When the collective world consciousness, especially those who reside outside of the U.S., pictures in their mind’s eye what America looks like, some images immediately jump to mind. They include hot dogs and fries, baseball fields, factories, skyscrapers, rolling hills and deep forests, sprawling vistas, and high-reaching mountain ranges.
That collective imagination and those shared images might just as well be imagining the great state of Pennsylvania. In many ways, it may be the perfect microcosm of America itself.
A sprawling landmass, clocking in at more than 46,000 square miles, the Keystone State encompasses a little bit of every piece of the American tapestry.
From the sweat and grime-covered steel and coal mills of Western Pennsylvania to the spotless halls of the Museum of Modern Art in Philadelphia, the state is as high-toned as it is blue-collar.
The second state was admitted into the Union in 1787, more than 100 years after its founding and thousands of years after the first Indigenous Tribes inhabited the land. Pennsylvania’s story is one of birth and rebirth.
Philadelphia was the site of the first Continental Congress. Gettysburg’s bloody fields turned the tide of the Civil War. Rocky Balboa rose from the ashes time and time again to defeat another foe. Factual or fictional, Pennsylvania’s stories seem ripped from the pages of a storybook.
There is truly little that the U.S. has to offer that the Quaker State doesn’t provide in some way. Thankfully, many of these offerings are preserved in Pennsylvania’s vast and impressive State Parks system. Below are some can’t-miss destinations:
Keystone State Park: No trip to the Keystone State would be complete without visiting its namesake park. A short drive from Pittsburgh, this site is one of the most popular spots in the region, where popular activities include hiking, camping, swimming, boating, or wandering about watching the wildlife. Its more than 1,200 acres of sprawling Western Pennsylvania beauty and tranquility make it a must-visit for overnighters and day-trippers alike.
Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center: This spot is for the more nature-curious travelers looking to gain a little extra insight into the ecosystems around Eastern Pennsylvania and enjoy the great outdoors. More than 700 acres make up Nolde Forest, and its natural ecosystems support diverse and vibrant wildlife and fauna. Hiking, swimming, and even cross-country skiing are favorite activities among parkgoers. However, the park’s unique offering can be found in classes about the surrounding area at the nearby C.H. McConnell Education Hall. Commune with nature and learn a little something too at this park.
Mount Pisgah State Park: Nestled in the heart of the aptly named Endless Mountains, this site is a welcome getaway in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The park itself offers everything from hiking and swimming to hunting, fishing, and snowmobiling for outdoor enthusiasts. The nearby 75-acre Stephe Foster Lake is a particularly popular spot for boaters. However, the real treat here is the scenery. Mount Pisgah rises 2.260 feet above the surrounding area and invites visitors to climb up and enjoy one of the best views in all of Pennsylvania.