The state of Pennsylvania is located along the east coast of the United States and is one of the 13 original states. The state is named after Sir William Penn, a Quaker and writer originally from London. Being one of the original 13, it’s no surprise that the state is steeped in history. The Declaration of Independence and Constitution were drafted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And the Battle of Gettysburg, one of the most important battles of the American Civil War, was fought in the state. Today, Pennsylvania is the fifth most populated state in the nation. Visitors flock to the state to immerse themselves in its history, art, and culture. We’ve put together a list of some of our favourite things to do in Pennsylvania, USA. So keep on reading and check out the options.
1. Discover Victorian-style greenhouses at Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburg
Our list starts off with Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. The conservatory has been around since 1893, delighting its visitors with colourful flowers and lush green plants across 15 acres (66 ha). On the site you’ll find 23 gardens and a glasshouse with 14 rooms. They also put on a host of events, including flower shows and events for holidays. There are even courses for adults and children who want to immerse themselves even further. Keep an eye on their website to see what’s on during your visit.
Address: 1 Schenley Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, United States
Website: Phipps Conservatory
Opening hours: Sat - Thu: 9:30am - 5pm; Fri: 9:30am - 10pm
Price: 18 USD
If you’re a history buff, this walking tour around Philadelphia might be right up your alley. The tour starts at Betsy Ross House, where Betsy sewed the very first American flag. You’ll then spend some time walking through the Old City district, where William Penn first settled. You’ll also walk through Historic District, seeing sights like the US Mint and the site where Ben Franklin used to live. And there are loads of other places you will get to see, including George Washington’s home and Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed. The tour will last about 2 hours, and is limited to 12 people. You’ll finish the tour with a drink in a local establishment.
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
3. Take your kids to Hersheypark in Hershey
If you’re taking the kids along to your trip to Pennsylvania, an excellent place to spend the day is Hersheypark. Located in the town of Hershey, Hersheypark is a family theme park originally created to be a park for employees of the Hershey Chocolate Company. Today the theme park has 70 rides and attractions, and even has a zoo! Kids can ride roller coasters and race down waterslides. And of course, there are plenty of eating options when you’re hungry and need a break. It’s sure to be a memorable day for the kids.
Address: 100 Hersheypark Dr, Hershey, PA 17033, United States
Opening hours: Vary
Price: 42 USD
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4. Spend a relaxing time at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square
Longwood Gardens spans more than 1,077 acres (436 ha) and features gardens, meadows, and woodlands in the city of Kenneth Square. It has both native and exotic plants and 20 indoor gardens within greenhouses. If you’re a nature lover, this is the perfect place to walk and take in the natural beauty. The gardens are also home to a wide range of events, including flower shows, concerts, and courses. So keep an eye on their website to see if anything is on during your visit.
Address: 1001 Longwood Rd, Kennett Square, PA 19348, United States
Website: Longwood Gardens
Opening hours: Sun - Wed: 9am - 6pm; Thu - Sat: 9am - 9pm
Price: 25 USD
Philadelphia’s iconic Love sculpture, created by Robert Indiana in 1976, can be found in Love Park. The sculpture is well-loved by the city and has been photographed countless times by locals and tourists alike. This trolley tour will take you past the sculpture so you can see it for yourself. And you’ll get to see plenty of other attractions including City Hall and the Liberty Bell. You can bring your own beer or wine on the trolley, making it a unique tour where you can unwind while your guide shares the history of this city on this two-hour tour.
Duration: 2 hours
If you’re a lover of architecture and art history, taking this tour is a must while you’re in Pennsylvania. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater is located about an hour outside of Pittsburgh. Fallingwater is an icon of American architecture: it’s built partially over a waterfall, and perfectly integrates nature with the indoors. On this private tour of this architectural icon, your guide will share information about Frank Lloyd Wright and about the house itself. You can expect the tour to last around six hours, and you’ll be picked up from and dropped off at an agreed location in downtown Pittsburgh.
Duration: 6 hours
7. Explore Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, a former prison
Fans of all things spooky might be interested in visiting Eastern State Penitentiary, located in Philadelphia. Eastern State Penitentiary opened its doors in 1829, and was an infamous prison known for its strict discipline and for housing famous criminals like Al Capone. It closed in 1971. Today it’s a historic site which attracts visitors from all over the world. The prison hosts different ways to explore the site depending on the season. At time of writing, you can join a daytime tour of the prison, or visit at night, when the prison is set up like a haunted house for Halloween. Whatever option you choose, you’ll get to explore the dilapidated cell blocks, look up at the towers, and get a sense of what it was like to be locked up inside the prison walls.
