Pennsylvania is a fantastic state to visit. Not only does it have some seriously beautiful landscapes, you’ll also find tons of history tucked into every corner of the state. Of course, we can’t forget to mention the amazing food that folks enjoy while here, making this an even more unforgettable place to check out.
Of course, if you’re going to visit this state, it’s a good idea to create a Pennsylvania bucket list to help ensure you see and do everything that is important to you. Not sure how to begin? That’s where this article comes into play.
Below we have shared our own Pennsylvania bucket list. This travel list includes some of the best bucket list ideas out there. Pick and choose from our travel bucket list for Pennsylvania, add some items of your own, and get ready to have an amazing time.
What is a Bucket List?
Before we go any further, we should talk a little about what exactly a bucket list is. By now you’ve probably gathered that a bucket list is a collection of things to see and do. These should be the things you want to do most before you pass away or kick the bucket, hence the term “bucket list”.
Now, many people will keep a single bucket list for every aspect of their lives. However, we find it makes a whole lot more sense to keep a bucket list for every place we plan to visit. This is what we recommend doing if you plan to do much traveling at all.
The Pennsylvania bucket list below is an excellent example of a state-specific bucket list.
— Bucket List Vacations: Pennsylvania’s National Parks —
Some of the very best attractions in the country are the national park sites. Pennsylvania has several of these, and we firmly believe every single one of them is worth seeing. The sites below are our favorites and should be considered for every Pennsylvania bucket list.
#1. Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site
The Allegheny Portage Railroad was the first railroad to go around the Allegheny Mountains and was the finishing piece to the Pennsylvania Mainline Canal. It was opened in 1834 and was the first direct route between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Learn more about this fascinating story at the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site.
#2. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
The land that is now the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation area has been loved by people for over 10,000 years. Featuring waterfalls, hiking trails, and swim beaches, it’s the ideal place to get away from it all and immerse yourself in nature.
#3. Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site
Edgar Allan Poe might have been a genius of a writer, but he struggled with all kinds of bad luck throughout his lifetime. This bad luck is reflected in his writings and is evident as soon as you begin learning about the man. That said, his six years in Philadelphia were some of his happiest and most productive. The Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site seeks to educate the public on the life and times of this amazing writer.
#4. Eisenhower National Historic Site
President Dwight D. Eisenhower kept a farm right next to Gettysburg Battlefield. Here, he and his wife would escape from the pressures of the White House on weekends and meet with world leaders. Today, this farm and house are preserved as the Eisenhower National Historic Site, offering a fascinating peek into the 34th president’s life.
#5. First State National Historical Park
Delaware is famous for being the first state to ratify the Constitution. The state came into being out of a conflict between three world powers, and from this, it has developed a distinct character of tolerance toward diversity. Learn more about this amazing story at the First State National Historical Park, which is located in both Delaware and Pennsylvania.
#6. Flight 93 National Memorial
September 11th, 2001 was a terrible day for the United States. On that morning, four commercial planes were hijacked for the purpose of striking various targets, causing the deaths of nearly 3,000 innocent people. Fortunately, because the passengers and crew aboard Flight 93 jumped into action, the attack on the U.S. Capitol was put to a stop. Learn more at the Flight 93 National Memorial.
#7. Fort Necessity National Battlefield
In the summer of 1754, the battle at Fort Necessity was fought. This was the beginning of the French and Indian War, which ended with the removal of French power from North America, setting the stage for the American Revolution. Discover how this war and this battle shifted the course of history at Fort Necessity National Battlefield.
#8. Friendship Hill National Historic Site
Best known for his time working as Secretary of the Treasury during the presidencies of Jefferson and Madison, Albert Gallatin can lay claim to a number of big accomplishments. This is the man who purchased the Louisiana Territory and funded the Lewis and Clark expedition. These accomplishments and more are highlighted at the Friendship Hill National Historic Site.
