If you are exploring Pennsylvania and you want to know the best places to visit then keep reading.
We have put together this useful list of the best attractions to help you plan your trip.
From day trips to Philadelphia zoo to see some of the world’s most exotic creatures to Andy Warhol’s museum that is perfect for any art fanatic, and everything in between – there’s something for everyone in Philadelphia.
1. Philadelphia Zoo
Philadelphia zoo was the first zoo to open in America and has over 160 years of experience in conservation, animal welfare and guest satisfaction.
This makes it one of the best attractions to visit in Pennsylvania.
There are plenty of animals to see including big cats, bears, penguins, reptiles, birds of prey, lemurs, monkeys, crocodilians, flamingos, otters, giraffes, hippos and much more.
As well as the animal exhibits there are other activities at the zoo.
Find your sense of adventure on the Wild Works rope course which includes a zipline.
There’s also an express train which is ideal for younger guests.
The zoo is open in all weathers but certain attractions are closed depending on the conditions, so keep this in mind when you visit.
All bookings must be made online and tickets can sell out quickly in peak season so it is a good idea to book in advance.
If you want to visit a zoo that is innovative and industry leading, then this is the place to come!
Philadelphia zoo was the first in the US to have successful chimpanzee and orangutan births on site, the first to develop specialized food for zoo animals, and the first to build an animal care center on site.
2. Hershey Park
Hershey Park is the largest theme park in Pennsylvania. It has 76 different rides and water attractions, so you definitely won’t get bored.
There are rides for all ages, including family rides and attractions designed for smaller children.
This makes it an ideal theme park for a large group or family with children of varying ages.
Within Hershey Park is an 11 acre water park with swimming pools, water slides and wave machines.
Once you have tried out the rollercoasters and the water park, there is still plenty left to do.
Dark nights offer immersive experiences with spooky themes.
There are resident shows that you can watch, fairground games and arcade games, an 11 acre zoo, and tours of Chocolate World where you can create your own candy bar.
There are plenty of dining options at Hershey Park from snack vendors to dine-in restaurants.
Everything you need for a great day out is on site, and it would take several days to see and do everything.
3. Presque Isle State Park
Presque Isle is a sandy peninsula that stretches out into Lake Erie.
The park is 3200 acres and has a stunning coastline with amazing views of Presque Isle Bay and out over the water.
You can start at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center where you will learn about the history of the state park and the complex ecological systems.
You can then begin to explore the park, either on foot or on a bike, with over 20 miles of trails available (hiking trails and biking trails are separate).
Keep an eye out for different species of bird, especially migratory birds. You could spot waterfowl, shore birds, warblers and nesting birds.
Presque Isle State Park is also a great place for water sports like fishing and surfing.
People also go there to hunt, or for seasoning activities like ice skating and skiing.
There are organized events throughout the year, and the website has all the information you need to plan your visit.
4. Longwood Gardens
Longwood Gardens is considered to be one of the best gardens in the world, with stunning architecture, fountain systems and carefully maintained gardens.
When you visit, you will be able to learn all about the history of the land as well as the different species and techniques used to create the gardens.
The area was initially used for hunting and farming by the Lenni Lenape tribe.
Pierre Du Pont later turned it into gardens – the first garden to open in 1907 is still one of the most popular with guests today.
Longwood Gardens is split into different districts and there are multiple gardens in each one.
There are 24 different gardens altogether, with various themes and designs.
It is a sensory experience that will bring you closer to nature and also to peace.
There are also conservation areas and landscapes surrounding the preserved gardens.
You will need at least 4 hours to explore every garden, but you can stay as long as you want to until closing time.
It is suggested that you wear comfortable shoes and dress appropriately for the weather.
Bug spray is needed at certain times of year, as the insects are an important part of the ecosystem so you are likely to come into contact with them.
There is a cafe and a fine dining restaurant available for guests to use, so you can enjoy some refreshments after exploring the gardens.
5. Gettysburg National Military Park
The battle of Gettysburg is a well known event of the Civil War and resulted in a Union Victory, inspiring Abraham Lincoln’s ‘Gettysburg Address’.
