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10 Best Cities/ Towns To Visit In Pennsylvania (PA)

Updated on September 30, 2010

Pennsylvania is a really fascinating state to visit. On the one hand, Pennsylvania is a rural state filled with rolling hills and a leisurely way of life. On the other hand, Pennsylvania has some big urban areas (and easy proximity to the major metropolitan hub of New York City). On the one hand, Pennsylvania is a place filled with historical landmarks that reach back into the early days of American settlement. On the other hand, there are hot new businesses and restaurants being opened every day in Philadelphia. To get a real sense of what this state is all about, you really need to do a state-wise tour.

Here are ten cities that you would want to make sure to hit on your trip through the state of Pennsylvania:

1. Philadelphia. This is the largest city in Pennsylvania and the one that people are most likely to think about visiting if they are heading to check out this state. It’s a terrific place for getting a basic overview of what the state of Philadelphia is all about. It’s got a wealth of historic landmarks (such as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell). It also has a thriving arts culture with many museums and galleries, a rich nightlife scene and a variety of different neighborhoods to explore. Like with any major city, you can take tours or create your own itinerary to see those aspects of this Pennsylvania city that interest you most.

2. Pittsburgh. This is a really interesting city to experience because of the way that it has changed over the years. It was long-associated with the steel-manufacturing working class but has recently revamped itself as a major area for young business people and entrepreneurs who are interested in fields like technology and health care. It has been voted among the top places for young people to live because of its cleanliness, cost of living, relatively low crime rates and thriving cultural and arts opportunities. Visitors to Pittsburgh will find that there are quite a lot of things to see in this city when they come to check out what’s offered here.

3. Harrisburg. Harrisburg is not the largest city in Pennsylvania (in fact, it only ranks tenth in the list of most populated cities in the state) but it’s an important city in Pennsylvania because of the fact that it is the state capital. One of the neatest things for a tourist to check out here is the Broad Street Market which is one of the oldest Farmers Markets still operating in the United States today. Various museums and parks are also points of interest in this small capital city.

4. Erie. This large Pennsylvania city draws tourists from all up and down the coast each summer because of the fact that it is home to Splash Lagoon, the country’s largest indoor water park. This makes Erie a particularly great Pennsylvania city for families who come to enjoy the lakefront activities located on the Great Lake after which the town is named. People seeking a leisurely vacation will find that Erie is among the best cities in Pennsylvania to enjoy that trip.

5. Bethlehem. People who are seeking a large city that is tourist-friendly but not just for tourists and who have already seen the largest cities in the state should take the time to check out Bethlehem. There are some interesting attractions and annual events here (including a huge music festival called Musikfest) but mostly there’s just a lot of neat little things to see. It’s a great place for just browsing.

6. Lewisberry. This is a small Pennsylvania city that not a lot of people have heard of but there are a few things about it that make it interesting. For one thing, it hosts a big annual Christian music festival called Purple Door that appeals only to a small segment of the population but an interesting one if you’re into that kind of thing. With a population of less than 400, it’s the kind of city that you could miss if you blinked while driving but you might get the chance to experience a way of life that’s new to you if you take the time to stop. A big ski resort near here is one big reason to come.

7. DuBois. One of the most interesting aspects of Pennsylvania history, beyond its relationship with the early days of the United States government, is the history of coal mining and lumbering that was important here in days gone by. DuBois is one example of a town that is rich with that history. That’s not all that you’ll find here, though; a thriving arts and performing arts scene makes this town worth your time.

8. Wilkes-Barre. Another important historical part of Pennsylvania is the railroad history of the state. There are many different cities throughout the state where you can see the old railroad tracks and learn more about this development in America’s transportation history. Wilkes-Barre is a great a little place to get started. It’s a quaint place with some charming local attractions (an old casino, a mansion with tours) and a place where you might be able to meet some interesting locals during your trip.

