Shot of the Erie waterfront from the Lettie G. Howard schooner — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
When it involves Pennsylvania cities, Philly and Pittsburgh are inclined to get many of the consideration. Sure, touristy locations like Hershey and Lancaster County are additionally in style day journeys and weekend getaways, however many vacationers’ curiosities have a tendency to finish there. So, we’re digging deeper and exploring every thing from seashores alongside Lake Erie and biking alongside the Lehigh River to historic resorts and the oldest public markets within the nation.
From historic mansions in Erie and Williamsport to York’s revitalized downtown, there’s a lot extra to the Keystone State than its two foremost cities and Hershey chocolate. Here are 10 smaller cities to take a look at in Pennsylvania.
The PPL Center in Downtown Allentown — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
More than 120,000 individuals stay in Allentown, making it Pennsylvania’s third-largest metropolis. You’ll discover a wide range of leisure choices, hidden historical past and a various meals scene.
America on Wheels and the Allentown Art Museum are the 2 hottest museums, however there are additionally a handful of smaller, equally attention-grabbing choices. At the Liberty Bell Museum, you’ll be able to see the place the one at present on show in Philly was hidden in the course of the Revolutionary War. There’s a duplicate that you may ring, in addition to Allentown’s personal Liberty Bell, which dates again to 1769. For a crash course in native historical past, we advocate beginning your go to on the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum.
The Lehigh Valley has a big Syrian and Lebanese inhabitants, so you may haven’t any hassle discovering scrumptious kibbeh, falafel or shawarma. Aladdin and Damascus are two well-established native favorites. In the years because the PPL Center and adjoining Renaissance Allentown Hotel opened, a number of breweries, espresso outlets and New American bistros have popped up downtown. If you are wherever close to Dorney Park, you’ll want to attempt Cumin N Eat. For Thai meals, try Thai Origin on the town’s western edge.
Allentown is well accessible by airplane from the Midwest and southern states. And buses run almost each hour to and from Port Authority in New York City. Once you get right here, we advocate getting a automotive. The native points of interest are very unfold out, and most of the greatest eating places are situated in strip malls.
The Colonial Industrial Quarter in Bethlehem — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
When Billy Joel sang about “living here in Allentown,” he was referring to neighboring Bethlehem. Pennsylvania’s eighth-largest metropolis makes up the B a part of ABE (Lehigh Valley International Airport), which many guests fly into. If you are searching for a mixture of historical past, tradition and delicacies, and need to keep in an city setting, Bethlehem is the Lehigh Valley’s showcase metropolis.
There are two foremost pedestrian-friendly areas in Bethlehem. The main one is alongside Main Street between Church and Broad Streets. Here, you may discover a mixture of artwork galleries, small boutiques, historic websites and upscale eating choices. If you need to discover Bethlehem by foot, we advocate staying on the Historic Hotel Bethlehem, which was our top historic hotel pick within the nation for 2021. Over the previous 99 years, they’ve hosted a who’s who of entertainers, skilled athletes and world leaders. He’s not on their list of notable guests, however Ozzy Osbourne was banned from right here in 1986, solely to be allowed again a quarter-century later.
You must also try the SouthAspect Arts District. Along East third and 4th Streets, you may discover an eclectic mixture of Latin American eating places, Irish pubs and Asian fusion delicacies. Jenny’s Kuali is the one Malaysian restaurant inside a 50-mile radius. Their satay peanut and ginger garlic sauces are a fixture in native shops. Here, you’ll be able to attempt favorites like rendang, roti paratha and chow kuey teow, in addition to a wide range of vegan dishes. Penang-born proprietor Jenny Lim has already printed two vegan cookbooks. Reservations beneficial on weekends.
There are a wide range of eating choices exterior of the touristy areas. At Nonna Sulinas, you’ll be able to attempt a mixture of conventional Italian and nonna (or grandma) recipes from Carini, Sicily. Machu Picchu serves Peruvian requirements in a no-frills spot only a stone’s throw from the Wind Creek on line casino. Other native points of interest embrace the National Museum of Industrial History and SteelStacks, which is a 10-acre leisure advanced on land previously owned by Bethlehem Steel.
