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Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Itineraries

Gettysburg, Haunted and Historical

Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County

Pittsburgh for Free

Poconos Agrotourism

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Some four hundred million years ago, before the age of dinosaurs, birds, cheesesteaks and Amish shoefly pies, the disparate land masses which today constitute the eastern coast North America eroded.  The process itself took several million years, as the Atlantic Ocean pulled away from the beds of shale and limestone, piling new layers of rock on the sea bottom. What were once discrete islands became modern day Appalachia – mountainous, temperate and rich with minerals.

Were it not for this particular geologic history, little about modern day Pennsylvania would be recognizable to its citizenry. The commonwealth’s abundance of natural resources – anthracite coal in the northeast, bituminous in the southwest, oil in the northwest, the rich soil of the south central valley and the dense forests of the northern tier – made the Keystone state uniquely relevant during the industrial era. Pennsylvania today boasts hundreds of distinctive small towns; some are thriving, other fading, but nearly all owe their existence to the natural resources and the ancillary industries which attracted their settlement in the first place.

Two other quirks of history helped shape modern Pennsylvania in an unusual way. The first involved William Penn himself, who founded Pennsylvania as an atypically tolerant state. Though an imperfect practitioner of the liberty and equality he professed (like many Quakers of his era, Penn owned slaves) Pennsylvania was, for its time, a relative sanctuary for the religiously oppressed. This resulted in a diverse blend of religious minorities who came to the commonwealth fleeing persecution abroad. Principal among these were the Pennsylvania Dutch – descendants of German Anabaptists who to this day inhabit large swaths of central Pennsylvania, living in closed, mostly agricultural communities which eschew modernity and its comforts.

The other determinative figure is the largely forgotten Governor Gifford Pinchot, who engineered an astonishing rejuvenation of the state’s forests and helped created what is today among the more exceptional state park systems in the country. His close ties to President Franklin Roosevelt helped steer Civilian Conservation Corps dollars to Pennsylvania and to undertake a second generation tree growth that saved huge swaths of the state from becoming permanently barren.

More than anything, these three factors – the wealth of natural resources, the ethos of William Penn and the environmental consciousness of Gifford Pinchot – are what lend Pennsylvania its unique contemporary character and what make it such an interesting place to visit. No other state played such a consistent, vital role in the American story and few can match its extraordinary natural beauty. Visitors may, in a single weekend, take in the Philadelphia mansions of the industrial age elite, the farm stands of the old order Amish, the battlefields of Gettysburg, the meandering hiking trails of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, the weathered mining towns of greater Scranton and the towering waterfalls of Ricketts Glen State Park. It is places like these that distinguish Pennsylvania and through which the majesty of our natural world and the arc of American history come to life.


Start by Exploring these Pennsylvania Itineraries

Gettysburg, Haunted and Historical … Civil War civilians and their lingering spirits
Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County … Experience the culture of Pennsylvania’s Amish Country
Pittsburgh for Free … From art and architecture to museums, music, and more
Poconos Agrotourism … Vineyards, orchards and bountiful local farms


When To Go

As a mid-Atlantic state, Pennsylvania experiences all four seasons. For backroads drives, early to mid-autumn is preferable, as the leaves change colors and the crisp fresh air of autumn displaces the summer haze. The Pennsylvania Wilds region along the state’s northern tier is particularly stunning around this time – the normally quiet, distant town of Renovo, for example, hosts its annual Flaming Foliage Festival event the second weekend in October. Like other small towns in the region, Renovo is fenced with thick woodlands, and the brilliant reds, yellows and oranges of the forest can be spectacular. Early fall is also prime elk-spotting season in and around Benezette, where a day spent searching for elk is never a day wasted, no matter how elusive the state’s 900 member herd may seem.

Of course, spring and summer are fine for exploring the state’s natural scenery as well. For outdoor sporting enthusiasts, Pennsylvania is an embarrassment of riches, with dozens of thoughtfully planned and meticulously maintained facilities. Summer is a perfect time for Ohiopyle State Park, perched along the banks of the scenic Youghigheny (“yock-a-gainy”) River and arguably the commonwealth’s finest opportunity for whitewater rafting and kayaking.

What it Costs

Abstract Pricing at a Glance

Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. We don’t want to lead you astray by quoting exact prices that quickly become wrong. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, we have indicated general price ranges for all points of interest.

Price ranges are quoted in $US.

See & Do
N/A => Not applicable
Free
$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11-25 per person
$$$ => Tickets $26 per person

Sleep
$ => Rooms less than $100 for a double
$$ => Rooms $200 for a double
$$$ => Rooms $300 for a double

Eat
$ => $1-15 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$ => $16-40 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$$$ => $41 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)

Shop
N/A => Not applicable

Tours
$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11-25 per person
$$ => Tickets $26 per person

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