Best Places to Visit in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania features cities large and small, foodie spots, sports hubs and more. Plus, the state experiences all four seasons, meaning you can pick your favorite time to visit. U.S. News considered sights, culture, adventurous pursuits and accessibility, in addition to expert and user feedback, to decide the best places to visit in Pennsylvania. Have a favorite spot? Vote for your top Keystone State destination below to help us determine next year's list. (Note: Some of the below destinations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Check with the CDC and the U.S. Department of State before traveling.)

 

SUMMARY

Best Places to Visit in Pennsylvania

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    Philadelphia

    #1 in Best Places to Visit in Pennsylvania

    Philly is one of America's most notable historical destinations thanks to top sights like the Liberty Bell (which abolitionists, women's suffrage advocates and other groups have used in their causes as a symbol of liberty) and Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated and signed). What's more, the city offers something for travelers of all ages: Kids will enjoy the Please Touch Museum and the Philadelphia Zoo, while adults can stroll through the Reading Terminal Market and admire Rittenhouse Square. Don't forget to try a classic Philly cheesesteak before you go.

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    Gettysburg

    #2 in Best Places to Visit in Pennsylvania

    History buffs will love Gettysburg. Travelers can tour the roughly 6,000-acre Gettysburg National Military Park (the site of the Civil War's bloodiest battle) and check out other historical attractions, such as the Jennie Wade House (where the only civilian casualty from the Battle of Gettysburg died) and the Eisenhower National Historic Site (a farm that once belonged to former President Dwight D. Eisenhower). Those who prefer a spookier glimpse of Gettysburg's past can sign up for a ghost tour. After sightseeing, visit an antiques store to find a piece of war memorabilia to take home as a souvenir.

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    Pittsburgh

    #3 in Best Places to Visit in Pennsylvania

    An up-and-coming foodie destination, Pittsburgh woos travelers with its new restaurants that serve everything from Asian-Mexican fusion fare to Italian cuisine. In addition to eating your way through the Steel City, you'll want to visit the Andy Warhol Museum to see its extensive collection of the late pop art legend's work. Also save time for a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game at or tour of PNC Park, as well as a ride on the Duquesne Incline, which takes passengers to the top of Mount Washington.

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    Hershey

    #4 in Best Places to Visit in Pennsylvania

    Hershey is known as "The Sweetest Place on Earth" – and for good reason. Here, you'll find Hershey's Chocolate World, where you can take a free tour of the facility to see how Hershey's chocolate and candy are made. Once you've satisfied your sweet tooth, head next door to Hershey Park to enjoy more than 70 chocolate-themed attractions designed for thrill-seekers of all ages. For a more laid-back vacation, visit ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park to see the animals or Hershey Gardens to stroll through its 23 acres of gardens.

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    Valley Forge

    #5 in Best Places to Visit in Pennsylvania

    Visit Valley Forge to spend your next vacation learning about American history. The village served as the winter encampment for former President George Washington and the Continental Army from 1977 to 1978. You can tour the encampment to see sights like the United States National Memorial Arch, the Artillery Park and Washington's Headquarters. The park also offers storytelling sessions during the warmer months, plus miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. When you need a break from the village's rich history, enjoy some retail therapy at the nearby King of Prussia Mall, which features more than 400 stores.

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    Lancaster

    #6 in Best Places to Visit in Pennsylvania

    The Dutch Wonderland amusement park and the Amish are synonymous with Lancaster. The family-friendly theme park wins praise for its variety of rides for younger kids. Meanwhile, Lancaster's Amish buggy rides and impressive farmers markets are popular with travelers of all ages. To learn more about the Amish way of life, visit The Amish Experience and The Amish Farm and House. Other must-dos include shopping at the area's outlets and taking a taproom tour of a local brewery.

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    Erie

    #7 in Best Places to Visit in Pennsylvania

    Erie is Pennsylvania's fourth-largest city (by population) and its only port city on the Great Lakes. Its location on the southern shore of Lake Erie makes it an excellent place to enjoy outdoor activities. Head to Presque Isle State Park – Pennsylvania's most-visited state park – to go surfing, scuba diving, hiking and biking in summer. Or, arrive in fall to sample Erie's top-notch wine during harvest season. Beer is also popular here, so be sure to check out some of the breweries that comprise the Lake Erie Ale Trail.