#9. Gettysburg National Military Park
Most of us know something about the Battle of Gettysburg, which was a turning point in the Civil War. It was the Civil War’s bloodiest battle, and also served as inspiration for President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Step back in time when you visit Gettysburg National Military Park.
#10. Gloria Dei Church National Historic Site
Once known as New Sweden, this area of the country was once full of rich Swedish culture. The Gloria Dei Church National Historic Site provides a link to that past by allowing guests to explore an old Swedish church and the grounds surrounding it.
#11. Hopewell National Historic Site
One of many “iron plantations” created in the late 1700s and early 1800s, the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site gives guests a glimpse at what industrial operations looked like between 1771 and 1883. Explore these 848 acres and all the structures still standing to get a better understanding of this subject.
#12. Independence National Historic Site
Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell both call the Independence National Historic Site their home. This NPS site is focused on representing and reminding us of the ideals of our nation through the preservation and display of national and international symbols of freedom.
#13. Johnstown Flood National Memorial
On May 31st, 1889 the South Fork dam failed and flooded Johnstown, PA with 20,000,000 tons of water. This tragedy killed 2,209 people and destroyed the town, but it brought the nation together to help the people of the town. Learn more about this story at the Johnstown Flood National Memorial.
#14. Steamtown National Historic Site
Train fans will adore the Steamtown National Historic Site. Here you can learn the history of the steam railroad while discovering the stories of the people who built these railroads, used the passenger cars, and ran the trains, and thus help preserve this era in American history.
#15. Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial
Polish freedom fighter Thaddeus Kosciuszko was an incredible military engineer. This man designed some amazingly successful fortifications during the American Revolution. See his home and imagine what life might have been like for the man.
#16. Valley Forge National Historical Park
The site of the Continental Army encampment for the winter of 1777–1778, Valley Forge was a place of many hardships. Explore this 3,500-acre park and all of its monuments, meadows, and woodlands to learn more about that hard winter and how it was overcome.
#17. National Trails
In addition to all of the amazing NPS sites listed above, Pennsylvania is also home to a large number of amazing national trails. Walk these trails to learn about the past and see amazing sites along the way:
- Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail
- Potomac Heritage National Historic Trail
- North Country National Scenic Trail
- Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
- Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail
- Appalachian National Scenic Trail
— More Pennsylvania Bucket List Experiences —
Want more ideas of things to add to your Pennsylvania bucket list? The places to visit and things to do listed below are some seriously cool options that we highly recommend you check out.
#18. Admire the Magic Gardens
True to its name, the Magic Gardens is a magical place. This gorgeous part of Philadelphia features extensive and elaborate mosaics unlike any most of us have ever seen. Wander this spot for some serious eye candy.
#19. Taste a Philly Cheesesteak
Nothing says Pennsylvania quite like the taste of a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. Our advice? Order from a Philadelphia food truck and don’t make modifications. Just trust us.
#20. Tour the Eastern State Penitentiary
The first modern prison in the world, the Eastern State Penitentiary is now an attraction that is well worth visiting. This enormous historic institution is known for housing infamous inmates like Al Capone, and some visitors claim the place is haunted.
#21. Explore the Philadelphia Art Museum
If you’re an art fan, you simply must visit the Philadelphia Art Museum. This is easily one of the best art museums in the country and is one that everyone should see at least once. Check out the famous Rocky statue at the base of the steps and then head inside to see more amazing works.
#22. Visit the Mutter Museum
Also located in Philadelphia, the Mutter Museum is a pretty bizarre place. This museum features a large collection of medical oddities that are sure to get you thinking. In fact, you’ll likely find yourself thinking about this place long after you leave.
#23. Check Out Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater
Any of Frank Lloyd Wright’s works are worth visiting, and Fallingwater is no exception. In fact, this might even be one of our favorite buildings of his. This one is built in such a way that it appears to be floating above a waterfall.
