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22 small towns near Philly you need to visit in 2019

You may never want to leave

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Editor's note: This article was last published in July, 2018 and has since been updated with the most recent information.

There's so much to see and do in Philly, but we get it: Sometimes you just need to get away. Good thing there are plenty of charming small towns scattered within two hours of this city that make for easy day trips or overnight stays.

Fancy feasting on delicious baked Amish goods? Head to Lancaster. Want to be wowed by incredible architecture? Definitely make a trip to the historic borough of Bryn Athyn. Since we first published this roundup, readers have shared a few other small towns that are definitely worth a visit, too.

No matter where you choose to explore, these 22 small Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey towns—listed in alphabetical order—all offer much to see, eat, and do.

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1. Ambler

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The tiny borough of Ambler manages to squeeze plenty of history, curb appeal, restaurants, and retail into less than a square mile. Named after civic do-gooder, Mary Ambler, the borough features historic buildings dating back to the early 1900s. Plus, they have a beautiful theater that’s really a must-see.

Courtesy of Flickr user Montgomery Planning Commission

2. Ardmore

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Fun fact: This small town on the Main Line featured the first suburban location of the Strawbridge and Clothier department store. Today, Ardmore features big box stores plus smaller, eclectic shops along the town's main street of Lancaster Avenue. It's also home to Tired Hands Brewing Company and the independently-owned Ardmore Music Hall, which has featured big acts like the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

3. Bethlehem

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10 E Church St
Bethlehem, PA 18018

If you find yourself in the Lehigh Valley, follow the gleaming star on top of South Mountain to Bethlehem. Originally founded in 1741 as a Moravian community, it has a rich history within the Lehigh Valley. The former Bethlehem Steel Corp.—which produced the steel for the Golden Gate Bridge—, it's now the Steel Stacks, a popular music venue. Bethlehem is also has ties to the Peeps Factory: Every New Year's Eve a gigantic Peeps chick descends down for its ball drop.

via Flickr/Kevin Thomas

4. Bryn Athyn

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1005 Cathedral Rd
Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006

Come here for the history, stay for the architecture. This National Historic Landmark was established as a religious community in the late 19th century and is now home to architecturally significant estates and churches like John Pitcairn's Beaux Arts mansion Cairnwood and the stunning Bryn Athyn Cathedral.

5. Chadds Ford

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This beautiful town just 25 miles west of Philadelphia is a mix of rolling hills dotted with wineries and historic sites like the Brandywine Battlefield. Don't miss a stroll along the picturesque Brandywine River or a trip to the Brandywine Museum of Art.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

6. Collingswood

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Up until 2015, Collingswood in Camden County was a dry town, given its Quaker roots. Today, it has a mix of historic homes and a great retail and arts district along Haddon Avenue, which was once named one of the 10 Great Streets by the American Planning Association.

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7. Downingtown

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Downingtown has made a name for itself as a charming small town in recent years. It's the home base of Victory Brewing Company, but even smaller retailers have set up shop here. There are lots of antique shops to get lost in all day, too.

8. Downtown York

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2 E Market St
York, PA 17401

Come here for the history, stay for the breweries. After experiencing a brewery boom throughout the 1850s and early 1900s (Helb’s Keystone Brewery was founded here), downtown York went through a period of decay. No longer. Today, the town has a bustling Main Street that Travel+Leisure named one of the best in America, and it's home to a growing microbrewery scene.

9. Doylestown

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425 Wells Rd
Doylestown, PA 18901

This town is about 27 miles from Philadelphia and is known for being home to multiple works of Henry Chapman Mercer, including the epic Mercer Museum (with a great WWII exhibit coming next month). But there are also opportunities to really enjoy the small-town vibe at the County Theatre, or wander among the corn fields where M. Night Shyamalan filmed the movie Signs. George Nakashima's workshop is also well-worth a visit.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

10. Greenville

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If you're in Kennett Square you might as well make the short drive across the PA border to Greenville, Delaware. This small town is home to the epic Winterthur Museum, Garden, & Library, once the home of the DuPonts, the family behind the chemical engineering giant. If the beautiful mansion isn't enough, there are 60 acres of gardens to stroll through.

