30 Best Places To Visit In Pennsylvania

best places to visit in pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is perhaps one of the most popular states in America because of its rich history and its primary role in America’s past. Symbolic and important events such as the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution took place in Pennsylvania. The legendary Civil War’s Battle of Gettysburg, as well as President Lincoln’s famous speech of the same name also happened here. Being one of the original 13 colonies, Pennsylvania is located in the center of the East Coast and is bordered by New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, and Ohio. Because it is geographically centered among other states and has played an important role in the nation’s history, the state earned its nickname as Keystone State. There are so many more reasons to come and see this historic state, so here’s a list of the best places to visit in Pennsylvania, USA.

1. Harrisburg

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania State Capitol Building
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user kev72 used under CC BY 2.0

Harrisburg is Pennsylvania’s state capital, which means the seat of the state government is located here. Located west of Philadelphia, Harrisburg also played an important part during the American Civil War and the Industrial Revolution. The city flourished economically with the establishment of the Pennsylvania Canal and Railroad, and today is noted to be an ideal place for families to settle. Because of its urban setup, Harrisburg also became an arts and nightlife hub. If you’re in the city around January, make sure to catch the Pennsylvania Farm Show, an agricultural spectacle featuring local farmers and their farm animals.

2. Lancaster

North Duke Street Lancaster
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Scanlan used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Dubbed as “Pennsylvania Dutch Country”, Lancaster offers tourists and visitors a lush scenery of rolling green hills and a pleasant countryside atmosphere that will remind you of Dutch landscapes. Alternatively, if you’re not a country person and would prefer a more urban itinerary, Downtown Lancaster is the best place to go in the area. Here you can find the thriving art and music scene in places like Fulton Opera House and Demuth Museum.

3. Scranton

Scranton, Pennsylvania, restored historic Electric City sign by Carol Highsmith (LOC highsm.04369)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Carol M. Highsmith used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Up northeast, you will find the industrial town of Scranton. Once historically inhabited by the native Lenape tribe, the town blossomed into a progressive city in Pennsylvania. Lackawanna River, its name originating from the Lenape tribe, flows through the town. Scranton is also known as “Electric City”, with coal mining and electricity as its top industries. In fact, there are a lot of museums that showcase its industrial history. One fun fact about Scranton is that this was the setting of a lot of episodes of the popular American sitcom “The Office”!

4. Allentown

2008 - Miller Symphony Hall
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Alphageekpa used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Not to be confused with the Billy Joel song of the same title, Allentown is a populous city on the eastern end of Pennsylvania. Though its current home is in Philadelphia, this is where the historic Liberty Bell was temporarily hidden from the British during the American Revolution. Aside from its role in history, present-day Allentown offers several cultural establishments for tourists to explore, among them Allentown Art Museum, Allentown Symphony Hall, and Nineteenth Street Theater. If you’re in Allentown around September, be sure to catch the Great Allentown Fair, an agricultural gathering and one of the oldest fairs in the country.

5. West Chester

West Chester PA
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ii2nmd used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Ironically located in the southeastern corner of Pennsylvania is the small town of West Chester. Compared to the other places that give off the big city life, West Chester has more of a quiet and quaint small-town ambiance. It’s an ideal place to go if you’re looking to relax in a provincial-type atmosphere. Nevertheless, this town offers a lot of activities for tourists and visitors. Learn their history at Chester County Historical Society, see a live performance at Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center, or marvel at the scenery on board West Chester Railroad. A little fun fact, the 2008 film “Marley & Me” starring Jennifer Aniston filmed a lot of its scenes here!

6. Bethlehem

Star of Bethlehem Main Street 2382px
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ram-Man used under GFDL 1.2

Taking its name from Christian origins, Bethlehem is a city in the Lehigh Valley on the eastern side of Pennsylvania. Nicknamed “The Christmas City”, Bethlehem was officially founded on Christmas Eve. Apart from its unique origins, this city became known for its steel industry. SteelStacks is one of its most popular attractions, where tourists can learn all about the history of the town and how steel played an important role throughout. If you’re in the area around August, be sure to check out Bethlehem Musikfest, which is both a funfair and a concert with big names such as the Dixie Chicks and Maroon 5 being past performers.

