Hartwood Acres Park, with its stately 1929 Tudor mansion, was originally the private country estate of John and Mary Flinn Lawrence and is now considered to be the crown jewel of the Allegheny County park system. The park is only 10 miles northeast of downtown Pittsburgh and definitely worth a visit when you're in the area.
Visit the Elegant Lawrence Mansion
Mary Flinn Lawrence was the daughter of Pennsylvania Senator William Flinn and influential in Pennsylvania state politics in her own right even before women were able to vote. She moved into her specially designed home in 1931. Visitors can tour this 31-room mansion that portrays the elegant lifestyle of the Lawrences. The home epitomizes the grandeur and fashion of the early 20th century, with an excellent collection of original English and American antiques that range from 17th-century Flemish tapestries to 19th-century English furniture.
Guided tours of the mansion, its beautiful formal gardens, and a stable complex are offered daily except on certain holidays. Reservations, especially in summer, are highly recommended. And if you're in the Pittsburgh area from mid-November through the first week of January, take in the festive candlelight evening tour of the decorated mansion. You can even get married in the mansion's great hall or under an outdoor tent in the garden.
Enjoy the Trails
Hartwood Acres has more than 30 miles of beautiful trails that meander throughout the 639-acre county park. The trails offer abundant opportunities for nature hikes, walking, horseback riding, biking, and cross-country skiing. Trail maps are available online. There are, however, no picnic groves or other recreational or sports facilities in the park. Bring Fido to the park's off-leash area and treat your four-legged friend to an evening of fun and games at the Dog Days of Summer event, usually held in August.
Attend an Event
Hartwood's outdoor amphitheater, on the western side of the property, is the site of many summer concerts and theatrical performances. Attend a free Sunday concert under the stars as part of the popular summer concert series. Catch performances by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Opera, or even rock out with the likes of Boz Scaggs.
The park also plays host to a variety of cultural and charity events, including the annual Family House Polo Match, one of the largest charity polo events in the country. In addition to the excitement of attending a professional polo match, the whole family will also enjoy vintage cars, a silent auction, food trucks, wine tastings, and more.
If you're going to be in Pittsburgh around Halloween, everyone will have a spooky good time when murder returns to the mansion. With an advanced reservation, attend a Halloween-themed mystery, complete with a gourmet dessert buffet. Unique programs like Shakespeare on the mansion lawn, tours of the stable complex designed in 1927 to resemble a Cotswold village, and a Downton Abbey-themed tea complete with period attire are offered throughout the year.