Pittsburgh at Night Last Shot by Matthew Paulson via Flickr Creative Commons

As one of America’s very first settlements, Pennsylvania is awash in history and culture. The nation was essentially birthed in Philadelphia, and the wonderful Independence National Historical Park preserves all the key landmarks. Pittsburgh takes a more modern approach to lure visitors with its hip downtown scene, and if you need a nature break just duck into the Poconos or cruise around bucolic Lancaster County.


The once-glorious steel factory town of Pittsburg has emerged from its industrial recession and rebranded itself as a cool hub of art, creativity, and fun. Today, its broad rivers run clear and the artwork collected in the Carnegie Museums rivals anything in America. Native son Andy Warhol’s museum is one-of-a-kind, while current art runs deep in the trendy downtown areas of the Strip District, Theater District, and Station Square. Few cities have weathered economic depression as impressively as Pittsburgh. Come see what all the fuss is about. Address: western Pennsylvania Phone: n/a Website: http://www.visitpittsburgh.com/


America was largely forged in the City of Brotherly Love, where history runs deep and fascinating Old City looks as fine today as it did in 1776. Besides the top-drawer American history on display, visitors can indulge in equally engaging cuisine, shopping, and nightlife in Center City. The Independence National Historical Park contains 40 vital historic landmarks, while urban Fairmount Park has 100 miles of walking trails. Catch a Phillies baseball game or a legendary cheesesteak in South Philly. The Italian Market is one of America’s oldest, and the Philadelphia Trolley Works is just about the coolest way imaginable to tour this world-class city. Address: eastern Pennsylvania Phone: n/a Website: http://www.visitphilly.com/

Gettysburg National Military Park

The 20,000-acre battlefield at Gettysburg was the site of the turning point in the US Civil War. The three-day battle was one of the bloodiest in American history, and marked the moment when the South started to lose the war. Gettysburg has a great visitor center with museum-quality exhibits and helpful rangers. You can take a guided tour of the battlefield and myriad historic buildings or explore the grounds yourself. Each July 1 to 3 a three-day reenactment is held, a major event that is the busiest time of the year here. It’s well worth planning a visit around, just book your lodgings well in advance. Address: 1195 Baltimore Pike, Suite 100, Gettysburg, PA 17325 Phone: +1-717-334-1124 Website: http://www.nps.gov/gett/index.htm


Anyone who is a fan of chocolate will be very familiar with the name Hershey. From kisses to peanut butter cups, this Pennsylvania company is a fascinating example of the all-American success story. Milton Hershey built a whole town to service his factory workers, and it thrives today on tourism as much as industry. Hersheypark, a ride-filled family amusement park, and Hershey’s Chocolate World, that tells the story of Hershey’s treats, are two of the region’s most entertaining attractions. Catch a concert at Giant Center or stroll the 23-acre Hershey Gardens with its seasonal displays. Address: 100 Hersheypark Drive, Hershey, PA 17033 Phone: +1-800-437-7439 Website: http://www.hersheypark.com/

The Poconos

The Poconos and the Endless Mountains are major mountain regions in the northeast of the state. A handful of small towns and quiet resorts provide accommodation for folks looks to escape the bustle of nearby cities and get back in touch with nature. Ten ski resorts are here, along with miles of trails for recreation all year round. The hiking and biking is superb, as is the fishing and boating on the lakes and rivers. The easy access of the Poconos makes it one of the region’s most popular getaway destinations, particularly for couples seeking a romantic weekend. Address: Northeast Pennsylvania Phone: n/a Website: http://www.800poconos.com/

Lancaster County

Though best known for its large Amish community, this area of Pennsylvania, also known as Dutch Country, overflows with charming small towns, pastoral scenery, and European heritage. Tour a genuine Amish Farm and House in Lancaster, learn how pretzels are made in Lititz, home of America’s oldest pretzel company, and shop for amazing handmade Amish quilts in New Holland or Intercourse. Lancaster County is a road trip dream, if you don’t mind sharing the tarmac with a few horse and buggies. Address: southeastern Pennsylvania Phone: n/a Website: http://www.padutchcountry.com/index.asp

Independence National Historical Park

The amazing American heritage of Philadelphia has been wonderfully preserved right in the heart of the city. Of the 40 buildings and landmarks officially protected, half are open to the public, including the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. The United States was born at this very spot in 1776, and this 45-acre historic park is a marvelous place to wander. Most attractions are free, though you need a (free) ticket for the big stars like Independence Hall. You simply can’t leave Philadelphia without spending an afternoon reliving the birth of a nation. Address: 143 South 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106 Phone: +1-215-965-2305 Website: http://www.nps.gov/inde/index.htm

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