Start at the visitor center, where you will receive guidance on the best way to explore the park.
You can also look around the museum to learn more about the area and its historical significance.
You might want to book onto a tour with a licensed guide who is an expert on the park. These are done on a first come first serve basis.
There is plenty to do within the park including hiking and horseback riding.
You can visit the David Wills House and the Eisenhower National Historic Site.
You can also take part in special events like reenactments and living history programmes.
There are designated picnic areas throughout the park so you can take in the beautiful scenery while you eat.
You can also stay within the park on one of the campgrounds or in the historic Bushman House.
6. Falling Water
FallingWater is a house designed by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and is a coming together of art and nature.
It is located in Laurel Highlands and is built over a waterfall out of native sandstone.
The house was originally a vacation home for the Kaufman family, but is now owned by the Conservancy.
It operates as a museum/open house and is open to the public.
To get the full experience of FallingWater, you should take a tour of the house and then dine in the cafe.
The menu is inspired by the local area and features innovative dishes.
There is also a shop on site that sells gifts, jewelry, furniture, books and much more.
Tickets to visit can sell out quickly in peak seasons so make sure you book between 2 weeks and 6 weeks in advance if possible.
Guided tours are available and should also be booked in advance.
You will need a minimum of two hours to look around the inside and the outside of the house, but plan more time for your visit if you want to visit the shop and the cafe.
7. Philadelphia Museum Of Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is the perfect Pennsylvania attraction if you want to immerse yourself in culture.
It is a welcoming, inclusive place with a relaxing yet inquisitive atmosphere.
Reserve your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment and arrive around 15 minutes before your time slot.
There are lots of different galleries to explore and the exhibitions change throughout the year- you can check the website for a calendar of exhibitions.
A tour of the museum is included in your admission, but it is optional.
You can explore the museum without a guide if you prefer, or purchase an audio tour.
Children can enter the museum for free with an adult, and they must be supervised throughout the visit.
After you have explored the museum you can have a drink and a bite to eat in one of the three cafes or in the restaurant.
There is also a members lounge. If you want to eat in the restaurant it is advisable to make a reservation.
There are three stores located around the museum.
You will be able to buy something to remember your visit like a print, poster or postcard.
There is also art and items made by local artisans as well as books, stationary and gifts.
8. Strasburg Historic Town
The historic town of Strasburg in Lancaster is a popular destination for people visiting Pennsylvania.
A Frenchman first came to the area in 1693 and began trading with the native tribes. The town wasn’t named until the mid 1700s.
Over time it grew from log huts to a bustling town and a major stop on the road between Lancaster and Philadelphia.
In the late 1700s, America’s first turnpike was completed in Lancaster, which drew a lot of wagon traffic away from Strasburg.
The Strasburg Rail Road is a popular attraction in the area and is the oldest continually operating public utility in the state of Pennsylvania.
You may also want to take a look at the Amish village, the Railroad Museum, the National Toy Train Museum, Verdant View Farm, and Cherry Crest Adventure Farm.
There are plenty of delicious restaurants in Strasburg where you can enjoy hearty meals, local hand crafted beers, and friendly service.
There are also some lovely places to stay in the area, with real charm and character.
9. Valley Forge National Historical Park
Valley Forge National Historic Park has 3500 acres of land to explore. It was the encampment site of the Continental Army in the winter of 1777-1778.
The area was chosen for its natural defenses and large plateau which was ideal for training.
At the end of winter, the army emerged as a cohesive force under the leadership of General George Washington.
You can take a 10 mile tour of the encampment that will stop at the major monuments and memorials.
It takes anywhere from 20 minutes to 3 hours depending on your walking pace or driving pace and how long you stop for at each point of interest.
Along with the history, there are also 30 miles of trails in the park that you can explore on foot or on a bike.
You can even rent a bike if you don’t have one of your own. Pets are allowed in the park but they must be kept on a leash.
There are two stores on site that sell snacks and souvenirs, including home baked goods.
There are also designated picnic areas for you to sit and take in your surroundings.
10. Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens has been open for over 125 years and is an important green space in the city of Pittsburgh.