7. Erie

Erie bayfront
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user PJPJ23 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Erie is a shoreside city by a lake of the same name. Aside from the lake, the city got its name from the indigenous Erie tribe that once inhabited the area. This city not only has a huge population but also has a great love for the arts. Erie Art Museum presents not only traditional folk art alongside modern art but some jazz and blues concerts as well. On the other hand, if you prefer outdoor activities more, Erie, being a lakeside city, has several activities for you. Places like Presque Isle State Park, Erie Land Light, and the Bicentennial Tower are sites you should not miss.

8. Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Skyline Morning
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Tim Tierney used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Located in the southwest side of the state, another famous city in Pennsylvania is Pittsburgh. It’s known as “Steel City”, primarily because of its industrial history and roots. There are about 30 skyscrapers in the city that houses dozens of corporate giants such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Uber, and many others. Talk about an urban jungle! Pittsburgh is also massive when it comes to recreational activities. Tourists can visit Andy Warhol Museum, Carnegie Science Center, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, and Point State Park. Lots of Hollywood movies have also filmed here, including the 2012 Batman action film “The Dark Knight Rises”.

9. Jim Thorpe

Jim Thorpe PA A Packer House to St Marks
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Smallbones used under CC0

Formerly Mauch Chunk, this area was renamed Jim Thorpe in honor of America’s first Native American Olympic gold winner. It’s been dubbed as the “Switzerland of America” because of the breathtaking sceneries of mountainous landscapes, accented with countryside medieval-like architecture. It’s the perfect place to check out if you’re staying in nearby urban areas like Philadelphia and want a quick escape to nature. Tourists usually come here for hiking, biking, or rafting.

10. Johnstown

Johnstown, Pennsylvania (8482657024)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Doug Kerr used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Johnstown is a suburban town in the southwest of Pennsylvania. The town’s history is unique yet somewhat tragic, but this has become the most popular thing about it. Sadly, Johnstown was devastated with not one but three massive floods each in 1889, 1943, and 1977. Because of this, Johnstown Flood National Memorial and Johnstown Flood Museum were established in honor of these tragedies, and today they have become the town’s top tourist destinations. Tourists also flock to Johnstown for the many different events they hold each year.

11. Doylestown

Main Street NB approaching Court Street Doylestown
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Dough4872 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Doylestown is a small town on the eastern side of Pennsylvania that was originally inhabited by Native Americans. The first European settler, William Doyle, the town’s namesake, put up the first establishment in the area - a tavern. This quaint town progressed throughout the years but retained its rustic landscapes with iron lamps, brick buildings, and stone pavements. This attracted a lot of tourists - and its no surprise why - since walking through town will make you feel like you’re still in the 1800s. Doylestown prides itself with several places listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including Doylestown Historic District, Pugh Dungan House, and Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, among others.

12. Gettysburg

Gettysburg Cannons-11
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Balon Greyjoy used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Another familiar Pennsylvanian town to many, especially history geeks, is Gettysburg. This small town is the site of the historic Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War, and it is where President Abraham Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address afterward. In fact, these events were so impactful on the town that heritage through tourism has become its main industry. Popular sites include Gettysburg National Military Park and Museum, where every year on July 1 to 3, a reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg takes place, and Jennie Wade House, a homage to the only civilian casualty during said battle. It’s the perfect place for history lovers and military enthusiasts!

13. State College

State College seen from Allen Street Gates
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user JohnDziak used under CC BY-SA 4.0

As the name gives away, State College is a university town largely dominated by - you guessed it - students. It’s the home base of the Ivy League school Pennsylvania State University, or more commonly known as Penn State. The population and community grew with the expansion of Penn State throughout the years. Because of the young population, art festivals and sporting events are very dominant here. There is the annual Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts or simply, “Arts Fest”, held every July. In April, the town holds the Blue-White Football Weekend, an all-around entertaining and festive event. There is also a dance marathon held every February. It’s truly a place where you’d want to spend your college years.

14. Hershey

Hershey, Pennsylvania
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bronayur used under CC BY-SA 3.0

If you suddenly felt hungry reading that title, then you’re not wrong! Dubbed as “The Sweetest Place On Earth”, Hershey is unique for many reasons. For starters, Hershey is officially not considered a town or city since it does not have a local government. Hershey actually got its name from the founder of the world-famous chocolate, Milton S. Henry. Here, tourists can experience Hershey’s Chocolate World and Hersheypark. Basically, the entire place is one big, open Willy Wonka factory. The streets are even named after chocolates and candies.