Eastern State Penitentiary
Address: 2027 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19130, United States
Website: Eastern State Penitentiary
Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)
8. Catch a performance at Sight and Sound Theatre in Ronks
Sight and Sound Theatres has two theatres in the country: one in Branson, Missouri and one in Ronks, Pennsylvania. The company puts on theatre productions which tell stories of the bible. They got their start in the 1970s, and today their shows feature state-of-the-art special effects, detailed sets, and even live animals. Their productions tend to run for a year or two at a time and they put on a show each Christmas so it’s worth keeping an eye on their website to see what’s on during your visit.
Sight and Sound Theatre
Address: 300 Hartman Bridge Rd, Ronks, PA 17572, United States
Website: Sight and Sound Theatre
9. Admire works of art by local artists at Susquehanna Art Museum in Harrisburg
Located in Harrisburg, Susquehanna Art Museum aims to showcase creativity by putting on diverse exhibitions. They got their start in the late 1980s, and feature artworks by local, national, and international artists. They also have outreach programmes so the local community, especially children, can engage with artwork and be inspired by creativity. Their exhibitions change frequently and feature a variety of mediums like painting and photography so there’s always something new to see. Have a look at their website to check the current exhibition and prepare to be inspired!
Susquehanna Art Museum
Address: 1401 N 3rd St, Harrisburg, PA 17102, United States
Website: Susquehanna Art Museum
Opening hours: Thu - Sat: 10am - 5pm; Sun: 12pm - 5pm; Tue: 10am - 5pm; Wed: 10am - 7pm (closed on Mon)
Price: 8 USD
For a dose of American history, why not head to Gettysburg Heritage Center and Museum? At the museum you’ll learn about the Battle of Gettysburg and about the town itself and the people who lived there. On view are artefacts, documents, and interactive displays to tell the story of this infamous Civil War battle. While it’s a small museum, it has excellent review with people raving about the exhibitions and the helpful staff. And of course there’s a gift shop—the perfect place to pick up some souvenirs during your trip.
Duration: 1 to 2 hours
11. Discover the dramatic story of America’s founding at Museum of the American Revolution (from USD 24.0)
To explore even more of America’s history, you can head to Philadelphia’s Museum of the American Revolution. The museum opened in 2017 and shares the story of the founding of the United States of America. The story is told through a variety of items, including weapons, artwork, rare books, and textiles. You’ll follow the story chronologically, from the start of the Revolution in the 1760s to the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 to the defeat of the British in 1783. A visit the museum is a great way to buff up on your American history and to view historic artefacts along the way.
Duration: 3 to 4 hours
12. Enjoy a meal at Cadence Restaurant
After all your sight seeing, you might get a bit hungry so why not stop at Cadence Restaurant? It’s an American restaurant with a focus on local, quality ingredients. This small, rustic restaurant serves up a prix fixe menu—that is a fixed price menu with four courses. The menu changes seasonally and there is a vegetarian options available. While it is a small space with a small menu, it’s feels very curated and hip so you know you’ll get a good meal.
Address: 161 W Girard Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19123, United States
Website: Cadence Restaurant
Opening hours: Tue - Thu: 5:30pm - 10pm; Fri: 5:30pm - 10:30pm; Sat: 5pm - 10:30pm (closed on Sun & Mon)
When you’re feeling like you want to enjoy some outdoor fun, you can take this white water rafting tour on the Youghiogheny River, just one hour south of Pittsburgh. At the start of your rafting trip, your guide will share useful information about rafting and safety. You’re then ready to launch! Your guide will come along with you and continue to help you along the way but they won’t be in the raft with you so you can feel a sense of independence. Along the way you will stop for a picnic lunch. This is a great way to get outdoors and experience the scenery around Pittsburgh.
Duration: 5 hours
14. Visit Philadelphia Zoo
If you’re travelling with kids or are simply and animal lover, spending the day at Philadelphia Zoo is a great option. The zoo sits along the Schuylkill River and is actually America’s first true zoo. It opened in 1974 with an admission price of 25 cents and had 1000 animals on display. Today the zoo has around 1300 animals and sits on 42 acres (17 hectares). There’s plenty to explore at the zoo, including areas for bears, big cats, penguins, and monkeys. They also host regular seasonal events so do keep an eye on their website.
