Pennsylvania’s springtime weather can be somewhat unpredictable, but if you’re flexible to do “this” or “that” the Keystone State shall not disappoint. These outdoor (the “this”) and indoor (the "that”) activities are sure to inspire your next adventure, regardless of what Mother Nature may bring!
PENNSYLVANIA’S GREAT LAKES REGION
Presque Isle State Park or Splash Lagoon Water Park & Resort
Swim, boat, fish, hike, bike, kayak, spot wildlife, and even surf (yes, surf!) at Presque Isle State Park, one of the country’s National Natural Landmarks. The 3,200-acre sandy peninsula arches into Lake Erie, offering a beautiful coastline adventure as well as woodlands to explore. The 13.5 mile, paved, and ADA-accessible Karl Boyes Multi-Purpose National Recreation Trail is a popular circuit throughout the park for outdoor enthusiasts.
Even if it is raining outside, you won’t mind getting splashed and soaking wet at the Splash Lagoon Water Park in Erie. This indoor waterpark is always a perfect 84 degrees. Explore the tropical Polynesian atmosphere as you wind down the lazy river or catch a wave in their wave pool – known to be the largest indoor wave pool in the eastern U.S.
Insider Tip: Splurge a little and treat yourself to a delicious meal with spectacular views of Lake Erie, especially at sunset, at the Bayfront Grille. The relaxed hotel eatery offers American fare all day in a scenic setting with a patio and bay views.
Alan Seeger Natural Area or Lincoln Caverns
The sparkling mountain stream and magnificent, towering old-growth white pine and hemlock trees in the 390-acre Alan Seeger Natural Area in Petersburg are an outdoor enthusiast's dream destination. See how many beautiful wildflowers you can spot in the mystical woodlands along the 0.8 mile Alan Seeger Trail. Stop by neighboring Greenwood Furnace State Park for a quick history lesson on the significance of the iron that was once made in the furnaces of Greenwood.
Rain in the forecast? No problem! Go underground and explore the Lincoln Caverns in Huntingdon for a close-up look at thousand-year-old crystals. See the crystals actually glow in all their phosphorescent splendor during an evening “Come to the Darkside Black Light Adventure” tour offered on selected nights.
Insider tip: The caverns are only 4 miles outside historic downtown Huntingdon. Make a pit stop for a relaxed atmosphere, great craft beer, and unique cuisine at Boxer's Café or Juniata Brewing Company with its popular selection of hops, stouts, and kombuchas.
Coal & Coke Trail or Westmoreland Museum of American Art
You can almost hear echoes of the trains that once powered through this former industrial area along the scenic Coal & Coke Trail. Now, partly reclaimed by nature, the 6.1-mile rail-trail linking Mount Pleasant and Scottdale passes by the remnants of long-idled coke ovens and through picturesque woodlands – the perfect place to spend a spring afternoon.
When skies are gray, spend a day in Greensburg at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art. Showcasing centuries of American artwork, the recently renovated museum includes collections of sculptures and the decorative arts, portraits and paintings, and an extensive collection of the unique Pennsylvania German folk art known as Fraktur.
Insider tip: After a day spent on the trail or at the museum, refuel your engine at The Filling Station Brew House and Grille in Mount Pleasant. This former Atlantic gas station on historic Route 31 now serves up a full menu of appetizers, homemade soups, sandwiches, and dinners, and boasts more than 200 local and craft bottled beers, as well as 20 draft options from local breweries.
Famous Reading Outdoors Off-Roading Park or Schuylkill Craft Beverage Trail
A favorite destination of ATV, dirt bike, UTV, four-wheeler, and mountain bike enthusiasts, Famous Reading Outdoors in Pottsville provides daring adventures on 20,000 acres of off-roading lands. The site offers countless hill climbs, mud pits, free-range riding, and breathtaking scenery.
On a rainy day, Pursue your Hoppiness along the Schuylkill Craft Beverage Trail. Featuring 15 local breweries, wineries, and distilleries, you are invited to visit, experience, discover, sample, and savor the area’s unique craft brews, wines, and spirits.
Insider Tip: Take a 30-minute free tour of America’s oldest brewery – Yuengling to explore 450 feet of hand-dug tunnels used for beer fermentation before refrigeration, as well as their iconic brew house with its breathtaking stained glass ceiling. Or learn from the expert distillers at Main Street Moonshine, then grab a bite to eat from their extensive menu of appetizers, burgers, salads, wraps, sandwiches, hoagies, and full dinners.
