The Best Things to Do in Pennsylvania

The 25 Best Things to do in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is rich in history and cultural attractions and is home to iconic sites like Philadelphia’s Independence Hall and Gettysburg’s battlefields. It has a wealth of unique places to explore, from the big-city culture in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to quaint Amish farms and villages.

Tick off bucket list items like digging into a classic Philly cheesesteak or cheering on one of the many national sports teams, then enjoy a scenic hike at one of the picturesque state parks. You’ll find first-rate museums covering everything from history to art, while families will love the chocolate-themed Hersheypark amusement park!

Hit the road in Pennsylvania and explore some of the most charming small-town treasures or hop on a scenic railroad adventure. You can take advantage of the state’s four seasons of fun with a skiing vacation, while summer offers a chance to swim, kayak, and bask in the sunshine at Lake Erie.

This attraction-filled state has so many things to see and do that it can be difficult to narrow down the best of the best. So, we’ve compiled a list of top things to do in Pennsylvania, whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures, culture, or history! Make the most of your time in the Keystone State with this Pennsylvania bucket list.

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25 cool and unique things to do in Pennsylvania

1. Visit Independence National Historical Park & the Liberty Bell

Best Things to do in Pennsylvania: Independence National Historical Park & the Liberty Bell

Known as the birthplace of American democracy, you can’t visit Pennsylvania without touring Independence National Historical Park. Sitting at the site where many notable events took place, it boasts iconic attractions like the Liberty Bell Center, Independence Hall, Congress Hall, the National Constitution Center, and the Benjamin Franklin Museum

Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell are the most popular highlights here, as the Founding Fathers came together to sign the Declaration of Independence at Independence Hall in 1776. Just 11 years later, representatives met here to lay the framework for the US Constitution. 

Take a guided tour to learn more about its historical significance and see the famous Liberty Bell, which was used as a symbol of freedom. Next, tour Congress Hall, where George Washington was inaugurated as president, or see a restored courtroom at Old City Hall. History fans will also love visiting the Benjamin Franklin Museum, where you can browse fascinating exhibits and interactive displays that explore one of the country’s founding fathers. 

Within the historic district, you’ll also find some of Philadelphia’s finest green spaces, including the lawns at Washington Square. Sit on a bench and admire the landscaped area or pack a picnic and relax after walking in the footsteps of historical figures. 

2. Sample Treats at Reading Terminal Market

Fun Things to do in Pennsylvania: Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market is one of those must-do things when visiting Philadelphia, as it’s one of the best public markets in the entire United States. Dating back to 1893, it’s also one of the oldest and largest public markets in the nation!

Foodie fans will be in heaven with the wide array of different cuisines available here – from authentic Philly cheesesteaks and traditional Pennsylvania Dutch fare to exotic Asian and Middle Eastern dishes. Best of all, the food is all available from largely locally-owned, family-run stands. 

Within the food stalls, you’ll also find other unique items to browse, including handmade, imported crafts and fresh flowers as well as local produce and exotic meats and seafood. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to stroll the large food bazaar and check out its 80 unique merchants that include butchers, bakers, chocolatiers, and cheesemongers. 

When it’s time to dine, make sure to sample the soft pretzels made by Amish bakers at Miller’s Twist and tasty roast pork sandwiches once dubbed the “Best Sandwich in America” by the Travel Channel at DiNic’s. For something sweet, indulge in yeast-risen donuts at Beiler’s or the apple dumplings at the Dutch Eating Place

3. Walk the “Rocky” Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

What to do in Pennsylvania: Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Philadelphia Museum of Art might be most famous as the film location for the iconic Rocky scene. Head here, and you’ll find popular photo ops that celebrate the “Italian Stallion.” In fact, jogging up the 72 “Rocky Steps” to re-enact Stallone’s classic scene is a rite of passage in the City of Brotherly Love. 

Snap a photo of the Rocky Statue, which is dedicated to the film hero, then try your best to re-create the two-arms-raised salute as you soak up gorgeous views of the Philadelphia skyline. Once you’ve captured the perfect souvenir shot, step inside the Philadelphia Museum of Art to explore one of the largest art museums in the United States. 

Inside you’ll find expansive collections from across the globe, including notable Renaissance, American, and Impressionist art. Some of the most notable pieces include works from world-famous Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists like Renoir, Monet, Manet, Degas, and Cezanne in the New European galleries. 