15. Williamsport

Weightman Block Williamsport Pennsylvania
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ruhrfisch used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Williamsport is a humble little city in Central Pennsylvania best known for its sports scene. The city is most famous for being the home base and birthplace of Little League Baseball. The Little League World Series is held annually at South Williamsport. Alongside that, sports fans can also go and visit World of Little League Museum and Peter J. McGovern Museum. For a more nature-filled itinerary, you can also opt for the Hiawatha riverboat and Susquehanna Riverwalk.

16. Hazleton

Downtown Hazleton From The South
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Self used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Hazleton is a city in Pennsylvania known for its coal mining industry. It’s seen its own fair share of historical events, both fruitful and tragic, but nevertheless, it has contributed to what the city is today. Originally, it was christened as Hazelton but due to a spelling error, it has been called Hazleton ever since. There are a lot of parks and recreational spots here, including Eckley Miners’ Village and Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails. Catch the city’s annual festival, Funfest, around the second week of September. This event showcases craft fairs, car shows, mini-concerts and performances, and many more.

17. Camp Hill

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral - Camp Hill, Pennsylvania 03
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Farragutful used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Located south of Pennsylvania state is Camp Hill, a small suburban town. Being part of Pennsylvania, Camp Hill has had its fair share of historical activity from the American Civil War. Prior to the Civil War, the area was known as White Hill but was later baptized with its present name. There are a lot of parks here, which makes it an ideal place for people who want to relax away from city life and spend time with family.

18. Downingtown

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Dough4872 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Downingtown is a lovely little town along Lincoln Highway in southern Pennsylvania, somewhere between the cities of Philadelphia and Lancaster. It’s a great place to stay if your itineraries are headed towards these urban areas. Because of its neighborhood atmosphere, the town has several parks perfect for some rest and relaxation. Downingtown also boasts a number of places that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, including Roger Hunt Mill.

19. Pottstown

Pottstown PA HighStreet
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Willjay used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Pottstown is a small yet industrial town in southern Pennsylvania. They take pride in their dairy and agriculture, so expect to see a lot of farms and mills in the area. One of the top tourist sites is Pottsgrove Manor, which was the home of John Potts, the founder of the area. Alternatively, you can take your kids to The Carousel at Pottstown for a fun-filled day. Or you can go on a one-of-a-kind date and see Pennsylvania from above on a hot air balloon ride with the U.S. Hot Air Balloon Team.

20. Centralia

Smoke Rising From The Former Pennsylvania Route 61
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user LaesaMajestas used under CC BY-SA 4.0

One of the more eerily interesting towns in Pennsylvania is Centralia - if one can still call it a town. At present, it is estimated that there are 11 residents left. The reason behind this is because of an underground fire that has been burning for nearly 60 years. The fires began spreading from the underground coal mines that once made Centralia a bustling and thriving town. Today, Centralia sits as an almost-ghost town due to the current situation. For those who want to witness the place, there are still accessible highways into the town, though a lot of them tainted with graffiti. Authorities continue to caution visitors of the risks these fires can bring to the roads.

21. Kutztown

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user self used under COPYRIGHTED FREE USE

Kutztown is a small neighborhood town with German origins near Allentown in Pennsylvania. It’s home to Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and has a wide range of diverse ethnicities among its population. Despite being a small town, there are a lot of nearby places to check out. You can see the Ford tractors on display at Schlenker Motors, go on a hike at Sacony Creek Trail, or explore the beautiful Crystal Cave. Every July, the Kutztown Folk Festival is on, and tourists can check out a variety of cultural and culinary items.

22. Lititz

Lititz, Pennsylvania (4036360549)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Doug Kerr used under CC BY-SA 2.0

A little north of Lancaster city lies the small yet charming neighborhood of Lititz. Dubbed as the “Coolest Small Town in America”, Lititz is basically a town-sized version of a shopping center. Downtown Lititz is the premier spot to go to for your shopping needs. Grab your souvenirs and goodies among a line of rustic-looking shops that will remind you of old European streets. There is also a weekly Farmers Market every Thursday where all are encouraged to buy and support local producers of fresh fruits and vegetables. Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, the first commercially produced pretzel, can also be found at Lititz.

23. Montoursville

Montoursville Broad Street
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Dincher used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Montoursville is a small town near Williamsport with quite a small population of just below 5,000 residents and an interesting history. Originally called Otstawonkin, the area was once inhabited by Native Americans. There is local folklore about a certain Madame Montour who served as the interpreter for the indigenous people and the European settlers. Legend has it that she spoke fluent French and English, as well as the native tongues of Algonquian and Iroquoian. The town is said to be named after her.

