With its majestic forests and rich history, Pennsylvania is full of interesting places to visit. Philadelphia boasts the famous Independence Hall and the mint. Across the state, Pittsburgh is home to the most NFL Superbowl rings ever won. With so much to offer, travelers are sure to want to further explore the Keystone State. Pennsylvania has even more than its famous popular attractions, however. There are places you won’t find in the tourism guides. If you’re up for an adventure, there are some unique and interesting venues which are sure to inspire and amaze. Here are nine secret destinations in Pennsylvania visitors should see.
1) Clemente Museum, Pittsburgh
Known to his fans as “The Great One,” Roberto Clemente was more than just a Pittsburgh Pirate; he was one of the greatest baseball players of his time. Committed to preserving his legacy,the privately owned Clemente Museum is a tribute to the Pennsylvania ballplayer.But scheduling a tour is required, so be certain to book a time. Visitors will learn of the struggles that many minority ball players endured during the 1950’s and how Clemente overcame not only the racial and cultural barriers that he was forced to handle, but also the language barrier that had the media constantly questioning his intelligence. Many artifacts and great memorabilia line the halls of this sports museum and it is sure to be a hit, figuratively, with baseball fans touring Pennsylvania.
Benezette is a small town in Elk County, PA, and part of the 127 mile Elk Scenic Drive. Motorists will literally experience one of the rarest experiences of their lives while visiting Benezette. Home to a large herd of free roaming elk, visitors are sure to see them roaming along the road, and sometimes they can be spotted in residential backyards. Animal lovers and outdoors enthusiasts will be awed by these large and majestic creatures when they are less than 10 yards away from them, and it is sure to happen in Elk County.
There are designated viewing areas that visitors can travel to as well if they are unsure about where to start. There is also a guest center where travelers can ask questions and learn about conservation efforts currently in effect. A few wineries can also be found along the elk tours, so guest can spend a day viewing nature and relaxing with a glass of wine.
3) Penn’s Cave and Wildlife Park, Centre Hall
Those who love nature’s small, unusual hideaways are sure to enjoy a day at Penn’s Cave. Home to rich history and “The Legend of the Indian Maiden, Nita-nee,” (for whom the Penn State Nittany Lions was named) this place is sure to leave visitors mixing nature, legend, and history together. Guests will tour a cavern full of limestone formations completely by boat. The unique formations in the cave are breathtaking, but there are many other activities that the park has to offer. Both adults and children can lose themselves in Prospector Pete’s Miner’s Maze, a 4,800 square foot maze. The Cave Rock Mountain Tour is another great option, a complete off road adventure that transports you to the top of the mountain by traveling over obstacles, moguls and ravines. Those looking for some fascinating adventures, along with some breathtaking natural experiences are certain to have a blast at Penn’s Cave and Wildlife Park in Centre Hall.
4) Frick Art and Historical Center, Pittsburgh
Industrialist Henry Clay Frick was a renowned art collector, and both his and his daughter’s expansive collections areon display at the Frick Art and Historical Center in Pittsburgh. Those interested in history can learn how Frick became a major player in US Steel along with how he earned his reputation as one of the most hated men in America for his role in the Johnstown Flood and the Homestead Strikes. Frick’s daughter, Helen Clay Frick, inherited the home after he passed away in 1919 and spent most of her time collecting art. She left strict directions in her will that the family home in Pittsburgh and her collections become open the public. In 1990, the home was restored and now visitors can view the art and architecture reflective of the “Gilded Age.”
5) Johnstown Flood Museum, Johnstown
Dedicated by the Johnstown Area Heritage Association in 1989, this museum’s opening marked the centennial of the Johnstown Flood, one of the most catastrophic disasters ever to occur in the United States. Approximately 2,209 people lost their lives when the dam at South Fork collapsed at 3:10 on May 31. 1889. Visitors to this museum will learn how the flood happened, theories of who is responsible, and historical changes with the law as a result of the flood. The museum is also home to the Robert S. Waters Theater, where the Academy Award winning film produced by Charles Guggenheim is shown to educate guests on the calamitous event. Displays of photographs, artifacts, and virtual representations of the disaster are sure to give visitors an interesting insight into that dreadful day in American history.
6) Buttermilk Falls, New Florence
Hikers and nature lovers will love Buttermilk Falls, home to a 45-foot waterfall and the 48 acres of nature that surrounds it. The land was originally owned by Fred McFeely, grandfather of Fred Rogers, the famous children’s TV host and Pittsburgh native. The park was donated to Indiana County Parks in 1995. As waterfalls are not typical in Pennsylvania, the land is protected for its natural distinction. There is not much development in the park as it is meant to be a conservation area, so guests will need to come prepared for a day of roughing it. Many trails are available for hikers of all levels and all boast their own distinctive features. Those who want to spend a day getting close to nature should certainly stop in Indian County and visit Buttermilk Falls.
7) The Coffee Pot, Bedford
An example of novelty architecture at its best, this coffee pot shaped lunch stand is a great nostalgic attraction in Pennsylvania’s heartland. For decades, Lincoln Highway served as a connector between New York and San Francisco until the Interstate Highway system made travel much easier. Novelty shops and restaurants like this one would line the highways to offer travelers unique shopping and dining experiences. The Coffee Pot in Bedford has stood the test of time. While closed for decades, at one point it came close to demise, but was restored in 2003 when the Bedford Count Fair Association purchased it and the Lincoln Highway Heritage Park spent $80k to relocate it. Although it no longer is a functioning restaurant, it is definitely worth the trip to see it resorted as a rare form of architecture.
8) Ricketts Glen State Park, Benton
Spanning three counties, Luzerne, Sullivan, and Columbia, this 13,050-acre state park boast 22 water falls, old growth timber, and an array of wildlife. It is a must see destination for travelers who love a special hiking experience. Many of the hiking trails are challenging, so come prepared with the proper gear for the treks. Along the trails, visitors will see the state’s largest waterfall, Ganoga Falls, at 94 feet high. Those reticent to hike can enjoy the 250-acre lake, where they can swim, boat, kayak, and fish. Equestrians can enjoy Rickets Glen as well, since the park is home to a 12.5-mile riding loop that will take riders through some of the most beautiful areas in the park. Picnicking facilities are also available, so visitors can spend a relaxing day on the lake and have a family picnic while enjoying what many consider as Pennsylvania’s most scenic park.
9) Tara, Clark
Fans of Margaret Mitchell’s iconic novel, “Gone with the Wind,” must make time to visit Tara in Clark, PA. The iconic novel inspired this majestic inn dubbed merely as “A Country Inn,” but genuinely reflects the epitome of the Old South. Visitors to this posh country estate can enjoy fine dining and luxurious lodging and will love the extravagant white glove service in Ashley’s Gourmet Dining Room. Shirt and tie are required for patrons wishing to enjoy the seven-course gourmet experience. For those who don’t wish to break out the suit and tie, casual Stonewall’s Tavern offers some of the best steak and seafood in the area. Tara’s reputation for its Sunday Brunch is considered first rate and diners from all around leave boasting about the experience.