Browse the dozens of period rooms, then marvel at a rare horse armor in the Arms and Armor gallery or learn about Philly’s role in US history in the American art collection. Also, don’t miss the golden statue “Diana” in the Great Stair Hall, the French medieval cloister, or the outdoor Sculpture Garden. 

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4. Learn About the History of Eastern State Penitentiary

Fun Things to do in Pennsylvania: Eastern State Penitentiary

Those searching for the most unique things to do in Pennsylvania can add Eastern State Penitentiary to their itinerary, as this site was once the most famous prison in the world. Today it stands in ruin, and you can explore its crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers and learn about its storied history through audio and guide-led tours. 

Its vaulted cells once held many of the most notorious lawbreakers in the United States, including “Slick Willie” Sutton and “Scarface” Al Capone. Step inside Al Capone’s actual cell to see how he spent his seven months here. His cell boasts fine furniture, beautiful rugs, tasteful paintings, and a fancy radio!

For an in-depth look at prison life, browse some of the museum’s exhibits that discuss the historic changes in the US criminal justice system. It highlights the disproportional impact port and disenfranchised communities have had in regards to laws, policing, and sentencing. 

If you’ve got the courage, Eastern State Penitentiary also offers Night Tours for a chance to see what the prison is like when the sun goes down. A seasonal favorite, at Halloween you can experience haunted houses and interactive performances at the prison.

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5. Take a Break at Shofuso Japanese House and Garden

What to do in Pennsylvania: Shofuso Japanese House and Garden
Image courtesy of Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia

Located in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park, Shofuso Japanese House and Garden is an oasis of serenity. This attraction reflects the history of Japanese culture in the city, featuring a traditional-style house and nationally-ranked garden that is perfect for when you need a break after an action-packed day in Philadelphia. 

There are beautiful landscapes that stretch for more than an acre here, as well as a koi fish pond that sits under a 75-year-old weeping cherry tree. A highlight of the site is the chance to step inside and tour the house, which is modeled on an early 17th-century temple guesthouse. 

It’s easily one of the most beautiful traditional Japanese gardens in all of North America. Moved from New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1958, the historic house and museum also features a tiered waterfall, a tea garden, and a courtyard garden leading to a bathhouse.  

Make sure to take the time to admire its collection of murals designed by the renowned Nihonga painter Hiroshi Senju. Donated in 2007, the 20 captivating murals were inspired by Shofuso’s waterfall and combines modern and traditional techniques.  

6. Taste the Best Philly Cheesesteaks in Philadelphia

What to do in Pennsylvania: Best Philly Cheesesteaks in Philadelphia

A cultural icon of Philadelphia, a Philly cheesesteak futures a long, crusty roll filled with thinly sliced ribeye beef and melted cheese. There are a lot of creative takes on the regional specialty sandwich, but classic toppings include sautéed onions, cooked mushrooms, ketchup, and sweet or hot peppers. 

One of the most notable spots to dig into the best Philly cheesesteaks is John’s Roast Pork, a favorite in South Philly for its crusty seeded roll from Carangi’s Bakery. With multiple locations, Tony Luke’s is another favorite, while Dalessandro’s Steaks and Hoagies consistently ranks high on “best of” lists. 

Serving Philly cheesesteaks since 1930, Pat’s King of Steaks is a historic joint that claims to have invented the famous sandwich. Another shop with a rich history, the mom-and-pop Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop has been serving cheesesteaks since 1949. It’s also popular for its milkshakes and ice cream sodas. 

Popular in Northeast Philly, Steve’s Prince of Steaks is beloved for its generous slabs of steak, while foodie fans flock to South Philly’s Philip’s Steaks for the Old Fashioned, a provolone cheesesteak with fresh tomatoes. If you like unique toppings, Rittenhouse Square’s Cleavers offers Sriracha aioli, blue cheese dressing, and onion rings. 

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7. Cheer on the Local Team

Best Things to do in Pennsylvania: Cheer on the Local Team

Pennsylvania is a dream for sports fans. The state is home to famous professional teams that represent hockey, football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. You’re spoiled for choice with live game action throughout the year in both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. 

Philadelphia is one of just a few cities with a professional franchise in five major league sports. Catch a heart-racing Philadelphia Flyers hockey match or a Philadelphia 76ers basketball game at the Wells Fargo Center, or head to the Lincoln Financial Center to tailgate at a Philadelphia Eagles football game. 

