Twelve Unique Pittsburgh Travel Experiences

Lillian Rafson, Founder and CEO of Pack Up + Go, a Pittsburgh-based travel agency that plans surprise vacations around the United States, spends most of her free time exploring. She shares with TABLE readers her favorite places to visit within a few hours of the Steel City. Get on the road!

Twelve Unique Pittsburgh Travel Experiences

A bridge over a beautiful green forest in Kinzua State Park

Kinzua Bridge State Park, PA

The Allegheny National Forest is home to one of my favorite outdoor sightseeing opportunities: Kinzua Bridge State Park. The Kinzua Viaduct was a structure that was once 300 feet tall and 2,000-plus feet long. However, it was partially destroyed by a tornado in 2003. Today, you can take in the views of the gorge from the observation deck, but there’s nothing quite as Pittsburgh as meandering through a field of 200-year-old fallen steel beams as you walk around the hill below.

A vineyard in Erie, PA

Erie Wine Country, PA

On a recent trip to Lake Erie, I saw firsthand the beauty of Erie’s wine country, a slice of heaven. As you drive through North East, PA, you’ll swear you’re in the Italian countryside. A visit to Courtyard, Mazza, and other wineries, is a perfect way to enjoy a refreshing glass of wine on a summer afternoon. Even if you can’t visit, you can check out some of TABLE’s coverage of how the Erie wine region stacks up to its international competitors. 

The fall foliage of Ohiopyle

Ohiopyle, PA

Ohiopyle is one of my favorite day trips from Pittsburgh. My go-to itinerary includes coffee and a sandwich from Bittersweet Cafe in Farmington, then a stroll along the river or a hike. Enjoy a picnic while taking in the views: my favorite overlook is from the Boughman Trail!

The exterior of Polymath Park, a Frank Lloyd Wright building just outside of Pittsburgh

Polymath Park, PA

You’ve probably been to Fallingwater. But, did you know that you can actually spend the night in a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright? At Polymath Park, just an hour away from Pittsburgh, you can rent one of four architecturally stunning homes. Two were designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and two by one of his students, Peter Berndtson, for the night. Or, consider visiting for a dinner at Treetops Restaurant, their on-site restaurant where you can enjoy your dinner from a treehouse.

An aerial view of downtown Bedford, PA and its landmarks

Bedford, PA

Head east on I-76 and drive back in time to Bedford, PA, one of the most charming small towns in Pennsylvania. If you want to spend the night, indulge at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort, or drive out for a day trip to meander the town square and do some antique shopping, support the charming small boutiques, and enjoy one of the many delicious restaurants.

A green, wooded trail with two people biking on it

GAP Trail, PA and MD

Spend an afternoon, an entire day, or even a week experiencing the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP), a 150-mile trail spanning countless small towns from Pittsburgh to Cumberland. For those looking to bike from Pittsburgh to Washington DC, the GAP Trail connects to the C&O Canal Towpath. It makes a complete 330-mile ride that never touches a highway. You can camp along the way or stay in the charming bed & breakfasts available in each town!
The interior of one of the Troy Hill Art Houses with vinyl records over the windows and red walls

Troy Hill Art Houses, Pittsburgh, PA

For an otherworldly experience in the heart of our own city, I recommend the Troy Hill Art Houses, a hidden gem even for Pittsburgh residents. With three completely unique houses to choose from (and more on the way!), these immersive pieces of art will leave you in awe of what exists right in our backyard.

The Sarris Candies facility in a parking lot

Sarris Candies, Canonsburg, PA

Have a sweet tooth? Even if you’ve tried the Pittsburgh-famous Sarris Candies chocolate-covered pretzels, a visit to their store in Canonsburg is well worth the visit. You’ll be transported back in time with their old-school ice cream parlor. People of all ages will be delighted by the array of candies and trinkets available throughout the store.

The town of Thomas, West Virginia on a sunny day

Thomas and Davis, WV

On one hand, I want to tell everyone how much I absolutely love the nearby West Virginia towns of Thomas and Davis, but I selfishly want to keep these gems to myself. Treat yourself to a weekend enjoying the restaurants, galleries, and shops of Thomas, check out live music at The Purple Fiddle, go for a hike in Blackwater Falls State Park, and spend the night at The Billy Motel.

A flowery outdoor field with a gazebo at Berkeley Springs

Berkeley Springs, WV

Nestled in the scenic Appalachian Mountains, Berkeley Springs is a hidden gem in the hills of West Virginia. This charming town is famous for its hot springs, where you can soak in the natural mineral waters, browse the shops, and soak up the mountain-town vibes.

A waterfall in a sunny, green glen

Hocking Hills, OH

Hocking Hills State Park is one of my top recommendations for a year-round destination for nature lovers–and it’s just three hours from Pittsburgh! There’s no shortage of charming cabins for rent. You can spend days exploring the trails, caves, and gorgeous waterfalls throughout the park.

The shore of Geneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio

Geneva-on-the-Lake, OH

Geneva-on-the-Lake is like stepping back in time for a summer escape. The town is in full-swing and picture-perfect from Memorial Day through Labor Day. It’s complete with a vintage amusement park, plenty of small-town charm. And, of course an amazing beachfront lake for you to soak up the sun.

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