The Best Pennsylvania Road Trips You Didn’t Know You Wanted to Take (Till Now)

pennsylvania road trips pa summer travel

Memories from our Pennsylvania road trips / Clockwise from top left: Bob Greenspan; Laura Swartz; Kiki Sorick; Victor Fiorillo; Sandy Smith; Alpha Stock/Alamy Stock Photo; Rusty Glessner; Bradford Pearson; dinosaur: Laura Swartz; elephant: Hannah Albertine

Ah, the open highway — the drive that takes you beyond Philly’s borders, one full of scenic vistas, nostalgic roadside­ stops and epic adventures. Remember all that? It’s there waiting for you this summer. So pack up the car, fire up the GPS, and head out on one of these quintessential­ road trips.

Pennsylvania road trips

A map of our Pennsylvania road trips / Illustration by Eric Hinkley

When I was a kid, family vacations didn’t take us to far-flung destinations around the globe. For my mom, dad, sister and me, it was all about the road trip. We’d pile into the white Mazda minivan, fight traffic out of Southern California, and finally, gloriously, end up on our way. We’d stop at such marvels as the Four Corners, where it brought eight-year-old me such joy to get my hands and feet in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah all at the SAME TIME!! But what stands out most is the experience of it all — singing along to Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” with my dad when I got to sit in the front seat, or the sheer awe of seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time.

Here in Pennsylvania, we have a seemingly endless list of our own road-trip attractions along our 121,000 federal, state and local highways — from natural wonders and stunning vistas to bizarre tourist outposts and man-made landmarks. They’re all worth visiting, even if only for a laugh and bragging rights that you have, indeed, been to a building shaped like a Giant Coffee Pot, which food editor Hannah Albertine visited on her Lincoln Highway tour. Pennsylvania even has its own Grand Canyon, which features editor Bradford Pearson experienced on his scenic drive through Central PA to State College. (He, too, was awestruck by the 45-mile-long crevasse that’s the original’s kissing cousin.)

The best part? The five trips you’ll read about here are easily drivable from Philly. They range from overnight to five days, and they all take you off beaten paths to places you’ve likely never thought much about exploring. Prefer the finer things? We’ve got those, too, by way of a few luxurious places to stay and dine and ritzy things to do. So go ahead and wander. Get lost — and maybe discover your own roadside gems along the way. — K.S.

Pittsburgh and the Laurel Highlands

The Duquesne Incline / Photograph by Chris LaBasco/Alamy Stock Photo

Go for the Steel City’s museums (from Warhol to a bicycle heaven), and stay for the adventures that await outside of town. Keep reading …

Central PA to State College

Pine Creek Gorge, a.k.a. the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, is an awe-inspiring sight for travelers. / Photograph by Craig Rupp/iStock/Getty Images

There’s much more to State College than football games. Explore gorges, caves, ice cream, and the sticky world of stamps as you go. Keep reading …

The Lincoln Highway

Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum & Candy Emporium / Photograph by Mira/Alamy Stock Photo

A journey on the first transcontinental highway is a nostalgic way to discover Pennsylvania’s past — and see something unexpected (elephants! Giant coffeepots!) at every turn. Keep reading …

NEPA to Scranton


In Scranton, take the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour into a historic anthracite mine. / Photograph courtesy of Discover NEPA

With a Muffler Man, trolleys, and a pizza trail worth every slice, the trip to Dunder Mifflin’s hometown isn’t just for fans of The Office. Keep reading …

River Road From Bristol to Easton

The Delaware River bridge in Lumberville / Photograph by EQRoy/Alamy Stock Photo

You may know this iconic route as the way to New Hope — but with loads of history, natural landmarks, and even a chance to fete your inner child, there’s much more to discover.
Keep reading …

Published as “Postcards from PA” in the June 2023 issue of Philadelphia magazine.