Expansive views of Pittsburgh, its rivers and bridges and the Duquesne Incline
Family enjoying the sunset at Lake Wallenpaupack in the Pocono Mountains
Independence Hall in Philadelphia
Taking a break from a day of hiking on the Appalachian Trail at Hawk Rock Overlook
Floating down the lazy river at Hersheypark
Cycling around Gettysburg National Military Park
Kayaking on the Susquehanna River
Admiring paintings by the Old Masters at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia
Walking down a path among towering trees at Jacobsburg State Park in Nazareth
Fountains at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square
Jump into family fun at theme parks, museums and Amish farms
Impressive Culture and History
Go to Pennsylvania’s exciting cities to be amazed by their world-class museums. In Philadelphia, explore the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation, then drive to Pittsburgh to be wowed by the collections at The Andy Warhol Museum and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Escape the big cities to discover museums dedicated to Rolls-Royce automobiles, candy, the Underground Railroad and, yes, even the Big Mac hamburger from McDonald’s. Appreciate the genius of architect Frank Lloyd Wright at four houses – Kentuck Knob in Chalk Hill and Fallingwater, his famous masterpiece, in Mill Run outside Pittsburgh. Nearby are two other Wright designs where you can stay overnight. Check out the state’s 15 castles (including a former state penitentiary designed to resemble a medieval castle) and marvel at the ornate structures and their historic collections. Learn about Amish lifestyle, culture and traditions at the Amish Village, a heritage museum near Lancaster that offers guided tours of an 1840s Amish homestead, barn and schoolhouse. Follow a ranger-led program at Gettysburg National Military Park, the site of a major turning point in the Civil War. In Philadelphia, see the Liberty Bell and visit Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were written, debated and adopted.
Hershey is one of the most recognized names around the world – when people think chocolate, people think Hershey. Spend a day braving exciting rides at the vast chocolate-themed Hersheypark amusement park and make your own custom chocolate bar at Hershey’s Chocolate World. Elsewhere in the state, get drenched at Idlewild & SoakZone, about an hour east of Pittsburgh, and come face-to-face with wild animals in zoos and aquariums across the state. The youngest travelers will want to make a beeline to Sesame Place, northeast of Philadelphia, where they can ride on pint-sized roller coasters, splash on water slides and hug their favorite characters from “Sesame Street.” Fans of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” can take a 10-stop tour in Pittsburgh and the Laurel Highlands to walk in the footsteps of the beloved children’s television show creator and host.
Four Seasons of Great Outdoors
In winter, go skiing, snow tubing and dogsledding at 22 ski resorts scattered across the eastern and southern parts of the state. All summer long, sparkling lakes and winding rivers beckon to visitors, luring them with opportunities to go kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddleboarding. Take the family to Presque Isle State Park near Erie for swimming, boating and birdwatching on the shores of Lake Erie. At night, go stargazing – Pennsylvania is home to some of the darkest skies in the eastern USA, and several great observatories offer an even closer look. In search of an adrenaline rush? Check out whitewater rafting in the Laurel Highlands or Pocono Mountains. For a less-strenuous adventure, take a ride on one of the many scenic railroads that crisscross the state, especially beautiful when covered with autumn’s brilliant leaves.
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Every Feb. 2, on Groundhog Day, the world looks to Punxsutawney Phil for his prediction of six more weeks of winter or an early spring.
Pennsylvania’s 120-plus state parks, which are scattered across the state, all offer free admission.
Photo: Evan Nowak