Part of the United States' original 13 colonies, Pennsylvania offers a variety of historic sites and gorgeous scenery. This means visitors to the Keystone State can explore a bit of everything, from secluded, mountainous terrain to bustling, cosmopolitan cities. Bordering New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, and Ohio, Pennsylvania is an easy drive from several neighboring states and gives travelers much to see and do all year long. Check out these fun and interesting places to visit in the state of Pennsylvania.
The first capital city of the United States, Philadelphia is arguably the top destination in Pennsylvania. While visiting, you can take a step back in time and explore historic Old City, a section of Philly that’s home to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, The Constitution Center, the Museum of the Revolutionary War, and other attractions that celebrate the city’s colonial days. But Philadelphia offers visitors more than just a glimpse of history. Today, there’s a fantastic culinary scene, with an abundance of restaurants featuring innovative dishes. Meanwhile, cool bars serve up hand-crafted cocktails, and breweries and distilleries are springing up all around town. There are also world-class museums (such as the Barnes Foundation and its collection of Impressionist paintings), plenty of lovely parks and green spaces, and great neighborhoods to explore.
Attracting more than a million visitors every year, this 3,500-acre destination near Philadelphia features rolling hills, meadows, and historic monuments. The national park was the base for General George Washington and the Continental Army during their legendary winter encampment during the Revolutionary War in 1777-78; to this day, history enthusiasts can see many Revolutionary War sites. With 26 miles of trails for walking, biking, and horseback riding, visitors can easily spend a full day at the park.
Located just outside of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, Longwood Gardens is one of the world’s top garden destinations. The 1,000-plus acres feature varied horticultural displays with fountains, meadows, wooded trails, a nearly five-acre conservatory, and plenty of indoor areas. In addition to garden design, Longwood showcases excellence in the performance arts, with programming that includes exhibitions and concerts. (There's even a 10,010-pipe Aeolian organ on display.) They also offer stunning fireworks displays and colorful fountain shows. Open daily, Longwood is a favorite during the summer months and Christmas season. Admission is $23 for adults.
The town of Hershey, Pennsylvania is best known for its amusement park and famous chocolate brand. Located east of Harrisburg, Hershey boasts world-class gardens and a museum that highlights Milton Hershey and how he built this exceptional town. Hershey Park features 15 roller coasters, a boardwalk, massive water park, and dining and shopping at “Hershey’s Chocolatetown.” For adults who wish for some rest and relaxation, the exclusive MeltSpa offers an array of chocolate-inspired treatments.
In South Central Pennsylvania, the town of Lancaster and the surrounding area is known as “Pennsylvania Dutch Country." Home to the oldest Amish settlement in the United States, Lancaster County offers buggy rides, tours of an authentic Amish farmhouse, and a living history museum. In addition to partaking in Amish activities, you can visit the Dutch Wonderland amusement park, try zip lining, go hiking, ride horses, and enjoy a great food scene. There’s plenty of shopping as well, from sturdy wooden furniture carved by Amish locals to modern outlet shopping of all kinds.
Situated on a peninsula adjacent to Lake Erie in northern Pennsylvania, Presque Isle State Park is considered a must-see destination. With 11 beautiful miles of beaches and many scenic hiking trails, this 3,000-acre park is open year-round. Visitors can enjoy activities like boating, camping, swimming, fishing, and wildlife spotting in the summer, while winter is great for cross-country skiing and ice skating.
Known throughout the state as the “Niagara of Pennsylvania,” Bushkill Falls is a lovely destination in the Pocono mountains. You can gaze at eight picturesque waterfalls, stroll along scenic hiking trails, go birdwatching, and learn about local history. A fantastic way to enjoy nature while exploring Pennsylvania, Bushkill Falls is an ideal family-friendly spot, especially if you wish to introduce children to the outdoors. The pristine hiking trails are easy-to-moderate, clearly marked, and have various look-out areas with exceptional vantage points of these majestic falls. There are descriptions along the way, so visitors can get a quick understanding of the views.
One of the most popular historical destinations in Pennsylvania, Gettysburg attracts history fans who wish to learn about the famous Battle of Gettysburg—a major turning point in the U.S. Civil War—and see where President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous address. At nearly 140,000 square feet, the park’s museum and visitor’s center is the best place to start your visit. There’s much to see and do here, with guided battlefield tours, living history programs, hiking and outdoor activities, and even ghost tours.
In addition to the historical experiences, Gettysburg hosts concerts, food festivals, winery tours, and beer events throughout the year. You can spend a day at Gettysburg, but be sure to plan in advance for a lengthier stay, as this destination gets crowded during summer months.
Whether you’re a music lover or simply appreciate expertly-crafted instruments, a visit to the Martin Guitar Factory in Nazareth, Pennsylvania is a fascinating experience. In business since 1833, Martin Guitars is considered the oldest guitar builder in the United States, known worldwide for the incredible sound and world-class craftsmanship that goes into each one. Visitors here can tour the busy workshop and see first-hand how the guitars are made, step-by-step. A museum on site displays dozens of antique and super-rare guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, and other stringed instruments.
Of course, you can also purchase strings, straps, picks, and other music-related gear at the shop. If you wish to make this visit extra-special, you can order a custom-made guitar by Martin before making the pilgrimage to the Martin Factory to collect it in person.
Fans of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright flock to this incredible structure to get an up-close look at one of his most famous masterpieces. Nestled in Fayette County's Bear Run Natural Reserve in southwestern Pennsylvania, this innovative home was designed by Wright in 1937 as a private residence. It features sandstone materials, clean lines, and Wright’s signature modern elements. Perched above a waterfall, this home features spacious outdoor terraces that were created for admiring and enjoying the beauty of nature.
Today, it’s designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, attracting more than 200,000 visitors each year. The home is only accessible via a guided tour; be sure to purchase tickets in advance as there is a limit to the number of daily guests. Visitors to Fallingwater should plan on dining in the café that serves up farm-to-table dishes with a stunning view of the surrounding landscape.