9. Lancaster. This is a fairly large city in Pennsylvania but it’s really the surrounding area just outside of the urban area that you should take the time to explore here. That’s because this is Amish country, a unique part of the Pennsylvania culture that not enough people take the time to learn about.

10. Ansonia / Wellsboro. This is the area closest to what is arguably the neatest natural attraction in Pennsylvania – Pine Creek Gorge. It’s dubbed the Grand Canyon of the East or The Other Grand Canyon and it’s a beautiful sight to see. Get out of your car and enjoy Pennsylvania on foot in the area around here.

Of course, these are just a few choices that you have for checking out Pennsylvania’s cities. There are almost sixty cities in the state that have some site of interest that you might want to see. But these will at least get you started!


Submit a Comment
  • profile image


    4 years ago

    How is shippensburg ?

  • profile image

    Robert Reed 

    8 years ago

    born in Harrisburg Pa, and grown up in Lewisberry Pa, also having visited most all other towns on your top 10 and dont get me wrong your top ten is good BUT.........There is one town that I think should have been no no.....TOPPED your list #1 Jim Thorpe Pa. being that I am more than familiar with your top ten and Have enjoyed my time at them all I think everyone should trust when I say YOU WILL BE BACK! Rated most beautiful town in Pa it hosts a rich cultural haritage, mountain biking, white water river activities, the first railroad (switchback), coal mines, mansions, come see for yourself and tell me its not #1

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    You forgot about Erie. Located in the "Chimney" of PA. The winters aren't the greatest to be here but the summers are amazing to spend at the beach on Presque Isle. You also have an amusement park right on the lake.

  • WritingItUp profile image

    Writing It Up 

    8 years ago from New York City

    Nice article! There are so many other places I need to go to in PA from your article. Was over at Langhorne for Sesame Place's A Merry Furry Christmas recently. Had a wonderful time with all the holiday lights up.

  • tammyswallow profile image


    8 years ago from North Carolina

    I grew up in Pennsylvania. You did right by PA.

  • mtngeogeek profile image


    8 years ago from Sw co

    Can you explain the difference between townships vs. counties and cities?

  • SherrieAnne profile image


    9 years ago

    Really enjoyed your quite thorough hub on Pennsylvania. I'm a Pittsburgh girl and loved to hear the comparison of all l0 cities. Though I've transplanted to Chicago now my heart will always be in PA! Thanks for the review! Fabulous job!

  • SherrieAnne profile image


    9 years ago

    Really enjoyed your quite thorough hub on Pennsylvania. I'm a Pittsburgh girl and loved to hear the comparison of all l0 cities. Though I've transplanted to Chicago now my heart will always be in PA! Thanks for the review! Fabulous job!

  • EQTactics profile image

    Etienne Luu 

    9 years ago from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

    Good Info. I actually am from PA. So now I know the 9 cities I want to visit!

  • CourtneyEThompson profile image


    9 years ago from Metropolitan Philadelphia

    I'm from PA, so this was a great hub for me as I have seen pitifully little of my state outside of Philly, the Poconos and the the Lancaster/Harrisburg area. I'm very curious to check out Wellsboro and Lewisberry now.

  • hotel profile image


    9 years ago from Dallas

    A good overview for anybody, like me, interested in this area.

  • crystolite profile image


    9 years ago from Houston TX

    Thanks for this information. any time am at Pennsylvania i will visit most of the cities you listed out here most especially Pittsburgh.

  • profile image

    Lake Mary Hotels 

    9 years ago

    When I say Philadelphia I cannot help but think about Bruce Springsteen's song. If I ever visit Philadelphia I would enjoy a walk through Rittenhouse Square.

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    This is good. I enjoyed the read. Thanks.

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    I will go to philadelphia in few weeks and i hope i will find some good place to visit. I noticed the Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.

  • profile image

    slot bonus 

    10 years ago

    My son lives in Pennsylvania and I need to visit him soon. Thanks for for the tips. I didn't think that Wilkes-Barre was a quaint place to visit- maybe I'll try that area too.


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