Pennsylvania has a rich history, lush greenery, friendly people, and rolling highlands. Rural PA is where I hail from and will always have a warm place in my heart no matter where I travel to. Vacationing in rural PA is a great way to save money and connect with your family. If you want to travel off the beaten path for your next road trip then look no further! I will give you some of my personal insight into the three of the best small towns to visit in Pennsylvania.
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1. Ligonier, Pennsylvania
The first on this list is my absolute favorite! This town reminds me of Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls. I visit this small town year-round and always find things to do. They have a multitude of festivals even during the wintertime. Check out the Chamber of Commerce site to explore the list of events. This town is the definition of charm with its cute boutiques, victorian homes, and excellent restaurants. As its a historical town, you can tour Fort Ligonier or the Railroad Museum to learn more about the area.
Depending on the season, you can enjoy an assortment of recreational activities such as local favorites Idlewild & Soak Zone Park, Ligonier Beach, or Laurel Mountain Ski Resort. There is something for everyone!
Note* In February 2018 there is a renovation project happening in the town diamond of Ligonier. They will be restructuring the diamond to put in heated walkways, new trees, and circular seating around the gazebo. Hopefully this will be finished prior to the summer. The creamery owner told us he was only closing for February so I believe this to be the case.
There are plenty of parking spots along the side streets with coin operated parking meters. If you forget your coins then you can always park at Subway as a last resort. When I visit, I usually pop into the Ligonier Tavern for a bite to eat. I love their spiced apple cider especially during the fall and winter seasons. For dessert, I go into the town diamond to pay a visit to the Ligonier Creamery. They always have seasonal flavors such as candy store floor or apple pie ice-cream. The extra bonus is that the creamery is open year-round.
2. Wellsboro, Pennsylvania.
Wellsboro is another charming town with many shops, restaurants, and a rich history. This is another very walkable town in close proximity to a variety of outdoor activities. If you want to ditch your car then they have cultural tours of the town either by trolley or by covered wagon. Both tours are excellent. For dining I recommend the Wellsboro Diner located in the center of town. Their decor takes you back in time with its old rail car style.
This adorable town is home to the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania also known as the Pine Creek Gorge. To view this picturesque area go to Leonard Harrison State Park which houses the lookout point for the gorge. The park is exceptionally beautiful in the fall. You can hike the trails, ride bikes, or you can simply take a well-maintained set of stairs down to the lookout point.
There is a lookout tower you can visit to get another view of the highlands. It can be a bit tricky to spot, but if you take the first right as you exit the Leonard Harrison State Park you will eventually stumble upon another sign for a lookout tower. While the sign and the area may appear isolated and sketchy the view at the top of the tower is incredible. At the base of the tower there is a credit card scanner where you pay $3.00 per person when the attendant isn’t present. The tower itself was a solid structure so don’t be scared. Just hold on to the railings as you go up the stairs and don’t look down until you get to the top is my advice. Only visit this tower on days with good weather and during daylight to avoid it being closed.
3. Bedford, Pennsylvnania
The final town on this list is another historical town where figures such as George Washington called home for a time. The Espy House is known for being the headquarters of George Washington during the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794 and is still standing today. Bedford also has some very popular festivals throughout the year. There are several streets of shops and restaurants.
There are also a number of historical covered bridges in the area. Everyone including cyclists, bikers, or cars to enjoy what is called the Covered Bridge Loop. To get the clear directions you should stop by the visitor’s center to get the Bedford County Guide first! For more fun you can drive a few minutes to Shawnee State Park which has a beach, kayaks, canoes, fishing, camping, and more depending on the season.
The most popular festival in Bedford is the Fall Foliage Festival held each October. My advice is that you go an hour or two early to secure a free parking spot. Some people even sell parking spots in their own lawns. Do not park in the lots advertising $20.00 that’s just unnecessary. The most we have ever paid from arriving late was 7 dollars to someone that let us park in their yard. However, if you go early then you can avoid this completely. If you visit during non-festival time periods then you will have no issues with parking. Good spots for pictures: Claycomb Covered Bridge, The Coffee Pot, Old Bedford Village.
All of these small towns have a lot to offer for your next road trip. I have visited many towns throughout the state and in my opinion these are some of the best small towns in Pennsylvania to visit. I hope you will enjoy them as much I do!
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What are some of your favorite small towns?
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Hello everyone! I am a blogger that loves all things travel and lifestyle. You can usually find me taking pictures, traveling with my friends and family, teaching ESL online, or pinning to Pinterest. Let’s connect to stay in touch.