The “Keystone State” is a favorite destination for history buffs and avid explorers looking to discover Amish culture, Pittsburgh’s steel past, and Philadelphia’s landmarks. But there’s far more to Pennsylvania (PA) sightseeing than the Amish and steel. There are over a hundred state parks and more than a dozen national parks. This natural side of PA holds treasures like rushing waterfalls and rolling forest-covered mountains.
Pennsylvania Historical Sites
Pennsylvania is where the United States of America was founded in 1776. There are so many historical places spread around the state, from Pittsburg to Harrisburg to Philadelphia and all everything in-between. While the largest city, Philly, gets most of the visitors given its size, as well as Lancaster with its rich Amish heritage, there’s a lot to see in off-the-beaten-track destinations as well.
Guide to Tourist Attractions in Pennsylvania
Every U.S. state has its own unique sightseeing highlights, and Pennsylvania is no exception. This state is full of historical and architectural sites, natural wonders, and fun activities for tourists and locals alike.
When visiting “The Keystone State”, be sure to get the most out of your trip by visiting a variety of cities and sites. No matter what you’re interested in, there is sure to be something for you in this state full of history and culture.
Popular Destinations in PA
Destinations across the state of Pennsylvania provide plenty for visitors to see and do. Naturally, the largest cities as well as the capital city always attract a lot of history buffs and sightseers. However, there are plenty of charming small towns and regions worth uncovering.
Some of the best destinations for tourism include Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg.
Philadelphia, aka Philly, is the largest city in Pennsylvania, as well as the nation’s first World Heritage City. In 2020 it boasted a population of 1.582 million residents. The “City of Brotherly Love” is best known for its historical significance, as this is where the Founding Fathers progressed in the creation of the United States.
If you want to make the most of your visit, be sure to stroll the charming cobblestone streets of “Old City”. It’s one of Philly’s many historical places to discover.
Pittsburgh is a major hub for business, manufacturing, and technology. Known as the “Steel City”, this metropolis has become a popular tourist destination due to its many businesses and close proximity to nature.
Overlooking Downtown Pittsburgh is a sight to behold. Here, you’ll witness the confluence of the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River, which together create the Ohio River. It’s as picturesque of a city as any in PA.
Harrisburg is a smaller place, yet also the capital city of Pennsylvania. It’s incredibly pertinent to the state’s history, as well as present-day politics.
Historic downtown Harrisburg has a variety of monuments and buildings with unique stories. When visiting, be sure to check out the Pennsylvania State Capitol, Broad Street Market, and Pride of the Susquehanna Riverboat. In addition to the downtown area specifically, the larger Harrisburg area is packed with other historical sites that have made it a popular tourist destination.
In addition to these major cities in Pennsylvania, a common sightseeing destination is the Poconos. This area is a major natural tourist attraction. Found in the eastern region of PA, the Pocono Mountains include several small towns, as well as lakes, resorts, and hiking trails.
It’s of the top places to get away and spend time in gorgeous nature. The Poconos are the perfect backdrop for a relaxed camping trip, or you can get a bit more adventurous with activities like paintball, horseback riding, ziplining, and ATV riding.
Within the Poconos, Jim Thorpe is a small town that has become growingly popular among tourists. Named after the famous Native American athlete Jim Thorpe, it’s full of charming streets and outdoor recreation activities. Its features have given it the title the “Switzerland of America”.
Other charming towns to base your Poconos holiday in include Lehigh and East Stroudsburg.
A sweet tourism highlight is the quaint town of Hershey, in Central Pennsylvania. In 2020 14,941 people called “The Sweetest Place on Earth” home.
It’s most famous for Hershey’s Chocolate World, which gives visitors a unique look into the production of Hershey’s chocolate products. Learn how chocolate is produced through an interactive tour, then taste the result yourself with some product samples. There is also an on-site food hall where guests can enjoy Hershey’s-inspired milkshakes, s’mores, and bakery treats.
