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Stepping Back in Time with a Visit to Wellsboro, Pennsylvania

I’ve been to many downtowns all throughout Pennsylvania. However, I’ve very rarely come across one that’s as charming as downtown Wellsboro.

Located in north-central Pennsylvania’s Tioga County, Wellsboro is the center of shopping, dining, and entertainment for a rather wide area of the region. With the closest city of any size, Williamsport, being over 50 miles away and a lack of chain stores and restaurants in the community, downtown Wellsboro seems frozen in time.

The charming shops of downtown Wellsboro, PA.
The charming shops of downtown Wellsboro, PA.

The lack of chain stores in the area means that the small mom and pop stores have been able to survive. I was surprised to discover that Wellsboro is home to an independent department store, Dunham’s. Truthfully, I don’t know that I’ve ever been in an independent department store.

I’m not sure if it’s possible to be nostalgic for a time period you never experienced, but walking through Dunham’s made me feel like I was walking through a time when Elvis had a number one single and mop tops were all the rage (despite the modern items being sold in the store).

The Wellsboro Diner in Wellsboro, PA
The famous Wellsboro Diner feels like it hasn’t changed in 50 years.

In fact, within the roughly three-block corridor between the Tioga County Courthouse and Wellsboro Diner, very little broke the feel of a 1960s-era downtown. Walking down Main Street, the downtown area is home to a diner, a men’s clothing shop, and even an old movie theater.

However, while the nostalgic feel might be confined to those three blocks, there is plenty more to enjoy about downtown Wellsboro.

Tioga County Courthouse in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania
The Tioga County Courthouse is lit up beautifully at nighttime.

Across the street from the beautiful county courthouse is a beautiful fountain statue of the poem “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.” The statue is one of only two of its kind in the world (the other is in Denver, Colorado), and is truly a beautiful statue both at day and at night.

The Wynken, Blynken, and Nod Fountain in downtown Wellsboro is quite striking.

On the other end of downtown, the Frog Hut is an awesome, old-fashioned ice cream shop that has a seemingly endless number of flavors of both soft serve and regular ice cream. They even have frog legs on the menu if you’re feeling a bit adventurous.

The Frog Hut has great ice cream.

If you want to learn more about the history of downtown Wellsboro, there is an excellent walking tour brochure put out by the Wellsboro Area Chamber of Commerce. You can pick up a copy of this brochure around town, at the Tioga County Visitor Bureau, or you access a digital version on WellsboroPA.com.

This walking tour guides you through 25 interesting buildings in and around downtown Wellsboro. The guide does a great job explaining the history of the area and each building. I’d consider this a must-do walking tour if you have any interest in the area’s history.

The Arcadia Theater in downtown Wellsboro, Pennsylvania
The Arcadia Theater in downtown Wellsboro dates from the 1920s.

Those looking for a hotel in downtown Wellsboro can’t go wrong with the Penn Wells Hotel and the Penn Wells Lodge.

Technically two separate facilities, the Penn Wells Hotel offers a throwback lobby with updated rooms, while the Penn Wells Lodge offers a more modern experience. I was invited to stay at the Penn Wells Lodge during my stay in Wellsboro and found it to be a fantastic hotel that I’d be happy to stay at again.

Tthe Penn Wells Hotel in downtown Wellsboro, PA
Outside the Penn Wells Hotel in downtown Wellsboro.

If you’re visiting downtown Wellsboro, make sure to hop in your car for a short trip south on Route 6 to Highland Chocolates.

Highland Chocolates makes some of the best tasting chocolate you’ll find in Pennsylvania and even offers free tours of their small production facility. However, what makes them even more remarkable is that they are a non-profit company that employs many locals with intellectual disabilities.

There are also a few breweries in Tioga County, including Wellsboro House just a few blocks from the downtown area.

Visiting Highland Chocolates in Wellsboro PA
Highland Chocolate makes some of the best chocolates in Pennsylvania and employs disabled locals.

I really can’t say enough good things about downtown Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. I’ve been to every corner of the state and seen many, many awesome downtowns and I have to say, Wellsboro is without a doubt one of the best.

So, the next time you are visiting the area around the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, take some time to visit downtown Wellsboro and take a step back in time in this fascinating living time capsule.

Note: My stay at the Penn Wells Lodge was hosted by the hotel. However, the opinions expressed in this article are my own.

See map below for other area attractions.

Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links. We will make a small commission from these links if you order something at no additional cost to you.

Need a hotel in Tioga County? Here are a few great options:

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Map of the Pennsylvania Wilds"

More nearby places worth exploring

Find more things to do in the PA Wilds

39 thoughts on “Stepping Back in Time with a Visit to Wellsboro, Pennsylvania”

  1. Great article. Makes me want to go and visit this quaint town. Love your FB page and now your blog. I haven’t been many places in PA since moving here ten years ago. THAT, is going to change. Thanks again.

