Pittsburgh is one of Pennsylvania's most charming cities, located at the junction of three rivers in the state's western Allegheny foothills. The city serves as a great launching-off point for exploring some of central Pennsylvania's most iconic natural wonders, including the stunning Allegheny National Forest, the picturesque Laurel Highlands, and the beautiful Pine Creek Gorge, commonly known as Pennsylvania's Grand Canyon. Fallingwater preserves one of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright's crowning architectural achievements, while Seven Springs Mountain Resort offers some of the state's best skiing experiences. Weekend trippers can also easily get to some of the East Coast's top destinations within a few hours, including the lovely cities of Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
1.The Laurel Highlands
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The Laurel Highlands are one of western Pennsylvania's most beautiful natural regions, located approximately an hour southeast of Pittsburgh's downtown district. The region, which stretches through Fayette, Cambria, and Somerset County, is home to some of Pennsylvania's highest elevations, including majestic Mount Davis, reaching 3,213 feet above sea level. Visitors flock to the region throughout the year for outdoor recreational opportunities, including hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, wildlife watching, and skiing. Delightful outdoor destinations like Ohiopyle State Park showcase stunning waterfalls like Cucumber and Ohiopyle Falls, which can be reached via hiking trail and make for great nature photography opportunities. Biking is popular along the Great Allegheny Passage, while amazing hiking opportunities are offered along the Laurel Highlands Trail. Visitors can also explore architectural wonders like Fallingwater or relax in style at the stunning Seven Springs Mountain Resort.
2.The Allegheny National Forest
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The Allegheny National Forest is a lovely national forest located just an hour and a half north of Pittsburgh, spanning more than 513,000 acres throughout northwestern Pennsylvania. The forest, which was established in 1923, is the state's only protected national forest, located within the gorgeous Appalachian Mountains foothills near the famed oil region of Titusville. Visitors can explore the forest's three beautiful units, which include the protected Allegheny Wild and Scenic River, known for its excellent fishing, canoeing, and boating opportunities and the landmark Kinzua Dam. The Allegheny Reservoir offers seasonal swimming beaches, day-use picnic sites, and a fishing pier, while the Clarion Wild and Scenic River is home to hunting grounds and hiking areas.
Baltimore is a lively harbor town located on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay, located approximately four hours from Pittsburgh, making it a great weekend trip destination. The city is home to a plethora of family-friendly attractions, including the vibrant Inner Harbor district, which features attractions like the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum, the Maryland Science Center, the National Aquarium, and the Top of the World Observation Deck. Bustling Power Plant Live! center is home to the acclaimed Port Discovery children's museum, along with a wide variety of dining and nightlife destinations. The Baltimore Ravens baseball team play at iconic Camden Yards, while American history is preserved at Fort McHenry, the birthplace of United States national anthem "The Star-Spangled Banner." Chesapeake blue crabs and locally-produced Old Bay seasoning are staples of the city's culinary scene, which is home to many acclaimed seafood restaurants.
4.Beaver Creek State Park
Beaver Creek State Park is a lovely Ohio state park near the city of East Liverpool, located on the banks of its eponymous creek. The 2,722-acre park is one of Ohio's most scenic state parks, located within the foothills of the rolling Appalachian Mountains as they meander through Columbiana County. Visitors can explore the park's picturesque wilderness and enjoy year-round opportunities for fishing, boating, hiking, and hunting. Preserved historic sites within the park include remains of the Sandy and Beaver Canal, which transported goods throughout the 19th century. 1837 Gaston's Mill has been fully restored to its historic condition, open to the public as a living history museum showcasing seasonal displays of antique milling equipment. A recreation Pioneer Village also showcases 19th-century buildings like a general store, blacksmith shop, log cabin, and one-room schoolhouse.
12021 Echo Dell Rd, East Liverpool, OH 43920, Phone: 330-385-3091
Chautauqua County is one of New York State's most renowned cultural destinations, known as a leading center for the arts and history for more than a century and a half. The county is the home of the Chautauqua Institution, which spurred a national lecture and educational movement in the 19th century. Lovely county seat Jamestown is known as the hometown of famed comedian Lucille Ball, home to the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum, which honors the I Love Lucy duo's lives and legacy. Visitors can explore the historic attractions of the Dunkirk Lighthouse, Park, and Veterans Museum, embark on steamship adventures aboard the Chautauqua Belle, or taste delicious craft brews at popular microbrewery Southern Tier Brewing Company. The region is also known as a top wine growing destination, home to boutique wineries and the Grape Discovery Center, which showcases winemaking exhibits. Each year, the city hosts the Gerry Rodeo, the oldest consecutive rodeo east of the Mississippi River. Nearby, Chautauqua Lake offers delightful fishing, boating, and outdoor recreational opportunities.