Hershey Park is known as “where fun meets chocolate”. Milton Hershey founded this theme park in Hershey, Pennsylvania, in 1906. Today, it offers roller coasters, kids’ activities, and chocolate-themed entertainment and events that are fun for the whole family.
Historical Places in PA
Pennsylvania has a rich history that has been integral throughout the founding and development of the United States. The Declaration of Independence, Gettysburg Address, and United States Constitution, three of the nation’s most important documents, were all written here.
Because of the many influential events that have taken place in Pennsylvania, this state is home to several relevant historical sites and museums.
Independence National Historical Park
Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia is perhaps the most famous historical site in the state. Independence Hall is where both The U.S. Constitution was drafted and the Declaration of Independence was signed. The Liberty Bell is also on display here.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the largest collections of art in the country. In addition to the many famous artworks chosen by Pennsylvania collectors and curators, the building itself is a point of interest for many visitors.
Gettysburg National Military Park
Gettysburg National Military Park is another important Pennsylvania historical site. The Battle of Gettysburg, a major turning point of the Civil War and the inspiration for Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, took place on this property. Today’s visitors can explore the battlegrounds and learn more about the property’s importance at the Museum and Visitor Center.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
The Carnegie Museum of Natural History is one of many museums in Pittsburgh. Its many expositions focus on dinosaurs, wildlife, and paleontology.
Fallingwater is an architectural masterpiece designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Located in Southwestern Pennsylvania, its visitors can explore the famous property through guided tours and special events.
Parks and Nature in PA
There is no shortage of parks and natural beauty in the state of Pennsylvania. Local state parks showcase more than 300,000 acres of nature in 124 different parks. The largest one is Pymatuning State Park, with more than 16,000 acres. There are more than a dozen national parks to discover.
Whether you want to enjoy a day spent hiking, camping, kayaking, or just relaxing in the great outdoors, you are sure to enjoy the following destinations.
Presque Isle State Park
Presque Isle State Park is a peninsula on the Northwest Pennsylvania coast that stretches into Lake Erie. Its beaches and waterfront access make it a popular place to take part in swimming, fishing, and boating.
Ohiopyle State Park
Ohiopyle State Park is the ideal spot to enjoy water activities. This park is in the southern Laurel Ridge area and includes the Youghiogheny River. Whitewater boating and natural waterslides are two unique activities visitors can enjoy here.
Cherry Springs State Park
Cherry Springs State Park in northern Pennsylvania is popular among astronomers in the area. The skies here are some of the darkest on the East Coast, as this Pennsylvania Wilds area does not have light pollution. The park also has hiking trails and is located near the Susquehannock State Forest.
Allegheny National Forest
Allegheny National Forest, found in northwestern Pennsylvania, is the only national forest in the state. Its over 50,000 acres of forests include a part of the North Country National Scenic Trail, as well as the Allegheny River.
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, within the Poconos region, is a popular place for nature lovers to visit and explore. This 70,000-acre area stretches across parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and it also includes about 20 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Guests often take part in fishing, camping, and hunting here.
Factory Tours in PA
In addition to traditional tourist destinations across Pennsylvania, factory tours offer a more interactive and beside-the-scenes look at some of the state’s most loved local products and exports.
Tour places like the aforementioned Hershey Chocolate World, where they make all those delectable chocolate bars and sweets. On top of that, there’s a slew of other companies to tour, from famous pretzel and potato chip makers to the ever-loved Tastykake.
The Yuengling Brewery, located in Pottsville, is America’s Oldest Brewery. The facility offers free tours of the manufacturing center, teaching guests how Yuengling beers are created and distributed. There is also a museum and gift shop, and the company hosts in-house tastings and other events throughout the year.
Pennsylvania is full of sightseeing opportunities just waiting to be explored. Have a terrific time and remember, “you’ve got a friend in Pennsylvania”.