Address: 3400 W Girard Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States
Website: Philadelphia Zoo
Opening hours: 9:30am - 5pm (daily)
Price: 24 USD
If you’re keen to learn more about Philadelphia’s maritime history, then you can make a stop at Independence Seaport Museum. The museum has been around since 1961 and is located along the Delaware River. It aims to share information about maritime history along the river with its visitors. You can explore two historic ships, as well as exhibitions which share information about World War I, the US Navy, and experiences of immigrants coming to America. The museum also regularly hosts events so do keep an eye on their website for more information.
Duration: 1 to 2 hours
If you love cars, then a visit to AACA Museum is an absolute must. The museum is located in Hershey, Pennsylvania and is dedicated to showcasing vintage cars. They opened their doors in 2003 and show a wide range of vehicles, from cars to motorcycles to buses. The museum spans three floors and docents are around to answer any questions. There are famous vehicles on display, including the Lakeland Bus from the film Forrest Gump and Whitney Houston’s limo.
Duration: 2 to 3 hours
Are you an adrenaline junkie? Then head to iFLY King of Prussia and try indoor skydiving. Located in Philadelphia, this vertical wind tunnel simulated a skydive. You’ll be provided with all necessary equipment so you just need to worry about having fun. The wind tunnel provides a free-fall-like experience, with 175 miles (282 kilometres) per hour winds. It’s a great option for those thinking about skydiving but want to test the waters first. Your ticket will include two flights with an instructor, and you’ll receive a training session before getting started.
Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes
Experience driving at the famous Pocono Raceway. For three hours, you’ll get to feel like a race car driver as you travel for 10 miles (16 km) at high speeds. You’ll receive a training session to start with and then it’s time to suit up in official NASCAR gear. You get to drive a 600-horsepower stock car, taking it around the track just like the pros do! If you like to drive fast, this is a safe and fun environment to really get that engine revving.
Duration: 3 hours
19. Discover interactive exhibits at Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia
Do you like taking your kids the museums but worry about them touching all the art? Then Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia is just what you need. As the name suggests, this museum features a wide range of interactive exhibitions which kids can touch and play with. They’ll have fun exploring things like the Space Station display which features toys from Star Wars and a replica of the Statue of Liberty made from toys. The museum puts on a variety of programmes, including a theatre and Story Castle, where kids can listen to a story or read a book.
Please Touch Museum
Address: 4231 Avenue of the Republic, Philadelphia, PA 19131, United States
Website: Please Touch Museum
Opening hours: Mon - Tue: 9am - 5pm; Wed: 10am - 5pm; Thu - Sat: 9am - 5pm; Sun: 11am - 5pm
Price: 20 USD
20. Drop by Independence Hall, where the US Constitution was signed
If you’re in Philadelphia and interested in American history, then a stop at Independence Hall is a must. Both the US Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were signed in this building. It was built in 1753 and served as the capitol at the time. Today visitors can tour the building, seeing the rooms where important documents were signed and where important conversations were held. It’s a great way to step back in history and learn about America’s early days.
Address: 520 Chestnut Street between 5th and 6th streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Website: Independence Hall
Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)
21. Be amazed by Philadelphia's Magic Gardens
Last but certainly not least on our list is Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is an immersive art environment which is completely covered in mosaic tiles. The space was created by Isaiah Zagar and encompasses two galleries and a garden. The artwork began in 1991, next to the artist’s studios. When the land went up for sale, the community rallied around the artists and saves the mosaic. The gallery as we know it today opened in 2008, inspiring visitors. In addition to viewing the artworks, the gallery puts on a wide range of events including tours and workshops.
Philadelphia's Magic Gardens
Address: 1020 South St, Philadelphia, PA 19147, United States
Website: Philadelphia's Magic Gardens
Opening hours: Wed - Mon: 11am - 6pm (closed on Tue)
Price: 10 USD
Sesame Place is another great option if you’ll be travelling with kids. Located just 30 minutes from Philadelphia, your kids will have loads of fun interacting with their favourite characters from Sesame Street at this theme park. When they’re not posing with Big Bird, there are plenty of rides to enjoy and shows to watch. There are also, of course, a range of options when you get hungry. It’s a day out the kids are sure to enjoy!
