Exploring the center of Pennsylvania reveals a variety of weekend getaways, each with its own distinct personality. Here's the inside scoop on the best destinations, as seen by an experienced traveler, that combines cost, accessibility, and a hint of adventure.

1. The Spirit of Harrisburg

Harrisburg is the meeting point of history and contemporary living, not just a place for politicians. The riverbank walks are more impressive than the capitol complex, which is nevertheless quite impressive.

Pro Tips. To prevent parking hassles, stick to Park Harrisburg locations.

Must-dos. Tours of the Capitol are a necessity, and relaxing in Riverfront Park is highly recommended.

Season’s Best. Attending the Pennsylvania Farm Show in January is a must-do agricultural event.

2. The Charm of Lancaster

Nestled among picturesque farmsteads and undulating hills, Lancaster provides a tranquil window into the Amish way of life.

Pro Tips. Choose guided tours to learn about the Amish reasonably; respect goes a long way.

Must-dos. Farm excursions and buggy rides are classic Lancaster experiences.

Season’s Best. A sight to behold, the Amish farms come to life in the spring and fall.

3. The Industrial Heritage of York

York is most known for its industrial tours, which provide a behind-the-scenes peek into the center of American production.

Pro Tips. Reserve early times for your factory visit.

Must-dos. Don't miss the quaint historic downtown and the Harley-Davidson facility.

Season’s Best. September's York Fair is a joyous exploration of regional customs.

4. The Cultural Scene of Reading

Reading provides a soul-satisfying cultural feast with its famous Pagoda and flourishing arts.

Pro Tips. Be particularly careful when driving on the steep roads around the pagoda.

Must-dos. GoggleWorks' and the Reading Public Museum's artistic scenes are highly recommended.

Season’s Best. Reading comes alive with exhibitions and events throughout the year.

5. The Joyful Spirit of Bethlehem

There are historical and cultural treasures to discover all year long in Bethlehem, a city that comes to life during the Christmas season.

Pro Tips. Safeguard your holiday season. To beat the crowd, arrive early.

Must-dos. Highlights include the old Moravian Book Shop and the Christmas markets.

Season’s Best. The city is transformed into a mystical winter wonderland over the holidays.

6. Allentown's Vibrant Blend

Allentown offers a fusion of the old and the new while striking a balance with its industrial background and thriving cultural environment.

Pro Tips. The city's public transportation is reasonably priced and easily accessible.

Must-dos. Visit Cedar Beach Park and the Allentown Art Museum.

Season’s Best. In Allentown, the summer and fall are full of outdoor activities and events.

7. The Lakeside Appeal of Erie

With its beaches and lighthouses, Erie, which sits on the banks of Lake Erie, provides a revitalizing coastal escape.

Pro Tips. Weather near the lake can be unpredictable, so be prepared.

Must-dos. It is highly recommended to go boating on Lake Erie and touring Presque Isle State Park.

Season’s Best. Enjoy the beach vibes in the summer and the icy lakeside scenery in the winter.

8. The Industrial Charm of Scranton

Scranton provides a window into the industrial age of America while retaining its natural beauty and vibrant cultural scene.

Pro Tips. It's best to explore downtown on foot.

Must-dos. The Electric City Trolley Museum and Steamtown National Historic Site.

Season’s Best. Scranton’s historical and cultural landmarks are enhanced by a gorgeous coating of snow in the winter.

9. The Mountain Magic of Jim Thorpe

Jim Thorpe is a blend of history and excitement in a breathtaking mountain location, complete with its Victorian buildings and outdoor sports.

Pro Tips. To avoid congestion in the historic district, look for parking in public lots.

Must-dos. The town's stores are unique, and the historic railroad and coal sites are fascinating.

Season’s Best. Autumn is for strolling among leaves, and summer is for outdoor pursuits like rafting.

10. State College's Youthful Energy 

State College, a hive of academic activity, provides a vibrant fusion of culture, sports, and education.

Pro Tips. Since the town gets busy on football game weekends, make plans in advance.

Must-dos. The galleries, restaurants, and boutiques all exude a distinct college town atmosphere.

Season’s Best. Football fervor arrives in the fall, while the campus is beautiful in the spring.


Pennsylvania offers a variety of weekend getaways, from the historical charm of Harrisburg to the joyous atmosphere of Bethlehem, and from the lakeside retreats of Erie to the lively vitality of State College. The Keystone State provides everything you could possibly want, whether your goals are history, culture, nature, or just a traditional vacation.