The Best Things to Do in Pennsylvania

The ultimate bucket list of things to do in Pennsylvania!

Believe it or not, this is in Pennsylvania!

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The Pennsylvania Bucket List

As a NY native, I have a list of all the places in NY state I want to visit some day. So I decided as I’m checking things off, why not share my New York State Bucket List with you, so you can check them off too?!

I then realized, as a “2 minutes away from the PA state line” native, that I also have a bucket list of things to do in Pennsylvania. So hey! Why not share that one too!

My TWO Pennsylvania Lists:

I didn’t have quite as many ideas for my PA list, so I had to do a little more research. And as I did, I discovered that PA is weird. I mean in a good way. At least, in a sort of charming, odd but acceptable, quirky sort of way.

I found so many fun things to do in Pennsylvania, that I didn’t know if I could really qualify them as “bucket list worthy,” but they really just couldn’t be left off.

So, I have for you not one, but two lists!

  • First, my Pennsylvania bucket list!

  • And second, my list of quirky roadside oddities you’ll find throughout the state.

So buckle up. It’s time for a road trip through the great state of Pennsylvania!

The Pennsylvania Bucket List

(west to east, from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia)

This map was made with Wanderlog, a travel planner on iOS and Android

See the Pittsburgh skyline at night


The Pittsburgh skyline, seen from the Duquesne Incline viewing deck.

This is an oddly specific bucket list requirement. Because not only is it to see the Pittsburgh skyline. It’s to see the Pittsburgh skyline at night. And not only is it to see the Pittsburgh skyline at night. Ideally, it’s to see the Pittsburgh skyline for 2 seconds just as you come out of one of the tunnels (there are four) brightly lit against the dark sky!

It truly is a site.

Even if you don’t manage to time your tunnel driving right, it’s still a beautiful skyline to see. And a great spot to see it is from the Duquesne (pronounced Doo-Kane) Incline (listed next!). Seeing the Pittsburgh skyline at night is absolutely one of the best things to do in Pennsylvania!

Other things to do in Pittsburgh:

Ride the incline


The Duquesne Incline is one of the most unique things to do in Pennsylvania, that you really can’t find many other places in the world. And it comes with a pretty good view.

Step back in time and ride this trolley up the side of the mountain for a view overlooking the city of Pittsburgh. You can even pretend you’re in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

  • The incline costs $5 per person for a round trip, and is cash only.

The Mr. Rogers’ Trail

Western PA

There are absolutely so many things to do on the Mr. Rogers Trail! From sets and props, to amusement park rides, to one of the Rogers’ favorite vacation spots, these activities are fun for everyone!

The Big Mac Museum


Did you know there is a Big Mac Museum just outside of Pittsburgh?? Although I don’t know that “museum” is really the best word for this... Glorified McDonald’s might be more accurate. Either way, a giant Big Mac (a BIG Big Mac, if you will!), is pretty fun to take your picture next to.

Falling Water

Mill Run

Frank Lloyd Wright’s work can be found all over the country, but there is none so famous as Falling Water, the house nestled in the woods of Pennsylvania.

Come and see it for yourself; explore the house, woods and waterfalls, and maybe do some hiking in the beautiful area around Falling Water. This is definitely a highlight of the things to do in Pennsylvania.

Scripture Rocks


The woods outside the town of Brookville, PA are a unique area. As you hike through the 4.5 acres, you’ll come across boulders with hand carved inscriptions, marking the area where Douglas M. Stahlman lived in the woods for several years.

His story is… strange, to say the least. And what he left behind is just as strange. Mysterious inscriptions on the rocks in the woods… it seems like something you would find in a movie.

Today the area is known as Scripture Rocks, and you can visit to see them for yourselves and learn more about this unique story.

Meet Punxsutawney Phil


The small town of Punxsutawney is literally in the middle of nowhere. I honestly don’t think anyone would even know it existed (or how to spell it!) if it weren’t for its most famous resident—Phil!

I was in the area for a tournament a few years ago, so I got to meet Punxsutawney Phil and his family at their home in the library (isn’t he adorable?!). You’ll also find colorful groundhog statues all around the town.

The best time of year to visit is Feb. 2, for the festival of course (just hopefully you don’t get stuck reliving it the next day)!

  • Be sure to watch the movie Groundhog Day before you come!

Star Gazing

Cherry Springs State Park

Star gazing is usually something I picture people doing out west in the canyon lands, or way up north under the northern lights.

But all you really need is a big open space. So one of the things to do in Pennsylvania is to visit Cherry Springs State Park, one of the best places on the east coast for star gazing. You can rent a cabin and have your own personal view of the stars, or come to the public star gazing field for free.

The park is open all year, but the best time of year is actually the fall or winter, when the lower humidity gives you a clear view.

Historic Wellsboro


Wellsboro is an adorable small town with lots of nearby history and natural wonders (like the PA Grand Canyon—listed next!). It looks like the setting of a Hallmark movie, especially at Christmas time.