11. Haddonfield

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The borough of Haddonfield in New Jersey was established in 1713, but it actually dates back to 1682. It's brimming with history, from its preserved buildings and charming colonial homes to its many shops that are filled with antiques and locally-made arts and crafts. It's right off the PATCO, too.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

12. Jim Thorpe

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1 Susquehanna St
Jim Thorpe, PA 18229

This quaint town is about 1.5 hours from Philly, and has become popular as a so-called “gateway to the Poconos.” Named after the Native American sports legend who is buried there, hikers and nature-lovers flock here thanks to its proximity to the Appalachian Trail, and the picturesque Glen Onoko Falls, a 7.4-mile loop that takes you past waterfall after waterfall.

Courtesy of Shutterstock.com

13. Kennett Square

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Hope you like mushrooms, because this town has an abundance. Kennett Square has earned the name Mushroom Capital of the World for the massive amount of 'shrooms (not that kind) it produces each week. Besides the good food, it's also home to the always gorgeous Longwood Gardens.

Photo by Melissa Romero

14. Lambertville

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18 York St
Lambertville, NJ 08530

Lambertville is another small town located across the Delaware River in New Jersey. It's rich in history—George Washington set up an encampment here during the Revolutionary War—and today it is another haven for artists and makers. It's also considered the best place to go antique-hunting—it's known as the Antique Capital of New Jersey.

Courtesy of Shutterstock.com

15. Lancaster City

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38 Penn Square
Lancaster, PA 17603

Lancaster is an incredibly scenic county in Pennsylvania that features a large Amish population in the surrounding countryside. In Lancaster City, spend a day feasting on tasty Amish baked goods from Central Market and enjoying the burgeoning restaurant, shopping, and arts scene downtown. Or, simply drive through the farm country—there's a high likelihood you'll get stuck behind a horse buggy.

Courtesy of DiscoverLancaster.com

16. Lititz

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This adorable town in Lancaster County has been around since 1742. A Curbed reader suggested we add it to the list given its incredible selection of local shops, history, and charm—and we couldn't agree more. It's just eight miles north of downtown Lancaster (#15), so you can definitely knock out two visits in one day.

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17. Media

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This Delaware County town dates back to the late 17th century during the William Penn era. So—like Collingswood, NJ—it has strong Quaker roots. That may explain its friendly atmosphere and plethora of community events like Dining Under the Stars. Media Theater is also known to put on some great professional theater shows like The Snow Queen and Alice in Wonderland (both of which are coming up).

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

18. New Hope

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New Hope has become a hot spot for artists and creatives—Travel & Leisure once named it one of the coolest suburbs to visit. In addition to the eclectic shops and galleries, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy a walk along the Delaware Canal Towpath or meander through the Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve. For lovers of stone homes, you'll want to check out this driving tour of historic stone homes—it starts in New Hope and ends in Doylestown (#9).

Courtesy of Shutterstock.com

19. St. Peter's Village

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3100 St Peters Rd
Saint Peters, PA 19465

St. Peter's Village in Chester County runs along French Creek and has managed to maintain its original charm from its heyday as a 19th-century industrial village. Today, it's on the National Register of Historic Places and offers lots of hiking (were we not in a government shutdown, you could check out the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site) and local artisans' shops to peruse. Want to stay the night? The quaint Inn at St. Peter's Village is also on the National Register of Historic Places and dates back to 1881.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

20. Phoenixville

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This borough was originally settled in 1732 and called Manavon. During its heyday it was an industrial iron and steel mill boomtown. Today, it's experienced a renaissance and is home to quirky festivals like Blobfest. Why? The marquee of the Colonial Theater was featured in the hit movie the Blob.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

21. Wayne

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By popular demand, we’ve added the gorgeous little town of Wayne to this list. At the time of the last census (2010) it was around 32,000 people, and it’s just a quick, 30 minute train ride down the Main Line. Go check out the stunning Chanticleer gardens, or—if you’re an architecture-lover—head into the Reel Cinemas Anthony Wayne Theater, a stunning example of the 1920s-built art deco movie theaters that are so popular around Philly. If you’re hungry, head over to Minella’s Diner—a favorite among college students in the area for its all night breakfast food. If you’re just eager to walk, you’re in luck. The gorgeous, stone homes around Wayne are truly a gift to see as you wander around the neighborhood.

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22. West Chester

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(610) 436-1326
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This cute town is in the heart of the Brandywine Valley. It was established in 1712 and now has a popular restaurant, retail, and arts scene. In addition to its historic homes, the National Register of Historic Places district also features an impressive amount of Greek Revival architecture.

Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA

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1. Ambler

Pennsylvania 19002
Courtesy of Flickr user Montgomery Planning Commission

The tiny borough of Ambler manages to squeeze plenty of history, curb appeal, restaurants, and retail into less than a square mile. Named after civic do-gooder, Mary Ambler, the borough features historic buildings dating back to the early 1900s. Plus, they have a beautiful theater that’s really a must-see.

2. Ardmore

Pennsylvania 19003
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Fun fact: This small town on the Main Line featured the first suburban location of the Strawbridge and Clothier department store. Today, Ardmore features big box stores plus smaller, eclectic shops along the town's main street of Lancaster Avenue. It's also home to Tired Hands Brewing Company and the independently-owned Ardmore Music Hall, which has featured big acts like the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

3. Bethlehem

10 E Church St, Bethlehem, PA 18018
via Flickr/Kevin Thomas

If you find yourself in the Lehigh Valley, follow the gleaming star on top of South Mountain to Bethlehem. Originally founded in 1741 as a Moravian community, it has a rich history within the Lehigh Valley. The former Bethlehem Steel Corp.—which produced the steel for the Golden Gate Bridge—, it's now the Steel Stacks, a popular music venue. Bethlehem is also has ties to the Peeps Factory: Every New Year's Eve a gigantic Peeps chick descends down for its ball drop.

10 E Church St
Bethlehem, PA 18018

4. Bryn Athyn

1005 Cathedral Rd, Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006

Come here for the history, stay for the architecture. This National Historic Landmark was established as a religious community in the late 19th century and is now home to architecturally significant estates and churches like John Pitcairn's Beaux Arts mansion Cairnwood and the stunning Bryn Athyn Cathedral.

1005 Cathedral Rd
Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006

5. Chadds Ford

Pennsylvania 19317
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

This beautiful town just 25 miles west of Philadelphia is a mix of rolling hills dotted with wineries and historic sites like the Brandywine Battlefield. Don't miss a stroll along the picturesque Brandywine River or a trip to the Brandywine Museum of Art.

6. Collingswood

New Jersey 08108

Up until 2015, Collingswood in Camden County was a dry town, given its Quaker roots. Today, it has a mix of historic homes and a great retail and arts district along Haddon Avenue, which was once named one of the 10 Great Streets by the American Planning Association.

7. Downingtown

Pennsylvania

Downingtown has made a name for itself as a charming small town in recent years. It's the home base of Victory Brewing Company, but even smaller retailers have set up shop here. There are lots of antique shops to get lost in all day, too.

8. Downtown York

2 E Market St, York, PA 17401

Come here for the history, stay for the breweries. After experiencing a brewery boom throughout the 1850s and early 1900s (Helb’s Keystone Brewery was founded here), downtown York went through a period of decay. No longer. Today, the town has a bustling Main Street that Travel+Leisure named one of the best in America, and it's home to a growing microbrewery scene.

2 E Market St
York, PA 17401

9. Doylestown

425 Wells Rd, Doylestown, PA 18901
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

This town is about 27 miles from Philadelphia and is known for being home to multiple works of Henry Chapman Mercer, including the epic Mercer Museum (with a great WWII exhibit coming next month). But there are also opportunities to really enjoy the small-town vibe at the County Theatre, or wander among the corn fields where M. Night Shyamalan filmed the movie Signs. George Nakashima's workshop is also well-worth a visit.

425 Wells Rd
Doylestown, PA 18901

10. Greenville

Greenville, DE 19807

If you're in Kennett Square you might as well make the short drive across the PA border to Greenville, Delaware. This small town is home to the epic Winterthur Museum, Garden, & Library, once the home of the DuPonts, the family behind the chemical engineering giant. If the beautiful mansion isn't enough, there are 60 acres of gardens to stroll through.

11. Haddonfield

Haddonfield, NJ 08033
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The borough of Haddonfield in New Jersey was established in 1713, but it actually dates back to 1682. It's brimming with history, from its preserved buildings and charming colonial homes to its many shops that are filled with antiques and locally-made arts and crafts. It's right off the PATCO, too.

12. Jim Thorpe

1 Susquehanna St, Jim Thorpe, PA 18229
Courtesy of Shutterstock.com

This quaint town is about 1.5 hours from Philly, and has become popular as a so-called “gateway to the Poconos.” Named after the Native American sports legend who is buried there, hikers and nature-lovers flock here thanks to its proximity to the Appalachian Trail, and the picturesque Glen Onoko Falls, a 7.4-mile loop that takes you past waterfall after waterfall.

