From date nights to outdoor adventures to family fun, Pennsylvania is a wildly diverse state that offers an extensive range of awesome things to do.
Part of a larger trail that goes all the way to Washington, DC, the Great Allegheny Passage is a flat trail that covers a large portion of the south central park of the state. You can spend hours or days exploring any of the different stops along this trail.
There are several different ways to enjoy the beautiful colors of fall in Pennsylvania, but the best way to see them might be on a steam train ride. Locations and times vary.
For some of the best star gazing in the country, make a plan to be at Cherry Springs State Park after dark. Spend an hour or two taking in the beautiful night time views in this remote park or camp out and enjoy them until the sun comes up.
One of the most unique spaces you’ll find anywhere, Randyland is a free museum, It’s home to Randy Gilson, an artist who turned a house on the North Side into a piece of art. It’s bright, it’s cheerful, it’s colorful. It’s a must see. Spend an hour or two here taking in the fun.
Kids of all ages will love spending 3-4 hours exploring the four floors of hands on science exhibits and a large miniature railroad. It also houses the Rangos Omnimax Theater which shows a variety of educational films and the Highmark Sportsworks where the mechanics of athletics are explored. And, as if that wasn’t enough, climb aboard the USS Requin, a WWII submarine, which is docked in the river right behind the Science Center.
Zeke’s had to relocate because of development in the area, but an Indieagogo campaign helped them move right down the street into a new space. They have an extensive menu of muffins, scones, and cakes. Stop by and have a quick snack or stop by their drive through before hitting the road.
Ohiopyle State Park is located in the Laurel Highlands region of the state and offers biking, hiking, white water rafting, kayaking, and even natural waterslides. You could spend a whole day here exploring the outdoors or just stop by for a few hours to take in the natural beauty.
The Andy Warhol Museum boasts an exclusive collection of prints, paintings, and sculpture by the eccentric native Pittsburgher. It also houses a collection of film and video as well as Warhol’s famous time capsules. Spend 2-3 hours exploring all seven floors of this amazing space.
York Central Market had been a fixture of the city for 125 years. It offers a unique shopping, dining, and socializing experience. Hours are somewhat limited, but when you get there, spend 1-2 hours shopping and eating.
With a large variety of animals, the Pittsburgh Zoo is also home to the PPG Aquarium. Give yourself 2 hours to tour the zoo, which also includes a brand new restaurant, a kid’s play area, and opportunities for hands on events with a variety of animals.
The Strip District has a rich industrial history and has been transformed into an eccentric shopping district, offering countless wholesalers, produce vendors, and crafters. You can spend 2-3 hours popping in and out of the speciality shops, coffee houses, and stands that line Penn Ave.
The Leaf & Bean is a unique experience. They offer a variety of drinks, coffee or otherwise, as well as a wide range of cigars. The interior looks like a museum with walls covered with eclectic and interesting artifacts. You could spend all day here sitting outside and talking with the locals, but plan at least 30 minutes to enjoy a cigar and a cup of coffee.
Take in some of the amazing history Philadelphia has to offer by visiting Independence Hall Historic Park. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were both signed in Independence Hall. The Liberty Bell and Benjamin Franklin Museum are also located in this historic area. Spend 2-3 hours on your visit to Philadelphia absorbing these historic sites.
Boathouse Row is the pride of the many rowing clubs that call it home. They offer rowing instruction for any level of experience, but if you only have time for a brief visit here while in Philadelphia, make sure you see their historical boathouses along the river. Take a half hour stroll around here after dark for some beautiful scenery.
Point State Park is the site where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers meet to form the Ohio. It boasts a large fountain and vast outdoor space. It’s also home to the Fort Pitt Museum and hosts many seasonal festivals. Combine a visit here with your visit downtown Pittsburgh and you can easily spend 3-4 hours enjoying the outdoors.
The Erie Zoo is a great place to add to your itinerary on a getaway to Lake Erie, especially for kids. There’s a train ride and an extensive children’s area. Take around 2 hours to explore - the zoo boasts 400 different animals and 11 beautiful gardens to take in on your visit.
Kennywood opened it’s doors in 1898. It’s a classic old fashioned amusement park that also offers seasonal events, such as Phantom Fright Nights in October and Holiday Lights in November and December. If you’re spending a warm summer day riding roller coasters and eating their famous Potato Patch french fries, allow yourself a full 8 hours to spend there.
At Station Square, you can get on a Ducky Tour or the Gateway Clipper, eat at one of the many restaurants, take in a soccer game, and get a spectacular view of downtown Pittsburgh. There’s also a large mall with unique shops. Spend 1 or 2 hours here eating or shopping.