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    Delaware Water Gap

    #8 in Best Places to Visit in Pennsylvania

    Lovers of the great outdoors flock to the Delaware Water Gap each summer to hike and admire the area's green forests and waterfalls. Travelers can also rent canoes or kayaks and take to the water, fish at numerous lakes and streams or swim at Milford and Smithfield beaches. For those who'd rather stay on land, the nearly 70,000-acre Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area offers ample opportunities to bike, hunt and go rock climbing. Visit in winter to take advantage of cold-weather activities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice climbing.

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    The Poconos

    #9 in Best Places to Visit in Pennsylvania

    Whether you're looking for a relaxing getaway with your significant other, a vacation full of nonstop adventure or something in between, the Poconos have you covered. This mountain range in northeastern Pennsylvania is home to several state parks featuring forests, waterfalls, lakes and streams, making it an ideal place to hike, ride horses, swim, hunt and camp in summer. Plus, the Pocono Mountains draw skiers and snowboarders in droves in winter thanks to their more than 185 slopes and trails. Whenever you choose to visit, plan on staying at one of the Poconos' luxurious resorts or charming inns.

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    Allegheny National Forest

    #10 in Best Places to Visit in Pennsylvania

    Pennsylvania's only national forest is a haven for outdoor recreation. Occupying more than 500,000 acres, Allegheny National Forest offers countless chances to hike, bike, ride horses and cross-country ski, depending on the season. You can also visit the forest's reservoir to enjoy water activities like fishing, windsurfing and water skiing. To make your vacation here extra memorable, try panning for gold or looking for fossils. Then, hop in your car and take a scenic drive along the 36-mile Longhouse National Scenic Byway.

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    York, PA

    #11 in Best Places to Visit in Pennsylvania

    Head to York if you like to go on educational vacations. The "Factory Tour Capital of the World" offers dozens of behind-the-scenes tours at local facilities, including the Harley-Davidson Vehicle Operations factory and the Bluett Bros. Violins workshop. Plus, York boasts a direct connection to the Continental Congress and the Articles of Confederation, which you can learn more about at the York County Heritage Trust's Colonial Complex. When you're ready to take a break from sightseeing, grab a bite to eat at York's Central Market or go wine tasting at one of the Mason-Dixon Wine Trail's wineries.

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    Hickory Run State Park

    #12 in Best Places to Visit in Pennsylvania

    Hickory Run State Park appeals to travelers who love nature. This sprawling state park in Carbon County boasts approximately 16,000 acres of land divided into three areas, including National Natural Landmark-listed Boulder Field. Additionally, Hickory Run features more than 40 miles of hiking trails, such as traveler favorites like Shades of Death (a challenging trail known for its thick forests and excellent bird-watching opportunities) and the Hawk Falls Trail (a difficult path that ends near a 25-foot-tall waterfall). It's also a popular place to swim, fish and play disc golf.

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    Lake Wallenpaupack

    #13 in Best Places to Visit in Pennsylvania

    If you're eager to spend some time in and on water, choose Lake Wallenpaupack as your next vacation destination. This man-made lake is one of the largest in the state, occupying 5,700 acres. Popular summer pursuits here include swimming, water skiing, boating and kayaking, while winter activities range from ice skating to snowshoeing to ice fishing. Lake Wallenpaupack also features six recreation areas, so if you need a break from the water, head ashore to enjoy land-based activities like hiking, camping and snowmobiling.

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    Ricketts Glen State Park

    #14 in Best Places to Visit in Pennsylvania

    Ricketts Glen State Park is one of the state's most scenic locales. Featuring more than 13,000 acres, this impressive state park in Pennsylvania's Columbia, Luzerne and Sullivan counties is home to the Glens Natural Area, a National Natural Landmark. It also offers 26 miles of hiking trails that take you through centuries-old forests and around stunning rock formations. If you only have time to trek one of the park's 11 trails, travelers recommend choosing the Falls Trail. This 7.2-mile loop travels past 21 of the park's 22 waterfalls, including Ganoga Falls (Ricketts Glen's tallest waterfall).

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    Lehigh Valley

    #15 in Best Places to Visit in Pennsylvania

    This valley in eastern Pennsylvania – which comprises larger cities like Allentown and Bethlehem, plus smaller towns like Easton – is packed with things to do. History buffs can learn about Lehigh Valley's Colonial days at historical sights like the 1750 Smithy and the Bachmann Publick House. Outdoor enthusiasts will find ample opportunities for hiking, biking, skiing and whitewater rafting. Families will love visiting Easton's Crayola Experience and Allentown's Dorney Park. And for adults, there are dozens of breweries, distilleries and wineries to check out. For even more ambiance, arrive in fall to go leaf peeping and apple picking.

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