Cleveland is a gorgeous Ohio city located along Lake Erie's southern shoreline, named in honor of General Moses Cleaveland. The city is best known as the home of the famed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which showcases exhibits on rock music history and holds an annual ceremony honoring rock music's biggest names. The city's downtown district is populated with stunning architecture connected to the City Beautiful movement, including the picturesque Cleveland Mall greenway and pedestrian mall. Visitors can see performances at the city's famed Playhouse Square, one of the largest performing arts complexes in the United States, explore the beautiful green chain of parks connected by the Cleveland Metroparks system, or view American and world art exhibits at the renowned Cleveland Museum of Art.
Columbus is Ohio's charming capital city, home to the acclaimed Ohio State University, one of the largest public universities in the nation. The city is a sports lover's paradise, known around the country for its prestigious Ohio State Buckeyes collegiate football team, which is widely considered to be one of the best college football programs in the country. Family-friendly attractions include the award-winning COSI Science Center, one of the most acclaimed family science centers in the nation, which offers a massive campus full of science and technology-related exhibits. The Columbus Museum of Art is known for its collections of important European and American paintings, while the Columbus Zoo has been rated as the nation's best zoo by USA Travel Guide. Annual special events include the Ohio State Fair, one of the largest state fairs in the country.
8.Conneaut Lake Park
Conneaut Lake Park is a quaint amusement park in Conneaut Lake, located on the banks of the picturesque lake of the same name. The summer resort park was founded in 1892 as Exposition Park and is recognized today as one of America's most historic amusement parks. Visitors can ride the 1938 Blue Streak wooden coaster, constructed by Edward Vettel and recognized as one of the United States' oldest remaining coasters today. Classic midway rides also populate the park, including a paratrooper ride, a miniature railroad, a Ferris wheel, dodgem cars, a tilt-a-whirl, and one of the country's only remaining tumble bug rides. The Splash City water park is home to the Cliffhanger Falls water slide and the Connie Otter's Kiddie Cove children's water play area. 13 children's rides are also offered, along with fishing, swimming, and water skiing opportunities on Conneaut Lake.
12382 Center Ave, Conneaut Lake, PA 16316, Phone: 814-382-5115
Fallingwater, also known as the Kaufmann Residence, is one of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright's crowning achievements, located just 45 minutes southeast of Pittsburgh in Fayette County. The stunning residence was created as a weekend home for Lillian and Edgar Kaufmann of the Kaufmann's department store chain and is known for its unique cantilevered design directly above a waterfall landscape. Since 1963, the designated National Historic Landmark home has been open to the public as a living history museum, offering guided tours throughout the year. Today, it is considered to be one of the top examples of 20th-century American architecture in the world, named as the greatest American work of all time by the American Institute of Architects. Visitors can explore the home's 5,330-square-foot main house, which is known for its extensive outdoor terraces, or dine at the delicious Fallingwater Cafe, located within the estate's Visitor Center. Landscape hikes of nearby Bear Run are also offered throughout the year, along with a lecture series and summer concert series.
1491 Mill Run Rd, Mill Run, PA 15464, Phone: 724-329-8501
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Hartwood Acres is a charming 629-acre county park in Allegheny County, anchored around a gorgeous 16th-century Tudor mansion that was designed by Alfred Hopkins for Mary Flinn and John Lawrence in 1929. The mansion, which is located just 10 miles northeast of downtown Pittsburgh, has been converted into a living history museum today, showcasing a fantastic collection of 19th-century American and English antique furnishings. Mansion tours are offered daily with reservations. The estate's grounds are also open to the public throughout the year for free, featuring a plethora of lovely walking, hiking, bridle, and cross-country skiing trails and an off-leash dog run area. Public concerts are held throughout the summer months at the estate's outdoor amphitheater. Annual special events include the Allegheny County Music Festival.
11.McConnells Mill State Park
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McConnells Mill State Park is a gorgeous 2,546-acre state park that stretches throughout Perry and Slippery Rock Townships, anchored around a stunning scenic gorge, restored watermill, and covered bridge. The park, which is accessible via a winding roadway that meanders through massive boulders, is an excellent destination for hiking, home to an extensive trail system that is contained within the North County Trail. Visitors can hike to beautiful Hells Hollow Falls or view the stunning McConnells Mill Covered Bridge via the two-mile Kildoo Trail hiking loop. Two climbing and rappelling areas are offered for experienced rock climbers at Breakneck Bridge. White water rafting is popular on Slippery Rock Creek, which is also known as a top bass and trout fishing destination.