Located in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood, the Carnegie Museums Art & History are two separate museums that share the same space. Each museum takes about 2 hours to explore. In the History Museum, you’ll find three floors of artifacts ranging from a look at Native American Tribes to an exhibit of Dinosaurs in Their Time. The Art Museum offers a wide range of art exhibits, both permanent and temporary.
The Pocono Mountains provide an opportunity for outdoor entertainment in any season. Skiing, ziplining, fishing and much more await. There’s also shopping, fine dining, and a casino if you’d rather spend your time inside. You can easily spend an entire weekend taking in the beauty of these mountains.
A restaurant and bar located inside of an old Catholic Church, Church Brew Works is one of the most unique dining experiences you can find in Pennsylvania. They offer a menu tributing the ethnicities of the immigrants that originally settled in the region, including pierogi, pizza, and bratwurst. Allow about 90 minutes for a meal or spend a whole evening sampling their house brewed beers.
A coffee shop in the South Side of Pittsburgh with ties to the 1880s, Big Dog Coffee is a cool space that offers a unique atmosphere. Have some coffee or tea and sample their soups, baked goods, or gelato and spend an hour here relaxing.
A theme park based on candy and chocolate, how can you go wrong? This park offer a wide variety of rides for people of all ages and has a boardwalk area and water rides. They also have special parkwide events for Halloween and the holiday season. You can spend an entire day seeing all this sweet park has to offer.
Known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, Pine Creek Gorge offers a stunning view. Spend the day here hiking, fishing, or bird watching then head into one of the quaint small towns nearby for a bit to eat.
Elfreth’s Alley is America’s oldest residential street and a designated historical landmark. They offer seasonal events but you can also just come and take an hour’s stroll into Philadelphia’s rich history.
Fallingwater is the iconic house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright located in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania. Tours must be scheduled ahead of time and there are some things to keep in mind (for example, children under 6 are not permitted on the tours), so a visit here requires some planning; however, carve out 2 hours or so from a weekend in the Laurel Highlands to take a tour of Fallingwater.
Started in 1983, the Pittsburgh Grand Prix is a yearly street race of classic racers through Schenley Park in Pittsburgh. It’s a 10 day event every July including several car shows and other activities building up to the big race.
Named coolest small town in 2013, Lititz has something to offer everyone. Spend a morning or an afternoon walking down the historic streets and taking in all the fun this town has to offer. Make sure to try one of the town’s famous soft pretzels!
29. Market Square [Pittsburgh]
Market Square is a downtown plaza full of restaurants and bars, an outdoor eating space, and seasonal activities, including farmer’s markets in the summer and an ice skating rink in the winter. Add it to a day downtown and spend an hour or two eating, having a drink, and seeing the downtown architecture.
Gettysburg was the site of one of the most important battles of the Civil War and served as the inspiration for Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The park offers walking tours, guided tours, and some outdoor recreational activities that you should be able to fully experience in 3 hours.
With a location north of the Pittsburgh and one a little farther east, Living Treasure’s offers an animal experience much different than the city’s zoo. At Living Treasures, you can get much more up close and personal with the animals. They even offer food that you can give to certain animals. Allow yourself about 90 minutes to get a good look at all the animals.
Ringing Rocks Park has seven acres of rocks. And if that wasn’t unique enough, the rocks ring like bells. Scientists are stumped, but make sure you spend a few hours exploring here. And be sure to check out the waterfall.
A resort offering outdoor winter activities, a casino, fine dining, and a spa. Take a weekend escape to this beautiful resort and experience art, swimming, and many children’s activities. There is truly something for everyone.
The Philadelphia Art Museum is comprised of three floors displaying a wide range of art, including an extensive collection of European art dating back to the 1100s. There’s also a one acre sculpture garden to add an outdoor element to your 2-3 hour visit.
While making plans to explore Pennsylvania, make sure to plan your drive so you see some of the state’s beautiful covered bridges. They’re located across much of the state so plan to check a few out while on your way to your next stop.
At The Crayola Experience, kids can explore four floors full of hands on activities including more ways to be creative with crayons than you can imagine. Bring the kids and spend 2-3 hours here creating.
Primanti Bros started as a sandwich cart to feed truck drivers in Pittsburgh’s Strip District who were showing up at all hours of the night and opened a storefront in the early 1930s. Since then, it’s become a Pittsburgh institution and has open franchises throughout the east coast and midwest. Stop by the original location for the historical atmosphere and spend an hour or so having a beer and eating one of their famous sandwiches smothered in coleslaw and french fries.