  2. Thank you for this wonderful article. I spent the first 24 years of my life in Wellsboro, and it was a great place to grow up. Although I’ve lived in Florida for many years, i try to make it back to Wellsboro once a year. It will always be home to me. Another great shop to visit is The Farmer’s Daughter, across from Highland Chocolates.

  3. We have visited Wellsboro many times. We would visit the Grand Canyon, the animal zoo the Wellsboro diner and took a wine tasting rind on the railroad. All in all a great town. At night when the gas lights are on in the middle of town it is very nostalgic. Great trip , great area.

  4. Great article! I grew up in the town of Nauvoo, and spent much time in Wellsboro. My grandparents were Baileys- often my cousin and I walked along through the town, sometimes taking in a movie, or enjoying an ice cream sundae at The Candy Kitchen, sadly, no longer in existence. When Subway came into being I, too, thought it to be out of place with the ambiance of the town. Other than that, I love that place!

  5. Nice article. Next time you’ re in Wellsboro take in a play in the Deane Center Community Arts or the Gemiener Cultural Center. They both feature local talent which is very professional for being small town. If you go down Rt. 6 east, you’ll come to Mansfield , home of Mansfield University, which is known for it’s fantastic music dept. that also features many concerts. Right now The Endless Mountain Music Festival is in full swing with many professional musical artists performing throughout the region. ENJOY!

  6. I drive though Wellsboro (I live by the New York border) all the time on my way down state. My little girls and I really need to stop! Thanks for sharing!

    • I really is a cute little town. Definitely worth stopping, even if just for a few hours. Also, make sure to check out the nearby PA Grand Canyon if you haven’t had a chance.

  7. Wellsboro is my home town. It is truly one of a kind, and not just for the quaint shops, architecture, things to do, etc. but the heart of Wellsboro is really it’s people and sense of community. My parents had a mom and pop store (Davis Book and Gift Store) right in the middle of Main Street in the sixties and seventies which provided my brother and I our first part-time jobs. On breaks we would go to the Candy Kitchen and have a hot fudge Sundae. This was a real old-fashioned candy store and ice cream parlor run by two Greek brothers, Gus and Mike Zarvis. Homemade candy and the best homemade ice cream and hot fudge sauce ever. There were ladies dress shops in addition to Dunham’s Dept. Store as well as several men’s clothing stores. My grandfather was a life-long fireman and saw to it that the flags were put up on Main Street for every holiday (Myron Dartt). One really appreciates Wellsboro as one grows older and moves away. You really can come home and are welcomed. Thanks for the lovely article and the beautiful pictures, Jim.

  8. We spend a week at a log cabin in the woods near the Grand Canyon every year just to be able to visit Wellsboro. It is an enchanting place with unique boutiques, a bookstore and yes an old fashioned wooden floored department store that has really great stuff. There are concerts are n the park and weekly farmers markets. And if you are in the mood to explore visit some of the small villages along the Pine Creek. Cedar Run is like going back to the 1940s complete with old fashioned bed and breakfast and lovely antique furnished dining room. Getting there is an adventure because there are places where two cars can barely fit sitting high above the Pine Creek. If you love quaint, friendly and just plain peaceful places, you will love the Wellsboro area

  9. Thank you for your wonderful review of Wellsboro! I moved there when I was just entering 6th grade and moved away when I go married in my early 20’s. I love going back to visit. Did you notice a lack of litter around Wellsboro? It seems ingrained in most of the residents not to be litter bugs. I remember local teenagers getting upset when Tourists would litter. This is something I hope has not changed!

  10. Your article describes my hometown of Wellsboro perfectly. We, who grew up in this quaint little town spent many hours either playing, hiking, or riding our bikes around town or in the surrounding hills with the freedom that many children will never experience. I am so thankful to have had the feeling of freedom & independence that only a small town like Wellsboro provided in that time period. Even though I have lived away (in Virginia) for many years, I am always ready to jump in the car & head “home” to Wellsboro. My roots & heart will forever be in Wellsboro.
    Thank you for the beautiful article & photos.

  11. My mother grew up there at 21 Nichols Street. I haven’t been there since my grandfather died when I was 11. I’m 57 now. It’s time to visit Wellsboro. I remember the diner, the theater, the Penn Wells Hotel, and the Wynken, Blynken, and Nod Fountain. Mostly, I remember my grandparents’ house at 21 Nichols Street and the hill (seemed like a mountain to me at the time) behind it.

