If you’re looking for a great vacation spot that’s full of history and natural beauty, Pennsylvania is the place for you. Pennsylvania is a state rich in history and culture. This state has some of the most beautiful scenery, intriguing museums, and interesting landmarks you will find anywhere in America. But with so many places to visit and things to see, it can be hard to know where to start.
To help make your decision a little bit easier, I’ve prepared a list of the 14 top things to do in Pennsylvania. No matter what you choose as your favorite type of destination or activity, there’s something on this list for you.
Things to Do in Pennsylvania
1. Independence National Park and the Liberty Bell
If there is one place in Pennsylvania which you absolutely cannot miss, it is the Independence National Historical Park. This historic park has everything to offer, from beautiful gardens and well-maintained lawns to monuments, museums, and even a zoo.
It’s also home to one of the most iconic symbols of America: the Liberty Bell. The bell was given its name because it was rung in 1776 to announce that the Declaration of Independence had officially been adopted. The bell rang on several occasions before finally falling silent in 1846.
Visiting this park is a great way to experience American history. The Liberty Bell, in particular, offers a fascinating glimpse into life during colonial times. And with so many other attractions located here, it’s an excellent place for people who want to learn more about American culture as well as its monuments. It is truly one of the top tourist attractions in Pennsylvania.
Read More: 14 Best Places to Visit in Pennsylvania
2. Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a top tourist attraction in Pennsylvania that contains some of the finest art from around the world. This museum has been named one of the best in America because its home to many important works, including paintings by famous artists like Rembrandt and Monet.
Visitors to this museum can explore sections devoted to ancient civilizations, modern and contemporary pieces, decorative arts, prints and drawings, photography, costumes, and textiles.
Although the Philadelphia Museum of Art contains many great artworks, its main draw is The Rocky Steps. You can find these famous stairs at the back of the museum. If you’re feeling up for it, you can run down these steps just like Rocky did in his iconic film. And if that seems too daunting, you can always take your time walking down them instead.
I would say that The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the top places to visit in Pennsylvania because it has something for everyone, no matter what your interests are.
3. The Pennsylvania State Capitol
The Pennsylvania State Capitol is also one of the top spots to visit in Pennsylvania. Located in downtown Harrisburg, it’s a striking and stately building with a lot of interesting rooms and exhibits. People who like history and architecture will especially enjoy this spot.
And not only is the Pennsylvania State Capitol a piece of history, but it’s also an architectural masterpiece as well. And by visiting, you can see for yourself why this cathedral-like structure has been named one of the most beautiful state capitols in America.
I also think it’s worth mentioning that parking in downtown Harrisburg can be difficult, so you might want to use public transportation if possible. However, with the number of things to see and do here, it would be hard not to come away impressed. All in all, this is definitely one of the top places to visit in Pennsylvania. It’s fun, interesting, and educational for kids and adults alike. If you’re ever passing through central PA, then I highly recommend stopping by.
4. Hershey Park
It’s not just the locals who love Hershey Park. This amusement park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Pennsylvania. Although it may seem like just another amusement park, you’ll quickly realize that there’s something different about this one. That’s because Hershey Park has lots of rides and attractions based on Hershey’s chocolate products. Every building in the park looks like it’s made of candy. So once you step inside, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported straight to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
The rides are definitely the favorite part of this theme park. There are roller coasters with names like “Wildcat” and “Kissing Tower,” which can’t be missed. There are also water slides, carousels, bumper cars, and the list goes on. If that doesn’t sound fun enough already, then I don’t know what will. But the fun doesn’t stop there. You can get your own personalized Hershey bar at the Hershey’s Chocolate World store, go on a simulated chocolate factory tour, watch fireworks shows every night, and so much more.
Even if you aren’t a big fan of theme parks or rides, this park is still worth visiting. There are many interesting attractions that are less about thrill-seeking and more about experiencing the magic of chocolate. You can pet llamas in “Candy Land,” do some shopping at the Hershey’s Store, take an aromatherapy bath with cocoa butter, and so on. This is definitely one of those places that have something for everyone.
