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The beautiful Mid-Atlantic state of Pennsylvania is full of great weekend getaway options, whether you’re looking for a romantic escape for you and your loved one, or a full-fledged family adventure. There’s history, culture, recreation and even a whole lot of chocolate. And because Pennsylvania is conveniently located, you can easily travel there in just a few hours from several major cities like Baltimore, Washington D.C. and New York City. So, toss a few of your favorite things in the car and hit the road to check out these awesome getaways in the Keystone State.
Philadelphia, known as the “city of brotherly love,” is the largest city in the state of Pennsylvania. Which means, there’s plenty to do and see. Although there’s way too much to cover in just one weekend, there are some “must-see” things to check out like the Liberty Bell, the Philadelphia Museum of Art (where you can also pretend you’re Rocky and run up the steps out front), the famous LOVE sculpture and Independence Hall, where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written. Plus, the city is home to Reading Terminal Market – the country’s oldest farmers market that has a huge selection of meats, cheeses, produce and over 30 different restaurants serving a variety of cuisine.
Although Pittsburgh is a large city overall, the 90 different neighborhoods that make it up each have their own unique vibe, from the artsy Lawrenceville to the neighborhood of Bloomfield – known as “Philadelphia’s Little Italy,” where you can enjoy some authentic Italian fare like cannolis and gelato. There are tons of attractions to check out like the Andy Warhol Museum and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, as well as an endless amount of restaurants and shops to explore. And for kids, there’s the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, where they can learn about nature, art, woodworking and more.
Whether you’re actually bringing children along on your getaway or not, kids of any age (including the grown-up kind) will love the family attractions in the quaint town of Hershey. Famously known for being the birthplace of Hershey’s Chocolate, the town’s nickname is “the sweetest place on Earth.” Of course, the most obvious thing to do here is to visit the Hershey’s Chocolate World Attraction, where you can take a free tour ride to see how chocolate is made, sample lots of delicious treats and even design your own candy bar. Just down the street is Hersheypark – a massive theme park with over 70 rides and attractions, including 14 roller coasters. Plus, there’s plenty of shopping, dining, professional-level golf and luxurious spas to enjoy, including the MeltSpa by Hershey, where you can indulge in a Hershey’s Cocoa Facial or a Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Body Wrap.
Civil War buffs will love visiting the town of Gettysburg where there’s a wealth of history to be discovered – from the famous battlefield, which you can tour by walking, by car or even on horseback, to the Gettysburg Museum of History and the Gettysburg History Center, where you can view a diorama of the entire 6,000 acre battlefield. Near the battlefield, there’s also the Eisenhower National Historic Site, where you can visit the home and farm of the former President, and if you’re feeling extra adventurous, the Gettysburg/Battlefield Paranormal Excursions where you can go ghost hunting with professional equipment and an experienced tour guide.
For the ultimate romantic getaway in Pennsylvania, plan a trip to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. Although there are plenty of bed & breakfasts and historic inns in the area as well, the area is most well-known for their resorts that feature everything from skiing and sailing, to casinos and waterparks. If you’re looking for a romantic, adults-only getaway, choose an all-inclusive, adults-only resort like the Pocono Palace Resort, where you’ll enjoy unlimited breakfasts and dinners, in-room swimming pools and even heart-shaped whirlpool tubs.
For a more relaxed, slower-paced getaway, try visiting the beautiful countryside of Lancaster County, which is the home of the Pennsylvania Dutch, the oldest Amish settlement in the country. You can visit a working Amish farm, take a buggy ride through the hills and covered bridges, purchase handmade Amish crafts and enjoy made-from-scratch Pennsylvania Dutch cooking at one of many restaurants in the area. Plus, there are plenty of modern-day attractions too like craft breweries and wineries, theatres, and even an amusement park that has more than 35 rides, live shows, and a waterpark. And, since Lancaster was home to the country’s first commercial pretzel bakery, there are more than a half dozen pretzel bakeries in the area that offer tours and samples!
