The region of western Pennsylvania is one that captures everyone’s imagination for different reasons. For starters, western Pennsylvania covers a third of the state, which is divided from the eastern part by the Appalachian Mountains. The area’s most known and principal city is the city of Pittsburgh, which is second largest in the state behind Philadelphia. The “Steel City”, which has led the United States in business related to the material is now home to branches of some of the world’s most recognizable tech businesses like Uber and Google. The city is regarded as one of the most livable in the nation, and is also notable for having over 400 bridges spread throughout. There’s also a strong collegiate vibe here, thanks to the number of prestigious universities that call the city home such as the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon, and Duquesne. Pittsburgh and its surrounding territory is chock full of things to see and do, especially for those who visit with their families. With that in mind, here are five wonderful activities that a traveling family might want to consider for outings during their stay in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
1. Visit Architectural History at Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob
For those who are lovers of fine architecture, you can’t do much better than to actually visit a home designed by the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright. The first of these, Fallingwater, was designed by Wright in the 1930’s and is situated right at the edge of a waterfall in the forest of Bear Run. The home, which was conceptualized by the prominent Kaufmann family and Wright, was built in 1937 with a guest house added in 1939. Fallingwater would go on to be one of Wright’s greatest accomplishments, and became a local landmark in 1964 before gaining National Historical Landmark status in 1976. Visitors can make their way here from Pittsburgh in a drive that takes a little over 90 minutes. If this isn’t enough to satiate your Wright fix, Kentuck Knob is another of the architect’s wonders and it’s about fifteen minutes away from Fallingwater. Located in the Laurel Highlands, this stately home would be one of Wright’s last projects that he would see complete – this was in addition to his work on the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
2. Venture to Erie & Presque Isle State Park
A two-hour drive from Pittsburgh will land you at the town of Erie, and Presque Isle State Park. The park
lies on the shores of Lake Erie, and has a great selection of beaches that’s ripe for sunbathing and strolling as spring sets in. You can even get in a game of beach volleyball on their courts. Presque Isle is also a joy for animal lovers, as there are close to 3,000 acres of protected wildlife attached to the shore. And if you want to check out the rest of Erie on this day trip, there’s a couple of interesting activities which include the Cultural Loop tour put together by the Erie Arts & Culture board.
3.Enjoy The Great Outdoors At Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest
Located in the town of Harrisville about an hour north from Pittsburgh, this camp-resort has gotten a slew of rave reviews from satisfied visitors. You can opt to rent one of their sizable cabins or yurts that can accommodate the entire group, or if you happen to be driving an RV there’s lots that you can procure for your stay complete with hookups. The park is carved out of prime western Pennsylvania forest, and there’s a ton of activities to get into here from 18-hole mini golf to laser tag and even a chance to do some gem mining in a sluice.
Home to Allegheny College, Meadville is a highly popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Sitting on the banks of the French Creek, it’s an hour and a half drive from Pittsburgh, and is an attractive spot due to three well-known breweries, two which are in the small city itself and one just outside of it. But there are other things to occupy your time while you’re here with your family. First among those is the Ernst Trail, which meanders along the creek and is a nice little hiking trail that bike enthusiasts also enjoy. The entire trail is a scenic journey, complete with one section that has a rustic covered bridge. There’s also the Baldwin-Reynolds House Museum, which offers free tours inside of the residence which was built in 1843 and its gardens. The museum contains many items from the Baldwin-Reynolds family, who were pre-eminent members of Pennsylvania society. Another activity based in Meadville that families may be inclined to visit that’s a bit on the eclectic side is Read Between The Signs. This area is right on Route 22 and was inspired by an art project by Allegheny students who took old state transportation signs and crafted them into highly colorful and striking displays.
5.Experience Amish Life In Smicksburg
North of Pittsburgh, a visit to Smicksburg is like stepping back into time. Tucked in amidst rolling hills, Smicksburg is a borough that is home to an Amish community of over 300 families. The Amish prefer to live simply, foregoing all of the modern things we’re used to. Driving through here, you’ll be able to see them going about their lives, and there will be places where you can learn more about their heritage. And you’ll even see a horse-drawn buggy or two out on the roads. Some from the Amish community also operate small shops within the borough, which are closed on Sundays in accordance with their traditions. These stores have some lovely handcrafted furniture, which is a hallmark of the Amish people. In addition, there is the Hillside Farm and Stables, which is open to the public. Those stopping by here can view riding demonstrations, receive lessons and catch other special events. Visitors can also check out the first open house of the year in the area, held every April. For more destination guides and accommodation reviews, hotels and vacation rentals, check out Trip101