Centre Square in Easton — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
Easton is most recognized for crayons, Larry Holmes and considered one of America’s oldest constantly working open-air markets. The Lehigh River bisects the town earlier than flowing into the Delaware River. New Jersey is on the opposite facet.
If you are touring with youngsters, likelihood is you may find yourself on the Crayola Experience. 650 crayons per minute are produced on the close by manufacturing facility. History buffs ought to begin on the Sigal Museum, which chronicles the historical past of Northampton County. If you are seeking to combine some nature with the small metropolis expertise, head to the National Canal Museum. Admission features a mule-powered boat experience to the Locktender’s House at a particularly leisurely tempo. You can cycle right here from downtown by way of the Lehigh Canal Towpath.
Buses from Port Authority cease downtown. The journey normally takes lower than two hours, and there are a number of buses working in the course of the day. Centre Square and many of the native points of interest are a pair blocks north of the cease. 3rd & Ferry Fish Market and Maxims 22 are two of the higher-end eating choices. You can even discover Indian, Mexican and Japanese spots inside strolling distance of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, which protrudes from the fountain in Centre Square.
Erie’s West Sixth Street Historic District can be recognized traditionally as Millionaires’ Row — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
Erie is the one bigger Pennsylvania metropolis the place you’ll be able to have a seashore expertise. Presque Isle juts out into Lake Erie, formed like a large rooster drumstick. The seashores face the southeast nook of Ontario, which is on the opposite facet of the lake.
If it is your first time visiting, we advocate beginning on the Hagen History Center or Erie Maritime Museum. The former is situated alongside Millionaires’ Row, which is lined with historic mansions that have been constructed by the native industrialists who you’ll be able to find out about on the Erie County Historical Society. The Maritime Museum will give guests an general thought of Erie’s historic significance relationship again to the Battle of Lake Erie. They have a cannon on show that was captured from the British in 1813.
Whether you are intrigued by ships or not, a crusing journey alongside Lake Erie is an important expertise when you’re on the town. The Flagship Niagara League operates 90- to 120-minute crusing journeys across the bay.
There are a handful of Nepalese and Middle Eastern eating places scattered all through the town. So, you may haven’t any downside discovering scrumptious momo or kebabs at an reasonably priced value. Like My Thai can be an area favourite, the place the employees appear to know each patron by title. For ambiance, nothing can beat The Brewerie, which is situated inside historic Union Station. In addition to their full bar and native beers on draft, you’ll be able to attempt aptly named sandwiches like Railway Rueben and The Train Wreck. For an general view of the native meals scene, try Erie Food Tours. Their downtown tour begins exterior of Like My Thai.
We advocate staying close to the Convention Center on the Bayfront. If you keep on the Courtyard Erie Bayfront, you’ll be able to soak up views of the harbor whether or not you are sitting by the pool, doing all your morning cardio, having fun with native walleye on the Shoreline Bar & Grille or enjoyable in your room. There’s additionally a Sheraton on the opposite facet of the Convention Center.
Riverside Drive in Harrisburg — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
Thanks to frequent Amtrak service, Pennsylvania’s capital metropolis is a perfect weekend getaway for New Yorkers and a straightforward day journey from Philly. Most of the primary points of interest are between seventh and Front Street, which abuts the banks of the Susquehanna River. If you are going to go to any state capitol constructing, make it the one in Harrisburg – it was Teddy Roosevelt’s private favourite. The close by State Museum of Pennsylvania homes greater than 3 million historic objects and is a perfect place to start out your go to. If you are a practice fanatic, do not depart city with out trying out the Harris Tower & Museum.