Altoona, Pennsylvania is filled with railroad history and is home to the Railroaders National Museum. Another museum to check out here is the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, while the Horseshoe Curve National Historic Landmark is a popular place to see on a getaway here. A couple of local drinking establishments to add to your itinerary are Burnt Timbers Winery and the Railroad City Brewing Company. For outdoor recreation in this region, there’s Cabbage Creek Falls and Chimney Rocks Park. Meanwhile, families can cool off in the summer at the Delgrosso’s & Laguna Splash Water Park.
One of the most charming towns in Pennsylvania is New Hope, which is known for its historic mansions, wineries, restaurants, and festivals. When you visit New Hope, you can bike at the Delaware Canal State Park, go shopping along Main Street, and perhaps even watch a performance at the Bucks County Playhouse. You can also spend your days going for a scenic ride on the New Hope Railroad and spend an evening learning about local history in a spooky way on a ghost tour. There’s also a children’s museum with exhibits for your little ones to check out and orchards where you can pick your own fruit depending on the season.
One of the most stunning natural areas in Pennsylvania is Presque Isle State Park, which offers opportunities for swimming and hanging out on the beach. This is a popular state park because of its excellent beaches and water recreation. Hiking and biking trails are located inside the park, and you can rent kayaks or go out on a pontoon boat ride as well. This park on a 3,200-acre sandy peninsula is a day-use park, but there are overnight accommodations nearby. Make sure to spend some time at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center inside the park to learn more about the local landscapes and park history.
Situated on the southern shore of Lake Erie, the town of Erie is a waterfront town worth spending some time in. You can visit the local wineries, go to a lake beach, and even downhill ski in the area during the winter. There are many shops to check out here and also a good number of breweries and distilleries to sip a refreshing beverage and unwind. For outdoor recreation, there are golf courses and fishing spots to explore. As you are researching things to do in Erie, Pennsylvania for your getaway, consider visiting the Erie Maritime Museum, Bicentennial Tower, Erie Bluffs State Park, and the Erie Zoo.
You can plan a getaway to York, Pennsylvania when you need a change of scenery and find a little something for everyone in your travel group. This is a fun place to visit for craft beverage enthusiasts because it’s home to the Mason-Dixon Wine Trail and the Susquehanna Ale Trail. Rocky Ridge Park is a nice place to visit for some time outdoors and to see some wildlife. Also, the Richard M. Nixon County Park is in this area and filled with natural habitats. Depending on when you visit, you might be able to catch a live performing arts show or see a baseball game at PeopleBank Park in York.
For an authentic Lancaster County getaway, plan to have your home base in Strasburg. This is a place where you can learn about the Pennsylvania Dutch way of life while sampling authentic Amish foods and maybe even taking a ride in a real horse and buggy. There are cozy B&Bs that you can stay at here in Strasburg after going for scenic drives through the rolling countryside or checking out some of the local theater productions. Foodies love staying in Strasburg because of all of the amazing restaurants and cafes in town.
Take a weekend or weeklong getaway to the Allegheny National Forest during any season of the year and enjoy hiking on hundreds of miles of trails. You can kayak or canoe on the Allegheny River, check out the biking trails at Jakes Rocks, and cross-country ski or snowshoe here during the winter months. The national forest is located in the northwestern part of Pennsylvania and runs through several counties. Camping and cabin rentals are available in the national forest to extend your stay in the area.
Located in the Laurel Highlands, Somerset is a wonderful destination for outdoor and nature lovers. There are several state parks in the area, a Flight 93 National Memorial, and many hiking and biking trails. Other recreation opportunities include snowmobiling, skeet shooting, golfing, zip-lining, and ATV riding. Somerset is a small town in the Pittsburgh area of Pennsylvania and a beautiful place with forests, rivers, and hills. It’s fun to walk through Somerset’s historic district, check out a local winery, and visit the Laurel Highlands Model Railroad Club when you are in this part of Pennsylvania.
Williamsport, Pennsylvania used to be known as the Lumber Capital of the World, but today it is a historic place to visit to learn about the region and perhaps do some hunting on the thousands of acres of state gamelands. Williamsport hosts the Little League World Series each year, and there is a museum dedicated to this as well. Baseball fans will enjoy walking through the World of Little League Museum and taking a tour. Meanwhile, the Community Arts Center hosts performances, and Millionaire’s Row is a historic walking area worth seeing.