Summer in Pennsylvania means family vacations to Gettysburg’s historic battlefields, boating on Raystown Lake, and sightseeing in the bustling downtowns of Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. Recently, the Pennsylvania Tourism Office launched a new slogan and challenge to travelers — “Pennsylvania. Pursue Your Happiness.” This mantra captures the spirit of the Keystone State, echoing the famous call to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” from the Declaration of Independence, penned in Philadelphia in 1776.
The new slogan says that in Pennsylvania, a vacation or getaway is an active, self-styled adventure — a pursuit. Where should you begin? Explore a sampling from 11 new “Happy Day” road trips to discover off-the-beaten path stops and only-in-Pennsylvania attractions. Pack a bag or two as miles of smiles await you in Pennsylvania!
Pittsburgh and Its Countryside
As Pittsburgh as celebrates its 200th anniversary, it continues to receive recognition from top travel publications. Standing tall amid the wooded countryside and three winding rivers is Pittsburgh’s downtown, packed with opportunities for everything from biking and boating to brew pubs and ballet. Take the historic Duquesne Incline or Monongahela Incline to the top of Mount Washington for one of the best views in America.
Known as some of the darkest skies on the eastern seaboard, Cherry Springs State Park’s skies are a haven for astronomers and dreamers alike. Watch for the wild things, including 1,000 elk, owls, fox, and white-tailed deer. Don’t miss the Pine Creek Gorge; whether by bike, foot, or horseback, it is Pennsylvania’s grandest canyon.
The majestic Endless Mountains and the Susquehanna River define the landscape. You’ll find bustling towns like Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, with quaint main streets and old steel mills that have sprung up into museums. Nothing complements a journey better than a pint of beer; the Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville is America’s oldest. The tame Delaware River invites a quiet paddle or lazy float on an inner tube.
You’ll notice a dramatic change in scenery as you cross under the Lehigh Tunnel and into the Pocono Mountains. In this endless outdoor playground, you’ll find steep mountains with cloud-covered peaks great for hiking, biking, fishing, and canoeing. Add three gigantic waterparks, first-class skiing, and world-class resorts, and the result is the Pocono Mountains.
Set amid gentle hills and green countryside and boasting eight wineries, the Lehigh Valley is home to Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton, and offers a diverse array of memorable things to do. Visit Martin Guitar Factory to see the 300 steps it takes to make the perfect guitar. Don’t miss ArtsQuest, a unique arts and culture venue built on the former site of Bethlehem Steel.
Philadelphia and Its Countryside
The nation’s first World Heritage City and named the best U.S. destination to visit in 2016 by Lonely Planet, the city hosts the Democratic National Convention in July. The Please Touch Museum lets the kids’ curiosity run wild, while Sesame Place offers all their favorite characters. The Mercer Museum showcases Moravian tile in a castle and the Brandywine River Museum showcases renowned local artist Andrew Wyeth.
Dutch Country Roads
Shop Amish Country and the bustling Lancaster arts scene with its dozens of charming galleries and shops. Eat your way through Hershey’s sweet family fun and the farm-to-fork dining scene, hike the Appalachian Trail or the Gettysburg battlefield. Families can watch birds of prey migrate at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary near Reading, the world’s first refuge for birds of prey. Factory tours abound in York, showcasing everything from potato chips to violins.
In this Central Pennsylvania region you’ll find covered bridges in Bedford and the legendary Nittany Lion in State College. Altoona’s Horseshoe Curve is one of the state’s engineering marvels, while the Johnstown Incline is the steepest in the world. In Bellefonte, you’ll find more than 400 Victorian structures. Raystown Lake, at 8,300 acres, is a cool spot to go for a dip. Explore the adventure at Penn’s Cave and Wildlife Park.
Valleys of the Susquehanna
This region features the funky, historic towns surrounding small colleges, antique shops off the beaten path, and romantic covered bridges. The waterfalls at Ricketts Glen State Park are the backdrop for a great hike. At Knoebels Amusement Resort you’ll get a quick adrenaline rush on the roller coasters and enjoy the famous Grand Carousel.
Pennsylvania’s Great Lakes Region
Presque Isle, recently voted the best freshwater beach in the U.S. by USA Today, is perfect for everything from lying on the beach to big water boating. But there’s more — hit the links and then rest in luxury in Mercer County or search for wildlife in Hell’s Hollow.
In the Laurel Highlands, the roaring Youghiogheny River draws you in, whether you’re gazing down from the rail trail or riding along its rapids. These mountains host architectural marvels, amusement parks, and art museums — in addition to world-class hiking on the Great Allegheny Passage.
Find full itineraries for each Happy Day road trip at visitpa.com/pa-road-trips/happyday.