The Best Small Towns to Visit in Pennsylvania’s Dutch Country
March 17, 2020
Pennsylvania’s famed Dutch Country is dotted with picturesque little towns with historic buildings, unique shops, and charming people. You’ll find historic districts with fascinating stores around every corner, small farming towns with the freshest Pennsylvania produce, and foodie paradises with award-winning eateries. Here are some of the best small towns that you simply won’t want to miss out on.
Named ‘The Coolest Small Town in America’, Lititz is one of the most idyllic small towns in all of Pennsylvania. Quaint bookstores, tasty farm-to-table restaurants, and larger than life pretzels await you in this small borough of Lancaster County. Lititz is the perfect blend of historical charm and trendy vibrant culture. Come for the annual 4th of July Festival or visit for a day and explore the town. Walk along the Lititz Spring Park, enjoy a high-noon tea at A Tea Affair, and fall into chocolatey heaven at the Wilbur Chocolate Store.
A trip to Pennsylvania Dutch country is not complete without a trip to the simply sweet town of Hershey. When Milton Hershey decided to share his love of chocolate and create a chocolate factory in his hometown, he never knew that his last name would become the household name for creamy, rich chocolate. Downtown Hershey is absolutely charming with kisses on top of lamp posts, quaint stores, and The History of Chocolate Museum. If somehow that isn’t exciting enough for you, then plan a trip to Hersheypark, a world class amusement park filled with thrilling rides and more chocolate than you could ever imagine.In addition to all of the chocolate-based attractions, Hershey is home to the AACA Museum, an antique car museum with some of the most unique cars, vans, busses, and even trains out of America. For lunch, stop by Troeggs Brewery and fill up with a pint and burger, you won’t regret it.
On the Southern side of the Susquehanna River lies a small town that is boasting with history, museums, art, and wine. The downtown is filled with fine art galleries, some which spill over to the street creating a vibrant and colorful little town. You can also visit the Agricultural & Industrial Museum or one of the several local museums that paint a picture of the unique history of the area. York is also in the heart of Pennsylvania wine country and you can spend your day on the Mason-Dixon Wine Trail, touring vineyards, cellars, and wineries all over the region. You have a lot of wineries to choose from, but make sure to stop at Allegro, our favorite winery in the York area.
Halfway between Harrisburg and Reading lies the small town of Lebanon which is known for it’s laid back culture and access to the outdoors. You’ll find picturesque lakes, biking trails, and rolling hills dotted with farms and ranches. Hike around Swarta State Park, soak up some sun at Memorial Lake State Park, visit the Weaver’s Bologna shop, or tour the Cornwall Iron Furnace which was the leading iron producer in Pennsylvania from 1742 to 1883. While you’re south of town at the Cornwall Iron Furnace, make a stop a The Blue Bird Inn for lunch or dinner. Come for a unique New Year’s celebration and join in the annual Bologna Drop, where a 200 pound sausage from Weaver’s will drop at midnight to bring in the new year. During the rest of the year, plan your visit for a Thursday, Friday or Saturday so you won’t miss their incredible Farmer’s Market which is filled with local produce and meats plus all sorts of locally made goodies.
With a population of just over 50,000, Lancaster is technically a city but has a unique small town charm. The historic downtown hosts unique brick buildings, each one different than the rest, filled with boutique shops, award-winning eateries, and infamous markets. For a perfect day, hit the markets and find all sorts of antique gems, home decor items, and Dutch Country souvenirs to take home. Find a nice bottle of local wine, and head to one of the charming BYOB restaurants around town. Finish your night with a show at one of the incredible theaters and fall in love with this slice of heaven.
Situated in the heart of Lancaster County, Ephrata is the perfect small town to use as your home base to explore Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Filled with historic buildings, a quaint downtown, and tasty little eateries, you could spend forever here and never tire of the small town charm. Plan at least one day of your trip to land on a Friday so you can visit the infamous Green Dragon, a marketplace that sells just about anything under the sun in a fast-paced auction environment. Walk along the 7-mile Warwick to Ephrata Rail Tail that connects Ephrata and Lititz where you can find terrific sites like the Winters Leadership Memorial and the home of Nibbles McGibbles! Take day trips to the other small towns across the region to shop, dine, and play before settling down in your luxurious accommodations at the Historic Smithton Inn. Located just outside of downtown on Main Street, the Historic Smithton Inn allows you to be in the heart of the action while providing a peaceful and quiet retreat. Sip wine at the on-site Weathered Vineyards wine bar, curl up with a book in front of your en-suite fireplace, or gather with other travelers around the bonfire to swap insights on their favorite Dutch Country attractions.Make sure to hit all of these small town gems during your time in Pennsylvania. You’ll find small farming towns with incredible farmers markets, a chocolate-lover’s heaven, artistic and cultural centers, and friendly faces at every stop. Ready to visit Pennsylvania’s quaintest small towns? Book a stay at the Historic Smithton Inn, a charming & modern bed and breakfast in Ephrata, PA.