A wonderful and potent mix of the traditional and the forward-thinking, vibrant cities and gentle countryside, and a myriad of culture clashes, Pennsylvania is one of the most intriguing states in the US.
It’s also home to some seriously stunning beauty spots, with sprawling lakes, dense areas of untouched forest, scenic Fall drives, and striking cities filled with gorgeous shiny man-made structures. If you want to see the best of the state, here are the most beautiful places to visit in Pennsylvania…
1. Allegheny National Forest – one of the most stunning places to explore in Pennsylvania
The only National Forest in Pennsylvania, the Allegheny National Forest is situated in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Established in 1923, the Allegheny National Forest is composed of plateau tops and diverse hardwood forests.
The heart of this forested landscape is the Alleghany Reservoir or the Kinzua Lake with miles of beautiful shorelines and myriad recreational activities. Adventure seekers can hike the Jakes Rock Overlooks and numerous other scenic trails in this charming forest.
2. Presque Isle State Park – Pennsylvania’s most-loved seashore destination
The only seashore of the Keystone state, the Presque Isle State Park is an arch-like sandy peninsula jutting into Lake Erie. At the neck of the peninsula is the wide and deep harbor for the city of Erie. The radiant coastline, sandy beaches, and diverse ecosystem makes the Presque Isle a hub of recreational activities.
With 13 designated beaches to swim, surf or sunbathe, the Presque Isle’s beaches are filled with colorful ‘sea’ glass and endless fun.
The historic spot of the state park, the Presque Isle Lighthouse has been a guiding light for passing ships since the 1870s. A National Natural Landmark, the Presque Isle is one of the top birding spots of endangered species.
3. Philadelphia – a fun and vibrant city and one of the best places to visit in Pennsylvania
One of America’s most historic cities, Philadelphia has a stunning skyline, numerous historic landmarks, cobbled streets, and outdoor markets in the perfect urban environment.
Tour the iconic Independence National Historical Park, a legendary site where the American Constitution got drafted, and the Liberty Bell with rich exhibits of American history.
Fondly called a city of the firsts, Philly is home to several architectural marvels. Take a step back in time at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Ben Franklin Museum with one or explore downtown Philly with scrumptious cuisines and eclectic shops.
4. Bushkill Falls – Pennsylvania’s own Niagara Falls and a popular beauty spot
Nestled in the Poconos Mountains on the edge of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, the Bushkill Falls is one of the tallest and most powerful waterfalls in the region.
Hidden deep in the woods bordered by cliff-hugging boardwalks the Bushkill Falls is a sight to behold.
Comprising eight beautiful waterfalls, the Main Falls or the namesake Bushkill Falls is the centerpiece of the attraction. With a series of interconnected trails and walkways, you can reach the base as well as the crest of this to experience the crystal clear water gushing from the springs.
5. Blue Marsh Lake – one of the most beautiful places to visit in Pennsylvania
Which was primarily built for flood control by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Blue Marsh Lake today has become a hub of outdoor recreation. Located in western Berks County, the Blue Marsh Lake offers 1,147 acres of water for boating with varied hiking trails.
A manmade wonder, Blue Marsh Lake’s recreation area offers so many things to do right from swimming, skiing, and picnicking to kite-flying, and much more.
6. Pennsylvania State Capitol, Harrisburg – one of the most beautiful buildings to visit
One of the most beautiful architectural treasures of the nation, the Pennsylvania State Capitol is where history, art, and learning work in perfect sync.
Often called a ‘palace of art’, the state capitol is filled with sculptures, murals, and stained glass windows with decorative Renaissance themes throughout.
Featuring a breathtaking rotunda and Paris Opera-themed staircase, the majestic St. Peter’s Cathedral-inspired dome sits atop the building with a gilded bronze statue.
Part of the sprawling State Capitol Complex, the complex grounds also include the State Museum of Pennsylvania including many historical buildings and memorials.
7. Pittsburgh – Pennsylvania’s glorious city of steel and bridges
The second-largest city of the Keystone state, Pittsburgh is known for its rich cultural legacy & industrial roots of the Carnegie family.
The epicenter of the city, the “Golden triangle” lies at the junction of Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers. At the tip of the triangle is Point State Park that houses the largest fountain in the state.
Step back in time and try out some of Warhol’s art techniques at the Andy Warhol Museum or explore the contemporary arts at the Carnegie Museum of Art, the historic sites are sure to delight the history buffs.
A gift to the city, the Phipps Conservatory is a home exotic public garden and stunning Victorian-style greenhouses. Ride on the antique cable car on the Duquesne Incline and enjoy the spectacular panorama of the city.
8. Ricketts Glen State Park – one of the most scenic areas to visit in Pennsylvania
Once an abode to the Native Americans, the Ricketts Glen State Park today is one of the most scenic parks of Pennsylvania. Nestled in the Luzerne, Sullivan, and Columbia counties, the Ricketts Glen state park covers 13,050 acres of land.
With a series of wild, free-flowing waterfalls cascading the ancient hills, the Ganoga Falls is the highest amongst the 22 named waterfalls.
Swim, hike, picnic, or go biking, the state park offers all recreational activities for visitors. Go out of your way to stop here and explore the unspoiled environment and charming surroundings.
