Pennsylvania, the Keystone State, is one of the original states from the 13 colonies. It’s full of rich history, great theme parks, plenty of wildlife and some amazing cities.
There are so many excellent things to see and do while in Pennsylvania — known as PA to Pennsylvanians. When you arrive, you’ll likely be overwhelmed by the number of Sheetz gas stations on the western half and Wawa on the eastern half. The great debate between gas convenience stores is one you don’t want to miss while visiting this great state.
However, if you do have to skip out on which gas station has the better food, there are plenty of other attractions to see. Here are eight reasons to visit Pennsylvania this year.
1. PA Has the Best Cheesesteaks
If you’re a foodie, then you need to visit Pennsylvania. Philadelphia is home to many things, but it’s home to the best cheesesteaks in the food world. Philly cheesesteaks are unlike any other. They’re greasy, delicious, packed with chopped steak, onions, peppers and cheese whiz.
Locals are passionate about the best place to get a cheesesteak. Rivals Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s are two restaurants that boast the best, and they’re right across the street from each other. Head to Philly to decide which is your favorite!
2. You Can Taste Hershey’s Chocolate and Ride Coasters
Speaking of food, if you’re looking for something less savory, you can find yourself immersed in chocolatey, sweet goodness in Hershey, PA. Hershey is right outside the state’s capital and offers a fantastic downtown area with restaurants and sights. Not far from the downtown area is HersheyPark.
At HersheyPark, you can go inside Chocolate World. There, you’ll find a vast selection of candies and chocolates. After indulging in all of the sweets, head to the amusement park and spend the day riding some great coasters!
3. The Pennsylvania Wilds Are a Beautiful Sight in Fall
There’s a section in Northwestern Pennsylvania that’s home to the PA Wilds. You can visit Allegheny National Forest. Besides that, there are 121 state parks throughout PA. There, you can fish, camp, hunt, bike, hike, ski and so much more.
In the fall, the PA Wilds are at their most beautiful. The forests are filled with so many different trees, offering you an array of colors. A great place to view these colors is at the Kinzua Bridge! If you find yourself in western Pennsylvania, go to Elk County, specifically Benezette, which is home to an elk population!
4. Amish Country Is Still Prominent
Another unique aspect of Pennsylvania is that the Amish are still alive and well. In Lancaster, PA, Pennsylvania’s Dutch Country is thriving. You can go and take a look at how the local community operates and purchase local, handmade Amish goods, too.
The Amish live on the western side of the state, too. You’ll see horses pulling buggies and can stop at all of the farmer’s markets to get fresh produce and baked goods from the Amish.
5. You’ll Eat So Much Ice Cream
While you’re visiting Lancaster County, you can hit up all of the ice cream shops. Turkey Hill originates near Lancaster. Do the Turkey Hill Experience, where you can learn all about the history behind the name and make your own ice cream flavors!
Make sure to stop by some of the local ice cream shops, too. They offer unique flavors. Summer would truly be the best time to go so you can stop for a cool treat on a hot day.
6. You Can Learn About Early American History
Pennsylvania has so much early American history. From Philadelphia to Gettysburg and other cities, they’ve all played an essential role in shaping the United States. It would be a great educational trip for your family.
The founding of the country began in Philadelphia. It’s where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Go to the battlefields of Gettysburg to learn about one of the bloodiest battles in American history. Additionally, you can head to Shanksville to learn more about 9/11, where one of the planes crashed.
7. Groundhog Day Boasts a Grand Celebration
Have you ever watched the movie Groundhog Day featuring Bill Murray? That movie is based in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania! Each year, the town holds a huge celebration on February 2 to see what the famous Punxsutawney Phil — a groundhog — predicts the future of the weather.
Will there be six more weeks of winter, or will there be an early spring? Depending on whether Phil sees his shadow will tell you! Thousands of people flock to this town for that special day, so make plans to visit in the beginning of February.
8. It’s Home of the Steel Capital
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, home of the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates, is also home of steel. The metals industry began in Pittsburgh, PA, in the mid-to-late 1800s with the Carnegie Steel Company. Pittsburgh truly grew into the city it is today because of the steel-making industry.
You can certainly learn more about the history of the Steel City when you visit. Again, if you’re looking for food, make sure to try an original Primanti Bros. sandwich while you’re there, complete with coleslaw and fries.
Where Will You Go?
With so many sights to see, you’ll want to visit PA again and again. Where will you go first?
Photo by Marián Šicko from Pexels