#24. Hike to Bushkill Falls
Speaking of waterfalls, another must-see for those visiting Pennsylvania is Bushkill Falls. This waterfall is known as the Niagara Falls of Pennsylvania and it certainly is a beautiful sight to see. Just be prepared to do a bit of hiking to see this natural wonder.
#25. Discover the Bethlehem SteelStacks
Once the site of Bethlehem Steel, the stacks at Bethlehem SteelStacks were used to make iron for nearly 100 years. Today, the site is a huge entertainment complex that plays host to a number of amazing shows and festivals throughout the year.
#26. View a Movie at Shankweiler’s Drive-In
Did you know Pennsylvania is home to America’s oldest drive-in theater? Shankweiler’s Drive-In opened in 1934 and has been running every year since. The theater is open on the weekends in April, May, and September, and daily throughout the summer.
#27. Photograph the Haines Shoe House
One of the silliest attractions we’ve ever come across, the Haines Shoe House reminds us of a certain nursery rhyme. The house is open for tours and makes for a great photo opportunity, so be sure to bring your camera.
#28. Devour a Whoopie Pie
Whoopie pies are among the most popular treats in Pennsylvania. These delicious cake-and-cream sandwiches can be found in nearly every bakery and even in places like gas stations. While the chocolate flavor is the most popular, there are other varieties available as well.
#29. Enjoy Nature at Pine Creek Gorge
Known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, Pine Creek Gorge offers spectacular views of the raw beauty the state has to offer. We recommend checking out this natural wonder during the fall months when the leaves turn the whole area into a colorful wonderland.
#30. See the Kecksburg UFO
Another silly roadside attraction that we think is worth checking out, the Kecksburg UFO is quite interesting. In December of 1965, a fireball flew through the air and landed in Pennsylvania. Today, a replica of the UFO stands in the spot where the original landed and is a popular spot for tourists to take photos.
#31. Take In the Views at Presque Isle Park
While in Pennsylvania you mustn’t forget to pay a visit to the spectacular Lake Erie. The beauty of all the Great Lakes simply cannot be put into words. Trust us when we say a visit to this particular lake while you’re in the area will be well worth your time and effort.
#32. Get Outside at Ricketts Glen State Park
Pennsylvania has a lot of state parks, making it incredibly difficult to choose a favorite. That said, if we had to choose just one, it would be Ricketts Glen State Park. This place is absolutely gorgeous and is the perfect example of just how beautiful Pennsylvania nature can be.
#33. Ride the The Duquesne Incline
When you get to Pittsburgh, be sure to hop on the Duquesne Incline. This historic cable car is one of the few remaining inclines in the country and is well worth a ride for the incredible views it provides.
#34. Learn at Carnegie Natural History Museum
Are you a dinosaur fanatic? The Carnegie Natural History Museum is the place for you. This Pittsburgh museum has one of the largest collections of dinosaur bones in the country. On top of that, those who purchase admission to this museum are also granted admission to the art museum next door.
#35. Immerse Yourself in Amish Culture in Lancaster County
Of all the states, Pennsylvania is home to the most Amish individuals. For this reason, it only makes sense that visitors should take the time to explore the Amish country of Lancaster county and learn a bit about Amish culture.
#36. Have a Sweet Time in Hershey
No place in the world is quite as sweet as Hershey, PA. Founded by Milton Hershey, this adorable town is now home to The Hershey Story Museum, Hershey’s Chocolate World, and Hershey Park. Be sure to spend plenty of time here so you can see it all.
As you can see, Pennsylvania is a wonderful place to explore. That said, in order to see and do everything on this Pennsylvania bucket list, you’re going to have to do quite a lot of moving around. For this reason, we highly recommend staying in an RV.
Checking off your Pennsylvania bucket list in an RV allows you the freedom to move from spot to spot on a whim. It also ensures you’re comfortable wherever you roam.
Don’t have an RV of your own? Our Pennsylvania RV rentals are just the thing! Book yours today so you can start your Pennsylvania bucket list adventure as soon as possible.