Marilla Reservoir Trail or Zippo / Case Museum & Flagship Store
Whether rain or shine, Bradford has several must-see stops for your #PABucketList. Breathe in the fresh spring air while hiking the one-mile Marilla Reservoir Trail. The waterfront loop features a wooden covered bridge and gazebo halfway, along with canoeing and kayaking entrance points. Extend your adventure by exploring spectacular old-growth pines found in the trail system’s other trailways.
PITTSBURGH & ITS COUNTRYSIDE
Point State Park or Andy Warhol Museum
A National Historic Landmark, Point State Park is one of Pittsburgh’s most spectacular green space gems to explore on a sunny day. Located at the confluence of the city’s three storied rivers, the 37-mile Three Rivers Heritage Trail runs through the park and is ideal for hiking, biking, walking, or simply relaxing.
If Mother Nature happens to rain out your park adventure, check out the Andy Warhol Museum. Housing the largest collection of Warhol’s iconic artworks, the seven-floor gallery and exhibition space celebrates the life, vision, and art of Pittsburgh’s native son.
Insider tip: Whether you spent the morning at Point State Park or The Andy Warhol Museum, grab a bite to eat at the Federal Galley on Pittsburgh’s historic North Shore. The Federal Galley is a food hall and restaurant accelerator that serves as a launching pad for some of the city’s most exciting new chefs and restaurant concepts. Still longing to explore the natural world? A visit to the Carnegie of Museum of Natural History may be just the ticket!
Downtown Easton Farmers Market or Crayola Experience
At 269 years young, the Easton Farmers’ Market is the nation’s oldest, continuous open-air market and a shopper’s paradise. Shop a vast selection of locally grown and organic produce, meats, and dairy items, beautiful artisan wares, blooms and botanicals, and melt in your mouth baked goodies – the perfect place to while away a beautiful spring day!
Add a splash of color on a rainy day at the Crayola Experience! Immerse yourself in the world of Crayola with a host of colorful and creative activities to keep the family entertained all afternoon. Every visitor receives their own, personal guest bag that comes well stocked to bring out your creative genius. Turn yourself into a coloring page. Name your own crayon. Visit the Adventure Lab to solve colorful challenges. These are just a few of the color-filled, fun experiences just waiting for you.
Insider Tip: After working up an appetite at the market or Crayola land, refuel at Diner 248 in Easton. Their menu is chock full of homemade soups, hand crafted fresh cut salads, mouthwatering fresh never frozen burgers, and delicious and budget-friendly daily specials. Their kid’s menu has all the favorites, while their full-service bar is stock with libations of every kind.
DUTCH COUNTRY ROADS
Dutch Wonderland Family Amusement Park or Turkey Hill Experience
With more than 35 rides, attractions, and shows, Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster is the perfect place for outdoor family fun. Don’t just take our word for it – Amusement Today has named Dutch Wonderland the "Best Family Park" in the world! Embark on a high-flying adventure on Merlin's Mayhem, journey to a prehistoric paradise full of adventure, fun, and dinosaurs on Exploration Island, then cool off with kid-sized water attractions in Duke's Lagoon – be sure to pack the swimsuits!
Gettysburg National Military Park and Visitor Center
Spend a beautiful spring day outside exploring Gettysburg National Military Park, soaking up the history, serenity, and beautiful scenery. From the veil of early morning fog through the day's setting sun, visitors can explore the battlefield or join one of the many tour options.
The many museums and Civil War house tours offer shelter on the rainiest days. Start at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center to learn more about the historic battle and its effect on the nation. Then pick between more than 10 other popular destinations including the Jennie Wade House, Gettysburg Museum of History, and Gettysburg Lincoln Railroad Station.
Insider Tip: Surround yourself with history and colonial elegance at the Dobbin House Tavern, Gettysburg's oldest home. Built by the Reverend Alexander Dobbin in the late 1600s, the home has been transformed into a beautiful, colonial restaurant where candlelit elegance and gracious service bring back the sights, sounds, and tastes of that long-ago era.
D&L Trail or Country Junction
Grab your bike helmet or hiking shoes and hit the D&L Trail while the sun is shining. This popular rail-trail winds through Lehigh Gorge State Park with stunning views of the Lehigh River. Along the way, admire the many waterfalls and historic ruins. The Mansion House Pedestrian Bridge connects the trail directly to downtown of Jim Thorpe – a charming, Victorian-era town offering dozens of unique shops and eateries.
On a rainy day in Lehighton, seek shelter inside Country Junction – The World’s Largest General Store. Find thousands of unique items for sale, homemade fudge, a wine shop, pet store, and ice cream parlor. Kids will love Fun Center, which includes an arcade, bumper cars, mini bowling, and escape room.
