Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Pennsylvania
More than 50,000 soldiers died in the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, the bloodiest battle ever fought on American soil. About 150 years later, the national park land is a memorial to the lives lost during those three fateful days of the American Civil War. The battlefield draws history buffs, patriots and curious tourists who come in droves to pay their respects and learn more about this landmark event in America's history.
The town of Gettysburg, Penn. is charming and welcoming, with a main street laden with antique shops, boutiques and art galleries. The Gettysburg Cyclorama, one of the most popular attractions, is a 360-degree oil painting depicting the Battle of Gettysburg that was unveiled in 1884. As America commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Civil War through 2015, Gettysburg is staging re enactments, tours and educational programs. There has never been a better time to visit.
Few places in the United States offer as much historical and cultural legacy as the Philadelphia Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Located across the street from one another, the two landmarks serve as the most potent symbols of the American revolution and the birth of the young nation.
Independence Historical National Park is the home to both Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. While the Bell was rung at several key moments of the American independence movement, today it is more famous for its symbolic message of universal liberty than its functional purpose.
In addition to the two main attractions, Independence National Historical Park is also the home of several other sites associated with the American Revolution. This 45-acre park comprises much of the historic downtown area of Philadelphia.
This may or may not be where patriotic upholsterer Betsy Ross lived when she made the original Stars & Stripes, but it’s certainly one of the most visited attractions in Philadelphia. Set just a few blocks west of Independence Hall near Franklin Square, the house is the site of a local Flag Day celebration held each year on June 14.
Built in 1740 in the Pennsylvania Colonial Style, this humble home was rescued by a local radio personality in the late 1930s and both renovated and expanded, using Colonial-period materials. Self-guided and audio tours are available here ($5 and $7, respectively), and out in the added-on courtyard, a costumed Betsy Ross re-enactor tells stories with flag in hand.
Throughout the summer and early fall on Friday nights, movies are shown in the courtyard on a big outdoor screen; bring a blanket or chair, and the $5 fee includes a tour of the house. It’s open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
In 1860, the Civil War came to Gettysburg, Penn., changing the lives of the town's citizens forever. The stories of the townspeople are told at the Shriver House Museum, a restored home occupied by the Shriver family during the Battle of Gettysburg. George and Hattie Shriver, along with their daughters Sadie and Mollie, lived in a house that provided the Confederate Army a clear view of the Union forces. The house was occupied throughout the battle, and today, the home has been restored to its original condition and is open to the public as a museum.
Stepping into the Shriver House Museum is akin to stepping back into 19th-century America. Actors in era-specific garb represent the townspeople of the time, and tours offer insight into how the Shriver family lived. The site is filled with artifacts of the family and other citizens in Gettysburg. Some of the most interesting findings have included Civil War medical supplies, ammunition and children's toys and clothes.
More Things to Do in Pennsylvania
Known as “America’s Church,” this 1744 city landmark was the first Protestant Episcopal congregation, the post-Revolution version of a Royalist, Anglican church founded in 1695. Early parishioners included George Washington and Betsy Ross, and its cemetery hosts the remains of several signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, including Benjamin Franklin.One of the most-visited sites in Philadelphia, the church is chock full of historic objects, including communion silver commissioned by England’s Queen Anne and mahogany cabinetry by some of the city’s most renowned woodworkers. Topped by a 200-foot-tall steeple, it was once the tallest building in America.
Spanning 55 acres and bridging two neighborhoods -- Old City and Society Hill – this national park is often called “America’s most historic square mile” for encompassing many of Philadelphia’s most famous historical landmarks. These include Independence Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the Liberty Bell Center; Franklin Court; the First and Second Banks of the United States; and the National Constitution Center, among many others. Visitors should plan to spend one to two days in the park in order to visit several of these sites and explore the extensive grounds.By the time City Hall was completed in 1901, Old City – a couple of miles to the east -- began to lose its importance as a cultural center. Between 1915 and the late 1940s, a park was proposed as a means of salvaging and promoting what leaders of both the city and the state saw as vital to Philadelphia’s place in American history.
There are a few ways to get up to Mount Washington from Pittsburgh, but Duquesne Incline is perhaps the most classic. In service from 1877, the historic cable cars, in their original wood, remain in operation. Along with the Monongahela Incline, it is the oldest continuous funicular in the world. Inclined at 30 feet and traveling from downtown Pittsburgh’s South Side to the top of Mount Washington, it’s where panoramic views and the city’s most upscale neighborhood await. Though once powered by steam and built for cargo, it now mostly carries passengers up to the scenic overlook with a view of Pittsburg’s “Golden Triangle” of rivers. There is also a museum that allows for a glimpse at the interior of the incline as it operates. At the top of the hill is a museum dedicated both to the history of Pittsburgh and inclines located all over the world. The view from Mount Washington has been called one of the most beautiful vistas in America.
Things to do near Pennsylvania
- Things to do in Philadelphia
- Things to do in Maryland
- Things to do in New York
- Things to do in New Jersey
- Things to do in Baltimore
- Things to do in Amboseli National Park
- Things to do in Washington DC
- Things to do in Newark
- Things to do in Jersey City
- Things to do in Virginia
- Things to do in Connecticut
- Things to do in Ohio
- Things to do in Massachusetts
- Things to do in North Carolina
- Things to do in Maine