  12. Thanks so much for your article on Wellsboro. I was born and raised in Wellsboro and moved downstate to go to school when I was 19.. Well after 11 long years I moved back (in 1996) . I really missed my hometown, I needed to get back to the small town life . I have always counted myself lucky to be able to move back here and raise my kids in an area that is quiet and safe, compared to the big city life . thanks again for posting this article

  13. ….and so much more. Wellsboro boasts the annual Laurel Festival with an old fashioned parade on the third weekend of June and an annual Dickens of a Christmas the first weekend of Dec. Big events with lots to see and do. There are pianos on the street to play in the summer and First Friday festivities to enjoy as well. You can ride a train and visit parks very close by. Several restaurants offer area options for eating out. Lots of picnic possibilities exist as well. There is a great independently owned book store that is a must to visit. The possibilities are endless. There are two other motels and many rental options for bed and breakfasts and guest homes most listed on commercial sites such as VRBO and Air bnb. Check out Wellsboro Home Page and the Wellsboro Chamber of Commerce website to plan a trip.. Oh, yes, there are public tennis courts and a great pool in summer as well. Come one, come all and yes, it is true. “There’s More in Store in Dunhams”.

  14. Thank you for this great story. Wellsboro is my hometown, but I now live in Montana. It’s awesome to see stories like this that transport me back home, if even for a minute. The Wellsboro Diner was my first job, so that little greasy spoon will always be particularly special to me! Thank you again!

  15. I must concur with all the other comments. Wellsboro is also the county seat of Tioga County. They have a fine outstanding hospital, across the street there is the Green Home where my wife resides. I just left there a few minutes ago to visit her. There is also two other nursing homes and a shared home. I have lived in the Knoxville area for 55 years. I worked at the Dresser Plant for 24 of those years. I have visited quite a few of the places that were mentioned. I frequently visit the Pizza Hut for their Creamy Chicken Alfredo. There are places to get fine hoagies, steak house,Chinese restaurants, McDonalds, other pizza places, and many other restaurants of appease ones appetite. All in all, Wellsboro is a fine place to visit and a great place to abide safely. And we must remember our small airport which is which is in a short traveling distance.

  16. Thanks for this post on the town of Wellsboro. We have traveled Route 6 from the Pocono area where we vacationed. We decided to travel home by way of Route 6 going West towards the Pittsburgh area. We did make different stops along the way, one being the PA Grand Canyon area. After reading all of the above on Wellsboro, we definitely need to make a trip there & spend a week there since we bypassed it when we made our trip across Route 6. So happy to read all of the above posts. Thanks for sharing this.

  17. My parents lived in this area when they were first married. A lot of my family lives up that way so I have many great trips of visiting Wellsboro. My dad use to work at the Penn Wells in his 20’s, he is now almost 60 and still raves about how much he loved his job…still money called them and they left the town for better paying jobs. My husband, daughter, and myself just took a trip up with my family and I told him every time I leave I don’t want to. I told him although I never lived there I always feel like I am leaving where I should live. We now are planning on moving there in hopefully 5-10 years.

  18. After reading so many comments of folks who grew up in Wellsboro but had to move away, but always like to come “home”, I’m grateful to say that I was born here, was able to stay in Wellsboro. We reared our two daughters here and they are still in the area, as are most of our grandchildren (the ones who live away wish they could live here!). Wellsboro is a beautiful, friendly place to call “home”.

  19. Being from Western Pa my favorite scenic ride is traveling North Route 62 along the Allegheny River to Route 6 and head east to Wellsboro, what a BEAUTIFUL ride. It has the feeling of being in a time warp the whole way and Wellsboro is delightful staying at the Penn Hills Hotel. Can’t wait to do it again!!!

  20. From the York area.Been going to Galeton and traveling thru this town for most of my life.Wellsboro is Absolutely Beautiful. Just love even going thru the town. Thinking of moving here when I retire. Just love this town and the surrounding countryside!

  21. Great article about a great place!
    Having eaten in the diner for 60 years,you refer to as a greasy spoon…..I do take exception to that comment.

  22. We visited Wellsboro years ago with our daughter camping and fell in love with it. We hiked the Grand Canyon and loved the beauty of it. My husband recently retired and is looking for a place to spend his active retirement. We lived in NJ for the past 50 some years raising our 20 year old daughter. She is off to college in NJ we are looking for a place to move to and are seriously thinking of making Wellsboro our retirement place. I currently still work but can always pick up a job in the Nursing Homes or Hospitals. We are looking forward to the next chapter of our lives and possibly making Wellsboro a part of it.

  23. Thanks Jim! I have great memories of the brief time we lived near Wellsboro back in summer of 1973. My parents purchased an old defunct tourist attraction called Canyon Town with at least 17 or so acres which as a 7 year old, was a great place to have frontier style adventures with my 3 younger brothers. There was a well, jail, apothecary, sheriffs office, blacksmith etc. We camped there for that summer before returning to the NJ shore briefly, then moved to our mother’s hometown of Chambersburg PA.
    Question: Does Wellsboro remind anyone else of the town of Bedford Falls in the movie-It’s a Wonderful Life? It starred Jimmy Stewart, who was a Pennsylvania boy from Indiana PA and it’s still my all-time favorite movie ever.


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