Pennsylvania is a beautiful state located in the northeastern region of the United States. Known as the “Keystone State”, it is bordered by New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, and Ohio. Pennsylvania has a rich history and cultural heritage that dates back to its establishment in 1681 by William Penn.
Many people often associate Pennsylvania with its two most populous cities, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. However, there is so much more to discover in between these two major metropolises that are approximately 305 miles apart by road. Traveling between these cities can be an experience in its own right, as the route exposes one to the diverse landscape of Pennsylvania. The modes of transportation vary based on your preferences and time constraints. If you're open to a road trip, driving is an excellent option, allowing you to control the pace of your journey. The drive usually takes around 5-6 hours, depending on traffic and the exact start and end points of your trip.
Alternatively, you can take a flight from Philadelphia International Airport to Pittsburgh International Airport, which typically takes about an hour. There are also bus services, such as Greyhound and Megabus, which offer a cost-effective but longer journey of approximately 7-8 hours. If you prefer the scenic route, consider the Amtrak train service from Philadelphia's 30th Street Station to Pittsburgh's Union Station, a journey that takes around 7 hours but offers picturesque views of the Pennsylvania countryside.
What is Pennsultucky?
Pennsyltucky, an informal term often used in a somewhat humorous or derogatory manner, refers to the rural parts of Pennsylvania located between the state's two major cities, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The term is a portmanteau of “Pennsylvania” and “Kentucky,” implying that this region has more in common culturally with the rural South than with the urban areas of the Northeast. Pennsyltucky is characterized by its rolling hills, farmlands, forests, and small towns. Despite the term's mixed connotations, many residents embrace the Pennsyltucky identity, seeing it as a testament to their rural roots, strong community ties, and traditional values.
Traveling between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, you will encounter several towns and cities each unique in their own right. As a Philadelphia county native, I am partial to the beautiful sights right outside the city limits.
Philadelphia County: As the most populous county in Pennsylvania, it is home to Philadelphia City, the birthplace of America's democracy. Here, you'll find Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed, and the Liberty Bell, an iconic symbol of American independence.
Bucks County: a picturesque area known for its rich history and stunning natural beauty. It's famous for its quaint towns, historical landmarks, and an array of outdoor activities. The county is home to several well-preserved 19th-century covered bridges, adding a unique charm and rustic appeal to the landscape. One of the renowned spots in Bucks County is the Mercer Museum and Fonthill Castle, showcasing the life and work of renowned archaeologist and tile maker Henry Chapman Mercer. Additionally, Bucks County is also recognized for its thriving arts scene, with prominent establishments like the James A. Michener Art Museum and the Bucks County Playhouse.
If you're a fan of wine, you'll be pleased to know that the county has established a reputation for its local wineries, thanks to its fertile soils and favorable climate. The Bucks County Wine Trail is a popular attraction, where visitors can partake in tastings and tours at several family-owned wineries. From its historical charm to its natural beauty, Bucks County promises a rewarding experience to its visitors.
Delaware County: Often referred to as “Delco,” it is known for its diverse range of communities, from the urban environment of Upper Darby to the more suburban localities of Radnor and Rose Valley. Ridley Creek State Park, a 2,606-acre Pennsylvania state park, offers hiking, biking, and fishing opportunities for visitors.
Montgomery County: Home to Valley Forge Park the renowned site where the Continental Army, led by General George Washington, endured the harsh winter of 1777-1778 during the American Revolutionary War. Despite the freezing temperatures, lack of adequate supplies, and the spread of disease, the troops emerged resilient and better trained, thanks in part to the training program implemented by Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, an experienced Prussian military officer. Today, Valley Forge National Historical Park stands as a testament to the perseverance and determination of the American forces. It offers visitors a glimpse into the lives of the soldiers through historical reenactments, educational programs, and a vast array of monuments and preserved structures.
As a hotspot for history enthusiasts, Valley Forge offers a plethora of attractions for tourists. The Visitors Center is the first stop, providing an overview of the park's history as well as tour maps and guides. The Muhlenberg Brigade Huts recreate the living conditions of the Continental Army, while Washington's Headquarters display the house where General George Washington strategized and planned. The National Memorial Arch, a tribute to the soldiers of Valley Forge, is a must-see landmark.
A comprehensive network of trails, including the Joseph Plumb Martin Trail and the Chapel Trail, cater to outdoor enthusiasts, providing opportunities for hiking, biking, and bird watching. The park also offers ranger-led walks and trolley tours for a more guided experience.
For those interested in local culture, the Artillery Park periodically hosts blacksmithing and baking demonstrations.
Chester County: Famous for the Longwood Gardens, which is one of the premier horticultural display gardens in the United States. The county is also known for its horse country including the annual Devon Horse Show.
Heading west from Chester County is Lancaster, known as America's oldest Amish settlement where horse-drawn buggies still roam the streets. It offers a glimpse into a different, slower-paced world, where the community lives disconnected from the modern technologies of today. Indulge in delicious, home-cooked meals in the local diners that serve renowned Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine.
Don't miss Hershey, the “Sweetest Place on Earth”. Here, you can visit Hersheypark, a famous chocolate-themed park and explore Hershey's Chocolate World, where you can learn about the chocolate-making process and taste some samples.
Reading, famous for the historical Reading Railroad, one of the properties in the classic Monopoly board game, and its former symbol, the Reading Company's ‘Bee Line' service, is another stop on the route.