5. Phipps Conservatory
The Phipps Conservatory is another one of the top tourist attractions in Pennsylvania you should visit. The Phipps Conservatory boasts beautiful glass architecture and stunning botanical gardens. It was built in 1893 to house exotic plants that were being sent overseas to the United States from foreign countries. Today, this conservatory is home to more than 1,300 plant varieties and features 23 indoor gardens.
What I like about visiting this conservatory is that it feels like you’re getting out on nature even though you’re still in the middle of the city. The lush greenery and beautiful plant life provide a nice mental break from all the sights and sounds of downtown (especially during summer when it gets unbearably hot). And if taking photographs is your thing, then you’re in luck. There are some fantastic photo opportunities here.
6. Ohiopyle State Park
The Ohiopyle State Park is one of Pennsylvania’s top tourist attractions that is a great place for hiking, kayaking, and biking. This scenic park is also home to many waterfalls and has several opportunities if you love outdoor activities.
One of the most popular activities in the area is white water rafting on the Youghiogheny River, which flows through Ohiopyle State Park before emptying into the Monongahela River. There are also hiking trails for those looking to get out into nature, but there aren’t any camping facilities within the state park itself. However, there are campsites nearby that can be used as a base for exploring this beautiful place.
As there are many things to do in Pennsylvania, I would have to say that visiting Ohiopyle State Park should be near the top of your list. It’s a beautiful natural space with lots of outdoor activities to enjoy.
7. Falling Water
One of the best things to do in Pennsylvania is visit Falling water, one of the most famous houses in America. It was built by Frank Lloyd Wright, a world-famous architect whose works include the Guggenheim Museum, and was completed in 1937. This house has been called “a masterpiece of design,” and it is easy to see why: the house sits right on top of a waterfall.
Inside and outside, every detail has been crafted using natural materials that blend seamlessly into their surroundings. The home is furnished with original works by Picasso and Diego Rivera, as well as designer chairs. And that’s why many say that although Falling water is a beautiful home, it’s also an incredible work of art.
Visiting this home was a truly unique experience, and I’m really glad that I decided to go there as part of MY fun Pennsylvania tours. Even though there were lots of other people around at the time, I still felt like it made for a very intimate visit. Perhaps because the house is so beautiful! It’s definitely one of those places where you have to be prepared to be amazed, and I think you will love it.
8. Eastern State Penitentiary
The Eastern State Penitentiary is probably one of the top tourist attractions in Pennsylvania. It was closed to the public in 1971 but has since been converted into a museum for everyone to learn about its fascinating history.
Opened way back in 1829, the Eastern State Penitentiary was designed as an experimental prison with no cells and no bars. Instead, all of the prisoners were locked into small rooms that resembled tombs more than they did cells. They stayed there for around 23 hours every day, seeing another human being just once per day during very brief exercise periods.
The Eastern State Penitentiary was home to many famous criminals, including Willie Sutton (a bank robber) and Al Capone (a gangster). One of the most interesting things about this former prison is that it has been left exactly as it was when it closed down in 1971. This includes all of the exercise equipment, solitary confinement cells, and bathroom facilities from over 100 years ago.
Visiting here is a great way to learn about the development of prisons in America. I spent almost an hour wandering around, and I was very impressed by all of the original prison artifacts on display. It’s also fun just to imagine what life must have been like for inmates who were imprisoned there. If you’re interested in crime or prison history, then visiting Eastern State Penitentiary should definitely be on your list of things to do in Pennsylvania.
9. Carnegie Museum of Natural History
The Carnegie Museum of Natural History is a great place to learn about the natural history of our planet. This museum has been ranked as one of the natural history museums in the US and is home to a huge variety of exhibits on life sciences and natural history.
This museum has been open since 1895 and takes you through different eras and environments to show how life has evolved on Earth. Exhibits include dinosaur bones formed during Pennsylvania’s time period, fossils from other parts of the world, and even insects preserved in amber. There are also exhibits on regional wildlife and habitats within this museum.
I would recommend taking at least an hour to explore this museum, but I could see how some people might spend the whole day here. There’s so much to learn and see, and the staffs are very friendly and helpful. And with so much on offer, it’s no wonder this museum is one of the top tourist attractions in Pennsylvania.
10. Gettysburg National Military Park
The Gettysburg National Military Park is a large battlefield park in Pennsylvania and one of the State’s most visited tourist attractions. The park encompasses over 6,000 acres and contains a wealth of Civil War-related sites that range from monuments to historic houses.