Consistently rated one of the best amusement parks for children, Idlewild offers rides and roller coasters, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, the Soak Zone water park, as well as hands on climbing and exploring activities for young children. Families could easily spend a full day discovering all this park has to offer.
Reading Terminal Market has been going in one form or another since 1680. Stop by and sample everything from meats and cheeses to chocolate, all from local sellers. Tours are offered on Wednesday and Saturday mornings that offer a bit of history while you shop. You could spend anywhere from 1-3 hours here depending on how much shopping (and eating!) you want to do.
Mural Mile is a 2 hour walking tour through Philadelphia’s Center City neighborhood. It’s essentially a street art gallery of murals throughout this part of the city.
Dutch Wonderland is a mid-sized amusement aimed toward families and kids. It has 30 rides varying from rollercoaster to an extensive list of kiddie rides and a waterpark. It also boasts several options for live entertainment sure to make your full day at the park a fun one.
Full of disturbing and unique relics, the Mutter Museum offers something a bit out of the ordinary. Spend roughly 2 hours here looking at their human skull collection, pieces of Einstein’s brain, and a garden made solely of medicinal plants.
Dirty Frank’s opened in 1933 and has been going strong ever since. Plenty of beers on tap and even more bottles, you could spend an entire evening here enjoying some drinks and looking at the Off the Wall Art gallery.
44. Franklin Institute [Philadelphia]
Dedicated to Benjamin Franklin, this museum is focused heavily on science. At least 15 exhibits cover everything from the heart and the brain to space and electricity. It would take around 3 hours to see everything this museum has in it’s walls; add another hour or so if you plan to any of the theaters or the planetarium.
45. City Tavern [Philadelphia]
With roots going all the way back to 1772, City Tavern offers an 18th century menu so you can eat just like our founding fathers did. They offer lunch and dinner as well as a children’s menu so stop by for a meal.
46. Storytelling Benches [Philadelphia]
Storyteller Benches are scattered around Philadelphia's historic district and provide a simple, accessible way to learn about the nation’s history. Hours and times vary, but make sure you stop by during a visit to Philadelphia.
47. Mount Washington and the Inclines [Pittsburgh]
48. Just Ducky Tour [Pittsburgh]
Take a one hour tour of Pittsburgh on land and in the water on an authentic World War II Duck vehicle. The tours are fully narrated and take you from the land to the rivers, including a look at the Point State Park Fountain and the city’s sports stadiums.
Known as America’s “most historic square mile”, Old City District offers theaters, galleries, museums, and plenty of drinking and dining options. You could spend an evening here catching a show in a theater or perusing the galleries then stay for dinner and drinks.
Knoebel’s offers free admission for anyone who wants to come in and walk around the park; tickets are required to ride on a wide variety of rides. There’s also miniature golf, a bald eagle habitat, and museums on site. If you want to see and do everything, spend a full 8 hour day at the park.
The Rodin Museum is home to the Thinker and a vast selection of Rodin’s art. Spend 2-3 hours looking at the sculptures and busts of this talented artist.
Located on Lake Erie, Presque Isle offers lots of beaches and plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. There’s 15 nature trails that vary in length and difficulty and a 13.5 mile paved trail that covers most of the peninsula’s perimeter. If you don’t have your own bike, you can easily rent one. If you’re the outdoor type, you could easily spend a weekend taking in all the park has to offer.
For children, the Please Touch Museum is a must see. There are more than a dozen themed play areas, including a space station, garden, and river adventures. The main goal of the museum is to help children learn through play and parents are encouraged to put away electronic devices and play right along. Spend 2-3 hours exploring every nook and cranny with your little ones.
Walking around the city of Pittsburgh, every once in awhile you’ll spot a protractor glued to a pole, a sign, or a mailbox. No one is really sure where they came from or why they’re there, but while you’re otherwise enjoying the city, keep your eyes peeled for these.
Oakland is home to the University of Pittsburgh, many museums, plazas, and art. There are countless restaurants, coffee shops, and bars to keep you busy. Or just spend an afternoon relaxing in Schenley Plaza.
Founded in 1812, this museum features dinosaur exhibits, life size wildlife dioramas, a butterfly room, and more. Add it to your itinerary when visiting Philadelphia and take 2 hours to see all it has to offer.
A historical neighborhood that’s recently been revitalized, Lawrenceville is a part of Pittsburgh that needs to be seen. Spend the day shopping or playing in the park then spend the evening eating and drinking in any of the new trendy restaurants that have popped up over the last 10 years.
Located close to the midpoint of the trail, this museum is housed in a historical building and celebrates everything about the great Appalachian Trail. The museum is only opened seasonally, but you can spend an hour or two here learning about the people that make the trail what it is.