Don your favorite black and gold shirt and cheer on the Pittsburgh Steelers at the iconic Heinz Field or watch the Pittsburgh Penguins fight for another Stanley Cup at PPG Paints Arena. If you’re a baseball fan, don’t miss seeing the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia or the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park in Pittsburgh’s North Side. 

Soccer enthusiasts can catch the Philadelphia Union soccer team play at Subaru Park in Chester, just outside of Philadelphia. Nestled along the Delaware River waterfront, this venue has also hosted college football games and rugby championships. 

8. Experience History at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Pennsylvania Bucket List: Valley Forge National Historical Park

One of the most fascinating historic sites in the US, Valley Forge National Historical Park is the birthplace of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. Add this site to your Pennsylvania bucket list if you’re interested in history, as it features 18th-century monuments, buildings, exhibits, and living history enactments. 

Created to preserve our nation’s history, it features recreated huts staffed with interpreters through the summer months to help show what life was like at the Valley Forge Camp. You can also see the small two-story building that was once George Washington’s headquarters and was considered the “Pentagon” of its time. 

Head to Artillery Park to see the rows of cannons where Henry Knox and his artillery unit trained or follow George Washington’s footsteps on the Patriot Trails. Alternately, opt for a 90-minute trolley tour to experience the park and its highlights in a short amount of time. 

Valley Forge is also a great spot to stretch your legs, offering almost 30 miles of walking trails. Try your hand at fishing in the lakes filled with trout and catfish or hop on a bike and explore the park on two wheels. The 6.6-mile Joseph Plumb Martin passes many of the park’s most recognizable features. 

9. Experience Amish Culture in Lancaster County

Pennsylvania Things to do: Amish Culture in Lancaster County

To explore Pennsylvania’s Dutch country, add a visit to Lancaster to your charming vacation itinerary. Associated with the Amish community, this is a great place to take in the beautiful countryside while experiencing the Amish lifestyle. 

Start your day by picking up fresh produce and baked goods from the Lancaster Central Market, then learn about the history of the Pennsylvania Dutch at the Amish Farm and House. At this heritage museum, you can join guided house, bus, and farm tours to learn about the fascinating life of Lancaster’s Amish people, then ride an Amish scooter, and feed and pet farm animals!

Dutch Wonderland is another popular family-friendly attraction in Lancaster. It’s designed with small kids in mind and features roller coasters and water attractions. Kids will also love a tour of the Lancaster County farmland on a buggy ride, where you’ll get a glimpse of a real working Amish farm and explore the picturesque country roads. 

For a dose of culture, you can catch a live music concert, Broadway show, or comedy act at the American Music Theatre. Alternately, adults 21 and above can visit Lancaster Brewing Co., an award-winning local craft brewery that produces more than 30 specialty, seasonal, and year-round ales and lagers. 

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10. Browse the Bustling Lancaster Central Market

Cool Things to do in Pennsylvania: Lancaster Central Market

The oldest continuously operated public market in the United States, the Lancaster Central Market in Lancaster deserves a spot of its own as one of the top attractions in Pennsylvania. Dating back to 1730, it features more than 60 local vendors housed in the beautiful 1889 Market House home. 

Open three days a week (Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays), the market welcomes the surrounding community to browse the abundance of locally made products. A walk through its aisles reveals fresh produce grown in the local landscape, an array of prepared foods that represent the cultural diversity of the region, and locally sourced meat, poultry, and cheeses. 

You’ll be a part of living history when shopping at this unique market, as many of today’s stand holders have been “on market” since the early 1900s. Come early to discover its selection of fresh-baked desserts and bread, or pick up non-food-related items such as flowers and locally made crafts. 

Some of the highlights at the market include Amish Family Recipes, which stocks its stand with jarred items that are Amish and Mennonite family traditions. Ric’s Bread sells artisanal bread, while The Goodie Shop offers freshly baked pastries and desserts. For Lancaster-style soft pretzels, head to Pretzels on Market. 

11. Take the Kids to Hersheypark

Fun Things to do in Pennsylvania: Hersheypark

Both kids and kids at heart will love Hersheypark, as the legendary candy-maker has created an exciting theme park for all ages. One of the top things to do in Pennsylvania for families, it has over 70 rides and attractions, including a collection of thrilling roller coasters. 