Insider Tip: Whether you’re an omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, or have food sensitivities, you’ll find something to love at the Stone Row Pub & Eatery. They make almost everything from scratch, with well-established protocols to avoid cross contamination. Their tasty and satisfying menu includes pastas, salads, burgers, and bowls, and changes often to ensure the freshest ingredients go into every meal.
PHILADELPHIA & THE COUNTRYSIDE
Core Creek Park or Fonthill Castle
Here’s a spot the whole family will enjoy. When the sun is shining, hike, bike, fish, play tennis, picnic, ride horseback, swing, slide, and climb in the playground, or simply explore nature at the 1,200-acre Core Creek Park in Langhorne. If that’s not enough outdoor fun, you can even rent a kayak, canoe, rowboat, or paddleboat at the boathouse to tool around Lake Luxembourg!
What better way to spend a rainy day than exploring a castle! You don’t even have to “hop across the pond” – PA’s own, historic Fonthill Castle is right in Doylestown. The former home of archaeologist, anthropologist, ceramist, scholar, and antiquarian Henry Chapman Mercer, the castle was built in 1908-1912 and features 44 rooms, more than 200 windows, and 18 fireplaces, along with steep stairs and narrow, uneven passages for that true castle feel!
Insider Tip: Enjoy modern American fare at The Hattery Stove and Still. Located in the historic Doylestown Inn, the décor harkens back to the days when the building housed a hat factory, a cigar shop, shoe store, and even a speakeasy during prohibition. Today, you’ll find “food that tastes as good as it looks,” seasonal, rotating taps, cutting edge cocktails, and artisan wines.
Fairmount Park or Philadelphia Museum of Art
Take refuge from the hustle and bustle of daily life in Fairmount Park, the massive urban greenspace spanning both banks of the Schuylkill River. With more than 2,000 acres of rolling hills, gentle trails, relaxing waterfront, and shaded woodlands, it’s an ideal place to take a stroll, enjoy a family picnic, or organize a game of Ultimate Frisbee.
When raindrops begin to fall, run inside the Philadelphia Museum of Art to explore 200 galleries of world-class art, or walk a little farther up the parkway to the Franklin Institute. Each attraction is equally iconic with the “Rocky Steps” and 20-foot high marble statue of Benjamin Franklin honoring America’s first scientist.
Insider Tip: Visit Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks to settle once and for all who makes the best Philly cheesesteak in the land. Pat’s is well known as the inventor of this storied and iconic culinary delight, while Geno’s, a relative newcomer coming on the cheesesteak scene 30 years later, is revered for its thinly sliced, juicy and never greasy, rib-eye steak, fresh onions, melty cheese, and oven-fresh bread.
Elmwood Park Zoo or John James Audubon Center
Reserve a spot during Dog Days and Yappy Hours to explore Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown with your favorite furry friend (four-legged kind!). Home to more than 100 species including giraffes, zebras, jaguars, and red panda, America’s first dog-friendly zoo allows visitors to enjoy the zoo right along with their doggie. The Zoo Brew Beer Garden even caters to canines as well as their owners with food and drink specials.
VALLEYS OF THE SUSQUEHANNA
The Buffalo Valley Rail Trail or Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine
Walk, run, bike, or in-line skate along the scenic 9.5-mile Buffalo Valley Rail Trail between Lewisburg and Mifflinburg. The protected spine of asphalt and gravel makes the route easy for families of all ages to enjoy together and is wheelchair accessible. Well-behaved furry friends are welcome!
No history buff worth their salt will deny that coal mining and Pennsylvania go hand in hand. Get an up close view of an actual anthracite coal mine with a tour of the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine in Ashland. Board an open mine car to ride 1,800 feet straight into the side of Mahanoy Mountain, then disembark to learn how coal is mined. Afterwards, expand your coal mining knowledge with a scenic train ride on an old-time, narrow gauge steam locomotive that takes you around the mountain to see a strip mine.
Insider Tip: Never miss the big game dining at Matty’s Sporthouse Grill in Lewisburg! The American style sports bar and grill has 24 big-screen TVs and a menu that will match any mood: salad, wings, a burger or steak, sandwich, seafood, or a variety of appetizers. Their bar features 20 beers on tap including a wide variety of local PA brews, and their chips are homemade!
To learn about more springtime activities in Pennsylvania, check out the visitPA website. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more PA inspiration. Don’t forget to sign up for our monthly Happy Thoughts e-newsletter so you never miss an update.