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  • The iconic Rocky statue outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Pennsylvania
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    Philadelphia: Art in Many Forms

  • Exterior view of Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania
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    The Countryside of Philadelphia: The Art of Gardens and Craft Beverage

  • A Musikfest performance at SteelStacks, a performance venue in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
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    Lehigh Valley: Magical Musical History Tour

  • The Andy Warhol Museum on the North Shore in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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    Pittsburgh: Vibrant Hub of Performing and Visual Arts

The beautiful fountains at Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania
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Pennsylvania’s Colorful Culture: A Tour of Art, Music and Gardens

By Heather Lalley

  • Route distance:
    795.00
  • Suggested Time:
    1-2 weeks

From thriving urban centers to lush countryside, this road trip shines a spotlight on the cultural scene of Pennsylvania.

See first-hand the iconic cultural gems this state has to offer, from Philadelphia’s world-famous Rodin sculpture “The Thinker” to the city’s dozens of public gardens to the Lehigh Valley, packed with musical history. Finish the trip touring the theaters, museums and galleries in the industrial city of Pittsburgh, at the picturesque junction of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers.

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The iconic Rocky statue outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Pennsylvania
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Philadelphia: Art in Many Forms

Fly into Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), and start your journey with a walking tour of this vibrant city’s amazing arts scene. Begin at the neoclassical Philadelphia Museum of Art, which film buffs will recognize from the 1970s classic “Rocky.” Inside, you’ll be awed by 2,000 years of paintings, sculpture and more from around the globe. Next, take a short walk to the Rodin Museum, which contains one of the largest collections of sculptor Auguste Rodin’s work outside Paris – including his pensive masterpiece “The Thinker” outside the museum and “The Burghers of Calais” and “The Gates of Hell” inside. Just across the street is the Barnes Foundation, the world’s largest private collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces. Continue strolling the city, taking in the many sculptures and murals, representing virtually every artistic style, made possible by the Association for Public Art and Mural Arts Philadelphia. Or, embark on a group tour or bicycle adventure to learn more about them. Switch in to evening attire and get ready to be wowed at a ballet, theater or orchestra performance at the city’s Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Curtis Institute of Music, The Pennsylvania Ballet or Walnut Street Theatre. You’ll still be humming a tune as you head toward your next destination.

32 km
1 hour by car
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Exterior view of Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania
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The Countryside of Philadelphia: The Art of Gardens and Craft Beverage

The feast for the eyes continues as you drive north, out of Philadelphia’s center, where you’ll be treated to more than 30 public gardens in the Countryside of Philadelphia, also known as “America’s Garden Capital.” This region is known for its beauty and history, home to both the Brandywine Valley and Valley Forge. Don’t miss the Morris Arboretum, the state’s official arboretum which earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. The Victorian landscape garden is home to a rainbow of more than 12,000 plants from around the world. Get lost in the romance of Chanticleer Garden, once the summer home of pharmaceutical magnate Adolph Rosengarten, Sr. The 14-hectare estate brims with seasonal flowers and architectural flourishes. Longwood Gardens, the region’s most famous, features 40 indoor and outdoor gardens that meld Italian, French and English traditions. Find tranquility in any season in the garden’s stunning conservatory. Just west of the garden is the Brandywine River Museum of Art, nestled on the postcard-pretty banks of Brandywine Creek. The museum, which showcases the work of realist painter Andrew Wyeth and his family, is a celebration of U.S. regional art. Dotted throughout the countryside are artisan wineries and craft breweries, perfect stops for a tour and a sip to reflect on all the beauty you’ve just witnessed.

89 km
1.5 hours by car
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A Musikfest performance at SteelStacks, a performance venue in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
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Lehigh Valley: Magical Musical History Tour

The charming small towns around Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton that make up the Lehigh Valley are packed with music history and opportunities for cultural exploration. Drive north to Nazareth to tour the C.F. Martin & Co. factory, which has been producing world-renowned acoustic instruments for more than 175 years. (Did you know that it takes more than 300 steps to go from rough lumber to a playable guitar?) Enjoy the soul-stirring sounds of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, America’s oldest Bach Choir, which hosts the Bethlehem Bach Festival each May. Visiting in summer? Head to the campus of DeSales University for the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, the long-running event which mounts a variety of musicals, comedies and classic performances for all ages. Each August, Bethlehem hosts Musikfest, one of the largest free music festivals in the country. U.S. musical acts of all genres entertain on multiple stages in a village-like setting packed with local food and drink. Any of the events makes an ideal immersion into small-town culture before heading across the state.

498 km
5 hours by car
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The Andy Warhol Museum on the North Shore in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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Abby Warhola

Pittsburgh: Vibrant Hub of Performing and Visual Arts

Enjoy a scenic drive west, through more small towns of Pennsylvania, to Pittsburgh, where you’ll experience a robust visual and performing arts scene. This early 20th century industrial capital on the juncture of three rivers is now known for its vibrant atmosphere, including a thriving arts community and world-class theaters. Maximize your time with a visit to Theater Square, located in the heart of the Cultural District, which is home to nine performance venues in a 14-block area. Favorite places to see a show include Heinz Hall, the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts’ theater and concert hall, the O’Reilly Theater, and The August Wilson Center. Grab a ticket for a Broadway-style musical or performances by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. For a more intimate performance atmosphere, plan a visit to the 260-seat Greer Cabaret Theater for music, musical theater and comedy, plus dining and cocktails. Pittsburgh is also home to stellar museums, including The Andy Warhol Museum on the North Shore, just a short walk from downtown. It’s the most comprehensive North American museum dedicated to a single artist and the world’s largest collection of Warhol’s iconic art and archives. Continue your cultural education at the city’s Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, The Frick Pittsburgh and the Senator John Heinz History Center. Fly home from Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT), where you can see even more art from around the world thanks to the Art is the Airport program.