Get your adrenaline pumping on the Fahrenheit coaster, which plummets down on a 97-degree drop, or join the family on the Trailblazer coaster, which is the oldest in the park. On a hot day, nothing beats exploring the park’s Boardwalk Waterpark, which boasts fun water slides and water splash areas. 

This park has got something for everyone in the family, with its 11-acre ZooAmerica attraction included in your Hersheypark ticket. Meet the cuddly animals, then take a behind-the-scenes tour for a glimpse at habitats not open to the public. On the After Hours Tour, you can even feed otters and bears, touch a reptile, and hold a bird of prey. 

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, don’t miss Hershey’s Chocolate World. You can take a free Chocolate Tour and visit the one-of-a-kind Create Your Own Candy Attraction. A highlight for many, you can also pick up gifts and souvenirs or sample world-famous milkshakes and bakery treats at the world’s largest Hershey’s store. 

12. Go on a Safari Ride at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park

One of those must-do things in Pennsylvania if you’re an animal lover, Lake Tobias Wildlife Park is a 150-acre wildlife park and zoo. Located in Central Pennsylvania, it features fun family activities and animal attractions for all ages, with wildlife habitats to see giraffes, tigers, zebras, baboons, ostriches, lions, kangaroos, and more. 

After you roam the many wildlife habitats, ride one of their thrilling Safari Tours for the chance to hand-feed wildlife such as bison, water buffalo, yak, eland, and Watusi. The animals will stroll alongside you in the open-air cruisers as knowledgeable tour guides share educational tidbits about the resident species. 

Kids will love the park’s hands-on experiences, including the Baby Animal Exhibits, where you’ll get to meet the Baby Animal Crew that helps care for littles that have been rejected by the mother. For all things scaly and slithery, the Reptiles and Exotics section offers educational presentations where you can touch an alligator or slide your hand across a python. 

Meeting the resident giraffes, Spike, Bakari, and Tucker is a highlight of most when visiting Lake Tobias Wildlife Park! Watch them roam in their pasture, then climb the 80-foot-tall observation deck for a chance to feed the tall mammals special food right out of your hand. 

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13. Browse Artifacts at the State Museum of Pennsylvania

Located in the state capital of Harrisburg, the State Museum of Pennsylvania is one of the top attractions in the state. It’s one of the coolest things to do in Pennsylvania if you love history, offering four floors full of fascinating artifacts, a planetarium, and a hands-on activity area for kids. 

Start your journey on the 1st floor Memorial Hall, and marvel at the large bronze statue of Pennsylvania’s founder William Penn. On this floor, you’ll also find over 350 collection items and can learn how Pennsylvania has influenced the United States through notable people, places, and events. 

Kids will love the Village Square, a replica streetscape with historic facades that were typical of 19th-century Pennsylvania and its towns and villages. Next, the 2nd floor covers Native American cultures and excavations done by archaeologists and a section on Transportation & Industry. The Pennsylvania Turnpike exhibit showcases America’s first superhighway.

Also on the 2nd floor is a collection of artifacts, objects, uniforms, and weapons from Pennsylvania’s infantry that highlights the Commonwealth’s Civil War in Pennsylvania. The 3rd floor houses some of the most popular exhibits, including the Mammal Hall with its true-to-life dioramas of rare Pennsylvania mammals and the 10,000-year-old Marshalls Creek Mastodon, one of the most complete specimens of its kind in North America. 

14. See Historic Locomotives at Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Things to do: Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

All aboard! The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg is a hotspot for train lovers, featuring real trains, historical displays, and interactive exhibits. In fact, it boasts one of the most significant collections of historic railroad artifacts in the world. 

This fascinating museum is home to 100 locomotives and railroad cars from the mid-19th and 20th centuries, as well as operating model train displays. Not only will you learn more about the history of the train industry, but you can marvel at vintage woodturners, massive steam, and electric-powered and diesel engines. 

It’s also full of fun experiences, where you can climb aboard a caboose, admire a 62-ton locomotive from underneath, and take a simulated run in a real freight locomotive cab. There’s even a section for kids, as the Stewart Junction railway education center features hands-on activities and displays. 

