aerial view of suburban downtown on sunny day in Summer - West Chester, Pennsylvania USA

The Best Small Towns in The Philadelphia Suburbs

Whether you’re an experienced traveler looking for something new, or a first-timer who feels overwhelmed by the big city crowds – these small Philadelphia suburb towns have just what you’re looking for. Between scenic train rides in New Hope and an abundance of mushrooms in Kennett Square, it’s not hard to find something fun to see or do on the outskirts of Philly. And the best part? Most of these small towns are a relatively short drive from Philadelphia, making it easy to pop into the city for a few hours of fun.

New Hope

New Hope and Ivyland railroad, a heritage train line for touristic excursions in Bucks County. Image credits: EQRoy via Shutterstock

New Hope, Pennsylvania is a charming small town with a population hovering just over 2,000 people. Despite its rather small size, there’s never a shortage of things to see and do here. Those with a passion for outdoor recreation will want to head to the Delaware River that borders New Hope, for an afternoon of fishing, kayaking, tubing, or rafting. Known as one of the country’s coolest suburbs, New Hope also offers a healthy mix of history, naturally beautiful spaces, and a vibrant art scene.

For a peaceful spring and summer activity, check out Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve or Paxson Hill Farm where the gardens are bursting with life and color. To soak up as much New Hope beauty as possible, hop aboard the New Hope Railroad where visitors can enjoy a range of scenic and themed train rides. Those traveling with children will want to visit the Bucks County Children's Museum and the Bucks County Playhouse to take in a show.


Ambler, PA: Beautiful landscape at Prophecy Creek Park. Editorial credit: Dee Dalasio /

Speaking of taking in a show, Ambler, Pennsylvania is the best town on this list for theater lovers. Home to the famous Ambler Theatre and the beloved Act II Playhouse, there’s always an independent film or a new play to enjoy. Those who prefer to spend their time in nature will want to visit the Four Mills Nature Reserve during their visit. The reserve sits on a 56-acre stretch of land and is home to hiking trails, wildlife, picnic areas, and the historic Four Mills Barn. Additionally, Ambler is roughly 20 miles outside of Philadelphia, making it easy to pop into the city for a few hours of sightseeing. 

Kennett Square

Beautiful Fountain and Gardens at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

Welcome to the Mushroom Capital of the World! Known for producing around 60% of mushrooms in the US, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania comes by its nickname honestly. But don’t worry – if spore-bearing fungi aren’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of alternative activities to fill your time here. For those who do love mushrooms, a stop at The Mushroom Cap is a must. The themed gift shop features a wide range of mushroom treats, merchandise, and collectibles. For even more goodies, be sure to check out the Kennett Square Farmers Market as well. Next head to the Longwood Gardens where beautiful flora and fountains are on full display.

Finally, visit Anson B. Nixon Park for an afternoon of wandering trails, admiring ponds and gardens, and enjoying free concerts every Wednesday in the summer.

West Chester

Aerial view of suburban houses and sunset sky - West Chester, Pennsylvania.

No matter the season, there is a little something for everyone in West Chester, Pennsylvania. In the spring, head to Everhart Park to admire the pretty pink cherry blossoms. The park also features a rustic footbridge, a water fountain, picnic areas, and a basketball court, perfect for an afternoon of relaxation. In the summer, be sure to visit Stroud Preserve – a 571-acre stretch of land designed to educate and offer recreation. Visitors will find hiking trails, a working farm, and opportunities for kayaking and canoeing here.

In the fall, head to the West Chester Railroad and board the Fall Foliage Express for a scenic ride along the stunning Chester Creek. In the winter, stay warm indoors with visits to the American Helicopter Museum and the Chester County History Center. 


The historic Hotel Bethlehem on Main St in the heart of downtown. Editorial credit: zimmytws /

Famous for its holiday celebrations, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is often referred to as The Christmas City. And although winter is a lovely time to visit and admire the festive light displays and holiday events, there is plenty to see and do here in the warmer months as well. For starters, visitors can explore Steel Stacks – the town's old steel plant turned events venue. With frequent concerts and several annual events, there’s almost always something on offer at Steel Stacks. Next, for those interested in learning about the industrial history of Bethlehem, head to the National Museum of Industrial History for a few hours. Then enjoy a quiet stroll by the water at Illick’s Mill Park. Finally, round out the trip at the Lehigh & Keystone Valley Model Railroad Museum. 

King of Prussia

Aerial of King of Prussia.

Tucked neatly alongside the shores of the Schuylkill River, King of Prussia is a charming little town filled with historic significance. During a visit here, Valley Forge National Historical Park is a must-see spot. The park marks the site of a Revolutionary War encampment and features hiking trails, historical sites, and several ranger-led programs. In town, visitors will also find an impressive selection of Escape Rooms and an indoor sky-diving facility. Those traveling with a car can opt to take a quick 4-8 mile trip outside of town to visit places including Elmwood Park Zoo, The American Treasure Museum, and Arnold's Family Fun Center.


Smith Park photograph with flowers.

Pottstown, Pennsylvania is also located along the shores of the Schuylkill River just over 20 miles from King of Prussia. Spend some time in town exploring the local parks including Memorial Park. Here, visitors will find creek-side walking paths, a skate park, a spray fountain for hot days, and plenty of space for picnics. Another option is the Smith Family Plaza in the downtown core. The plaza is home to several community events each year and commonly features a slew of colorful flowers. History Buffs will want to explore Pottsgrove Manor — a 1752-era home offering educational tours. For a taste of nostalgia, don’t forget to take a ride on the Historic Pottstown Carousel before you leave.

In Conclusion

There’s something special about traveling to a small town. Between the local charm, unique town history, and fun-filled attractions, these small towns are memorable, to say the least. History buffs will find themselves exploring historic war sites, various museums, and old buildings. At the same time, adventure seekers will find plenty of parks, hiking trails, and beautiful outdoor spaces to enjoy. Whatever your travel preference is, find what you’re looking for in these charming small towns.


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