Northeast, PA may have some small towns, but they all have a lot to offer to visitors. Here are some small tips on what to do when you go:
5. Berwick, PA:
Berwick, PA has had a rough time over the years with it’s reputation and crime rates, but within the last two they have certainly been changing their town in a big way. Many businesses have renovated as well as the town itself such as their parks and sidewalks. It doesn’t look as run down as it used to, making it more appealing to both visitors and residents.
First stop on your visit to Berwick should be Bill’s Old Bike Barn, a museum featuring a unique collection of motorcycles and Americana memorabilia. Even if you are not a huge motorcycle enthusiast, you MUST stop here at least once.
PPL Riverlands, on the outskirts of Berwick heading towards Shickshinny, offers beautiful trails and is an important stop for all bird watchers alike. There is a smaller entrance coming from Berwick before the main entrance to the riverlands where you can walk a few designated trails throughout the swamp area. The main entrance has paved trails with a nice view where you can admire (or despise) the PPL Power Plant towers.
If you are looking for somewhere to eat in Berwick, my three favorite places are Bandits, Romeo’s, or May’s Family Restaurant (the family restaurant, not the ice cream one).
Shickshinny, PA is a very small town that has dealt with a few natural disasters. You may see some very run down abandoned homes, or you may see some brand new remolded homes all due to flooding. The town runs right along the Susquehanna River and is enclosed by mountains. Despite the town being so small, there is one thing I recommend doing there and that is why it has made it to this list, the Mocanaqua Loop trail. The trail stretches for 8 miles in total and has different colored marked trails. The green marked loop trail is a short loop that will take you to the very top of the bluff and give you a magnificent view of the Susquehanna River, Shickshinny, and the surrounding areas. It is a breathtaking view so make sure to bring your cameras and binoculars for some epic bird watching. Other than the green loop to the overlook, there is also another trail that will take you to the abandoned coal mines.
3. Danville, PA:
Danville, PA is on the North Branch of the Susquehanna River and offers antiquing and shopping, hiking, lodging, and is the home of Geisinger Hospital. If you are in a shopping mood, take a walk down Mill Street. Here you will find small eateries, antique shops, as well as department stores and boutiques. If you are in a hiking mood, try the 3.5 mi loop of J. Manley Robbins Trail. The trail is about 2 mi from 180. You can park at Perkins for lunch and walk from there if you’d like. It is a fairly easy gravel trail that runs next to the old rail road.
The outskirts of Danville offers another May’s Restaurant (similar to the Berwick one with the ice cream, not the family restaurant). Another locally known favorite is Old Forge Brewing Company. I personally haven’t eaten there, but I heard it’s fantastic.
2. Bloomsburg, PA:
Bloomsburg, PA may be a day trip in itself. Not only does Main Street offer a lot of shops and eateries, but nearby there is a beach, walking and biking trails, an almost abandoned mall, and fairgrounds offering yearly attractions. On the outskirts of Bloomsburg, there is also an amusement park.
You may be thinking, where would Bloomsburg have a beach and why? Well, it’s not an actual beach, it’s just something the locals refer to it as. It is a part of Fishing Creek and the Bloomsburg Rail Trail and it is more rock than sand, but hey, close enough! To find the beach, there is a small parking lot just off of Irondale Road and then you have to take a short walk down the trail to get to it. Bring an inner tube and float down the creek or just bring a comfy chair and lay out in the sun. The trail is also a perfect area to walk your dog or ride your bike. The one half of the trail, that offers the beach, stretches and ends at Steve Shannon’s. The other half of the trail, going the opposite direction, is a paved trail that runs along the former rail bed alongside Fishing Creek and comes to an end at Railroad Street.
The Bloomsburg Town Park offers a few trails, a disc golf course, basketball, tennis, and much more. It’s a nice place for a short date to bring a picnic and sit out overlooking the river or a peaceful, easy walk around the pond. Up the road from the park, you may also admire one of Pennsylvania’s infamous covered bridges.
Not far from the town park, there is the fairgrounds offering car shows, the huge Bloomsburg Fair, yard sales, dog shows, and more. Check their website for an up to date listing on special monthly events happening.
The Columbia Mall used to be a popular stop on anyone’s shopping list, and then the recession happened. Many businesses closed down and left the mall due to it’s increased rent prices. Now all that remain are about 10 stores, making it look like an abandoned ghost mall.
On the outskirts of Bloomsburg, there is a free admission amusement park, Knoebels. Take a romantic ride on the ferris wheel or snuggle up on the haunting horror ride.
My favorite places to eat in Bloomsburg (so many to choose from) is Marley’s and Turkey Hill Brewery. Both places brew their own craft beer and have a wide variety of delicious food.
1. Benton, PA:
Benton, PA was off the grid for years up until recently. Now the town is known for it’s antique stores and Amish friendly community. As mentioned in my previous blog post, Ricketts Glen State Park is beautiful anytime of year to take a hike, spend a day at the beach, canoe on the lake, or camp. Another nice place to take a walk is the Benton Town Park with a short trail along Fishing Creek where you can take some beautiful photos of the Benton Dam.
Benton has some surprisingly great restaurants to grab a bite to eat. Strevig’s Family Restaurant, The Old Filling Station, and Smokehouse BBQ to name a few. You may also take a stroll down Main Street, grab some ice cream at the Tastee Freeze or a sub at Hoboken, and spend a few hours in the antique and thrift stores. Want to try some hard cider or wine? You can drive or walk to Colonel Ricketts Hard Cider barn and Stoney Acres Winery.
On the outskirts of Benton, take a drive to Sullivan Falls off of Jamison City Rd, a road only recommended for off-road vehicles. The falls are part of the state game lands and is a town secret that many of the locals only know about. There is no real trail that will take you to the falls, you will spend about 80% of your time walking on rocks, leaves, or in mud. Wear durable hiking boots and do not go alone.