Browse the museum to see the captivating stories of the men and women who once built, operated, and traveled on the railroads. It’s an insightful glimpse into the rich history of the transportation industry that transformed the United States. Other top train-related attractions are nearby, including the Strasburg Rail Road, National Toy Train Museum, and Choo Choo Barn

15. Explore the Charming Town of Jim Thorpe

Cool Things to do in Pennsylvania: Town of Jim Thorpe

Escape to the Poconos in the northeastern region and visit Jim Thorpe, a small town with the nickname the “Switzerland of Pennsylvania.” With a historic downtown, historic Victorian architecture, and scenic hiking opportunities, it’s is easily one of the most charming towns in Pennsylvania!

Explore the Old Mauch Chunk Historic District to see its buildings listed on the National Historic Register, then hop on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway for a leisurely excursion along the Lehigh River. History buffs interested in learning about the town’s coal mining history should browse the cultural artifacts and exhibits at the Mauch Chunk Museum and Cultural Center

The Asa Packer Mansion is another notable landmark, which offers guided tours of the historic house and its lavish rooms. If you’re feeling brave, The Old Jail Museum dives into the history of past inmates and allows you to wander the cells and warden’s quarters of the former two-story jailhouse.  

Jim Thorpe is bordered by Lehigh Gorge State Park, which features scenic hiking and biking trails, whitewater rafting excursions, and waterfall views. If you’ve got shopping in mind, head to one of the most unique shopping destinations in Pennsylvania, the World’s Largest General Store.  

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16. Go Underground at Penn’s Cave

Unique Things to do in Pennsylvania: Penn’s Cave
Images courtesy of Penn’s Cave & Wildlife Park

One of the coolest things to do in Pennsylvania if you love adventure, Penn’s Cave & Wildlife Park is the only all-water cavern and farm-nature park in the United States. It’s a unique experience that can be enjoyed by the whole family, where you’ll have the chance to explore a mysterious cavern on a thrilling boat tour. 

Follow the paved inclined path down to the cave, which features spectacular stalactites and stalagmites. They’re often in mysteriously familiar shapes, such as “The Statue of Liberty” and “The Garden of the Gods.” Next, hop in the flat-bottom motorboat and glide through the all-water limestone cavern on the fully guided tour through the passageways. 

Along the way, you’ll learn how the dripping water has sculpted the fascinating flowstone, curtains, cascades, and draperies, which sit against the large pillars and columns. If you want more excitement, combine your underground cavern tour with a 90-minute Farm-Nature-Wildlife Tour through the grazing pastures, mountain trails, and forests. 

The park’s 1,600 acres offer a glimpse of native North American animals such as wolves, bison, Texas longhorn cattle, foxes, bears, elk, whitetail deer, mustangs, bighorn sheep, and mountain lions. You can also walk through the butterfly garden to see a collection of beautiful winged creatures.

17. Take a Road Trip on Pennsylvania Route 6

Must do things in Pennsylvania: Road Trip on Pennsylvania Route 6

Pack your snacks and supplies and hit the road for a scenic road trip through Pennsylvania. Named by National Geographic as one of “America’s most scenic drives,” US Route 6 offers 400 miles of charming villages, iconic attractions, and stunning natural scenery. 

While it actually stretches from Long Beach, California to Provincetown, Massachusetts, the part that winds through northern Pennsylvania is one of the best. Along the drive, you can stop at must-see sites, including the lush Pocono Mountains and Endless Mountains, then make your way to the state’s quaint small towns. 

Start in Erie and stop at Allegheny National Forest for incredible vistas of Willow Bay, Rimrock, and Kinzua Point. Hiking trails are abundant here, while the Longhouse National Scenic Byway is particularly spectacular in the fall. Offering panoramic aerial views over the Kinzua Gorge, the Kinzua Sky Walk is a top attraction nearby. 

Located in Tioga State Forest, Pine Creek Gorge is another must-see. Dubbed the “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania,” it stretches for 45 miles and is 1,500 feet deep. Colton Point State Park and Leonard Harrison State Park are the most popular lookout points to capture views. 

18. See Re-Enactments at Gettysburg National Military Park

Best Things to do in Pennsylvania: Gettysburg National Military Park

If you’re interested in history, chances are you’ve heard of Gettysburg and already have it on your Pennsylvania bucket list. Filled with can’t-miss attractions and Civil War-focused sites, a visit to Gettysburg National Military Park should be at the top of your Gettysburg itinerary. 