Blue Mountain Resort has skiing, snowboarding, tubing but also a zip lining, laser tag, and biking. They also have many seasonal activities to make holidays more special. Spend a weekend outdoors no matter what time of year.
A kid centered theme park based on the beloved characters from Sesame Street, this park offers an array of rides, a parade, and a chance for kids to meet some of their favorite characters. Spend the day here with your family and take your kids on their first roller coaster ride!
Cherry Crest has a giant corn maze, wagon rides, animals, and plenty to eat. Bring the kids and spend a day down on the farm. They offer 50 activities to keep you busy all day.
Laurel Caverns is a natural sandstone cave with three miles of tunnels to explore. The have general guided tours as well as more intense spelunking and caving excursions. A general tour will take about 90 minutes while a more intense excursion could take a bit longer, but take in the scenery because it’s beautiful inside the cave and out.
Located near the main campus of the University of Pittsburgh, Conflict Kitchen specializes in preparing and selling food from the places that the US is currently in conflict with. The menu changes frequently so carve out an hour or so to stop by and make sure you catch the current version.
Offering a 6,000 square foot miniature railroad display, Roadside America is like a tiny trip through history. Founded in 1935, this attraction has been going strong for around 80 years. It takes about an hour to fully explore all the details the models have to offer.
The North Shore is home to two of Pittsburgh’s sports stadiums as well as the Carnegie Science Center, Rivers Casino, an outdoor concert venues. Walk or ride you bike along the river and take in the view of the Point State Park fountain and Mount Washington from a different angle, then stop to rest you feet at the water steps before eating at one of the many restaurants offered here. You could spend anywhere from 2-4 hours here exploring, eating, or just hanging out.
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens has seasonally themed flower shows all year round. Depending on what time of year your visit, you could see a butterfly garden, a miniature train, Christmas lights and trees, or a flourishing outdoor garden playspace. They also offer a handful of hands on activities and entertainment for kids when the weather permits. It will take about 90 minutes to explore all Phipps has to offer.
Visit East Carson Street, which stretches through the South Side of Pittsburgh and is lined with loads of interesting shops, restaurants, and a huge amount of bars. Riverfront Park sits just blocks from the main road and offers a boat dock with river access and a paved trail for biking, etc. You could spend a whole day here playing in the park, looking at murals, shopping, eating, and drinking well into the night.
A unique perspective on Pennsylvania’s history, the Carrie Furnace site offers tours of decommissioned blast furnaces from pre-WWII. Tours are offered from May - October and last around an hour.
York has deep historical ties to the founding of our country and is full of museums, parks, and a burgeoning restaurant scene. Spend a weekend there and get to know this often overlooked city.
Penn Museum offer ancient artifacts and art from a variety of cultures and countries including Israel, China, Greece, Japan. It also two Egyptian galleries, one dedicated to the sphinx and one to mummies. To see everything in this museum, dedicate 2-3 hours of time.
Conneaut Lake is a historic amusement park that has a variety of rides, including the Blue Streak Roller Coaster which was built in 1938. It also offers a kiddie land full of rides for little ones, mini golf, a boardwalk, and beach access. You could easily spend a whole day or an entire weekend here.
A cheesesteak is the iconic sandwich of Philadelphia, if not the entire state. No one can agree on who has the best, but here’s ten places to start. Work in a cheesesteak to a visit to Philadelphia and experience what the hype is all about.
The only cave in the state certified as an historical landmark, you can tour this site on a flat bottom boat then spend the rest of your visit panning for gemstones or taking a tour through the nearby trails and forests. You could spend most of the day here, but give yourself at least 2 hours to see as much as you can.
Seven Springs is primarily known as a ski resort, but it offers much more. There’s snowmobile tours, snowshoe tours, and sleigh and horseback tours. If indoor things are more your speed, there’s also a spa and indoor pool. They offer more than a half dozen restaurants as well as bars and lounges. You could spend an entire weekend here or just spend the day playing into snow.
Lake Erie Wine Country starts in Erie County, Pennsylvania and extends into neighboring New York State. There are 23 wineries total, 11 of which are in Pennsylvania. The tour offers dozens of quaint places to stay and a lot of fine dining options. If you’re a wine connoisseur, you could easily spend a weekend working your way through this beautiful part of Pennsylvania.
With over 42 acres of space, the Philadelphia Zoo offers up close and personal views of a wide range of animals. There’s also a train, swan boats, pony rides, and a rainforest carousel that set this zoo apart from the others on this list. Get a good look at all the animals and have some spare time to play by planning 2-3 hours for a visit.
