Pack your bags, gang. It’s time to get out of town.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s not like we don’t love Pittsburgh. Of course we do! We could go on for days about all the ways Pittsburgh is better than every other city. And how, even when you think you’ve done it all, there are still a ton of places in Pittsburgh that you’ve never been. It’s just that sometimes it’s best to take a break from the Burgh.
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. Hit the water and ride the rapids. Whatever floats your boat, friends. But if you’re heading to Ohiopyle, why not make a weekend out of it. If you heed our advice, you can hit Ohiopyle State Park, Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob in one fell swoop. While the state park speaks for itself, the other activities are architectural-inspired adventures. Stop by these homes, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the first of which is built over and into a waterfall, while the second appears to be part of the mountainscape. These designs are inspired and influenced by Wright’s belief that, “No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.” Drive time: 1.75 hours
No matter the season, there are plenty of reasons to head to this resort. Obviously in the winter you can hit the slopes. Whatever your preference, you can ski, snowboard or tube the day away. Of course you could just hang out in the lodge or the Foggy Goggle all day (no judgement). Don’t think that you need to stay away from the Springs during the summer, either. The zipline and canopy tours over and through the forest provide an exciting and exhilarating look at the Laurel Highlands. Speaking of the Laurel Highlands, the 70-mile backpacking trail through the region is an adventure in itself. Be sure and 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. Of course you could forgo the play part of that equation in favor of spa treatments and a soothing soak in Bedford’s healing springs. Back in the early 1800’s, the discovery of these springs gave way to the construction of a spa and hotel. People, including many U.S. Presidents, came from far and wide to experience these springs. Jump ahead to the present day and you’ll find that the Omni Bedford Springs Resort has combined a storied legacy with modern amenities to create a relaxing and rejuvenating retreat. Situated on 2,200 acres there’s more than 25 miles of hiking trails to be explored. Plus plenty more to explore in and around the town of Bedford. Drive time: 2 hours
Skip the Outer Banks and Myrtle Beach. Save some cash and hit the beach at a spot a little closer to home. Lake Erie and Presque Isle State Park are only two hours away, gang. Admittedly, these might not be the most pristine beaches you’ll ever visit. But it’s as close as you’ll get to ocean front property in 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 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 consider yourself a fan of college football, taking in a game at Beaver Stadipum should be on your bucket list. You don’t have to like Penn State to appreciate the passion of 100,000+ fans going wild for the entirety of the game. 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 the Penn State Creamery, currently celebrating 150 years of making 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 water skiing, 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’s 34 slopes 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. Okay, with that on the record, we’re can’t lie, Cleveland is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway. If you said that the city was up-and-coming, you’d be right. But don’t be confused by that sentiment. A number of spots have already arrived, making this trip one worth taking. If you enjoy Lawrenceville, you’ll love Ohio City. This neighborhood is the place to be right now. Need proof? Sure thing, see Exhibits A-G: Nano Brew, The Market Garden Brewery, Great Lakes Brewing, Mitchell’s Ice Cream, and, of course, the West Side Market. The Greenhouse Tavern is a can’t miss across town. Plus the Cleveland Metroparks provide an awesome opportunity to do some sightseeing on foot, while working 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, this place is in the heart of America’s Grape Country boasting more than 30,000 vineyard acres and 25 wineries. Trying the 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
West Virginia. Really? Well, let’s be clear. We’re not saying you take a backroad and cruise through the Mountain State with no destination in mind. Do this instead, head to the outdoor adventure capital of the Eastern U.S. We’re referring to the New River Gorge, of course. With its scenic gorges and natural beauty there’s no shortage of epic adventures to be had in New River Gorge, on Summersville Lake and in the Gauley River National Recreation. From hiking to kayaking, whitewater rafting to paddleboarding, there’s plenty to do. Plus, if you plan your trip for the fall you can check out Bridge Day. On the third Saturday in October the bridge is closed to cars and packed with people who watch or participate in BASE jumping, bungee jumping, rappelling and partying on the world’s longest single-span arch bridge. Drive time: 3.5 hours
Well, this one kind of speaks for itself. Don’t you think? It’s a history buff’s paradise. The White House, National Mall and many more historical sites and monuments than you could visit in one weekend. Not to mention a laundry list of museums that span the spectrum of significance, from the Smithsonian to the International Spy Museum. When you get hungry, you’re in luck! Snag a dog from Ben’s Chili Bowl old-school chili-dog joint on U Street. Grab a Half smoke from Meat & Foods. Think of it as the Primanti’s of DC. Not because it has fries and slaw on it, because it’s the must-eat meal between bread. Kimchi ramen from Toki Underground is also a 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
If you make the trip to this last place, 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 lives up to it’s nickname and accolades. Head here for hiking along the Genesee River, through a gorge complete with epic views, past three waterfalls, 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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