The 6,000-acre park is famous for being the place where the Confederate troops clashed with Union soldiers for three days in 1863, which resulted in a victory for the North. Today, you can take a self-guided or in-depth guided tour and learn about the Civil War through its special exhibits and historical re-enactments.

Start your journey at the visitor center, which gives an introduction to the Battle of Gettysburg. Devils Den is one of the most significant sites at the park’s battlefield, featuring large boulders that Union troops used as cover when fighting. It’s here where you can also visit the popular Little Round Top overlook and its observation deck. 

Make time to visit the David Wills House, the building where Lincoln finalized his famous Gettysburg Address. You can also pay your respects at the Soldier’s National Cemetery, where 7,000 individuals are buried and Lincoln gave his iconic speech.

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19. Admire Architecture at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater

Unique Things to do in Pennsylvania: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater

Even if you’re not interested in architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater makes for a delightful day trip. Located about a 1.5-hour drive outside of Pittsburgh, this 1935 masterpiece was designed as a modern vacation home that is built over a waterfall. 

Take a tour of the unique property and explore the furnished spaces. It’s so special that it’s only one of eight Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the United States designated on the UNESCO World Heritage list. 

Set in the woods with a mountain stream nearby, it was inspired by the natural features of the woodland where it was built. On the one-hour Guided Architectural Tour, you’ll walk through the forested grounds and explore the house from both the interior and outdoor terraces and learn about his connection with the dramatic landscape. 

If you want a deeper insight into the architectural treasure, sign up for one of their specially designed tours. In addition to a Brunch Tour with private, behind-the-scenes access to the interior, there’s also a Sunset Dinner Tour option and a Forest-to-Table Dinner with after-hours access and a seasonal culinary experience. 

20. Go Whitewater Rafting at Ohiopyle State Park

Must do things in Pennsylvania: Whitewater Rafting at Ohiopyle State Park

Thrill-seekers looking for an adrenaline rush can add Ohiopyle State Park to their Pennsylvania bucket list. Even if you’re not looking for a heart-racing adventure, it’s worth a visit to this 20,500-acre park to experience some of the state’s most impressive natural beauty. 

Passing through the park is the rushing waters of the Youghiogheny River Gorge, which acts as a centerpiece for the picturesque town of Ohiopyle. Located on the southern reaches of the Laurel Ridge, it’s here that you’ll have access to some of the best whitewater boating in the eastern United States. 

Conquer the fast-flowing river on an exciting adventure, which ranges from Class III to IV waters. There are plenty of experienced outfitters that offer fully-guided rafting tours and prepare you before putting you in the river. Alternately, you can also take a family-friendly trip on the Middle Yough, which offers nine miles of gentle rapids. 

If you prefer to enjoy views of the water from above, hop on a bike and cruise the Great Allegheny Passage at the Ohiopyle trailhead. The 11-mile ride follows the banks of the Youghiogheny River and connects to the town of Confluence. Hiking fans can also add the scenic Laurel Highlands trail or a trip to nearby Ohiopyle Falls to their itinerary. 

21. Explore the Botanical Gardens at Phipps Conservatory

Best Things to do in Pennsylvania: Botanical Gardens at Phipps Conservatory
Images courtesy of Paul Weigman

Set in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is one of the top things to do in Pennsylvania. Encompassing 15 acres, it features a 14-room glasshouse and 23 distinct garden areas that appeal to nature lovers. 

Head to Schenley Park to see this green oasis, which features a collection of ever-changing displays in its exquisite 1893 glasshouse. Some of the highlights here include the renowned orchid collection, butterfly gardens, and its picture-perfect display of bonsais. 

See the Joshua tree and saguaro desert plants, then browse the tropical and subtropical ferns. There’s a Tropical Fruit and Spice Room that features exotic items like lychee, dragon fruit, and prickly apple, while the outdoor gardens showcase eye-catching beauties like the springtime magnolia blooms and striking weeping beach tree. 

After admiring the ornate orchids and frilly ferns, continue on to the Tropical Forest Conservatory and Center for Sustainable Landscapes, one of the greenest buildings in the world. You can check the garden’s official calendar for unique events held throughout the year, including seasonal flower shows and exhibits.

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22. See Pop Art in the Andy Warhol Museum

Pennsylvania Things to do: See Pop Art in the Andy Warhol Museum

One of the most comprehensive single-artist museums in the world, The Andy Warhol Museum is the largest in North America. A must-see for art lovers, this museum features thousands of paintings, drawings, sculptures, and photographs from the iconic American artist.  