1761 McConnells Mill Rd, Portersville, PA 16051, Phone: 724-368-8091
Meadville is a lovely city located just 90 miles outside of Pittsburgh, home to the first permanent settlement in Pennsylvania's northwest region. The charming Crawford County city, which is nestled into the gorgeous French Creek Valley, played a significant role in the French and Indian War and was once a top lumber and iron production area in Pennsylvania. Today, it is known for its lovely historic district, which is home to attractions like the 1843 Baldwin Reynolds House, constructed by United States Supreme Court Justice Henry Baldwin and operated today as a museum honoring northwest Pennsylvania history and culture. During the holiday months, the home hosts the gorgeous Trees of Christmas celebration, overseen by the Meadville Garden Club. A replica of town founder David Mead's historic log cabin is also open for guided tours and educational programming. Lovely Diamond Park, which served as a militia drill grounds during the American Civil War, showcases beautiful grassy open spaces and monuments. Nearby, Conneaut Lake is home to family-friendly amusement rides, while the Erie National Wildlife Refuge and Pymatuning State Park offer excellent year-round outdoor recreational opportunities.
13.Monongahela National Forest
Monongahela National Forest is a stunning national forest in West Virginia's Allegheny Mountains, protecting more than 921,000 acres of gorgeous forest throughout the Potomac Highlands Region. The forest, which attracts over three million annual visitors, is a top outdoor recreational destination throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions, known for its excellent hiking, mountain biking, and horse riding opportunities. Visitors can explore delightful backcountry areas such as the Cranberry Wilderness Area and the Cranberry Backcountry as part of the forest's immense backwoods road and trail system. Converted rail trails include the 23-mile Glady to Durbin West Fork Railroad Trail. Pristine streams make for excellent fishing spots, while extensive wilderness areas offer excellent opportunities for hunting and trapping. Visitors can stay overnight at a number of developed campsites throughout the forest, many of which offer picnic areas and barbecue grills.
200 Sycamore St, Elkins, WV 26241, Phone: 304-636-1800
Moundsville is a quaint city in Marshall County, West Virginia, named in honor of the nearby indigenous Grave Creek Mound, constructed by the people of the Adena culture. Visitors can explore the National Historic Landmark archaeological site, which preserve one of the nation's largest conical burial grounds, and learn about area indigenous culture at the Delf Norona Museum. The West Virginia State Penitentiary, constructed in 1876 and closed in 1995, offers guided tours and overnight experiences, preserved as a living history museum. The unique Prabhupada's Palace of Gold, designed for the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, showcases ornate marble halls, rushing fountains, and lushly-landscaped gardens. Other attractions include the occult-centric Archive of the Afterlife, the ziplines and aerial experiences of Grand Vue Park, and the historic Anna B. Smith House, home to extensive exhibits of Fostoria Glass.
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Mount Davis is Pennsylvania's highest elevation point, stretching 3,213 feet above sea level. The picturesque mountain, which is located approximately 10 miles west of the city of Meyersdale, is located within the beautiful 5,685-acre Forbes State Forest along a 30-mile ridge line in Somerset County. Though the mountain's slopes do not provide surrounding countryside views, its observation tower stands atop its summit, offering unparalleled 360-degree views of Somerset County. Nearby, an interpretive display presents information about the history and geography of the Somerset County region, detailing the geological survey that determined the mountain to be the state's highest peak.
16.Nelson Ledges Quarry Park
Nelson Ledges Quarry Park is one of northeastern Ohio's most geologically-unique areas, stretching 167 acres throughout the city of Garrettsville. The beautiful park is home to the stunning 15-foot Minnehaha Falls, which flows into a gorge before dropping an additional length into a deeper gorge at Lower Minnehaha Falls. The falls can be viewed by hiking through the Ice Box cave and traveling up the side of the gorge, making it a unique waterfall-viewing experience. The beautiful 40-foot Cascade Falls can also be viewed in the park's northern section. Cliff jumping is popular throughout the park at several legal jumping sites. The park is also home to delightful bass, catfish, bluegill, and crappie fishing lakes, stunning rock formations, and a plethora of swimming, sunbathing, and hiking spots. Over 400 campsites cater to overnight park visitors and annual music festival attendees.
