Pennsylvania is a great road trip destination.

July 28, 2012 · 0 comments

in Best Road Trips

Greetings again friends, this is Bill Taylor writing about a road trip we enjoyed. We don’t count miles, we count smiles. So when we choose a place for a road trip, we make certain it is a place we will enjoy. Sometimes, circumstances make the choice for you. Special circumstances help us plan our road trips to PA.

We started making road trips to Pennsylvania after our son and his family moved there. There’s nothing like the lure of hugging a grandchild to make a car point in a new direction. Over the past several years, road trips to Pennsylvania have been made twice per year. During our visits, we keep an agile eye trained for things to do in Pennsylvania. Tourism is huge in Pennsylvania. We found plenty!

From any starting point, you can find a beautiful route into Pennsylvania.

It’s about 1, 000 miles from our home in Mississippi to our sons’s home in Pennsylvania. We usually take two days to make the drive and find a comfortable place to stay about halfway there.  There are several routes we can take. We alter the route almost every time we go.

We follow two basic routes. From our home, one route takes us through Nashville, TN. From Nashville, we have two favorite routes. One route crosses KY into Ohio at Cincinnati, then into western PA. The other variation on this route turns east across Kentucky on the Bluegrass Parkway to Lexington. This route takes you through the heart of thoroughbred horse country, and by the birthplace of President Abraham Lincoln. This is also known as cave country. Mammoth cave and hundreds of lesser caves dot the hillsides through this region.

When we leave Lexington, we drive into West Virginia. This route takes you through some beautiful mountains and the towns of Morgantown and Clarksburg, WVA.

The second route we enjoy, takes us through Chattanooga and Knoxville, where we turn north through Bristol, TN/Virginia. After passing through Wytheville, VA, you pass through the Big Walker Mountain Tunnel and the Brushy Mountain Tunnel. Shortly after passing through the tunnels, you reach Bluefield WVA, which has a good selection of restaurants, stores and gasoline.

We follow US Hwy 19 on this route. The road is four-lane and passes through the ski resort area of West Virginia. The mountains are beautiful in both WVA and VA. You enter Pennsylvania just below Washington and Pittsburg.

People living on the Atlantic coast should find Pennsylvania especially appealing. There are dozens of places which promise an unforgettable vacation site. Because of the closeness to the Atlantic Seaboard,  Pennsylvania is where you want to go. Even though some families are experiencing tough economic situations, you can still have a recession proof vacation in Pennsylvania.

It doesn’t take is a big imagination to find fun things to do in Pennsylvania.

There are tons of fun things to do in Pennsylvania. The list of historic and recreational sites to visit is absolutely mind-boggling. Motel and hotel rates in PA have proven to be economical by comparison to other states where we travel. The state has lots of bed and breakfast inns, cabins, and even vacation rental homes that help you to save hundreds of dollars compared to similar accommodations in other states.

If you are traveling with children, you will definitely want to go to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Here, your kids and the kid in you will be able to have a lot of fun at the Hands-On Science Fun at Winter Camps. Camps are scheduled for full day, or half day camps. They are held in Harsco Science Center. This is a fun place where children will be also learn about science while having a good time.

Outdoor lovers will think they have found paradise in Pennsylvania. This state offers some of the best experiences in the great outdoors. Western PA has some of the best deer hunting in the USA. Lots of folks go to Washington, Pennsylvania, to enjoy the hiking and biking of the Panhandle Trail. This is a 29 mile long trail. It offers a unique experience in biking/hiking and is a nature exploration as well. You can also ride horseback through the trail if you prefer. During the winter months, this is a great area for cross country skiing in the Panhandle Trail as it offers something different during the winter months.

In Fayetteville, Pennsylvania, you will enjoy a visit to Michaud State Forest. Here, you can hunt deer and other small game. With 85,000 acres of land, you will surely find something you will enjoy here.

If fishing is your passion, then you will definitely love the lakes and reservoirs here as the fishing here is considered to be some of the best in the country. There are also hiking trails here, and a 39 mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail passes through this area. This is a state forest which has primitive camping sites.

Tipton, Pennsylvania is the home of Delgrosso’s Amusement Park. A full day pass is only $16.95 and it includes the rides and water-park. In the months of May and September the price is reduced to $12.95 per person. A separate ticket is available for just Miniature Golf, and Go-carts.  The kids will love this place. There is also a Summer Concert Series.

Hershey, PA is home to the famous chocolate maker and surrounding its factory are family focused amusements.

History buffs go nuts here.

Philadelphia was the nation’s first capital and is home to the Liberty Bell. No one could possibly list all the activities and historic sites which can be seen in this beautiful city. Major sports teams perform in every season of the year.