24. Swarthmore

Parrish Hall
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ugen64 used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Similar to State College, Swarthmore grew as a town because of Swarthmore College, which was established in 1864. It was originally named Westdale after Benjamin West, a celebrated painter. His birthplace and Ogden House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Swarthmore also has several parks and natural landscapes that visitors can check out for a more out-of-the-city trip.

25. Norristown

Norristown PA Castle
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Smallbones used under CC0

Just six miles from Philadelphia lies Norristown, a progressive town lying along the Schuylkill River. Norristown was at its peak in the aftermath of the American Civil War, where it grew to be a prosperous town. The economy was booming through the retail of textiles, breweries, cigars, and lumber. After the Second World War though, things went downhill and the town has been recovering ever since. Nevertheless, it remains to be a lovely neighborhood with spots to check out like Theatre Horizon, Elmwood Park Zoo, and Norristown Castle.

26. Lansdale

 Green Street Lansdale
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Dough4872 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Landsdale is known as a commuter city in Pennsylvania, which means that the area is more residential rather than commercial. People who live here usually travel to work in Philadelphia and back. Their main mode of transportation is the SEPTA Regional Rail through the Lansdale/Doylestown Line. There are also lots of lovely parks in the neighborhood that makes the community ambiance more vivid. Fun fact about Landsdale - a few episodes of the two-hit Fox series “House” and “Fringe” were filmed here!

27. Canonsburg

Canonsburg, PA
Source: Photo by user Jon Dawson used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Head on over to southwestern Pennsylvania and you’ll find Canonsburg, a town rich in coal mining and steel. Aside from its progression with coal and steel, Canonsburg is home to the second-largest Fourth of July Parade, next only to Philadelphia, so be sure to catch that! Another exciting activity to look out for is the annual Oktoberfest - the hit television series “Supernatural” filmed an episode at this festival. Black Horse Tavern is also a must-visit because of its history in the town. Some of the famous people who hail from Canonsburg include Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awardee Perry Como, who has a memorial statue here.

28. Quakertown

Quakertown Historic District
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user PattiParker used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Quakertown is considered to be the border of Lehigh Valley and Delaware Valley in southeastern Pennsylvania. Because of its strategic location, the transfer of the Liberty Bell during the American Revolutionary War from Philadelphia to Allentown passed through Quakertown for security purposes. What makes Quakertown stand out is that nearly half of this place is officially listed under the National Register of Historic Places due to its pre- and post-Civil War homes and buildings. Many of them have been preserved, and the styles include colonial, Greek Revival, Federal, and Italianate architecture.

29. Collegeville

Collegeville Bridge looking up the Perkiomen Creek
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Montgomery County... used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Like State College and Swarthmore, Collegeville is a small town that caters mainly to students, and its population grew around a school. The town has had quite a history as well with Native American inhabitants and European settlers. Perkiomen Bridge and Perkiomen Bridge Hotel, two products of that link, are now listed under the National Registry of Historic Places. Being a college town, there are a lot of activities here that the young ones will enjoy like skydiving and horseback riding.

30. Philadelphia (from USD 37.0)

You’ll surely put Philadelphia at the top of your list when visiting Pennsylvania, as it is one of the most famous cities not only in the state but in the entire country. Here, history geeks will be treated to the historic Liberty Bell, which was the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. Philly is also known to be a pioneer in many areas such as medicine and art. This is where the first medical school, hospital, zoo, and library were formed. The city is also lined with a lot of street murals that are a sight to see. Of course, Philly is world-famous for its cheesesteaks as well, so this is a must-try when visiting the city.

Philadelphia Hop-On Hop-Off Double-Decker Bus 27-Stop Tour

Duration: 3 days

8 reviews

Experience American history and culture at its best

Pennsylvania is quite a large state, ranking 33rd out of 51 in terms of land area, and this gives tourists an incredible number of places to visit. Regardless of the place you end up in, you will definitely be treated to a taste of America’s past and learn how it helped shape their present. Next time you visit Pennsylvania, consider checking out both the big cities and the tiny towns for an experience to remember!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Marga is a self-employed aspiring writer and budding artist from the Philippines. On days she's not writing, she paints and creates art which she later sells at craft bazaars. Marga also has...Read more

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