9. Delaware Water Gap – once touted as a scenic wonder of the world, t
Graced by lush forests, beautiful lakes, and rugged mountains, the Delaware Water Gap is America’s most popular vacation destination.
One of the most beautiful areas of the Pocono Mountains, the middle section of the Delaware River or the Delaware Water Gap runs across the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border.
Running between the high bluffs, forested shores, and rhododendron ravines, the Delaware Water Gap is located in Monroe County of Pennsylvania. The Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River is a boon for canoeists, kayakers, rafters, and scenic seekers.
10. The Poconos – a beautiful place to visit which was filled with a myriad of nature-filled activities
A beloved destination for vacationers seeking to relax, the Pocono Mountains are known for their natural scenic beauty and quaint historic towns. The Northeastern Pennsylvanian Mountains have been alluring visitors for generations.
The 2,400 sq. mile area of the Poconos is easily accessible within two hours from the nearby metropolitan cities. A famous ski destination, the Poconos offer year-round camping, trail rides, and hiking experience in the lap of nature for nature lovers and peace seekers.
Step in the enchanted mountain slopes, clear lakes, flower-covered valleys, and varied landscapes for exciting outdoor adventures.
11. Hickory Run State Park – a breathtaking natural wonder at the foothills of Pocono Mountains
One of the largest state parks of the state, the Hickory Run State Park is located in the Carbon County of the Pocono Mountains. With more than 40 miles of hiking trails, natural streams, state park natural areas, and blooming rhododendrons, the Hickory Run State Park covers 15,990 acres of a vast landscape.
Walk along the striking boulder-strewn area of the Boulder Field, witness the beautiful Hawk Falls or Hike the Fireline Trail to catch a stunning view of the Lehigh Gorge, Hickory Run provides amazing recreational opportunities in every way.
12. Pine Creek Gorge – Pennsylvania’s stunning answer to the Grand Canyon
One of the largest State Natural Area in Pennsylvania, the Pine Creek Gorge is a part of the Tioga State Forest. The gorge begins near the quaint town of Wellsboro near Ansonia. Sitting opposite the Pine Creek Gorge are the Leonard Harrison Park & the Colton Point State Park.
The scenic waterfalls, rolling mountains, deep deciduous forests, and wild water provides gorgeous scenery of the Pine Creek Gorge in every season.
Hike along the converted railroad bed of the Pine Creek Rail Trail or watch the spectacular sunsets at Colton Point and Leonard Harrison, a trip to the Pine Creek Gorge is full of adventures and fun.
13. Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area – a gorgeous protected area to explore especially for wildlife fans
An exceptional Bird Area recognized globally, the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area is nestled between the Lebanon-Lancaster County line of Pennsylvania.
A special tract of landscape protecting and preserving the unique wildlife, the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area covers 5,000 acres of land with shallow-water lakes and oak woodlands.
Witness and photograph the beautiful flocks of migratory Tundra Swans and Snow Geese in their natural habitat. The lake and surrounding marshy lands are the nesting sites of forest and farmland wildlife.
14. Lake Wallenpaupack – one of the most beautiful lakes to visit in the Pocono Mountains
Wallenpaupack or the ‘stream of swift and slow water’ is the second-largest lake located in the Pike & Wayne Counties. Covering 5,700 acres of land with 13 miles of uninterrupted shorelines, this man-made lake is an ideal retreat for friends and family.
Play the day away in the stunning recreation area with sweeping forest lands, wildlife, scenic hiking trails, campsites, and much more. ur toes in the far-reaching shorelines or indulge in water skiing, jet-ski, or kayaking, there are scores of things to do in the charming Lake Wallenpaupack.
15. Cook Forest State Park – a beautiful towering forest cathedral of rare white pines and hemlocks
Often referred to as the ‘black forest of Pennsylvania’, the Cook Forest State Park envelopes 11,536 acres in northwestern Pennsylvania. Bordered by the scenic Clarion River, the scenic 13-mile stretch connects Cook Forests with the Clear Creek State Park.
Renowned for the virgin white pine and hemlock timber stands, this National Natural Landmark is home to some of the oldest trees east of the Rockies.
Climb a fire tower, explore the Henry Run Sawmill Dam Falls or hike the Paved Trail, the Cook forests offer a beautiful area to enjoy the peacefulness and simple things of life.
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Gary Nunn – Videographer, photographer and writer
Gary is an award winning full time professional photographer and videographer with too much wanderlust for his own good. Fueled by strong coffee, you’ll often find him wandering well off hiking trails in search of interesting photographic subjects or scenery to video. Self taught and with the use of pioneering digital techniques, he quickly built up a strong client base and has worked with many prestigious organizations, including GQ, BBC, London Fashion Week, Grazia, Sky, Metro, Vogue Italia. He specializing in evocative images of people, places and cinematic videography and his goal is to make the viewer look twice and engage. As well as a penchant for good design, travel, starting up new businesses, the ketogenic diet and Hungarian Vizslas, he also has a huge affection for Chicago, Bucharest, Scandinavia, Croatia and absolutely everywhere in Italy. Find Gary on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or his Website.