Pittsburg may not have the same historical element as Philadelphia, but it has the major sports teams and is a very scenic city. Pittsburg has more bridges than Venice.

You will never forget your visit to Gettysburg, site of Abraham Lincoln’s famous speech, and the historic battleground which turned the tide in the Civil War. Every American should visit and listen to the stories of the conflict which raged over what are now beautifully kept hills. You will leave with a new sense of determination to do all in your power to prevent such a travesty ever again happening.

We visit our family in the western part of the state. We make day trips from their home to Eerie, where we saw Lake Eerie for the first time. We enjoy Cooks’s Forest and Tom’s Run and Punxsutawney, PA home of Punxsutawney Phil the world’s most photographed Groundhog.

Near Punxsutawney, there is a 127 mile long scenic drive through Elk country. These beautiful gentle hills are lined with old country farm-style homes. The pasture-lands on these roadsides are heavily populated with Elk. Maps showing the best locations for viewing are available at convenience stores in the area. Elk are not hunted here, so they do not spook when you stop to look or take pictures.

Hundreds of thousands of people travel to Lancaster County, PA to tour the Amish villages there. We have been there too and spent the day touring and eating. It is a great experience. The homes are beautifully manicured. Quilts made by local ladies are offered for sale in stores which sell locally made items.

Amish Carriage near Smicksburg, PA

There are other Amish communities scattered throughout Pennsylvania. We visited two in western PA. Some of these towns are a little bit out of the way. One little town we fell in love with is Smicksburg, PA. A little bakery and restaurant there, found the way to my heart through my stomach. This is a very small town, but the surrounding countryside makes reaching it, a very interesting drive. Gift shops and some historic buildings add some spice to the visit to Smicksburg. Most of the Amish towns have cheeses, baked items, homemade quilts, sewn goods and souvenirs for sale.

On the extreme northwest end of the state we enjoyed an afternoon in Volant, PA. This little Amish town has a larger group of local shops and several restaurants. On the day we were here, the State Fish and Game Commission released rainbow trout into the river which runs through town. There were probably a hundred fly fishermen on the banks trying to make a catch.

 

Keep an eye out for local festivals.

Nightime @ Autumn Leaf Festival Clarion, PA

Seasonal festivals draw large crowds and are a big thing in Pennsylvania. Check with chambers of commerce in the towns you want to visit. They have information about the festivals, what to expect, and when they unfold. Our favorite festival is the Autumn Leaf Festival in Clarion, PA. A large parade featuring dignitaries, bands and amusing rides lasts for more than an hour. Hundreds of thousands tour this area for the fall colors during the week of the festival. Similar events take place in dozens of towns, on alternating weekends.

When we visited Oil City, PA it was on a festival day. Seneca, the main street, was packed with vendors and the stores were doing a booming business. I doubt this was a typical day, but the town certainly has some life in it to even be able to sport as many stores. The street is lined with historic, beautiful old buildings.

Railroad Bridge in Winter – Oil City, PA

We took a train ride on the old Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad. The train moves slowly along the Oil Creek making three or four stops at historic places. It is a beautiful ride up a narrow valley. The train engineer pointed out a Bald Eagle flying high above near the mountain tops.

As you can see, there are plenty of fun things to do in the Keystone State. Whether you are traveling alone or with your friends or family, you will find something great to do and enjoy a visit to a place you will surely love. Whether you love the great outdoors, or if you are looking for something the kids will enjoy, you will find it in Pennsylvania. So, if you are looking for a way to have a great economical vacation, you should definitely check out what Pennsylvania has to offer.

You’re sure to enjoy any section of this beautiful, large state you decide to visit. Let me know if I can help you with any info on your choice of places.

Regional Oddities

Tree roots on boulder at Bear Town Rocks

A favorite search for us, is to look for what we call regional oddities. In Arizona and New Mexico, the oddity of the area is the desert. In other places the oddities are not as obvious.

Pennsylvania has a very unusual collection of rock formations. A park has been constructed, very crudely, there is little more than a sign and a trail. The rock formation is called Bear Town Rocks. I’m not sure about the origin of the name.

There are large boulders which protrude as high as 30 or more feet. The unusual feature is that trees grow on the boulders. Hardwood Trees of varying sizes stand atop the boulders. Some of the trees are huge. The roots run down the sides of the boulders into the soil. The area seems to be virgin forest, but I can’t be positive about that fact.

This little park is good for an hour or two. I have lots of photos but the amazing thing to me was the roots running down the side of the boulder. Anywhere you go you will find regional oddities. In some counties in Pennsylvania, the regional oddity is covered bridges. But that’s for another post.

We’ve got to pull over for a short time, you keep on driving and I’ll try to catch up with you.

Until next time

Keep Rolling up miles and dialing up smiles,

Bill

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