Pack your bags. It’s time to get out of town.
Don’t get us wrong — we love Pittsburgh. We could go on and on about how our city better than all the others. It’s just that sometimes it’s best to take in a change of scenery.
So, when you’re ready to hit the road, let this article be your guide to exploring the cities, outdoor spaces, and must-see attractions within four(ish) hours of Pittsburgh.
Yes, it’s true. Ohiopyle is an amazing spot for outdoor recreation. Explore the hiking trails. Snap some photos of the waterfalls. And ride the rapids. If you’re heading to Ohiopyle, make a weekend out of it. If you heed our advice, you can hit Ohiopyle State Park, plus Fallingwater, and Kentuck Knob in one fell swoop. While the state park speaks for itself, these other two are architectural-inspired adventures. Both designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the first is built over (and actually into) a waterfall, and the second appears to be part of the surrounding mountainscape. Drive time: 1.75 hours
No matter the season, there are plenty of reasons to head to this resort. During the winter you can hit the slopes, skiing, snowboarding, or tubing the day away. Or you could just hang out in the Foggy Goggle all day (no judgement). But don’t sleep on ‘the Springs’ during the summer months. The zipline and canopy tours offer an exciting and exhilarating look at the Laurel Highlands. And speaking of the Laurel Highlands, the 70-mile backpacking trail through the region is an adventure in itself. Definitely make hiking a section of the trail part of your weekend trip. Drive time: 1.5 hours
Here’s a historic spot that allows you to play hard and pamper yourself. Situated on 2,200 acres, there are more than 25 miles of hiking trails to be explored. Or, you can totally forgo the play part in favor of spa treatments and a soothing soak in Bedford’s healing springs. Back in the day, the discovery of these springs gave way to the construction of a spa and hotel. In the years since the Omni Bedford Springs Resort has combined a storied legacy with modern amenities to create a relaxing and rejuvenating retreat. Plus, there’s a good deal to explore in and around the small town of Bedford. Drive time: 2 hours
Skip the Outer Banks and Myrtle Beach. Save some cash and hit the beach at a spot much closer to home. Lake Erie and Presque Isle State Park are only two hours away! Admittedly, these aren’t the most pristine beaches you’ll ever visit. But it’s as close as you’ll get to an ocean-front daycation in Western Pennsylvania. While you’re there, you’d be silly not to sample some wine from one of many wineries in Lake Erie Wine Country. And if you’re into amusement or water parks, stop by Waldameer or Splash Lagoon. Think of these as Erie’s version of Kennywood and Sandcastle. Whatever you do, don’t pass through Presque Isle without stopping at Sara’s Diner for a hot dog and milkshake! Drive time: 2 hours
If you’re a fan of college football, taking in a game at Beaver Stadium should be on your bucket list. Really, you don’t have to root for Penn State to appreciate the passion of 100,000+ fans going bonkers (plus, Pitt-Penn State this fall). But even if football isn’t your thing, there’s still plenty to do. Head outdoors to Mount Nittany or Rothrock State Forest. Check out Penn’s Cave, going underground in a boat or off-road in a Jeep. Then, make your way over to Penn State Creamery for some of the best ice cream you’ll ever taste. And since you don’t want to be the only person in Happy Valley who doesn’t know what grilled stickies are, get yours at the Ye Olde College Diner. Drive time: 3 hours
If the beaches of Lake Erie aren’t your thing, opt for lakeside living in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. Whether you fancy yourself a fisherman or would rather use the boat for sunbathing and waterskiing, you can do it all in Deep Creek. During the fall, you can hike one of the area’s four state parks, offering splendid scenic views and colorful foliage tours. And in the winter, Wisp Resort is right around the corner. So bust out your skis, snowmobile, and snowshoes too. There are 34 slopes for over 170 + acres. That should keep you busy for a little while, right? Drive time: 2 hours.
Let’s preface this one with a disclaimer: We still hate the Browns. With that on the record, we can’t lie — Cleveland is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway. This city is up and coming, that’s true. But a number of spots have already arrived. If you like Lawrenceville, you’ll love Ohio City. This neighborhood is the place to be. Need proof? Make your way to Nano Brew, The Market Garden Brewery, Great Lakes Brewing, Mitchell’s Ice Cream, and, of course, the West Side Market. Then head to the Cleveland Metroparks to walk off an evening of eating and drinking in Ohio City. Drive time: 2.25 hours
Located in western New York, Chautauqua has quite a bit going for it. For starters, and oenophiles (that means wine lovers), this place is in the heart of America’s Grape Country boasting more than 30,000 vineyard acres and 25 wineries. Trying that all will take way more than one weekend. But hey, you have to start somewhere. If adult education, not adult beverages, is more in line with your idea of leisure activities, be sure to explore the Chautauqua Institute. This non-profit education center is something of an academic utopia situated on 750 acres, offering lectures, musical performances, art, and more. If you’re looking to head to western New York during the winter months, Peek’n Peak Resort is about 30 minutes west of Chautauqua. Drive time: 2.25 hours
New River Gorge is arguably the outdoor adventure capital of the Eastern US. Expect scenic gorges, tons of natural beauty, and epic adventures to be had in the New River Gorge, on Summersville Lake, and in the Gauley River National Recreation Area. From hiking to kayaking and whitewater rafting to paddleboarding, there’s plenty to do. Fitt tip: Plan your trip for the fall so you can check out Bridge Day. On the third Saturday in October, the bridge is closed to cars for BASE jumping, bungee jumping, rappelling, and a huge party on the world’s longest single-span arch bridge. Drive time: 3.5 hours
Calling all history buffs, health nuts, and urban explorers, DC awaits. There’s the White House, National Mall, and more historic sights that you could visit in one weekend. And that doesn’t even include museums like the Smithsonian or the International Spy Museum. When you get hungry, you’re in luck! Snag a dog from Ben’s Chili Bowl, an old-school chili dog joint on U Street. Or, grab a Half Smoke from Meat & Foods, the Primanti’s of DC. Kimchi ramen from Toki Underground is another solid choice. Drinks anyone? Cocktails at the Columbia Room, beers at ChurchKey, or fly under the radar at Ivy and Coney. Drive time: 4 hours
Prepare to be blown away! Known as the Grand Canyon of the East, Letchworth was recently chosen as The Nation’s Best State Park. And it totally lives up to its nickname and accolades. Head here for hiking along the Genesee River, through a gorge complete with epic views, past three waterfalls, and finishing at the Upper Falls with the Portage Bridge high overhead. While you’re looking up at the bridge, don’t be surprised to see a hot air balloon floating by. Balloons Over Letchworth offers hot air balloon rides over and into the falls. And each May, more than 30 hot air balloons take over Letchworth as part of an annual Red, White and Balloon Festival. So plan accordingly! Drive time: 4 hours
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