If you really want to feel like you’re in a Hallmark movie (or 19th century Europe) be sure to visit the first weekend of December for the Dickens of a Christmas festival. Just be sure to book your accommodations early!

Pennsylvania Grand Canyon

Tioga, Lycoming & Clinton Counties

Technically its name is Pine Creek Gorge, but it is more commonly referred to as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania (it’s such a big park, it’s located in three different counties!), and it’s one of the best things to do in Pennsylvania!

You can take a covered wagon ride into the gorge, or hike up to a breathtaking viewpoint, ride a bike along an old railroad trail, or raft down the river. The best time of year to visit is the fall, to see the gorge walls sprinkled with fall foliage.

Explore the Abandoned Turnpike


Yet another installment on this list of things to do in Pennsylvania that looks like a set from a movie (probably a movie I wouldn’t want to watch…). The Breezewood Abandoned Turnpike is a 13-mile stretch of highway that is no longer in use.

In 1968, they built an updated highway around all the tunnels to ease traffic congestion. So now you can ride your bike through an abandoned highway tunnel!

The land was given to Pike 2 Bike to become an official walking/biking trail. However, it never became a fully developed tourist attraction, so basically, you are allowed to explore the area at your own risk.

Eat at an “Office” Restaurant


I love that the opening montage of “The Office” is comprised of John Krasinki’s (Jim!) home video footage of his “research” trip to the actual town of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

If you’re a fan of The Office, you might be interested to know that many of the restaurants mentioned or used in the show are actual restaurants in Scranton. So when you’re on a Pennsylvania road trip and you’re passing through Scranton, stop to have lunch at one of the joints frequented by Michael and the gang. Just make sure it’s Alfredo’s Pizza Cafe (NOT Pizza by Alfredo!).

Gettysburg Battlefield


Gettysburg, PA is the site of the bloodiest battle in American history. The 6000 acre park has over a thousand monuments to soldiers who gave their lives in the American Civil War. It is a somber, yet peaceful place to explore, and is absolutely one of the best things to do in Pennsylvania.

Other things to do in Gettysburg:

  • Lots of museums and historical houses to visit in town

  • Sachs Covered Bridge—Pennsylvania’s most historic bridge

Take a Factory Tour

York County

York County is known as the “Snack Factory Capital of the World!” There are several snack factories offering tours (usually free!) to the public. Here are just a few:

Turkey Hill Experience


The Turkey Hill Experience is a great place to take the kids. It’s full of interactive games, selfie spots, and giant ice cream tubs. And free samples. Unlimited free samples (although the flavor choices are limited).

It’s definitely a place to bring families, but it’s still fun for a quick visit even without kids, especially if you’re going to make your own ice cream flavor (which I highly suggest!). You might even get a chance to taste test some new products in development and give them your opinion!

Hershey’s Chocolate World


Hershey’s Chocolate World is a mecca for all chocolate lovers. There’s a free tour, plus lots of other fun activities you can add on to your day. Not to mention the world’s largest store of Hershey products, including the world’s largest Hershey bar.

You can’t have a list of things to do in Pennsylvania, and not include Hershey’s Chocolate World!

Sight & Sound Theater


Before we visited, I wasn’t sure if I should include the Sight & Sound Theater on the list, because all of their shows are based on the Bible, which is a very niche genre. But after we went, YES I definitely need to include it, because it was such an experience!

The whole theater is beautifully designed to immerse you in another world, and the stage itself extends around the sides of the audience. The set design was really the star of the show, and there was so much going on all around in addition to the main scenes.

Even if you’re not familiar with biblical stories, if you enjoy theater, this is a great experience.

Tour Amish Country



You can take a covered bridge tour in Lancaster County.

Lancaster is a great place to base yourself for a trip to Pennsylvania. It is close enough to day trip to a lot of great places (like Hershey!), but also full of tourist spots itself.

Lancaster is also home to a lot of Amish (you will definitely pass horse & buggies on the road), and if you’re interested in learning how they live, there are multiple tour options for you here.

Here are just a few:

Other things to do in Lancaster:

Koziar’s Christmas Village


More than a million Christmas lights light up Koziar’s Christmas Village, which was named the best outdoor Christmas display in the world by Display World magazine!

What began as a family decorating for Christmas in 1948 has become a Christmas tradition for so many. Come experience the magic, the beginning of November through the beginning of January.

The Crayola Experience


I got a call from my cousin who lives near Easton yelling at me for not visiting him on our Pennsylvania road trip! He thought we had gone to the Crayola Experience and didn’t visit him!

I said… No, we didn’t go to the Crayola Experience, but dang it, now I have to add it to my list!! Plus, downtown Easton looks super cute too!

Other Things to Do in Easton:

The Pagoda


Atop a hill overlooking a town in south-central Pennsylvania is exactly where you would expect to find a 7-story pagoda, right?

Originally intended as a luxury resort, the Reading Pagoda is now owned by the city, and a site for many tourists to stop.

It is (with good reason) a popular spot for sunset. Just know that the road to get there is very twisty-turny, and that you will probably have to share your view with a lot of other people.