1 Susquehanna St
Jim Thorpe, PA 18229

13. Kennett Square

Pennsylvania 19348
Photo by Melissa Romero

Hope you like mushrooms, because this town has an abundance. Kennett Square has earned the name Mushroom Capital of the World for the massive amount of 'shrooms (not that kind) it produces each week. Besides the good food, it's also home to the always gorgeous Longwood Gardens.

14. Lambertville

18 York St, Lambertville, NJ 08530
Courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Lambertville is another small town located across the Delaware River in New Jersey. It's rich in history—George Washington set up an encampment here during the Revolutionary War—and today it is another haven for artists and makers. It's also considered the best place to go antique-hunting—it's known as the Antique Capital of New Jersey.

18 York St
Lambertville, NJ 08530

15. Lancaster City

38 Penn Square, Lancaster, PA 17603
Courtesy of DiscoverLancaster.com

Lancaster is an incredibly scenic county in Pennsylvania that features a large Amish population in the surrounding countryside. In Lancaster City, spend a day feasting on tasty Amish baked goods from Central Market and enjoying the burgeoning restaurant, shopping, and arts scene downtown. Or, simply drive through the farm country—there's a high likelihood you'll get stuck behind a horse buggy.

38 Penn Square
Lancaster, PA 17603

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16. Lititz

Lititz, PA 17543

This adorable town in Lancaster County has been around since 1742. A Curbed reader suggested we add it to the list given its incredible selection of local shops, history, and charm—and we couldn't agree more. It's just eight miles north of downtown Lancaster (#15), so you can definitely knock out two visits in one day.

17. Media

Pennsylvania 19063
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

This Delaware County town dates back to the late 17th century during the William Penn era. So—like Collingswood, NJ—it has strong Quaker roots. That may explain its friendly atmosphere and plethora of community events like Dining Under the Stars. Media Theater is also known to put on some great professional theater shows like The Snow Queen and Alice in Wonderland (both of which are coming up).

18. New Hope

New Hope, PA 18938
Courtesy of Shutterstock.com

New Hope has become a hot spot for artists and creatives—Travel & Leisure once named it one of the coolest suburbs to visit. In addition to the eclectic shops and galleries, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy a walk along the Delaware Canal Towpath or meander through the Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve. For lovers of stone homes, you'll want to check out this driving tour of historic stone homes—it starts in New Hope and ends in Doylestown (#9).

19. St. Peter's Village

3100 St Peters Rd, Saint Peters, PA 19465
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

St. Peter's Village in Chester County runs along French Creek and has managed to maintain its original charm from its heyday as a 19th-century industrial village. Today, it's on the National Register of Historic Places and offers lots of hiking (were we not in a government shutdown, you could check out the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site) and local artisans' shops to peruse. Want to stay the night? The quaint Inn at St. Peter's Village is also on the National Register of Historic Places and dates back to 1881.

3100 St Peters Rd
Saint Peters, PA 19465

20. Phoenixville

Pennsylvania 19460
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

This borough was originally settled in 1732 and called Manavon. During its heyday it was an industrial iron and steel mill boomtown. Today, it's experienced a renaissance and is home to quirky festivals like Blobfest. Why? The marquee of the Colonial Theater was featured in the hit movie the Blob.

21. Wayne

Wayne, PA

By popular demand, we’ve added the gorgeous little town of Wayne to this list. At the time of the last census (2010) it was around 32,000 people, and it’s just a quick, 30 minute train ride down the Main Line. Go check out the stunning Chanticleer gardens, or—if you’re an architecture-lover—head into the Reel Cinemas Anthony Wayne Theater, a stunning example of the 1920s-built art deco movie theaters that are so popular around Philly. If you’re hungry, head over to Minella’s Diner—a favorite among college students in the area for its all night breakfast food. If you’re just eager to walk, you’re in luck. The gorgeous, stone homes around Wayne are truly a gift to see as you wander around the neighborhood.

22. West Chester

Pennsylvania 19380
Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA

This cute town is in the heart of the Brandywine Valley. It was established in 1712 and now has a popular restaurant, retail, and arts scene. In addition to its historic homes, the National Register of Historic Places district also features an impressive amount of Greek Revival architecture.

Related Maps