Gettysburg is renowned for the pivotal role it played during the Civil War. The Gettysburg National Military Park is a must-see for history enthusiasts. Enjoy a guided tour of the battlefield, and don't forget to stop by the Soldiers National Cemetery, where President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address.
Harrisburg, the capital city of Pennsylvania, is another noteworthy stop situated between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. This vibrant city is situated on the Susquehanna River and is known for its rich history, diverse culture, and a wide array of attractions.
One of the city's most iconic landmarks is the Pennsylvania State Capitol. Known as a “palace of art,” the Capitol boasts breathtaking architecture and intricate murals, stained glass, and furnishings designed by Philadelphia architect Joseph Huston. The Capitol Park, surrounding the building, offers serene green spaces perfect for a leisurely stroll. Make certain to say hi to my favorite Governor Josh Shapiro
Harrisburg is also home to the National Civil War Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. The museum offers a balanced presentation of both Union and Confederate perspectives, providing a comprehensive overview of the American Civil War era. It houses one of the largest collections of Civil War artifacts in the world.
For nature lovers, the Riverfront Park offers an expansive trail for walking, jogging, or cycling along the Susquehanna River. The park hosts various community events, including the Kipona Festival, which takes place on Labor Day weekend and celebrates the city's cultural diversity with music, food, and fireworks.
In terms of culinary delights, Harrisburg offers a vibrant food scene. Broad Street Market, one of the oldest continuously operating farmers' markets in the country, is a foodie's paradise. Here, you can sample a wide variety of cuisines from local vendors, including traditional Pennsylvania Dutch fare.
Union County, Pennsylvania, although lesser-known compared to the state's larger cities, is a location that offers its own unique charm. This quaint borough is located in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains and is known for its natural beauty. One of the main attractions in Union is the Union County West End Fair, an annual event that showcases the agricultural heritage of the region. Here, you can experience traditional fairground entertainment, local crafts, rides, and indulge in some local fair food. Union is also known for its outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and camping, attracting nature enthusiasts who appreciate less crowded, more tranquil environments. For history buffs, the Dale/Engle/Walker House is a must-visit. This 18th-century limestone farmhouse offers a glimpse into the region's past, serving as a testament to the area's rich historical roots.
Uniontown, another fascinating city located between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, boasts a rich historical heritage. It is primarily known for its pivotal role in the coal industry, as it sits in the heart of the coal-producing region of Pennsylvania. Uniontown is also famous as the birthplace of the Big Mac, the iconic McDonald's sandwich, celebrated at the Big Mac Museum Restaurant. The city is home to the State Theatre Center for the Arts, a beautiful historic theater offering a diverse range of live performances. For history enthusiasts, a visit to the historic Summit Inn Resort offers a glimpse into the city's past, and the resort's hilltop location provides stunning views of the surrounding Laurel Highlands. Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the city's proximity to the Laurel Caverns, the largest cave in Pennsylvania. Ultimately, Uniontown's blend of history, culture, and natural beauty makes it a compelling stop on the journey between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
The town of Latrobe, located just 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, is famously known as the childhood home of the beloved television icon, Fred Rogers, also known as Mister Rogers. Latrobe honors its favorite son with a memorial statue in James H. Rogers Park, named after Fred's father. Besides being the birthplace of Mister Rogers, Latrobe lays claim to a few more notable distinctions. It is the original home of the banana split, an iconic American dessert, invented by David Strickler in 1904. Latrobe is also home to the Saint Vincent College, where the Pittsburgh Steelers hold their annual summer training camp. The presence of the Steelers every summer brings a buzz to this small town and attracts football fans from all over the country.
Finally, we arrive at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's second-largest city, known for its rich industrial history and the cultural legacy it has fostered. Pittsburgh, often referred to as the “City of Bridges,” boasts more than 400 bridges – more than any other city in the world – and sits at the convergence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers.
One of the things that Pennsylvania is famous for is its delicious food. It's no secret that Pennsylvanians love their food and take great pride in their culinary traditions. The state is known for its iconic Philly cheesesteaks, soft pretzels, and scrapple. But there is also a wide variety of other tasty dishes to try, such as shoofly pie, chicken pot pie, and pork and sauerkraut.
Aside from the food, Pennsylvania offers a plethora of activities for tourists to enjoy. Nature lovers can explore the state's beautiful landscapes through hiking trails in the Appalachian Mountains or kayaking in the Delaware River. History buffs can visit sites like Gettysburg National Military Park, where one of the most crucial battles of the Civil War took place.
Moreover, Pennsylvania has a rich arts and culture scene. The state is home to many museums, art galleries, and theaters that showcase both local and international talents. Some must-see destinations include the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, and the Andy Warhol Museum.
When it comes to shopping, Pennsylvania has something for every shopper's taste. From unique boutiques to large outlet malls, you can find everything from high-end designer brands to handmade crafts and antiques.
Last but not least, Pennsylvania is home to several world-renowned universities such as the University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon University. These institutions attract students from all over the world and bring a vibrant energy to the state.
In conclusion, there is a lot more to discover in Pennsylvania beyond its bustling cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. From delicious food to breathtaking landscapes, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this diverse and historically rich state. So next time you plan a trip to the East Coast, don't forget to add Pennsylvania to your list of must-visit destinations. So come and explore all that this beautiful state has to offer. The possibilities are endless
The Honda CRV was provided for media use. It was the perfect ride to experience all that Pennsylvania has to offer.