Second Street is called Restaurant Row, and the extra high-end eating choices are on this space. You can discover reasonably priced Jamaican eating places one block east of the Amtrak station alongside Cameron Street. And there are extra Vietnamese eating places in Harrisburg than in most cities twice its dimension. For a bit little bit of every thing, try the must-see Broad Street Market, which is without doubt one of the oldest public markets within the nation.
If you go to in the course of the summer time, it’s a must to try City Island. It’s a mile-long island in the midst of the Susquehanna River with batting cages, miniature golf, minor league baseball and a small seashore membership. Pride of the Susquehanna river cruises depart day by day from City Island. If you are planning to stay to Downtown, Midtown and City Island, you will not want a automotive. But if you wish to see the National Civil War Museum or the quirky Doll House Museum, you may want one.
The Lancaster City Visitor Center — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
People from exterior of Pennsylvania appear to have an infinite fascination with Amish tradition in Lancaster County. The metropolis itself has a walkable downtown, the place streets are teeming with historical past, relationship again to Colonial instances. Lancaster City was the nation’s capital for at some point again in 1777. And their Central Market normally will get the nod for the oldest public market within the county.
Today, you may discover a wide range of pleasant cafes, small clothes boutiques and document shops inside strolling distance of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial, which marks the geographic middle of Pennsylvania’s eleventh largest metropolis. The Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square is a perfect place to remain, particularly when you’re touring with no automotive. Their rooftop restaurant (The Exchange) gives the best eating expertise within the metropolis. And yow will discover Uruguayan empanadas, Swedish sweet, Trinidadian consolation meals and award-winning cupcakes inside 5 minutes of Penn Square.
So far, James Buchanan has been the one American president from Pennsylvania. He’s buried south of downtown in Woodward Hill Cemetery, whereas his former dwelling close to Franklin & Marshall College is a museum. If you are visiting for the primary time, we recommend signing up for the African American Heritage Walking Tour to get an thought of Lancaster’s historic significance.
Reading rail automotive — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
There’s extra to Reading than pretzels and pagodas. Pennsylvania’s fourth-largest metropolis is unfold out throughout ten sq. miles, with most points of interest situated east of the Schuylkill River. The Berks County Heritage Center is a perfect first cease for a Reading beginner. Here, you may get a historic overview of the world in a serene setting alongside the Tulpehocken Creek. And you may need to stroll throughout considered one of Pennsylvania’s well-known coated bridges to get there.
Like many American cities that has seen main industries depart, Reading has needed to get inventive with former industrial areas. For an instance of this, try GoggleWorks, which challenges human beings to “transform lives through unique interactions with art” in an 1871 goggle manufacturing facility.
If you are an aviation geek, try the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum, the place you’ll be able to see a Capital Airlines Vickers Viscount together with an Eastern Airlines Martin 4-0-4. Both plane nonetheless take to the pleasant skies a minimum of yearly. There’s additionally a cool firefighter museum south of downtown.
In Downtown Reading, upscale eating places like Judy’s on Cherry and Cheers American Bistro are blended in with extra informal locations like Mofongo and the traditional Peanut Bar. At the latter, you’ll be able to throw your empty peanut shells on the ground. For the perfect selection, head throughout the Schuylkill River to West Reading, which has a vibrant foremost road (Penn Ave) lined with small boutiques, award-winning cupcakes and worldwide eating places. Chatty Monks might be the quirkiest place in West Reading. Here, you’ll be able to take pleasure in Belgian beers together with traditional American pub meals with an Indian twist.
If you are planning to discover Reading with no automotive, we advocate staying on the DoubleTree throughout from the Santander Arena. But you have to a automotive to go to the Reading Pagoda in addition to many of the museums.
Scranton is also referred to as The Electric City — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
Many individuals who have by no means visited Scranton solely comprehend it because the setting for “The Office.” Pennsylvania’s seventh-largest metropolis has a wealthy industrial historical past, a novel pizza fashion that locals think about to be the perfect on the earth and the world’s solely building dedicated to Houdini.