Duration: 8 hours
Art lovers will enjoy a trip to Rodin Museum, which boasts the largest Rodin sculpture collection outside of France. The museum opened in 1929, starting as a private collection of Rodin artworks by Jules Mastbaum, a movie theatre magnate. Today the museum contains some of the artist’s most famous works, including The Thinker and The Kiss. There is also a garden to stroll through–the perfect place to reflect on what you’ve seen in the museum.
Duration: 1 day
One Liberty Observation Deck offers up stunning views over the city of Philadelphia. The deck sits 833 feet (253 meters) high, and gives 360-degree views of the city. You’ll be able to view major attractions like Love Park and City Hall. There are also digital displays on the observation deck so you can explore the city’s history while taking in the views. We recommend going at sundown so you can take in the beautiful sunset over the city.
Duration: 60 to 90 minutes
Macy’s Center City is a popular department store located in the historic building of the Wanamaker department store in Philadelphia. Wanamaker was one of the first department stores in the nation and the building is designated as a National Historical Landmark. With Macy’s now occupying the space, you can of course stop by and do some shopping. But if you’d like to learn more about this historic building and the original company, we recommend taking this tour. It lasts about 45 minutes, and your guide will share the building’s history and point out architectural elements. You’ll also receive a 10-percent discount at Macy’s.
Duration: 45 minutes
When the kids are getting a bit antsy, you can spend a day with them at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and MuseumLab. This museum wants kids to get creative through a variety of activities like painting and dance. Artists will work alongside the children to make creative pieces of art in a variety of mediums. It’s a great way to get kids inspired and interested in art, and to get their creative juices flowing. There are spaces for babies and the MuseumLab is just for kids 10 and older. The museum is a big hit with kids and you may just come away with a masterpiece to frame!
Duration: 3 to 5 hours
Up next we’ve got another great option for the history buffs out there: this tour of President James Buchanan’s estate, Wheatland. Your guides will be dressed in period costumes and will lead you through the 17 rooms of this estate. The estate was built in 1828, and today, visitors will see it furnished to look as it did in the mid-1800s. You’ll learn about the 15th president’s politics as well as his personal life. It’s a great way to get up-close and personal with American history.
Duration: 1 to 2 hours
Arcade Comedy Theater has been around since 2013, and since then they’ve put on more than 1000 shows. They’ve recently moved to a new, larger building which has two stages to bring you even more comedy. They put in loads of shows which are reasonably priced so book tickets and who knows, you may be seeing the next big name in comedy? And if you want to learn more about the history of the building the Arcade Comedy Theater sits in, you can take this Taking Liberty, The Pittsburgh Red-Light District Tour. You’ll travel down Liberty Avenue, making a stick at Arcade Comedy Theatre which used to be a massage parlour. You’ll learn about this area’s seedy history and how it was turned into the cultural hub it is today.
Allentown’s Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom is theme park and water park—the perfect place to enjoy some thrills and cool off on a hot day. There are 64 rides at the park, including 7 roller coasters to try, as well as a variety of other rides for adults and children alike. You’ll also find 22 water slides and 2 wave pools in the water park. With so much to do, it’s an excellent spot to spend a day riding the rides and having fun.
If you’re a foodie, you’re sure to enjoy this tour which makes a stop at 9th Street Italian Market, the oldest outdoor market in America. There you can sample a wide range of foods, including cheeses, chocolate, and spices. You’ll have an hour to peruse the market. But that’s not all you’ll do—this tour lasts three-and-a-half hours and makes other stops in South Philadelphia. At Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, a gallery and art centre, you’ll be inspired by mosaic art by Isaiah Zagar. The tour finishes off with a walk through the charming historic neighbourhood of Queen Village and a walk past Fabric Row, the largest strip of fabric shops in the nation. This tour is an excellent way to explore the diversity of south Philadelphia and enjoy some good food along the way.
Duration: 3 hours
Pennsylvania has so much to offer
Whether you want to explore the state’s history, take the kids on a fun adventure, or check out some artwork, Pennsylvania has so much to offer. And with plenty of activities spread across the entire state, it makes a great place to enjoy a road trip and really explore one of the original 13. So grab your road map and start planning your trip to Pennsylvania!
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