Situated in America’s northeast, Pennsylvania plays an important role to the history and culture of the United States. Not only is this state known for having a world of attractions, but it’s also home to some of the most significant pieces in US history.
From bustling Philadelphia to the historic capital of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is littered with American gems to explore. This article will guide you through some of the top things to do in Pennsylvania.
Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia
This national landmark is filled with American history, home to the Liberty Bell itself situated in the metropolitan of Philadelphia.
The Liberty Bell is famous for its story of being rung when the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. It now sits as a symbol of independence at the Liberty Bell Centre located within Independence National Historical Park.
The park complex is also home to another piece of treasured history at Independence Hall. Independence Hall is the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence, as well as the US Constitution, and guests are invited to see the location where history was made.
Amongst these famed pieces, guests can also wander the quaint cobblestone paths to visit other iconic Pennsylvania landmarks including Old City Hall and Congress Hall.
Reading Terminal Market in Downtown Philadelphia
While in Philadelphia, head to the Reading Terminal Market located downtown for an exciting mix of culture and history. This indoor market hosts over a hundred retailers in one of the oldest and largest public markets in the country.
Open daily, this popular Pennsylvania attraction dates back to the late 1800s yet remains a staple in the city bringing in millions of customers each year. Reading Terminal Market is possibly the best place to get a taste of Philadelphia with a number of food vendors to try out.
Produce, seafood and cheese are also commonly available, and if you’re looking for souvenirs Philadelphia’s bustling market is filled with everything from crafts, books, and gourmet chocolate.
Eastern State Penitentiary
Known for being home to the holding cell of Al Capone, Eastern State Penitentiary was one of the most famous prisons in the world. After ceasing operation in 1971, this historic landmark stands as an architectural ruin with Gothic elements spread throughout the 11-acre site.
Pennsylvania’s Eastern State Penitentiary would inspire hundreds of prisons around the world with its building blueprints. Also known as one of the most expensive prisons in the world, Eastern State Pen stayed active for 142 years, re-opening its doors to the public as a historic site in 1994.
Today, prison grounds including access to cell doors remain open to the public, with tours of Eastern State Penitentiary available. Tours include stories of notable prisoners like Slick Willie the bank robber, and a look at the very cell of Al Capone.
State Capitol in Harrisburg
With over 1.5 million residents and the highlights listed above, Philadelphia seems to be the most popular city in Pennsylvania for both citizens and tourists. While the capital city of Harrisburg is a small town, it’s brimming with history, charm, and its own celebrated sites to boast about, including the State Capitol.
Harrisburg’s State Capitol Complex is a top attraction in Pennsylvania, spanning over 45-acres. Start at the breathtaking Capitol Building to be awed by a decorated dome reminiscent of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome.
Pennsylvania’s State Capitol is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the country, and visitors can see this building’s granite and bronze features up close through an on-site tour. The State Capitol Complex in Pennsylvania also features other historical and political landmarks like the State Museum and Capitol Park.
Hersheypark in Hershey
Situated next to the Hershey’s Headquarters in Hershey, Pennsylvania, this amusement park dates back to 1906, originally used as a recreation spot for Hershey factory employees. Now Hersheypark’s chocolate-themed playground is one of the top things to do in Pennsylvania, especially for family outings.
This expansive theme park has over 70 attractions to explore, with rollercoasters, a zoo, and an amphitheatre right on site. The entire area will kick-start your sweet tooth with a variety of Hershey’s classic creations displayed throughout the park like Reese’s and Kisses.
To keep with the theme, guests can also see Hershey’s Chocolate World nearby. Serving as a visitor’s centre for the Hershey factory, guests can shop through a large selection of treats, and get a free glimpse into the chocolate making process that has made this Pennsylvania city so iconic.
Presque Isle State Park in Erie
Visitors to the state can spend a day in the sunshine at one of Pennsylvania’s top attractions, Presque Isle State Park. This day beach sits on a sandy peninsula curving into Lake Erie, open year round with a number of beaches and activities to explore.
Sunbathers, and those who like to be in the water will enjoy a day on the beach, while those who want to get a bit more active will have a number of hiking trails at their feet. This part of Pennsylvania comes alive in the summer with concerts and events a big highlight in Presque Isle every summer season.
To learn more about the area, the Tom Ridge Environmental Centre is also open to visitors, showcasing historic exhibits and an observation tower 75-feet above the city.
Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg
One of the most famous wars in American history took place in Gettysburg, and visitors can get a look into history at the Gettysburg Battlefield. This is one of Pennsylvania's top landmarks thanks to the role this site played in the American Civil War.
More than 50, 000 American soldiers lost their lives at Gettysburg, in what is said to be the most pivotal battle in the history of the American Civil War. Now, monuments and landmarks highlighting pieces of the war are scattered throughout the Gettysburg site, where visitors can get a guided tour featuring stories of battle.
The Gettysburg Museum and Visitors Centre has one of the largest collections of Civil War memorabilia, with immersive exhibits to help America’s history unfold.