popular attractions is the Mt. Gretna Lake beach where you can rent beach chairs and swing into the water and, well, feel like you're on vacation!
Where: Beaver County, Western-Mid state. 1 hour north of Pittsburgh, 2 hours south of Erie.
Darlington is really a darling town full of underrated history. The first academy west of the Allegheny Mountains was built here and is now an icon of the town. The academy now houses the Historical Society — and it's totally free to visit! The town wouldn't be complete without the Little Beaver Industrial and Agricultural Museum only a couple blocks away.
If history doesn't excite you, this town is full of oddities. From the polo field to the questionably photogenic giant golden muscleman statue, there's plenty of easter eggs to discover. The 4,700 mile North Country Trail spanning from New York to North Dakota runs right through here — leading to an area called the Hippe Bridge, a popular hangout spot for the locals. Additionally, if you take Cannelton Road towards Ohio you will pass a family graveyard where the body of local legend Barbara Davidson the "Pig Lady" is buried, and on the same road a little farther down you will pass another historical marker of an old abandoned brick factory.
Located just outside of Philadelphia, Manayunk is a town popular for its shopping and nightlife - much of it centered around the never-finished canal. Like many of the little Pennsylvanian towns, this one is also full of beautiful scenery and an interesting history. Many young families are calling the rowhomes of Manayunk home - turning the town into a trendy place for the younger generations.
Where: Somerset County, South state. 1 1/2 hours south of Pittsburgh and 1 hour 45 minute south of Altoona.
Confluence is a pleasant town with that all-American home-grown country vibe. It has some of the best-rated places to stay and tons of sites to see. Whether you fancy touring the nature trails or prefer checking out the downtown area, make this a stop on your list.