Other Things to do in Reading:

Valley Forge National Park

King of Prussia

Pennsylvania is home to many sites of historical significance, dating all the way back to the very beginning of the United States. Valley Forge is a 3500 acre park that pays tribute to George Washington’s Continental Army, who camped here from December 1777-June 1778 during the Revolutionary War.

The army essentially built a make-shift town to winter in, the residents of which included women and children. You can visit the reconstructed cabins that the soldiers lived in during the harsh and infamous winter.

  • To get yourself more interested in the historical context of Valley Forge, watch the musical Hamilton on Disney+!

Independence Hall/Liberty Bell


Another historically significant site in Pennsylvania is the city of Philadelphia, which at one point was the capital of the U.S. There are so many things to see in the city, but the two main historical sites are the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, both of which are free to visit.

  • Be sure to watch National Treasure (and Night at the Museum) before you come!

  • Also watch Hamilton, if you haven’t already watched it for Valley Forge.

Other things to do in Philly:

Eat a Philly Cheesesteak


We got our cheesesteak’s at Sonny’s.

Pat’s King of Steak’s and Geno’s Steaks are the two (there’s always two!) Philly eateries that claim invention of the cheesesteak. Of course, when we were visiting, we ran out of time and went to the closest one—Sonny’s (not the greatest, in my opinion).

Definitely check out the originals when you’re there. Then you can pick a side. But let’s be real, there’s no end to cheesesteak options around the city of Philly.

Pennsylvania Roadside Oddities

When I was researching the best things to do in Pennsylvania, I came across an article of all the roadside oddities you can find throughout the state.

This is the type of stuff I expect to see out west, on Route 66, but here it is in good old Pennsylvania.

From the fun and whimsical to the corny, to the downright weird, here are some entertaining things you can look out for on your Pennsylvania road trip.

Trip map created with Wanderlog, an itinerary planner on iOS and Android

Schaefer’s Auto Art


According to Ironman, “Everyone needs a hobby.”

As for this guy, he decided to start making sculptures out of old car parts.

Then he put them out on display in his front yard.

Then he made more.

It’s now known as Schaefer’s Auto Art. There’s a small pull off spot to park in front of the yard, and then you can get out and explore all of the unique junk yard sculptures!

PennDot Roadside Sculpture Garden


We used to drive to Meadville all the time to visit relatives. On one of these excursions, I noticed that a giant flower had been erected, made out of recycled street signs.

The next time we were there, the rose had grown into a whole garden of street sign flowers! So the next time, we came prepared with our disposable camera!

And it’s just kept growing! All along Highway 19 in front of the PennDot facilities you can see a whole town of sculptures made out of recycled road signs now known as the PennDot Roadside Sculpture Garden.

Flying Saucer


There’s not much to see in the tiny town of Mars, PA (near Pittsburgh), but…there is a flying saucer.

Because, I mean, if my town was named after a planet, I would definitely install an UFO sculpture too.

They even have a festival for the New Year on Mars!

Giant Coffee Pot


Me trying to get a cup of coffee from the pot…

Back in the day when people road tripped with paper maps and no internet, the key to catching their attention was to build an 18-ft coffee pot shaped restaurant.

Unfortunately the Bedford Coffee Pot is empty today, so there’s no chance of getting a “Gilmore” sized cup of coffee.

But luckily the building itself has been saved from destruction, and moved to the entrance of the local fairgrounds, where you can pull over and get your insta picture.

Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum

(& Candy Emporium)


You know how you have a favorite animal (penguins!)? And then people start buying you everything they see with that animal (penguins!)? And then you turn around and your house has been overtaken by said animal (penguins!) and you don’t even have any room left to sit?

Obviously the solution is to turn your collection into a museum.

That’s exactly what Mr. Ed did with his elephant collection. And obviously from there the next step is to start selling peanuts. And then fudge. And then every candy imaginable.

And then bacon flavored candy canes.

Mr. Ed’s Elephant Emporium is the quintessential roadside stop, with tacky souvenirs, sugary snacks, and, well, elephants.

Haines Shoe House


There was an old lady who lived in a shoe… perhaps it was this 25-ft, 5-story shoe…

The actual story is simply that a wealthy shoe factory owner had it built to advertise… shoes.

Today you can tour the inside of the Haines Shoe House and grab an ice cream at the shop inside.

Fork in the Road


In “The Muppet Movie,” Kermit tells Fozzie to turn left if he comes to a fork in the road. So Fozzie sees a fork in the road… and turns left. Kermit looks up from his map and says simply, “I don’t believe that…”

Well, you know, somebody had to do it. Somebody had to find a place where the road forks, and put an actual fork in the road.

And that somebody chose the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania.

It’s not far from Reading, PA, so if you stop to see the Pagoda, maybe you will also drive 20 minutes out of town past the cow fields that smell like manure to photograph the fork. And then drive 20 minutes back past the cow fields that smell like manure (#worthit).

Any more ideas?

So there you have my list(s) of all the best things to do in Pennsylvania! Have any other ideas to add to the list? Be sure to mention them in the comments below!

Further Reading:

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