Opened in 1829, Eastern State Penitentiary has a history tied to the founding fathers. It’s most famous prisoner was Al Capone, who served his first prison sentence here - 8 months for concealing a deadly weapon. The prison offers an audio tour, art installations, and a chance to experience history in a way like never before. Allow 1-2 hours to fully experience this historic site.
Skiing, tubing, and snowboarding dominate at Hidden Valley. Plan a weekend to spend in the wintery outdoors to relax, eat and drink and the fabulous restaurant, and pamper yourself at the spa.
George Washington’s army was encamped at Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War in the winter of 1777-1778 and the park is dedicated to paying tribute to that part of our nation’s history. Visitors can see the house where Washington stays as well as learn about the artillery used and how life was for the soldiers. Set aside 2 hours to experience the great history at Valley Forge.
Known as the Niagara of Pennsylvania, Bushkill Falls has much more to offer than the beautiful view. Go fishing, mine for gemstones, shop, eat, even ride paddle boats. You could spend the whole day here exploring all the outdoor activities.
Amish country is a big part of Pennsylvania’s culture, and Intercourse is a great place to see it. It’s the center of a lot of business activity for different Amish communities and therefore offers a unique experience for visitors. Spend the day shopping and exploring.
The National Civil War Museum gives a well rounded and in depth history of the American Civil War. Exhibit subjects include battle maps, women in the war, Gettysburg, and Abraham Lincoln. Spend 2-3 hours learning all there is to know about both sides of the epic war.
The Linesville Spillway is a curious roadside attraction where carp gather to eat food thrown into the reservoir by visitors. There are so many fish that it’s nearly impossible to see water. A stop here will take a half hour or so.
A roadside attraction like no other, the Haines Shoe House is exactly what it sounds like - a house shaped like a shoe. It’s open seasonally for tours, which last about a half hour, but give yourself a full hour here to take a tour and enjoy some ice cream.
One of the biggest states parks in Pennsylvania, Pymatuning offers boating, fishing, and hiking. Stay the night or just spend the day exploring the park’s many adventures.
Take a tour of Indian Echo Caverns and learn about it’s history, which includes ties to Native Americans as well as a hermit! Take a 45 minute tour and see the depths of these caverns.
A fleet of riverboats that offers cruises along Pittsburgh’s three rivers, there’s something here for everyone. Date night, evening, and children’s themed cruises are all offered. The entire trip will take about 2-3 hours.
One of the most buzzed about neighborhoods in the county, Fishtown has a variety of street art, ice cream, pizza, and coffee shops. It’s a must see when in Philadelphia so make sure you carve out an afternoon to explore here.
A historic landmark, Kentuck Knob is a Frank Lloyd Wright designed home that offers general and in depth guided tours. Spend half a day on a tour and exploring the grounds and taking in the sculpture garden. Tours must be booked in advance, so make sure you plan ahead.
The Allegheny Aqueduct was built in 1824. It’s also home to what remains of the Beidler Mill and the Beidler House, where the mill operator would live. It will take you an hour or two to take everything at this historic location.
One of few museum’s in the country dedicated to cartoons, Toonseum is a small gallery museum with rotating exhibits and shows. An hour will be enough time to see everything here, but you can easily spend more.
92. Flea Markets [Various]
Pennsylvania has some of the best flea markets you can find, probably because of it’s long and deep history. On the weekends, there are countless flea markets to visit.
A Civil War style building, Arsenal Cider House offers small batch wines and hard ciders. They have visiting chefs so the food menu rotates. This is truly a unique place to spend an evening
The Tall Ships Festival has 8-10 ships with onboard tours, children’s activities, and more. Help over a summer weekend on Lake Erie, it’s worth planning a visit to.
Opened around 1762, the Bonnet Tavern has a long history and a long folklore to go with it. It’s rumored to be haunted so look out for anything strange while you have a meal here.
This 21 mile long trail follows along the railroad tracks and you can take it all the way to the city of York on foot, on bike, or on horseback. It offers some stunning views for a day’s hike.
Donna’s Diner is like stepping back in time to the 1950’s to have a meal. They offer a menu with classic diner cuisine, counter service, and an outdoor picnic style dining room when the weather permits.
A national park dedicated to the importance of trains in our nation’s history, Steamtown has a museum, scheduled tours, or train rides. You could spend an afternoon here learning about all the different trains on display.
This is a motel made out of renovated train cars and one of the most unique places to stay in the state by far. Spend a weekend exploring the nearby parks and entertainment while sleeping in this one of a kind retreat.
This is a 6.5 acre playground that offers everything from a giant wooden slide to a 16,000 square foot playhouse that looks more like a fancy castle. You could easily spend the day here with your kids, rain or shine.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.