Holiday Charm Along Pennsylvania’s Main Streets

Take a stroll down the main streets of any PA town and absorb the small town holiday atmosphere.

Pennsylvania boasts an abundance of quaint small towns where great charm and character is found along the streets and in the people. Nowhere is this more evident than along the main streets of each, where welcoming mom-and-pop shops flourish alongside bistros, galleries and boutiques. The holidays add extra charm with store fronts decorated, carolers serenading passersby and snow lining the streets.

One could make a trip out of visiting just the small town main streets of Pennsylvania, here are to give you the inspiration you need to start planning your main street PA trip.

Brookville

On the National Register of Historic Towns, the main street here is full of history and charm. Take a self-guided walking tour to learn about the history of the area, visit the quaint shops and indulge in locally owned restaurants. The holidays are an especially good time to wander Brookville’s main street; Victorian carolers stroll the street and shop owners create living window displays.

Media

The distinctive “clack clack clack” of Media’s trolley will attract your attention in this small town. Hop on it to travel from one end of the main street here to the other or get on and off to visit the many boutiques, shops, and restaurants along the way. Plentiful decorations adorn the buildings and other structures here during the holidays, making the street come alive with the season.

Historic Ligonier

Snowcapped in the winter, the Laurel Highlands act as a backdrop to this small town, complementing the colonial storefronts decorated with holiday greenery and ablaze with twinkling white lights. All this works together to create a cozy atmosphere of warmth and holiday cheer where visitors will enjoy ambling from shop to shop. Take it all in on a horse-drawn carriage ride while the sleigh bells attached to the carriage jingle and add the magic of the atmosphere around you.

Wellsboro

Home to Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon, the historic district of Wellsboro boasts a vibrant Main Street, classically designed homes reminiscent of by-gone eras, and the distinctive gaslights which define the wide boulevards throughout town. Trees lining the streets and a beautiful central park area add to the ambiance, especially during the holidays. The town's annual A Dickens of a Christmas Celebration evokes Victorian-style charm in a quaint town street fair setting. Conveying the theme of Charles Dickens’ famous story A Christmas Carol, this celebration features street musicians and carolers dressed in period inspired attire. For a unique view of this old-fashioned holiday wonderland, take part in a horse-drawn wagon ride or special train excursion. Gather around and finish the night with a tree lighting ceremony in the center of town after completing your holiday shopping. Be sure to stop by the historic Penn Wells Hotel, historic Wellsboro Diner and Dunham’s Department store.

Valley Forge

The Valley Forge area boasts an abundance of irresistible small town downtowns and main streets chock-full of eclectic holiday shopping, excellent eats and entertaining evenings. A stroll along East Butler Avenue in Ambler yields family-owned and -operated Ambler Flower and Gifts and, doors away, The Flour Pot, a tantalizing cookie boutique with an amazing array of delectable decorated designer cookies. Among several eateries, Detterra Restaurant and Wine Bar tempts with a progressive American menu inspired by and infused with organic spices and herbs grown on site. Afterward, the Act II Playhouse stages live comedy, music and drama while the national historic landmark Ambler Theater screens indie films.

York

Travel + Leisure Online recently named York one of America’s “Greatest Main Streets.” With an abundance of restaurants, shops and nightlife, it is easy to see why York’s downtown earned such a prestigious accolade. Stop by on the first Friday of every month when merchants and venues throughout the downtown district hold extended hours, host special events and live entertainment, and offer refreshments, promotions and discounts.

Montgomery County

Lancaster Avenue is Ardmore’s main street of the fabled Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia. Rich in early 19th-century architecture, its shops present truly unique estate collections and vintage finds, like those at Harry’s Treasures and Collectibles and numerous antique shops. For those whose interests lean toward more modern or eclectic, one of America’s earliest non-city shopping centers has morphed into hip Suburban Square, a shopping mecca full of chic boutiques and trendy art galleries. The Ardmore Farmers Market warms the Square’s “cool” with comforting food specialties and produce from nearby Pennsylvania Dutch Country.

Skippack Pike, the main drag in northwest Montgomery County’s quaint Skippack Village. Here, visitors browse antiques at Pennsylvania Traditions, find loose teas, spices and fresh coffee beans at Le Butler’s Pantry and mingle through many other diverse and delectable shops and eateries. In season, enjoy Basta Pasta’s Italian specialties for an al fresco lunch at the edge of town, but there’s also a year-round plethora of fine and casual dining options and several nightspots. Hint: Skippack packs extra-special charm during the holiday season.

The main streets of Telford and Souderton are about 15 minutes west of Skippack. Souderton boasts Bakers on Broad for delicious scones, croissants and more, and Heartwarming Treasures’ name says it all with country primitive home decor. Later, be wowed by a matinee or evening performance at the Montgomery Theater, home to professional productions in Souderton’s erstwhile firehouse.

Chester County

Unique shopping experiences can be found throughout the Main Streets of the Brandywine Valley. Kennett Square, Oxford, Phoenixville and West Chester all feature specialty shops, galleries and boutiques. Shops feature artwork, clothing, jewelry, pottery, rare books, wines, teas, chocolate and mushrooms (a regional specialty), plus so much more, making Brandywine Valley’s Main Streets a gift-buyer’s paradise.

Jim Thorpe

There is no shortage of ways to spend a day on Broadway, the main street in historic Jim Thorpe. The street, built over water, is lined with 19th-century Victorian architecture. Broadway is home to clothing stores, antiques shops, art galleries, jewelry and craft stores, as well as a variety of unique restaurants. The Inn at Jim Thorpe, one of many bed and breakfasts in the area, is also located on Broadway. The historic bed and breakfast’s proximity to the shops and restaurants makes Jim Thorpe an ideal getaway any time of year.

For even more main street ideas in Pennsylvania, check out the visitPA website. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to stay up-to-date on even more great ideas and places to visit around our state. Don't forget to never miss an update and sign up for our monthly Happy Thoughts e-newsletter.

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