Pittsburgh & Pennsylvania's Great Lakes Region19 stops
Pittsburgh & Pennsylvania's Great Lakes Region
4 Days - 19 Stops
401 Meadowcroft Road, Avella, PA 15312
Meadowcroft Village (1), near Avella, is a great starting point for understanding grains and other crops planted by indigenous people and how agriculture has changed over the centuries. Visitors can tour the Rockshelter, which has signs of human habitation dating back 16,000 years. Meadowcroft also has a reproduction of a 16th-century Monongahela village and two replicas of living structures from the 1770s. Agriculture, especially the reliance on corn, is a focus of many of the exhibits. On fall weekends, hands-on corn grinding demos and corn husk crafting are common.
1061 Sugar Run Road, Avella, PA 15312
Avella is also the home to Weatherbury Farm (2), where the Tudor family grows and sells wheat, rye, and oats. It’s only open to the public on flour pick-up days, so check the website for the next day and call ahead to reserve your order for pickup at the farm.
Rising Creek Bakery
115 Main Street, Mt Morris, PA 15349
Head south to the Pennsylvania-West Virginia border and Rising Creek Bakery (3), one of two places in Western Pennsylvania where you can sample salt-rising bread (the other being Pie for Breakfast in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood). This unique bread, which is not salty at all, but naturally leavened by bacteria without yeast, is tricky to bake, so make it easy for yourself by buying some from Rising Creek. Many say this bread tastes like cheese or even stinky feet, but it is a unique Appalachian treat worth seeking out. Buy your bread, some tomato gravy, and a glass of sweet tea (you’re so close to the Mason Dixon line there) and relax under the trees beside the bakery.
The Century Inn
2175 National Pike, Scenery Hill, PA 15360
A short distance away on the historic National Road is the next stop where you can spend the night at the oldest continuing (1794) inn on the National Road, The Century Inn (4).
The Woodville Plantation
1375 Washington Pike, Bridgeville, PA 15017
As you drive from rural Pennsylvania back towards the city, imagine the first shots that were fired here during the Whiskey Rebellion. The Woodville Plantation (5), just a short distance off the highway, offers a look into the era where rye grew in every field and each farmer had their own still. This National Historic Landmark was owned by John and Presley Neville in the late 1700s. John was a commander at Fort Pitt and a tax collector when, in 1791, the new government put a tax on distilled spirits to help pay for the Revolutionary War. There was a backlash from farmers, gunshots rang out, and tar-and-feathering ensued.
620 Brookline Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Heading back to Pittsburgh, a few turns off the four-lane road takes you to the lively neighborhood of Brookline and to Pitaland (6), where the fresh pita ride the conveyor belt from oven to bag. Owner Mike Chahine will show you around the pita-making machine and you can buy some warm pita bread (and freshly made hummus) for the road.
Wigle Whiskey Distillery
2401 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
In Pittsburgh, the Wigle Distillery and Tasting Room (7) is the place to get even more schooling on the Whiskey Rebellion and then relax with locally made whiskey and other spirits. If you’re in the mood to get your hands busy while in the Pittsburgh area, the Wigle folks conduct fun cocktail classes.
Pink Box Bakery
2104 Murray Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15217
Next, visit Pink Box Bakery (8) in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, where the Taiwanese sweets are as artful as they are delicious. The Squirrel Hill area was once mainly a Jewish community, but now its proximity to Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh has brought many other groups and cuisines to the neighborhood.
4141 Old William Penn Highway, Monroeville, PA 15146
Dinner at Udipi Cafe (9) in the eastern suburbs is a must because of the many varieties of Southern Indian wheat breads and rice crepes, such as chapati, poori, bhatura, paratha, and at least ten varieties of dosa. If time allows, call ahead to the Sri Venkateswara Hindu Temple nearby to see if they are offering tours that day. It’s a beautiful and peaceful place.
