Top 5 Charming NJ & PA Small Towns

Our favorite part of slow travel? Easy! It's getting to spend more time in each location.


Turning day trips into week-long stays allows us to truly get to know each place and find hidden gems that most people completely miss when they visit. Don't have weeks to explore? Well luckily for you, we've gathered all our top tips in one place so you can see the best of the best, even if you're just passing through.


We've gathered the top 5 charming towns between NJ & PA that you can't miss on your next pass through. Check out the video to see these towns live in action, or continue to article below for full list. Happy exploring!




1) Lambertville, NJ

Lambertville's history dates back to the 1700s and it has all the charm to prove it. Nestled right up on the Delaware River, you could happily spend the full day sipping cocktails on the banks and taking in the gorgeous waterfront views. Want to enjoy the water in a more active way? Spend some time walking, running, or biking the Delaware Canal Trail, which gets you up close and personal to the river and takes you right through downtown Lambertville.


While you're in town, we also recommend taking your own walking tour through the streets. Lambertville may be small, but you'll be surprised to see how sprawling it can feel since there's something to see on each street. Between the perfectly preserved Victorian architecture and the endless cafes and antique stores, you'll have plenty to fill up an entire weekend.


Slow Travel Tip: Lambertville, NJ is easy to miss because it's often overshadowed by it's neighboring river town of New Hope, PA. While New Hope has plenty to offer, Lambertville should definitely be first choice if you're looking to escape some of the summer tourist crowds. Can't decide between the two? No worries, these two towns are actually connected via footbridge so make sure you save enough time for both!



2) Hopewell, NJ

Hopewell is a super small area that brings a big home-town vibe. A walk through the main street will give you flashbacks of Stars Hollow Gilmore Girls style: gorgeous homes, a library, a museum, and a few restaurants. What else do you need?


The major attraction in Hopewell is the Brick Farm Market, a fresh produce market offering plenty of local vegetables and market goods. The market doubles as a hot lunch spot and is a must-stop place to try some of their amazing foods.


Slow Travel Tip: The main street of Hopewell is so small you could miss it if you blink, but it still holds a big place in our hearts. Hopewell is the type of town where strangers welcome you with "hellos," where you can escape the hustle and bustle and just enjoy slow sips of coffee and local food. These towns are the ones we live for when we're on the road so we can get a little taste of home. Hopewell is a great stop-off on your way to Princeton, Lawrenceville, or even Lambertville!



3) Yardley, PA

If you're making your way into Pennsylvania, make sure you don't miss Yardley, PA. Just over the NJ/PA border you'll find a town so quaint it looks like a movie set. But don't be fooled by it's small town charm, there's actually plenty to do within town limits.


Yardley is home to so many restaurants and cafes, it's the perfect place to do a restaurant crawl. Choose anything from sushi to steaks or Italian to brewpubs, Yardley has you covered. Work off those extra calories by taking a stroll along the historic canal or bike along one of the many bike paths.


Don't miss out on our favorite café of all time (we aren't kidding here!): Pretty Bird Cafe, located right in downtown Yardley. Their rotating menu of seasonal lattes and breakfast options are incredible (and the whole town agrees, so make sure you get there early if you're looking to eat in-restaurant).


Slow Travel Tip: The town of Yardley is great to explore in all seasons! The fall is particularly pretty when you can appreciate the colors and falling leaves. Take a drive through the surrounding streets to enjoy views of the little cottages (and not so little water-front homes) that line the canal and river.



4) Bethlehem, PA

To be honest, Bethlehem needs it's own article. To sum it up: Bethlehem is so cool, we moved here!


This is the largest small-town on our list, where you won't exactly find quiet winding roads and empty streets. In fact, Bethlehem is a bit of an attraction in it's own right. Historic Hotel Bethlehem opened in 1741 and has been accommodating passer-throughs ever since. Each year, people flock to Bethlehem to experience it's amazing culinary scene, explore the historic streets, and visit the areas various colleges and universities.


There's no shortage of things to do in Bethlehem, but we recommend planning your trip around the Christmas season, when this "Christmas City" really comes alive. Experience the magic of the town covered in snow, and take advantage of visiting their famous Christmas markets located just under the nose of the old Steel Stacks.


Slow Travel Tip: Southside Bethlehem is located across the train tracks from Historic Bethlehem, but shouldn't be missed! This piece of the town isn't as forwardly marketed, but is home to an amazing array of restaurants and shops. It boasts an edgier, artsy culture that just isn't felt across the bridge.



5) Lancaster, PA

We've lived in the PA/NJ our entire lives and can't believe how many people skip over Lancaster! Lancaster is such a unique place in South Central PA where you can experience the rolling hills of PA in a whole new way. Lancaster is home to some of the first Amish settlers in the country and the town caters itself to your interest in the Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch culture.


Things to do include farm tours, educational cultural activities, and trying fun new foods! Plus, you're free to drive around and get lost in the beautiful countryside! What better place to unwind and slow down?


In addition to experiencing the Amish lifestyle, you can also visit Lancaster City. Yes, you heard that right. Lancaster City is a proper small-size city (big town, anyone?) that still brings the small-town charm. Spend some time walking through the streets, sipping artisan coffee, and brunching at some of the local hot spots.


Slow Travel Tip: Lancaster requires a few full days to fully experience both the countryside and the city. We recommend an extended weekend, staying in Lancaster City and driving into the countryside for the Amish experiences. Lancaster City is extremely walkable and it's worth taking a day or two to explore it all. The Central Lancaster Market is a hot spot in town that is also worth checking out.


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