If you are within the historical past of heavy business in Pennsylvania, try the Scranton Iron Furnaces and the Anthracite Heritage Museum. The latter provides you with an thought of what life was like for coal miners in Northeast Pennsylvania. Although Scranton has not had passenger rail service for many years, you’ll be able to nonetheless try the Electric City Trolley Museum and the close by Steamtown National Historic Site. Both provide quick practice rides. The former practice station was transformed to the best resort on the town again within the early Eighties.
Locals take satisfaction in Old Forge-style pizza, which has a thick crust, crispy backside and a chewy middle. They are inclined to order cuts as an alternative of slices and trays as an alternative of pies. There are a handful of conventional Italian eating places within the downtown space too. For one thing extra trendy, try Bar Pazzo. They have a Neapolitan-style oven, espresso bar and essentially the most scrumptious gelato you may get on this a part of Pennsylvania. For bar meals with a Mexican twist, try the part-video arcade and part-watering gap, Bartari.
Murals in Downtown Williamsport — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
The Birthplace of Little League Baseball as soon as boasted extra millionaires per capita than some other American metropolis. You can begin your go to by studying about these lumber barons on the Taber Museum, which is situated alongside West 4th Street, also referred to as Millionaires’ Row. They have extremely detailed life-sized figures of the primary space settlers in addition to greater than 300 mannequin practice units within the basement.
South of the Susquehanna River, which divides Williamsport from South Williamsport, you’ll be able to try the World of Little League Museum. Every yr, the world inhabitants doubles when the Little League World Series is held within the advanced behind the museum. The Baseball Hall of Fame could also be in Cooperstown, however the Little League Museum has its personal Hall of Excellence, which lists notable former Little Leaguers like Bruce Springsteen, Kevin Costner and two of the final three American Presidents.
There are a handful of upscale Italian eating places within the downtown space, in addition to one of many coolest one-woman present Greek eating places you may see exterior of Europe. The Olive Tree is a small, informal eating spot situated off Pine Square. The hilarious enterprise hours are posted on the door; in abstract, Rao’s is not the one place that may thrive whereas being closed on weekends and solely accepting money. Inside, each image appears to have a narrative. Sophia’s meals has been served on the set of “Breaking Bad,” and her 16 totally different baklava flavors might put something in Astoria to disgrace if she wished to open there.
Williamsport can be an hour exterior the PA Grand Canyon. If you need to go to the Canyon in the course of the day and have extra of a metropolis expertise throughout the remainder of your go to, you’ll be able to keep downtown on the Genetti Hotel. This historic property has hosted a who’s who of politicians, sports activities figures and different entertainers since opening in 1922. When you dine at their Windows on 4th restaurant, you’ll be able to see the “Inspiration Lycoming” murals, which depict native historical past in Pennsylvania’s geographically largest county.
Beaver Street in Downtown York — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
York has a walkable downtown with nice procuring and eating places, in addition to quirky points of interest and vital historic websites. It was the nation’s capital from late 1777 to mid-1778. The Colonial Complex and York County History Center are each ideally suited locations to start out your first go to. After you get an thought of the native historical past, you’ll be able to try downtown. There are dozens of cute cafes, small boutiques, yoga studios and bars inside strolling distance of Central Market.
As Tru by Hilton and many of the space resorts are situated alongside the freeway, if you wish to keep downtown, it is price checking availability for rooms on Airbnb. Outside of downtown, you’ll be able to attempt Maryland-centric soul meals with a Philly twist at Skillet2Plate or upscale pub fare at The First Post.
People journey from around the globe to take a look at the Haines Shoe House, which is situated 6 miles east of downtown. This 25-foot-high, 48-foot-long shrine to as soon as domestically manufactured footwear will get the nod for the quirkiest attraction within the space. The foot has 5 flooring of small rooms with native artifacts and artfully designed home windows. Tours are guided. York additionally has Underground Railroad historical past, which you’ll find out about on the Goodridge Freedom Center & Underground Railroad Museum.