Pennsylvania, the Keystone state, has certainly been at the heart of America’s evolution even before it was a nation. The history here is arguably the most significant in the country, concentrated in downtown Philadelphia’s unrivaled Independence Historical National Park. But there’s plenty more on hand once the history lesson is over. From the nature of the Poconos to the urban revival of Pittsburgh, this state has a lot to offer its guests.
Pennsylvania’s two main cities, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, lie at opposite ends of the state but are equally fantastic places to explore. Philly has an insane amount of American history to absorb, while Pittsburgh has reinvented itself from its former steel industrial glory. In between are crucial military sites like the Gettysburg Battlefield and unique regions like Lancaster County with its large Amish community. Pennsylvania is unnaturally rich in culture, history, and ethnic heritage.
The residents of Pennsylvania’s big cities may not come across as particularly friendly, but in the rural countryside folks are very pleasant. You’ll have to look pretty hard to find amazing deals on lodging because Pennsylvania is a well-established vacation destination. On the upside, there are lovely resorts and spas in the Poconos, and reliably tasty comfort food everywhere you go.
Pennsylvania’s diverse topography creates several different climate zones. Generally, the state experiences the typical continental climate with warm humid summers and cold snowy winters. The southeastern part of the state, where Philadelphia is located, gets the warmest weather. As you head west into Pennsylvania the mountains create noticeably colder climates. The coldest part of the state is the northwest corner around the town of Erie.
The great outdoors is never far from Pennsylvania’s big cities. From Philly it’s a short drive into the Poconos Mountains or to Atlantic Ocean beaches. In the center of the state is the massive Pennsylvania Wilds, where every kind of outdoor recreation is possible. That’s one of the key selling points of this state. You can easily incorporate history, urban fun, and nature into a single trip without much traveling.
But to make the most of your Pennsylvania visit you really need to get your own wheels. Nearly every road in this state, from the Pennsylvania Turnpike to tiny rural byways in Lancaster County, is popping with pretty scenery. Driving is half the fun here, so consider crossing the state from Philly to Pittsburgh, catching loads of nature and American heritage along the way.
- Imagine the day America was born in Philadelphia’s unparalleled Independence National Historical Park, home to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall
- Spend a weekend at a mountain resort in the Poconos, taking hikes by day and romantic dinners by night
- Tour the massive Gettysburg Battlefield National Park, where one of the most significant battles in the US Civil War took place
- Catch a Steelers NFL football game in Pittsburgh or an Eagles game in Philadelphia because this state is crazy about its American football
- Lose yourself for a while in the Pennsylvania Wilds, a vast wilderness area bigger than some American states, that has all kinds of outdoor recreation
- Tour the Hershey chocolate factory in Hershey, Pennsylvania, then have some fun on the rides at Hersheypark
- Drive through Lancaster County, also known as Pennsylvania Dutch Country, home to one of America’s largest Amish communities and their exquisite handicrafts