A visit to this military park will make you feel like stepping back in time. On November 19, 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg was fought nearby, and it has been estimated that more than 50,000 soldiers were killed during the three-day battle. Nowadays, visitors can still see signs of the conflict by visiting monuments and historic buildings throughout the area. One of these buildings is The Cyclorama building which is an enormous painting called “The Battle of Gettysburg.”
In addition to being a great place to learn about the Civil War, this park is also a popular place for people who enjoy history and nature. There are many trails that wind through the forests and hills of the park, where you can see some beautiful wildlife as well as historic structures. I recommend it for anyone who wants an educational day trip while in Pennsylvania. It’s definitely a must-see.
11. The Andy Warhol Museum
Another one of the top tourist attractions in Pennsylvania is the Andy Warhol Museum, which is dedicated to the work of famous American pop artist Andy Warhol. This museum contains a large collection of paintings, sculptures, drawings, and photographs from throughout his career.
However, it’s not just about the art when it comes to this museum. There’s also a range of personal objects on display that give you a deeper insight into Andy Warhol’s life. The early years are covered extensively, with information about his family background and upbringing in Pittsburgh. It also goes into detail about how he got started as an artist in New York City. There are also several letters written by him inside the museum that you are free to peruse.
If you’re interested in learning more about pop art and want to get a better understanding of one of the most influential movements in art history, this is definitely the place for you. I learned so much on my visit, and it was great to see some of Warhol’s best pieces live instead of on a screen.
12. Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
If you’re looking for a good way to get in touch with nature while spending time in Pennsylvania, I highly recommend paying a visit to Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. This is one of the top tourist attractions in PA because, after all, who doesn’t love animals? This park is home to over 100 animals, including bison, deer, tigers, leopards, and llamas.
The park is also home to safari tours, which have become one of the most popular attractions here. Throughout these tours, you can get up close with even more exotic animals, including zebra lions, giraffes, tigers, and other free-roaming animals. This is especially exciting for kids. And for an extra fee, you can even go on a night safari tour, where you have the chance to spot all sorts of nocturnal creatures.
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park makes for a great day trip from Philadelphia or any nearby city/town. It’s easily accessible by car or public transport, making it one of the best places to visit in Pennsylvania.
13. Valley Forge National Historical Park
If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Pennsylvania, the Valley Forge National Historical Park is the place to go. This park commemorates the unique historical events that took place there during George Washington’s encampment over the winter of 1777-1778. During that difficult time, more than 9,000 soldiers camped here while suffering from food shortages, illness, and harsh weather.
Today, Valley Forge is a historical park that’s open to the public. There are some reconstructions on display at the park, but most of them have been left untouched to give visitors an idea of what it looked like back then.
You can see examples of clothing worn by soldiers from that time period, as well as cannons and other artillery pieces. You can also walk along pathways where you can imagine both officers and soldiers trudging through the muck as they make their way across this historic ground.
All in all, this is a great place for history buffs who want to learn more about the Revolutionary War period. It’s also a nice way to spend a day outdoors with your friends or family members, as there are plenty of things to do here that don’t involve just looking at the exhibit.
14. Presque Isle State Park
Last on the list of Pennsylvania’s top tourist attractions is Presque Isle State Park. This beautiful state park is more than just a lovely place to spend the day, it’s also an important wildlife conservation area. You can see this conservation in action while you’re there, as parts of the park are open to some hunting and fishing. If you visit during certain seasons, you might even be able to watch a deer hunt!
Spending time in this gorgeous natural preserve is relaxing and fun. There are tons of things to do at Presque Isle State Park, such as swimming in Lake Erie, hiking, biking, boating, fishing (if you have a license), and picnicking (there are lots of picnic tables). With all these activities available and its lovely setting, this park is a wonderful place to spend the day with your family.
I hope that this list of the top tourist attractions in Pennsylvania offers you a great opportunity to explore and enjoy the natural beauty of this historic State. The scenery is breathtaking, and each attraction has its unique history or story that you can learn about as you walk through them. So be sure to include them in your vacation plan and take advantage of the opportunity to see these places up close.