It was designed to be instructional whilst also bringing pleasure to the local people, and it continues to embody this role today.
There are various gardens to explore, as well as educational classes and seasonal exhibits.
You can explore Phipps in your own time, or take a guided tour privately or as part of a group.
There is so much to see and a lot to learn, so taking a tour will ensure that you get the most out of your experience.
After you have seen all of the gardens, you can visit the shop to peruse a range of botanically inspired items – art, home decor, toys, games, jewelry and much more.
There are also items from local artists and designers on sale.
Finish off your visit with a drink and some food in the cafe, with a good selection of items to choose from. You can sit and relax or get something to go.
You need to book your tickets online, and guided tours must also be booked in advance.
Make sure you dress appropriately for the weather and keep in mind that the temperature can vary across the different gardens and in the conservatory.
11. Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site
The Eastern State Penitentiary is considered to be America’s most historic prison and it attracts many visitors each year.
People come to see where well known criminals like Al Capone and Slick Willie Sutton were held.
It is close to the Philadelphia Museum Of Art, so you can easily visit both attractions in one day.
Included in the price of your admission is an MP3 player with headphones that guides you through the penitentiary, explaining the rich history of the building along the way.
The main audio tour is 40 minutes long, but there are additional extra audio clips if you want to learn more about certain things.
As well as the audio tour there are also guided tours available. They are designed to be fast, fun, and informative.
These tours are included in your admission fee and they give you a more hands-on experience.
If you prefer, you can take a night tour of the penitentiary. These are seasonal and offer sunset views of the complex.
The Night Tours are educational and not scary, but if you fancy a fright you can book on to a Halloween Night.
Halloween Night is an immersive experience with historic tours, haunted houses, live entertainment and themed bars.
12. Reading Terminal Market
This indoor Farmers Market in Philadelphia is free to enter and offers a range of exciting stalls.
You can buy arts and crafts, gifts, drinks, baked goods, confectionery, flowers and plants, produce, seafood, meat, ice cream, and lots of other things all under one roof.
There is an impressive range of eateries to choose from offering various cuisines like cajun, caribbean, BBQ, dutch, Thai, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Japanese and much more.
This is a perfect place to visit for foodies who want to take in all of the sights and smells of the produce stalls as well as the eateries, and sample some fantastic food.
The market has been open since 1893 and is an important part of Philadelphia history.
It played a vital role in the Great Depression and World War 2, offering farmers a place to sell their produce to keep their farms going.
There was a decline in visitors to the market after the war, but after a renewed interest in the 1980s the market has blossomed again and continues to flourish.
13. The Franklin Institute
The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia is one of America’s most celebrated Museums.
It is a science museum and has lots of interesting exhibits centered around science and technology.
It is not only an interesting place to visit, it is also an important center for education and innovation.
There are lots of exciting exhibits to explore.
You will be able to learn about electricity, the human brain, the human heart, machinery, flight, geology, physics, space, trains, sports science, and engineering.
There are also seasonal exhibits – check the website to find out more.
Inside the museum is a large planetarium with different shows that you can experience.
Live science shows are held at regular intervals throughout the day including dissections.
You can also check out the Benjamin Franklin Memorial.
Guests can visit the observatory with a refracting telescope, which offers a safe way to view the sun.
The observatory has been open since 1934.
The Science Park is an outdoor area for children to play and adults to relax, complete with a rope climbing frame.
There is an eatery and a cafe on site for you to re-fuel throughout the day, or to relax after looking at all of the exhibits.
14. Flight 93 National Memorial
This is a memorial site dedicated to the 40 passengers and crew on board United Airlines Flight 93 on September 11th, 2001.
The plane was hijacked with the intention of crashing into the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.
The actions of the passengers and crew prevented this from happening, but they tragically lost their lives.
This is an emotional day out, but it is important to the modern history of Pennsylvania and the United States.
In the visitor center you can learn more about the history of the event through the exhibits, and visit the bookstore.
You should also check out the Tower of Voices, a 93 feet tall memorial that is both visual and audible.
There are 40 wind chimes to represent the 40 people on the plane who lost their lives.
