Enchanting Pennsylvania Main Streets

Featured Trip Ideas
The Historic Streets of Jim Thorpe
The Historic Streets of Jim Thorpe
The historic streets of Jim Thorpe (photo credit: flickr/Amelie Lelarge).

Padded with small businesses and friendly eateries housed in historical storefronts, main streets in Pennsylvania reflect the cozy charm of the cities and towns they call home. Make time to explore one of these areas, all of which are even more enchanting during the holiday season.

Grove City
Olde Town Grove City’s colorful murals and large-scale sculptures invite visitors to stop and stroll. Highlights include vintage finds at Marilyn’s Antiques & Gifts and Antiques by the Yard, slow-roasted coffee at Beans on Broad, and Shannon’s Kandy Kitchen, where chocolates are still whipped up from scratch in copper kettles. 

Main Street in downtown Bloomsburg has a wonderful mix of quirky stores. Gift shop and coffeehouse Phillips Emporium shares its cozy space with Cloak & Dragon Bookstore, while comic book enthusiasts can connect over tea and the newest issue at Legendary Comics & Tea Room. Other browse-worthy stores include Bob’s Coin Shop, Artspace Gallery, and Endless Records.

The retro ambiance of downtown DuBois encourages visitors to unplug and step into the past. The Paul G. Reitz Theater, an 1887 church converted into a community theater, showcases local talent while mom-and-pop joints like Mum’s Bakery, Fort Worth Restaurant, and Luigi’s Restaurante gratify cravings for home cooking.

Named for frontier military post Fort Bedford, Bedford’s colonial roots remain preserved in the borough’s downtown National Historic District, where structures built between 1750 and 1930 house little businesses and residences. 1758 Co. sells fair trade works of art to support communities in need all over the world, Keystone Candies & Gifts has more than 300 varieties of nuts and sweets, and Founders Crossing is just one of many acclaimed antique stores in the area. 

The well-preserved Victorian and colonial buildings on Bethlehem’s Main Street and the surrounding downtown area reflect the city’s pride for its storied past (established in 1741). On Main Street, check out the 1810 Goundie House, the home of one of the city’s first brewers; the Historic Bethlehem Visitor Center, which hosts excellent walking tours; and Moravian College, housed in handsome 18th-century buildings.

Doylestown’s State and Main streets boast a mix of restaurants, retailers, and cultural attractions. The Fountain House, which now houses offices and a Starbucks, was built by town founder William Doyle in 1758 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Nearby, the impressive Mercer Museum & Fonthill Castle houses Doylestown native and architect Henry Mercer’s collection of pre-industrial tools and artifacts.

Chambersburg’s Main Street bustles with locally owned businesses. Highlights include the 1923 Capitol Theatre and many boutiques like Here’s Looking at You, Farah’s Boutique, and Teas & Such. Duck into Olympia Candy Kitchen, which has satisfied sweet cravings for more than 100 years. 

Nicknamed the “Diamond City” for the surpluses of anthracite coal that brought thousands of settlers to the city in the 19th century, the city’s industrial past lives on in the architecture of downtown Wilkes-Barre. Take a walking tour of the historic district and visit businesses that continue to thrive on Main Street, including Boscov’s department store, Musical Energi, and Bee Hive Gift Shop.

Named for the German state of Saxony, this borough’s main drag features 32 buildings dating back more than a century that exhibit the architecture of a traditional German village. Plaques detail the history of the structures, which house darlings like Hotel Saxonburg and Batch, a maker of freshly baked breads and spreads (the Monkey Butter flavored with banana, coconut and pineapple is to die for). 

Jim Thorpe
Renamed in honor of American Indian athlete Jim Thorpe, this tiny town (formerly named Mauch Chunk) brims with Victorian beauty. Broadway Street, which runs through the historic district, is particularly lovely. Check out The Inn at Jim Thorpe, an elegant brick structure with ornate balconies; The Vintagerie, a treasure trove for antique shoppers; and Mauch Chunk Museum, a tribute to the area’s history.

Voted “America’s Coolest Small Town” by Budget Travel in 2013, Lititz has welcomed visitors since 1742. Main and Broad streets, the city’s primary drags, still serve as the heart of the community. Visit on the second Friday of the month, when galleries and shops stay open late and Lititz artists and musicians bring their talents to the streets. Don’t forget to stop at Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, America’s first commercial pretzel bakery. 

State College
A city that caters to visitors as well as Penn State University students and faculty, downtown State College is rich with college town staples like bookstores, coffeehouses, neat boutiques, and affordable eateries. Take home Penn State garb for fans at home from Lions Pride and Madison’s Hat’r, or cool kitchen and household wares from Kitchen Kaboodle

An artsy neighborhood located less than three miles from downtown Pittsburgh, Lawrenceville has a bourgeoning creative community. Window-shopping is prime on Butler Street, with gems like Asian Influences, which features fine art from the Far East, and Divertido, the place to peruse clever and unusual toys and gifts.

The streets of downtown Irwin are layered with specialty shops and family restaurants. Delightful boutiques on Main Street include Shop Around the Corner, Countryside Flowers & Gifts, American Lass, and Pamela’s Cards & Gifts. No trip to Irwin would be complete without indulging in a treat at Cheesecake Caffe or Main Street Deli & Bakery. 

Read more about shopping on PA’s main streets >>


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