Places to Visit in Pennsylvania
- Lancaster County
Unique Things to See and Do in Pennsylvania
- Tour the Hershey’s factory in Hershey
- Drive through Lancaster County the heart of Amish country
- Gotta try a Philly cheesesteak
- See the blooms of Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square
- Go boating on Beltzville Lake in Lehighton
- Ride the Strasburg Rail Road
Checking Out the Amish Culture
Pennsylvania has plenty of outdoor activities and parklands to explore, but one main attraction for visitors is seeing the rural life of the Christian group, the Amish. The classic image of the Amish buggy being pulled by a horse is not fiction in Pennsylvania, you can see them regularly in Lancaster area. The Amish live within a culture that is devoted to a “simple” life of living off the land, without the everyday use of modern technologies and by devoting themselves to the service of God. In the 18th century, the Amish left Switzerland and emigrated to Pennsylvania where they set up farming communities and became self-sufficient. Originally the Amish were part of the Mennonite group but believed the Mennonites were being lured away from the stricter practices and because of this, the Amish set up their own established rules for “conformity.”
Other than witnessing the Amish differences of plain clothing and lack of modern technologies (no phones, cars, TV’s or electricity), the really interesting aspect of their culture is their approach to the land. They have kept their religious and cultural practices and the older traditional ways of farming while still being entrepreneurial. Many trade with locals in town, shop at some of the modern convenience stores for items they can’t produce, but they don’t deviate from this to overworking the land. Seeing different societies like the Amish and Mennonite communities serves as kind of a reminder of where we all came from and how our ancestors survived. There is an Amish Village Tour that you can take which is great if you are traveling with children. Children can sit in on a schoolhouse lesson, feed the livestock, and tour the farms lands.
Getting Around Pennsylvania
Getting around most US states is best done by car. Whether you are renting one or using your own, the highway systems throughout the states are extensive and often take you through some really picturesque landscapes. In Pennsylvania you will travel through mostly forested and farmed areas. The biggest hurdle will be navigating through windy, steep or narrow areas if you’re unfamiliar with mountain passes. The only caveat is there tends to be quite a bit of construction during the summer months so double check your route for extra wait times. Plus, watch out for wildlife, particularly deer.
Other options for getting around are; 1) taking the Amtrak train between major city destinations, such as New York to Philadelphia all the way to Pittsburg – with stops like Hersey en route; or 2) taking Greyhound buses between destinations, which also offers some good views along the highways.
Within the major cities, the public transit systems and walking are your best options for getting around. Dealing with parking is often a pain, especially near popular sightseeing spots, but it can be plentiful in the more outskirt areas.
Did you know…?
That the Pennsylvania Dutch aren’t actually Dutch. Supposedly there was a miscommunication when they claimed they were “Deutsch” meaning German!
Did you ALSO know…?
In 1903, The Crayola Factory in Lehigh Valley, PA, produced the first box of crayons containing red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, brown, and black colours sticks and now sells over 3 million crayons a year!
Best Time of Year to Travel to Pennsylvania
The summer months are the most popular time to visit Pennsylvania, even with the heat waves that can average around 30˚C. The state is mostly rural which makes this time of year great for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and canoeing. The winter months are cold with temperatures hovering around the freezing point. During this time of year many businesses either close up for the season or reduce their hours. Some exciting activities during this time include dog sledding, ice skating, snow tubing, sleigh rides and ice fishing!
Ready to plan your visit to Pennsylvania? Check out these popular guides and trips.