TRYP by Wyndham
177 40th Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201
If your belly needs a break, a night at the new TRYP by Wyndham (10) in a former school building in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the trendy restaurants and shops in the area.
Old Economy Village
270 16th Street, Ambridge, PA 15003
A one-of-a-kind piece of Pennsylvania immigrant history awaits the next day when you drive north to visit the first home of two of the country’s three Harmonist communities. In 1804, around 800 people led by German separatist George Rapp formed their first community in Butler County, where they named the town Harmony. Next, the group moved to the state of Indiana for ten years and then back to Pennsylvania and the Beaver County area to a locale now called Old Economy Village (11), which would be their final home. The town of Harmony is still filled with delicious reminders of the town’s German history, including Bavarian pretzels, strudel, schnitzel, spaetzle, and dumplings.
North Country Brewing
230 Mercer Street, Harmony, PA 16037
The building that houses the Harmony Inn, also the home of North Country Brewing (12), has been around since 1856 and was originally the home of the town’s gristmill operator. It’s a perfect spot to give these dishes a try and wash them down with a cool Stone House Stout, made with roasted barley and finished with oatmeal. North Country also has a canning facility about 30 minutes away that sometimes offers tours.
253 Mercer Street, Harmony, PA 16037
In addition, local buckwheat crepes are a real treat at the Wunderbar Cafe (13) down the street from the Inn, so walk around the town of Harmony after lunch (fun shopping here) and then have one of Wunderbar’s berries and cream crepes (gluten free) for dessert.
1761 McConnells Mill Road, Portersville, PA 16051
McConnells Mill State Park (14) consists of 2,546 acres near the beautiful Slippery Rock Gorge and is a respite after time spent eating and shopping in Harmony. The first mill was built in 1852 and burned down in 1868, and the McConnell Mill was one of the country’s first rolling mills. It was used to grind oats, corn, wheat, and buckwheat, and like most mills was a community hub. The mill closed in 1928 but has been open to the public for tours in the last decades since the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania acquired it. It’s a lovely place for a hike and a picnic, too.
Moraine State Park
Cabins Rd, Portersville, PA 16051
Take an overnight rest at one of the cabins at Moraine State Park (15). There are canoes and kayaks to rent and a gift shop with lots of locally made arts and crafts.
Joy Cone Factory
3435 Lamor Road, Hermitage, PA 16148
No trip is worthwhile without a great ice cream cone, or in this case, touring an ice cream cone factory. Founded in 1918 by Lebanese immigrant Albert George, the Joy Cone Company (16) is 100% employee-owned and the largest ice cream cone company in the world with over 1.5 billion cones made per year. If you’ve ever eaten ice cream cone, you’ve likely had a Joy Cone.
111 W Main Street, Sunbury, PA 16061
A 30-minute drive southeast to quaint West Sunbury takes travelers to the last remaining buckwheat mill in Butler County, Zanella Milling (17), to buy some locally ground buckwheat and whole-wheat flour. The mill has been around since the late 1800s and the Zanellas are always around to answer your buckwheat questions. Ask Matt Zanella if any buckwheat pancake and sausage breakfasts are coming up—they’re usually held in fire halls or church basements, and if you are lucky enough to be in the area for one, get yourself there. A local favorite is the Wesley Grange Sourdough Buckwheat Cake and Sausage Supper in its 81st year, which takes place twice annually near Harrisville, about 20 minutes north of the mill.
719 Clearfield Road, Fenelton, PA 16034
Homebrewers would love a visit to CNC Malting (18) in the nearby town of Fenelton. Owner Brendan Carroll will help you to create the perfect mix of barley malts for your needs, and the drive there is so peaceful.
717 Saxonburg Blvd, Saxonburg, PA 16056
Finally, drive south to Frankferd Farms (19), located in the rural town of Saxonburg. The company began forty-one years ago as a small flour mill that also made pancake mixes and now has a solar-powered flour mill and a large mail-order business, as well as a small retail outlet. It has long been a supplier of organic food, including grains, to people across the country.