Browse the museum’s five floors of exhibits for a fascinating look at Warhol’s most captivating art. You’ll be immersed in all things Warhol here, as the museum admission includes all permanent and special exhibitions, daily film screenings, and daily gallery talks. 

The permanent collection holds the largest collection of Warhol art and archives in the world. It spans his work from the 1940s through his death in 1987. There’s also a permanent film and video gallery on the fourth floor. 

With its collection of 900 paintings, 2,000 works on paper, 4,000 photographs, and 100 sculptures, some of the highlights include celebrity portraits of Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe, as well as the famed Campbell’s Soup Cans. Since the museum is a global resource, you’ll always see something new each time you visit.

The museum is located in Pittsburgh, the place of Andy Warhol’s birth. Before you leave, visit the on-site Warhol Store to browse its extensive range of Warhol-inspired products, including reproduction prints, t-shirts, and gifts.

23. See Fossil Exhibits at Carnegie Museum of Natural History

One of four Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History is one of the top history museums in the United States. Not only can you see one of the world’s best dinosaur displays, but it also features a hall of minerals and gems and a working paleontology lab. 

Immerse yourself in all things history at this fascinating museum, which captivates visitors with its popular “Dinosaurs in Their Time” exhibit. You can see real fossils from the Mesozoic Era and over 200 other artifacts, as well as specimens, casts, and artistic representations of prehistoric animals. 

You can also explore Native American and Ancient Egyptian cultures at the Alcoa Foundation Hall of American Indians and the Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt. If you’re interested in animals, don’t miss the Halls of North American Wildlife, African Wildlife, and Bird Hall. 

After exploring the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, it’s worth strolling over to the Carnegie Museum of Art next door. One of the first museums of contemporary art in the United States, it features over 34,000 pieces, from art and photography to design from the 19th century to the present. 

24. Walk the Riverfront at Three Rivers Heritage Trail

Unique Things to do in Pennsylvania: Three Rivers Heritage Trail

If you’re visiting Pittsburgh, one of the top things to do in the city is to stroll the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. The multi-use riverfront trail system follows the scenic banks of the three rivers, accessing some of the city’s best neighborhoods and local attractions. 

The 24-mile pedestrian trail runs along both sides of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers, offering spectacular views of the city. It’s a public route for cyclists, walkers, runners, and even rollerbladers, connecting to its parks, museums, sports stadiums, and public art. 

Filled with cultural and recreational opportunities, the riverfront trail is also dotted with interpretive signs that cover a range of topics. Stop to learn more about Pennsylvania’s second-largest city, with topics covering everything from prominent historical figures like Lewis and Clark to the rise of the city’s industries and railroads.

There are three main sections of the Heritage Trail, the Downtown/Strip district, the North Side, and the South Side. A stroll on the North Side leads to the Andy Warhol Museum, PNC Park, Heinz Field, while the downtown section connects to Point State Park, where you can enjoy stunning views of where the three rivers converge. 

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25. Stroll the Beach at Presque Isle State Park

Presque Isle State Park offers a long list of recreational opportunities, including sunbathing, swimming, boating, fishing, and hiking. The 3,200-acre sandy peninsula arches into Lake Erie and is considered a summer playground for Erie residents. 

Home to 13 beaches, each with its own unique character, it’s one of the most visited state parks in Pennsylvania for a reason. In warmer months, you’re sure to find a great stretch of sand to bring the entire family, with plenty of waves for making a splash in the water. 

Outdoor recreation is endless, with fishing in Lake Erie and kayaking its shallow ponds and beautiful bays popular warm-weather activities. If you prefer to stay on dry land, the park also boasts 11 miles of hiking trails. If you stay long enough to see the sunset over the lake, Sunset Point is a popular spot to capture the views. 

It’s also one of the coolest things to do in Pennsylvania if you’re a nature lover, as this National Natural Landmark is a favorite spot for migrating birds. Due to its unique habitats, you’ll find over 300 different types of birds as well as endangered, threatened, and rare species here. 

There you have it! The 25 best things to do in Pennsylvania. What’s your favorite thing to do in The Keystone State?

Planning a trip to Pennsylvania? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!


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6 months ago

What about Longwood Gardens?

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