Duration: Two days and two nights
When you're practicing the art of shunning turnpikes, there's no better place than Pittsburgh's countryside and the Great Lakes region. You'll do your sightseeing along endless stretches of country roads lined with big red barns and mooing cows. But it's not all backcountry. Make a stop at any of the towns and you'll find smiling faces ready to treat you to some down-home cooking and cool folksy crafts. Your nights are spent on the front porch of the local inn, catching up with the locals and listening to tall tales. This all might have sounded like a fantasy 100 miles ago, but you're a shunpiker now and it's time to take the dirt roads less traveled and roll.
As you'll see in this self-guided tour, the people of Butler County have good reason to be proud of their cherished farmland. While you're rolling along, keep an eye on the countryside for some of the big red barns the area's known for. They don't make ‘em like these anymore, and there's nothing like meandering among the old tilled fields with the mooing cows. Following Route 68 into town you'll pass the Marburger Dairy Barn (a five-silo dairy farm), the White Oak Farm (a white clapboard classic), O'Planick's Apple Orchard (dating back to the 1800s) and Sunnyview Farm (watch for the massive draft horses). And stop at The Butler Farm Market for Sarah's fresh Amish donuts. Deeelish.
It's easy to just spend hours browsing this old-fashioned town, but it's worth going straight to the only museum in PA that specializes in Japanese and Chinese art and culture. This "gleaming little gem of a museum" also features rare German Meissan porcelain, in all its brilliant and colorful glory. Bring the camera, and leave with some art that appropriately "shuns" the mainstream.Read More >
On your way out of town, hit "the world's coolest toystore," that just happens to look like a giant silver spaceship. Inside the gleaming exterior are thousands of toys for kids (and parents), from classics like kites and stock cars to hydrazoid robots. You know, stuff to keep things interesting in the car for the rest of the trip.Read More >
Thousands of years ago (more like 15,000) continental glaciers pushed their way through this land, producing the lush forest, sparkling waters and rolling hills that make the rugged scenic Moraine State Park. Take in the Lake Arthur wildlife (watch for the blue heron and kingfishers hunting for water snakes). Better yet, park the car and check out the Nautical Nature Cruise on the lake. You'll learn about the glacial history and the big ospreys swooping overhead. Back on dry land, visit the Jennings Environmental Center, known as "One of the twenty must-see Pennsylvania state parks." The prairie alone is worth the trip – it's one of the few prairies in the whole Eastern part of the country. If you're up for it, there are plenty of trails to hike too.Read More >
Nothing but the freshest local ingredients goes into these handcrafted brews, from the Buck Snort Stout to the English style cask ale. The beer-inspired food is just as fresh. We recommend the turkey bacon I.P.A bleu and the fiery firehouse mussels. And don't forget fresh apple slices on the side!Read More >
Built by Michael Christley in 1844, on land granted to encourage westward settlement, the original six-room farmhouse was built of bricks formed and fired on the premise. Outside, the original deck with umbrella tables, comfortable conversation areas and lovely shrubbery gardens beckon those who long the out of doors. Inside, it's about the coziest rooms you could ever hope for.Read More >
It's the world's largest shoe store. Need we say more? Okay, over 175,000 pairs of men's, women's and children's shoes in all sizes from women's size 2 - 14 widths AAAA-EE, men's size 6-22 widths AA-EEEEEE and all children's sizes. Mmmm, new shoe smell.Read More >
Located in the center of Mercer, a town steeped in history. And shopping. Home to name-brand outlets, boutiques and unique specialty stores, not to mention Courthouse Square. Stop by for the specialty & antique shops and picturesque views of the gothic Courthouse with it's 160-foot dome and murals.
Be sure to bring your appetite and save room for homemade pie. It's an all-stops-pulled menu ranging from sandwiches and fresh baked goodies, to fresh seafood and steaks charbroiled to perfection. They've been merchants and brewmasters here since 1979.Read More >
Get an early start to Grove City and the Main Street Diner, where the pancakes are piled high and buttered just right (see if they have some homemade apple cider sausage too). Then on Center Street, visit the Slovak Folk Arts shop for beautiful handmade crafts including crystal, carvings, ceramics, dolls, wood sculptures, toys and Easter eggs. Maybe get an early start on some unique Christmas decorations too. While you're there, see North America's largest animated wood carving of a Slovakian Village. It's huge.Read More >
Casa DaCosta features three graciously appointed guest rooms, The Victoria, the Belle Vista, and the Shenandoah. And they all have that special way of feeling of yesteryear, when times were simpler and comfier. They also serve gourmet breakfasts, with the house specialties freshly made – ham and cheese strata and lemon poppy scones. Afterwards, enjoy the spectacular view of Mercer County Courthouse from the wrought iron furniture on our outdoor patio.Read More >
The World’s Largest Candy Store and home of the famous Chocolate Kingdom. The Chocolate Kingdom is an every changing fantasyland of chocolate characters. From 400-pound chocolate turtles to 75-pound chocolate frogs there's small and big surprises in this whimsical world.
Managed by the Slippery Rock University, the Old Stone House is a historic landmark. Constructed in 1822, it now houses period artifacts and scheduled tours. the house is currently used for shows and special events, and contains period artifacts for people to see. Tours of the building can be arranged throuhg the university.