Pennsylvania may not be the first state you think of when you imagine popular travel destinations in the United States, but it has a lot to offer. With multiple big cities, sprawling urban areas, and a diverse range of landscapes including forests, mountains, and plains, Pennsylvania is one of the most interesting states in the Northeast and has much to offer potential vacationers.
There’s so much to do that it can be hard to make a decision—and even when you do, there’s a chance you won’t get to see some of the most impressive and inspiring attractions Pennsylvania has to offer its visitors.
So what are the most important things to see in Pennsylvania?
These are some of the most important destinations to visit:
- The Pocono Mountains. First up are the Pocono Mountains, which aren’t just a mountain range—they cover an area filled with trees, lakes, and other beautiful natural features, and they make for a perfect scenic getaway. Covering an area of nearly 2,400 square miles, it’s easy to get lost, and there are plenty of things to keep you entertained—even in winter, with snow tubing and winter hikes. There are ample trails for hiking, biking, and generally exploring, and you can stay in a cabin nearby or camp for the ultimate outdoor experience.
- The Endless Mountains. The Poconos have a lot to offer, but they also tend to attract lots of tourists. If you want a more serene, remote getaway, you might want to consider the Endless Mountains, which is another natural mountain range in the Northeastern part of the state. There, you’ll be able to enjoy the sights and sounds of the outdoors, and stay in a lodge like the Eagles Mere Inn, where you can get away from the noises and distractions of the modern world and enjoy cozy accommodations.
- Pennsylvania’s beaches. Did you know Pennsylvania has its share of beaches? Just because it doesn’t immediately border an ocean doesn’t mean it doesn’t have access to water. Pennsylvania borders Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes, and is home to many lakes, ponds, and riverbeds throughout the state. You’ll find beaches in the Pocono Mountain region, as well as scattered throughout the state at sites like Harvey’s Lake and Mt. Gretna’s Lake.
- Amish Country. In and around Lancaster, you’ll find Pennsylvania’s Amish Country, where you can take tours, shop for homemade goods, and maybe even ride in a horse and buggy. Take an authentic tour of the region and learn more about Amish culture, and experience the food and crafts that draw in thousands of people every year.
- Philadelphia. The biggest city in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia is an ideal destination if you’re ready for an urban landscape after visiting Amish Country and seeing the vast outdoors. Whether you’re interested in fantastic restaurants, intellectually stimulating museums, or the historical relevance of buildings and locations within the city, Philadelphia has something to offer. Be sure to check out the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, as well as the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Zoo.
- State Parks. In addition to the mountain ranges and beaches, you’ll find a number of state parks throughout the state of Pennsylvania, all of which are worth exploring. Collectively, the state parks cover an area of more than 200,000 acres, and none of the parks charge an admission fee. Valley Forge State Park is a good place to start, and fitting too, since it was the first state park created in Pennsylvania. Also be sure to check out Racoon Creek, Ricketts Glen, and Pymatuning State Park to get the full experience.
Still More to Explore
This list isn’t near comprehensive; around every corner of Pennsylvania is a new landscape, city, or attraction to explore. If you’re planning to visit the state as part of a road trip, or as your central vacation destination, make sure to give yourself several days so you can see every side of the state.
Talk to the locals when you’re there; they’ll be able to point out things you can’t find through online research alone. And as always, when traveling, be open to new experiences.