Finish off with Memorial Plaza, the northern boundary of the crash site and the final resting place of the crew and the passengers.
Their names are engraved on 40 individual white marble stones.
15. Dutch Wonderland
Dutch Wonderland is a 48 acre theme park with over 30 rides, various attractions and live shows, and great restaurants.
There are rides for all ages so this is a great day out for the whole family.
Check out Exploration Island to step back in time into a prehistoric paradise.
Walk the Prehistoric path and see 22 different dinosaurs, dig up some fossils in the sand pits, and take a relaxing boat ride.
You will easily be able to find something to eat as there is a great choice of snack vendors and dine in restaurants.
Choose from BBQ food, pizza, pasta, pretzels, burgers, grilled chicken, hot dogs, corn dogs, paninis and much more.
If you want to stay on site there is a hotel and a campground. This means that you don’t have to rush to try out all of the attractions in one day.
16. Please Touch Museum
If you have children that love to look with their hands then this is the perfect museum for them.
The displays are interactive and designed to be touched, so you can learn by doing.
There are arts and crafts, fun machines, adventure playgrounds, gardens and much more.
Each exhibit teaches children about the world around them whilst letting them develop motor skills and have new sensory experiences.
They also provide excellent opportunities for parents and children to play and learn together in a fun environment.
This is a day out that your children will never forget.
There is a lovely cafe with indoor and outdoor seating for grabbing a bite to eat.
As well as the permanent exhibits there are seasonal exhibits and special events – have a look online for more information and to plan your visit.
It is best to buy tickets in advance to avoid disappointment, especially during peak times.
17. Ricketts Glen State Park
This state park is over 13,000 acres in size and stretches across three different counties.
It is considered to be one of the most scenic areas in the state of Pennsylvania so is well worth a visit.
It is known for its beautiful, flowing water falls which you can explore on foot using the Falls Trail System.
Ganoga Falls is the highest of the 22 waterfalls at 94 feet.
The park is open all year round, but camping is only available seasonally. The campground features flushable toilets and hot showers.
There are 120 sites available. There are also 10 cabins and one cottage that are available to rent.
Keep an eye out for local wildlife as you explore the park.
It is a popular spot for birdwatching, with various species of warbler and eagle. There is also a population of black bears in the park.
You are able to swim in a designated area of the beach from mid-May to mid-September.
It’s also a great spot for fishing and boating, and rental boats are available.
Other activities you can do within the park include horseback riding, snowmobiling, skiing and hunting.
18. Andy Warhol Museum
The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh is the perfect attraction for art lovers.
It holds the largest collection of Andy Warhol’s work and archival materials, and celebrates his place of birth.
The exhibitions are on a rotating schedule to keep the museum fresh and interesting.
Admission to the museum includes access to permanent and temporary exhibitions, film screenings, and gallery talks.
There is a cafe and store that guests can use to relax, eat, and purchase Warhol-related items.
Visiting the museum is a fantastic way to spend a morning or an afternoon.
19. Carnegie Museum Of Natural History
This museum opened in 1895 with a collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts, dinosaur fossils, and wildlife taxidermy.
Over time, many scientists from various fields have continued to contribute to the collection including geologists, botanists, entomologists, zoologists, anthropologists, and many more.
It is now a world class museum with many visitors each year.
Some of the permanent exhibitions include- dinosaurs in their time, from Egypt to Pittsburgh, We are nature, Hillman Hall of minerals and gems, paleolab, Hall of botany, Cretaceous Seaway, Alcoa Foundational Hall of American Indians, Hall of North American wildlife and many more.
20. Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
This is a 150 acre wildlife park and zoo in central Pennsylvania.
It has zoo exhibits, safari tours, a petting zoo, a museum, and a reptile center – lots of attractions rolled into one!
You can get up close and personal with various animals, and look at others from a safe distance!
There are lions, bears, alligators, buffalo, snakes, baboons, capybaras, tigers, monkeys, zebras, lemurs, kangaroos, giraffes and many more.
These attractions showcase the best features of Pennsylvania including landscape, history, wildlife and culture.
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