12001 Nelson Ledge Rd, Garrettsville, OH 44231, Phone: 440-548-2716
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New Wilmington is a charming Lawrence County borough that was originally established in 1863, known for its attractions connected to Pennsylvania's Amish Country. The borough is home to one of the United States' largest Old Order Amish sects, showcasing lovely attractions connected to the community's traditional rural way of life. Visitors can explore the historic Caldwell One-Room Schoolhouse, rent cart buggies for exploration of the four-mile Hells Hollow Wildlife Adventure Trail, or traverse the beautiful Banks Covered Bridge, which still sees much foot and buggy traffic today. Simple Life Amish Tours explore the region's Amish-connected sites, elaborating on their historical and cultural significance. Visitors can also peruse the exhibits of the Lawrence County Historical Society Museum, housed within a beautiful turn-of-the-century mansion, or explore the campus of Westminster College, which is home to a labyrinth for spiritual meditation. Delicious wineries such as Webb Winery and Volant Mill Winery offer tastings and tours throughout the year.
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Oglebay Park is an expansive public park set on 1,650 acres just outside of Wheeling, West Virginia, located on lands formerly belonging to Earl W. Oglebay on his Waddington Farms estate. The park, which has been in operation since 1928, is the United States' only self-supporting public municipal park, overseen by the Wheeling Park Commission. Today, the National Register of Historic Places-listed estate is known as one of West Virginia's top recreational destinations, home to two championship golf courses, a zoological park, a nature center, a planetarium, skiing slopes, and a wide variety of outdoor recreation options. The National Register of Historic Places-listed Oglebay Mansion is operated as a living history museum, showcasing guided tours throughout the year. During the holiday months, the park hosts a spectacular annual Winter Festival of Lights, which showcases unique lighting displays throughout a six-mile drive loop.
465 Lodge Dr, Wheeling, WV 26003, Phone: 877-436-1797
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19.Ohiopyle State Park
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Ohiopyle is one of Pennsylvania's top outdoor recreational destinations, located in Fayette County within easy day trip distance from Pittsburgh. The charming borough is best known as the home of Ohiopyle State Park, which is known as a top rock climbing destination throughout the state. Park visitors can hike to the stunning 30-foot Cucumber Falls or explore the beautiful Great Gorge Trail, which follows the route of a former coal transport tramway. The picturesque Youghiogheny Falls offers its own visitor center, which features exhibits on the Ohiopyle region's geography. Since the 1960s, the Youghiogheny River has been a top destination for white water rafting, offering Class I to Class IV rafting experiences. Visitors can also explore the amazing Great Allegheny Passage bicycle trail, which connects to the nearby Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath Trail to offer biking experiences all the way to Washington, D.C.
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20.Penn’s Cave and House
Penn’s Cave and House is Gregg Township's top tourist attraction, located at the site of the historic Trenton limestone cavern of the same name, which stretches for 1,300 feet and measures 55 feet high beneath the Centre County landscape. The cave is purported to be the only all-water cavern in the United States, offering guided boat tours throughout the year. Tours last approximately 45 minutes and explore the underwater John Penn Creek, with tour guides elaborating on the cave's unique geography and rock formations and its connection to area indigenous and historic groups. Above the cave, the National Register of Historic Places-listed Penn's Cave House, constructed in is home to a cafe and special event center. Outside, a spacious wildlife park showcases wild animal habitats, while a 5,000-square-foot maze offers family-friendly entertainment.
222 Penns Cave Rd, Centre Hall, PA 16828, Phone: 814-364-1664
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21.Pine Creek Gorge
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Pine Creek Gorge, commonly referred to as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, is a stunning nature gorge stretching 47 miles throughout the Allegheny Plateau, located within the scenic Tioga State Forest. The amazing natural wonder, which has been designated as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service, extends south from the city of Ansonia, roughly traversing the route of U.S. Route 6. It reaches a maximum depth of 1,450 feet near its southern end at the city of Waterville. Stunning natural overlooks are offered within Leonard Harrison and Colton Point State Parks, letting visitors look 800 feet into the canyon's depths. Camping is permitted throughout Tioga State Forest for visitors looking to make multi-day excursions out of seeing different areas of the canyon or looking to enjoy the region's excellent outdoor recreational opportunities.
