Located in the northeast of the United States, Pennsylvania has a lot of different sides to it. Its eastern end is home to the Delaware River and the big city of Philadelphia. But head west and you’ll find the Appalachian Mountains, historic small towns, and cities that feel every bit like the Midwest.
For visitors, this provides you with the chance to experience all aspects of the United States over the last 200 years. Here’s a look at the best places to visit in Pennsylvania:
Number 10. Hershey
In Dauphin County, Hershey is as famous as any town with just 15,000 residents. America’s favorite chocolate brand began right here and unsurprisingly, tourism is a huge part of life in Hershey. Travelers come from all over to explore the “town built on chocolate”. There is HersheyPark and the Chocolate World, but also a rich history of dairy farming and some severely underrated nightlife.
Visitors get to enjoy the town’s collection of museums, plus fun shopping and delicious restaurants.
Number 9. Centralia
An interesting, atmospheric, and somewhat eerie place to visit, the near-ghost town of Centralia has been almost abandoned since 1962. This was when an underground coal fire was discovered burning under the once-thriving mining town.
Since then, its population has dwindled from more than a thousand to fewer than five, with dilapidated houses and decaying buildings now lining its graffiti-strewn streets. As well as visiting the one remaining church, visitors can drive around its quiet and overgrown roads and spy wisps of smoke escaping from cracks in the ground.
Number 8. Delaware Water Gap
Crossing over the state line between Pennsylvania and New Jersey is the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
As the name suggests, the Delaware Water Gap is found on both sides of the Delaware River. If you enjoy the great outdoors, there are countless choices available to you there. Bring history to life in the 19th century Milbrook Village, or take a bike ride along the Old Mill Road. Hikers can pick from more than 100 miles of trails, trekking along scenic streams and lush green hemlock forests.
Number 7. Presque Isle State Park
Nestled away in the northwest of Pennsylvania is the stunning scenery of Presque Isle State Park. Set on a sandy peninsula that juts out into Lake Erie, it is sure to delight outdoor enthusiasts with its lovely landscapes and wealth of recreation activities. Formed some 11,000 years ago during the last ice age, the idyllic isle and peninsula hem in a beautiful bay of the same name.
The state park’s diverse habitats lend themselves to all kinds of outdoor activities, with hiking, biking, and lounging on the beach are particularly popular.
Number 6. Ricketts Glen State Park
In the heart of Pennsylvania, there is a National Natural Landmark called Ricketts Glen State Park. This park is enormous, spreading out into three different counties, and it is a nature lover’s dream destination. The park is home to several waterfalls and hiking the Falls Trail System is the best way to see as many of them as possible.
If you’d rather kick back, head to the beach on Lake Jean and set up a picnic with a view of the water. You can also head onto the lake with a boat rental or try some fishing from the shore.
Number 5. Pennsylvania Dutch Country
In Lancaster County, you can find a large portion of the state’s Amish population in what is known as Pennsylvania Dutch Country.
Although the capital of Harrisburg is technically within this region, much of the area is rural. Whitewashed fences, perfectly maintained barns and horse-drawn buggies abound in this part of the state.
One of the best ways to explore Amish country is to visit the local markets, where you can find fresh produce as well as baked goods like apple butter and the delicious shoofly pie.
Number 4. Harrisburg
Full of interesting historic sites and cultural landmarks, Pennsylvania’s capital Harrisburg lies in the southeast of the state. Although not particularly large, it is the perfect size for a quiet weekend getaway with Allentown, Gettysburg and York all lying within driving distance.
Thanks to its strategic setting and the development of its canal and railway system, the city played a role in not just the Westward Migration and Industrial Revolution but the American Civil War too. This and its selection as the capital in 1812 explains the huge number of historic buildings and museums found in town.
Number 3. Gettysburg
One of the most significant battles ever fought in the Civil War was the Battle of Gettysburg. In July of 1863, three days of fighting resulted in heavy casualties and the retreat of the Confederate Army.
Today, the Gettysburg National Military Park marks the historic site. At the Gettysburg Heritage Center, you can get an introduction to the entire Civil War and how Gettysburg factored into it.
Make time to tour the Jennie Wade House, where the only Gettysburg citizen who died during the battle once lived.
Number 2. Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, or the Steel City, is a huge metropolis created where three rivers converge. It has a distinct topography, a mass of green hills rising straight up from the rivers below.
Once a major center of industry, it’s old warehouses and mills now instead house bustling businesses and important cultural institutions. The skyline in Downtown Pittsburgh is not to be missed, with the U.S. Steel Tower nabbing the honor of tallest in the city. In the heart of Downtown is Point State Park, a green park where you can also tour the 19th century Fort Pitt Block House.
Number 1. Philadelphia
Commonly referred to by locals as “Philly,” Philadelphia is major US city in southeastern Pennsylvania and home to the iconic Liberty Bell and the Philly cheesesteak sandwich. Regarded as the “Birthplace of America,” Philadelphia is known as the city in which the country’s founding fathers signed the 1776 Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.
There’s a host of interesting art museums to visit in the city, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which is not only one of the largest in the world, but also famous for its long flight of steps which were featured in the 1976 film “Rocky”.