Nothing captures Pennsylvania’s historic legacy and outdoor splendor like the iconic attractions and national parks spread across the state. In 2016, the parks will become even more magnificent as the National Park Service (NPS) celebrates 100 years. In honor of the Centennial, the NPS launched a program called Find Your Park to encourage travelers to explore everything from iconic battlefields to natural beauty. Pennsylvania’s 18 national parks and 121 state parks boast recreational activities for any season making it the ideal destination to “Find Your Park.”
Independence National Historical Park - Philadelphia & The Countryside
Independence Hall was where the two most important documents in American history were signed - the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Visitors can see the Assembly Room where these historic documents were crafted, as well as the original courtroom of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the iconic Liberty Bell.
Gettysburg National Military Park - Dutch Country Roads
Gettysburg, Pa., was the site of the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War and played an integral part in this nation’s history. The National Park Service Museum and Visitor Center is the perfect place to start your visit and find important resources on touring the battlefield. Learn about the turning point in the Civil War on a tour with a Licensed Battlefield Guide or freely roam the grounds via bus, bike or horseback. Other Gettysburg destinations like Soldier’s National Cemetery, David Wills House and countless other museums will enthrall visitors for hours.
Fort Necessity National Battlefield - Laurel Highlands
The pivotal battle at Fort Necessity began the French and Indian War, and the revolution in America was ignited in Farmington, Pa. Revel in the past and enjoy a day of PA sunshine walking to the reconstructed fort and grave site of British General Edward Braddock, or hiking the five miles of trails around Fort Necessity. Visitors can also cross-country ski in the winter, so the battlefield can be explored year-round. After spending time outdoors, head inside to the Fort Necessity/National Road Interpretive and Education Center for interactive exhibits.
Valley Forge National Historical Park - Philadelphia & The Countryside
Valley Forge National Historical Park invites visitors to gain a new perspective on one of America’s iconic battles as they explore the site of George Washington’s encampment during the Revolutionary War. Guests can tour the visitor’s center and noteworthy sites like Washington’s headquarters, Washington Memorial Chapel and the Hope Lodge, the headquarters of Surgeon General John Cochran.
Flight 93 National Memorial - Laurel Highlands
Honoring the brave acts of 40 passengers responsible for helping to counteract an attack on the U.S. Capitol, the Flight 93 National Memorial features a Visitors Center Complex, a Memorial Plaza at the crash site and Memorial Groves. The complex features two buildings full of exhibits, interactive displays, guest speakers and special activities. Walking trails and an overlook of the crash site are also available.
Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site - Philadelphia & The Countryside
For six years, Philadelphia was the home of world-renowned author Edgar Allan Poe. Visitors can travel through the halls where Poe’s haunting literary masterpieces came to life. Fans of the 19thcentury author will love exploring Poe’s historic home, listening to his works read by famous actors and watching a documentary about his legacy.
Eisenhower National Historic Site - Dutch Country Roads
Eisenhower National Historic Site was the home and farm of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Adjacent to the Gettysburg Battlefield, the farm served as Eisenhower’s weekend retreat from Washington and a meeting place for world leaders like Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, President Charles De Gaulle and Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Take a tour of the home, enjoy a self-guided walk around the farm or join a park ranger for a tour of popular spots on the grounds like the garage which still houses the presidential limousine.
Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial - Philadelphia & The Countryside
Open April through October, the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial highlights the engineer’s impressive military career in both America and Poland. Browse exhibits on the first floor and travel upstairs to Kosciuszko’s bedchamber furnished with period artifacts. The free, self-guided tour also offers a film on Thaddeus Kosciuszko and his impact in the American Revolution, which garnered attention from George Washington for his outstanding service to the country.
Friendship Hill National Historic Site - Laurel Highlands
Friendship Hill was the residence of the Thomas Jefferson and James Madison’s Secretary of Treasury, Albert Gallatin. During his 13-year career, he reduced the national debt, purchased the Louisiana Territory and funded the Lewis and Clark exploration. Visitors can walk through the restored country estate that enshrines Gallatin’s many accomplishments through exhibits, audio tours and special programs. The additional 661 acres of Friendship Hill can be enjoyed through 10 miles of nature trails surrounding the estate.
Allegheny National Forest - Pennsylvania Wilds
Warren, McKean, Forest and Elk counties
The Allegheny National Forest covers approximately 517,000 acres across northwestern Pennsylvania and offers four seasons of outdoor recreation. Drop your lure into some of the 11,000 acres covered with water for the start of fishing season each spring. Enjoy countless hiking, biking, ATV and horse trails in the summer. Stop into the new Kinzua State Park Visitors Center for a history lesson and walk up the reconstructed Kinzua Sky Walk to overlook a sea of beautiful fall foliage. Or break out the snowmobile for a wintery trek around the 114-mile Allegheny Snowmobile Loop.
Appalachian National Scenic Trail - Regions throughout PA
Monroe, Carbon, Schuylkill, Dauphin, Perry, Cumberland and Franklin counties
In 1937, a 2,180+ mile long path stretching from Maine to Georgia was carved along the diverse terrain of the Appalachian Mountains. The 229 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania starts in the northeast and winds down to the south central part of the state. The northern two-thirds feature many steep descents and the southern part offers some of the smoothest terrain on the entire Appalachian Trail providing options for all levels of hikers.
Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail - Dutch Country Roads
Lancaster and York counties
The John Smith Chesapeake Trail is based on Captain John Smith’s map and written accounts of the Chesapeake Bay. The 3,000 miles of water trails allow enthusiasts to experience the same landscapes the infamous explorer traveled more than 400 years ago. No matter the vessel there is much to explore along the various waterways and its connections to 16 national wildlife refuges, 12 national parks and three national trails.
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area - Pocono Mountains
Wayne, Pike and Monroe counties
For more than 50 years, the Delaware Water Gap has preserved the natural, cultural and scenic resources of the Delaware River Valley and provides a wide variety of outdoor activities. Hike and bike on the more than 27 miles of the Appalachian Trail that runs through the Delaware Water Gap, or swim at two lifeguarded beaches along the Delaware River. Discover history at one of the villages, structures and landscapes from the valley's colonial past, or just relax on the water and bring lunch for a peaceful picnic.
Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Regions throughout PA
Luzerne, Lehigh, Bucks, Carbon and Northampton counties
The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor is a multi-use trail spanning 165 miles from the mountains of northeast Pennsylvania through the Lehigh Valley and Bucks County. This once booming industrial zone has now become a place of preservation offering unique ways to celebrate eastern Pennsylvania’s vibrant landscapes. Soak up the history of this key transportation area by traveling the canals aboard the Josiah White II, the only mule-drawn canal boat attraction in the state. Visitors can delve even deeper into the rich culture of the corridor by stopping at one of the many museums in the area including the 44-room Fonthill Castle — home to archaeologist Henry Chapman Mercer.
North Country Natural Scenic Trail Regions throughout PA
Warren, McKean, Forest, Clarion, Butler, Lawrence and Beaver counties
The North Country Natural Scenic Trail will cover 4,600 miles of America’s northern rugged heartlands and travel across seven states stretching from North Dakota to New York. The trail is a work in progress as only 2,000 miles of trails are complete. In the meantime, Pennsylvania is full of scenic pathways to explore year round. Try snowshoeing through the Allegheny National Forest or enjoy a day in tranquility watching the Pennsylvania wildlife roaming about the trails.