22.Presque Isle State Park
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Presque Isle State Park is a delightful state park located just a few minutes west of the city of Erie, stretching onto a peninsula in Lake Erie. The 3,112-acre park is known for its amazing birdwatching opportunities, which have earned it a designation as a National Natural Landmark since 1967. Visitors can explore the beautiful Gull Point Natural Area or tour several beautiful historic lighthouses and Coast Guard stations which have been preserved throughout its lands. 21 miles of recreational hiking trails are offered throughout the park, along with 13 seasonal swimming beaches open to the public between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Excellent opportunities for fishing, boating, canoeing, and water skiing are offered during the summer months. In the winter, visitors can enjoy amazing opportunities for cross-country skiing, ice fishing and boating, and ice skating. The Tom Ridge Environmental Center showcases educational exhibits related to the park's ecology.
301 Peninsula Dr, Erie, PA 16505, Phone: 814-833-7424
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23.Seven Springs Mountain Resort
Seven Springs Mountain Resort is a delightful all-season resort area located in the Pennsylvania borough of the same name, located within easy day or weekend trip distance from downtown Pittsburgh. The resort is known as one of Pennsylvania's top skiing resorts, offering 285 acres of ski terrain that reaches elevations of 3,001 feet above sea level. Full snowboarding and snow tubing terrain areas are also offered throughout ski season, which typically lasts between December and April. During the warmer months, the resort is home to a par-71 golf course, along with a downhill bike track, a zipline adventure, and opportunities for fishing, hiking, and paintball. Visitors can stay in luxury at the resort's lovely guest rooms and suites, dine at several delicious American-style restaurants, or enjoy full spa services at the luxurious Trillium Spa.
777 Water Wheel Dr, Champion, PA 15622, Phone: 814-352-7777
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Smicksburg is one of Pennsylvania Amish Country's most charming destinations, home to a large Amish population since the mid-2oth century. Visitors can explore a plethora of fantastic attractions set against the landscape of the spectacular Amish countryside, which is still populated with Amish buggies and traditional Amish cultural sites today. More than 20 specialty shops throughout the town sell delightful country craft items, beautiful pottery, homemade quilts, and delicious Amish fudge. The Coleman House historic home is open to the public for guided tours, showcasing 15 rooms filled with antiques and collectibles. Visitors can also explore the 19th-century Victorian-style Marshall House as part of guided tours or sample delicious award-winning wines at Windgate Vineyards and Winery.
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Washington, D.C. is the nation's seat of government, home to the beautiful buildings of the American legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The national capital city, which sits along the banks of the beautiful Potomac River between the states of Virginia and Maryland, is located just four hours from Pittsburgh, making it a great choice for weekend getaways. Visitors can tour a wide variety of government buildings as part of guided tours, including the iconic White House, the legislative chambers of the United States Capitol Building, and the Supreme Court Building's hallowed halls. The spacious National Mall is home to iconic landmarks like the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and Jefferson Monument, while the free-admission museums of the Smithsonian Institution include the National Museum of American History, the National Air and Space Museum, and the National Zoo. The city is also known for its amazingly diverse culinary scene, as a result of the many international embassies that call the city home.
25 Best Weekend Getaways & Day Trips from Pittsburgh, PA
- The Laurel Highlands, Photo: Kenneth Keifer/stock.adobe.com
- The Allegheny National Forest, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Baltimore, Photo: checubus/stock.adobe.com
- Beaver Creek State Park, Photo: Nopphon/stock.adobe.com
- Chautauqua County, Photo: Gino/stock.adobe.com
- Cleveland, Photo: hstiver/stock.adobe.com
- Columbus, Photo: rouda100/stock.adobe.com
- Conneaut Lake Park, Photo: natalyfoto/stock.adobe.com
- Fallingwater, Photo: Fallingwater
- Hartwood Acres, Photo: ccestep8/stock.adobe.com
- McConnells Mill State Park, Photo: Sherman Cahal/stock.adobe.com
- Meadville, Photo: Leonid/stock.adobe.com
- Monongahela National Forest, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Moundsville, Photo: aceshot/stock.adobe.com
- Mount Davis, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Nelson Ledges Quarry Park, Photo: redtbird02/stock.adobe.com
- New Wilmington, Photo: kaninstudio/stock.adobe.com
- Oglebay Park, Photo: Kenneth Keifer/stock.adobe.com
- Ohiopyle State Park, Photo: Kenneth Keifer/stock.adobe.com
- Penn’s Cave and House, Photo: bjphotographs/stock.adobe.com
- Pine Creek Gorge, Photo: Reid Dalland/stock.adobe.com
- Presque Isle State Park, Photo: Jill Lang/stock.adobe.com
- Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Photo: bnenin/stock.adobe.com
- Smicksburg, Photo: New Africa/stock.adobe.com
- Washington, D.C., Photo: Vacclav/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Kenneth Sponsler/stock.adobe.com