The 7 Best Day Trips To Take Around Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has numerous amazing places, which you can visit alone, with your family, or with your friends. Here are some of the best day trips in Pennsylvania.

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What are the best day trips in Pennsylvania?

The best day trips in PA include visits to the Gettysburg National Military Park, Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Ricketts Glenn State Park, Fort Hunter Mansion and Park, Pine Creek Gorge, Longwood Gardens as well as in and around Lancaster. Most of these places are open year round.

Also known as the Coal State, the Quaker State or Keystone State, Pennsylvania is home to beautiful state parks, secluded islands, and fun-packed theme parks.

It also has numerous quaint, charming towns as well as several cities like Lancaster and York. The Quaker State also has a rich history, considering that it’s one of the 13 colonies which formed the U.S.

As you can see, you can never run out of places to visit, fun things to do and amazing sightings in the Keystone State.

And best of all, most of these places are affordable and within a short distance from the city, meaning you can easily turn them into amazing day trips. Here are some of the best day trips in Pennsylvania.

Gettysburg National Military Park

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The Gettysburg National Military Park is a 6,000-acre park, located in the Piedmont Province, east of the Appalachian Mountains.

It’s the site of the Battle of Gettysburg, which took place on July 1813. It’s considered one of the bloodiest civil war battles in the country. 

Official records show that approximately 50,000 soldiers were killed or severely wounded by the time the battle ended.

It’s one of the most visited locations in the state. If you live in Harrisburg, PA, then the Gettysburg National Military Park is only a 45-minute drive. 

Here, you can tour the park in a car, on foot or opt for one of the guided tours on a horse, carriage, bus or Segway, depending on your preferences.

The 6,000-acre park also features pasturelands, agriculture fields, woodlands, streams and woodlots. It’s home to various birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles as well as several species of plants.

Also, the area around the park has several museums that you can visit and learn more about its history. Some of the notable ones include the Jennie Wade House and former president Dwight Eisenhower’s farm. 

And if you want to grab a bite, then you can do so at the historical Dobbin House Tavern, which has been operational since 1776.

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

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If you are interested in learning more about railroads and their history, then the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania has a lot in store for you. 

Located in Strasburg, Philly, this museum features one of the biggest collections of railroad artifacts.

Here, you will get to know more about the technology of early locomotives and railroad cars, the challenges in constructing and maintaining railroads, as well as the railroad network’s impact on American society and culture.

Also, this museum has a vast collection of artifacts, art, photographs and documents, showcasing the history of railroads in the U.S. 

The museum also runs various educational programs for both adults and children, designed to help visitors learn more about the importance of the railroad network in the country.

And if you still have some time left after your museum visit, then you should head over to the Choo Choo Barn Traintown, where you can see a 1700-square-foot animated train display.

Ricketts Glenn State Park

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Ricketts Glenn State Park is a designated National Natural Landmark and one of the most charming places in the state.

Sitting on a 13,050-acre piece of land, this park offers outdoor lovers a wide range of activities and things to see.

However, hiking is the main activity here on the Falls Trails System. During your hike, you will get an opportunity to explore the 22 waterfalls in the park. 

You can also go on a boat tour and explore the sparkling waters of Lake Jean, swim or even fish for trout.

Other activities in the park include rustic camping as well as exploring its vast flora and fauna. The park also remains open during the winter. 

During this time of the year, you can rent a cabin and enjoy cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and ice fishing, among other activities.

Fort Hunter Mansion and Park

If you are into historic mansions, then there are a couple to visit on a day trip in PA. And, Fort Hunter Mansion is one of the most popular ones.

Located in Harrisburg close to the Susquehanna River, this park offers a historical tour as well as a variety of recreational activities.

John Harris built it in 1764. 

During that time it was used as a war fort for soldiers who were participating in the Revolutionary War.

It also served as a farm as well as an exclusive private residence.

Today, the fort is now open to the public. 

You will be taken on a guided tour, where you will learn more about its history as well as that of the Harris family. Also, you will get to know the role of this family in the history of PA.

After you’ve concluded your tour of the fort, you can explore the park surrounding the house. You can go on a stroll and enjoy the picturesque views of the scenic Susquehanna River. Overall, the fort provides an amazing place where you can learn more about the state’s history as you enjoy the great outdoors.


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Lancaster is just an hour’s drive from Harrisburg. Home to the Amish, Lancaster has plenty of things to see and do. 

Whether you are a history lover, a nature lover or you are into art and performances, then Lancaster has it all.

First, you can visit the James Buchan Estate, which is a popular tourist destination for history lovers. 

It was originally built by William Skillman in 1828, who was then a successful businessman. However, James Buchan, who went on to become this country’s 15th president, later bought the estate. He lived on the estate for more than 20 years and transformed it into a great place for visitors.

Second, you can head over to Chickies Rock. Here, you can hike along the Susquehanna River, surrounded by serenity and quietness.

And if you are an angler, you can improve your skills fishing bass on the river. Boating and swimming are some of the other ways to recreate on this river.

Third, you can visit the Fulton Opera House. Also called Fulton Theater, this opera house has a captivating and rich history. 

It was the site of a jail circa 1700, which was later converted into an opera house in 1873. Today, it offers a wide range of contemporary performances.

Fourth, you can visit the Spring House Bring Company, which is located a few miles from the opera house. Besides sampling the various brews the company produces, you can also participate in arcade games offered at the premises.

Pine Creek Gorge

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Situated in north-central PA and about two hours from Harrisburg, Pine Creek Gorge is a haven for nature lovers. 

Most people call it the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, and, it’s easy to see why.

It descends more than 1000 feet deep and spreads over 50 miles long. It’s one of the deepest gorges around these parts. 

Once you’ve taken in enough of the gorge and captured enough videos and photos, you should consider exploring the areas around the Tioga State Forest. 

It’s a popular destination for hiking, camping, fishing, viewing wildlife and much more.

Also, the area has several key archaeological and historical sites. They include the Colton State Point Park, where you can learn more about the Tioga Point Military facility, which was used during the French-Indian war and the Revolutionary War. 

With its rich history and natural beauty, Pine Creek Gorge should be on the list of everyone who wants to explore Pennsylvania.

Longwood Gardens

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You may sometimes want to have a relaxed and fun day. And, Longwood Gardens are the perfect spot for this.

It’s home to several outdoor and indoor gardens, stunning water fountains and majestic architectural structures.

You can spend your day admiring the garden’s beauty or stroll along its hundreds of winding paths.

Also, the gardens host various exhibitions, classes, tours, workshops, performances and events throughout the year. Depending on when you visit, you may be lucky to enjoy a live music band.

Also, you can join one of the terrarium workshops hosted in the gardens, where you will learn more about gardening. 

You can then end your trip at the Beer Garden. Here, you can enjoy some beer and food, as you soak in the garden’s beauty.

Key Takeaways

  • Pennsylvania offers numerous day-trip opportunities
  • You can go on a solo trip or hit the road with your loved ones
  • Most of the day-trip destinations are free or affordable
  • You can go on these day trips any time of the year