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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness in PA

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness in PA
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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.

 

Family Thrills

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.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness in PA

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness in PA
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Fun Fact

Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day in Pennsylvania
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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.

A kayak at Moraine State Park in Portersville, Pennsylvania
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Pennsylvania’s 120-plus state parks, which are scattered across the state, all offer free admission.

Photo: Evan Nowak

Couple taking a selfie in front of fountains at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
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Longwood Gardens boasts 11,000 varieties of plants spread out across more than 436 hectares and has the largest collection of fountains in North America.

Must see places

Strasburg Rail Road in Pennsylvania

Strasburg Rail Road

Restored coal-burning steam trains run through the Amish countryside on this historic railroad, now designated a tourist rail. A variety of different tour themes are on offer, from Amish Feast to Wine and Cheese to Murder Mystery. Stop in to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, just across from the station, before you go.

Whitewater rafting in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania

Pocono Mountains

These forested, rolling mountains located in the northeastern part of the state feature 150 lakes within their 6,215 square kilometer scope, as well as villages with historic churches and homes to tour. Made for outdoor adventure, the woodlands, rivers and waterfalls here offer hiking, biking, rafting, skiing and swimming opportunities.   

Historic cannon and battlefields at Gettysburg National Military Park

Gettysburg National Military Park

Learn about how the battle waged here, a pivotal moment in Civil War history, shaped the USA. A visitor’s center and museum holds one of the country’s largest Civil War collections, while outside, living history performers reenact the battle, firing rifles and cannons, and wielding bayonets. Also visit the David Wills House, where Abraham Lincoln completed his Gettysburg Address.

Roller coasters at Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania

Hersheypark

The legendary candy-maker makes for a sweet theme park, with over 70 rides and attractions in all, among them roller coasters (and, soon, three new plunging towers). Here you’ll find Boardwalk Waterpark as well as ZOOAMERICA, plus resorts, dining and shopping, and nearby Hershey’s Chocolate World, where you can go on a chocolate factory tour ride.

Historic building in Philadelphia's Independence National Historic Park

Independence National Historical Park

A collection of historic Philadelphia sites and symbols, all of which played a role in the creation of the American government, are on display in this park. See why UNESCO made Philadelphia the USA’s first World Heritage City. Visit the famous Liberty Bell with its defining crack, go to Independence Hall (once Pennsylvania State House), tour a military museum and explore Bishop White House for an education in the history of American Democracy. 

Viewing a self-portrait at the Andy Warhol Museum

Andy Warhol Museum

Thousands of paintings, drawings, sculptures and photographs spread across seven floors awaits visitors to this museum devoted to all-things Warhol, which also includes continually updated exhibits of the artist’s films, a Gallery Talks series and even a photo booth that will give you your own screen test.

Memorial Arch in Valley Forge National Historical Park

Valley Forge National Historical Park

The birthplace of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, Valley Forge’s 18th century monuments, buildings, exhibits and living history enactments teach visitors about this historic site. With 48 kilometers of walking trails and lakes filled with trout and catfish, you can get a side of recreation here along with your history.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1935 masterpiece, the Fallingwaters house

Fallingwater

Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1935 masterpiece, designed as a modern vacation home, is built right over a waterfall. This tour is unique in that it allows guests to walk through every room of the furnished house, which is set in the woods, with a mountain stream running nearby. 

Scenic beach views of Lake Erie at Presque Isle State Park

Presque Isle State Park

More than just a beach (Pennsylvania’s only), this park on a peninsula is packed with recreational opportunities. Water ski, dive or fish Lake Erie, hike or bike one of many trails or sunbathe on the beach. 

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

On the National Register of Historic Places, this structure’s all-glass facade flanked by two elaborate outdoor staircases greets you as you enter. You’ll find rooms devoted to the flora of the desert, examples of formal gardens, a court full of palms, and an orchid room. Look for Chihuly glass sculptures throughout the park. 

Autumn view from Loyalsock Canyon Vista at Worlds End State Park in Sullivan County, Pennsylvania
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Group skiing in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania
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Group skiing in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania
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