Pennsylvania, USA: 19 Awesome Attractions in the Keystone State

Updated On: July 07, 2023

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Pennsylvania is a state brimming with historical significance, natural wonders, artistic treasures, and educational experiences. Situated in the northeastern region of the United States, Pennsylvania offers an impressive variety of tourist attractions that cater to a diverse range of interests and preferences.

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Pennsylvania played a large role during the American Revolution.

The state of Pennsylvania has so much to see, do, and explore that planning a holiday itinerary can be overwhelming. To help you choose the right attractions to visit, we’ve broken down the historical, natural, educational, and artistic attractions that make Pennsylvania a prime tourist destination.

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Pennsylvania was founded in 1681.

Historical Background

Founding and Early Settlements

Pennsylvania’s history dates back to its founding as a British colony by William Penn in 1681. Seeking religious freedom for himself and his fellow Quakers, Penn envisioned a colony that embraced principles of tolerance, democratic governance, and respect for indigenous peoples.

The city of Philadelphia, established in 1682, became the capital and cultural centre of the colony. Pennsylvania quickly attracted settlers from diverse European backgrounds, including English, Welsh, German, Scottish-Irish, and Dutch, contributing to its rich cultural fabric.

Role in the American Revolution

Pennsylvania played a pivotal role in the American Revolution and the birth of the nation. The Second Continental Congress, which adopted the Declaration of Independence in 1776, convened in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.

The city also served as the temporary capital of the United States from 1790 to 1800, during which the U.S. Constitution was drafted and ratified. The Battle of Gettysburg, fought in 1863 during the American Civil War, was a turning point that helped preserve the Union and end slavery.

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Pennsylvania is home to many important historical figures.

Industrial Revolution and its Impact

Pennsylvania’s abundant natural resources, including coal, iron ore, and timber, fueled its rapid industrialisation during the late 18th and 19th centuries. The state became a leading producer of iron, steel, coal, and textiles, attracting waves of immigrants seeking employment in its factories and mines.

Pittsburgh, located in the western part of the state, emerged as a major industrial centre, earning the nickname “Steel City” for its prominent role in steel production. The industrial revolution transformed Pennsylvania’s economy and landscape, shaping its identity as an industrial powerhouse.

Notable Historical Figures from Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has been home to numerous notable historical figures who have significantly impacted the state and the nation. Benjamin Franklin, born in Boston but a longtime resident of Philadelphia, was a polymath, inventor, and statesman who played a crucial role in the American Revolution.

Thomas Jefferson, although born in Virginia, spent his formative years in Philadelphia and authored the Declaration of Independence. Thaddeus Stevens, a Pennsylvania congressman, advocated for racial equality and played a key role in the post-Civil War Reconstruction period.

Pennsylvania also produced influential inventors like Samuel Morse, the co-developer of the telegraph, and Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat.

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The iconic Liberty Bell is located in Philadelphia.

Historical Attractions

Independence National Historical Park

Located in the heart of Philadelphia, Independence National Historical Park is a significant site that showcases the birthplace of American democracy. The park encompasses iconic landmarks such as Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were debated and signed.

Visitors can explore the hallowed halls where these historical documents were conceived, gaining a profound understanding of the nation’s founding principles. Additionally, the park includes the Liberty Bell Center, where visitors can view the famous cracked Liberty Bell—an enduring symbol of American freedom.

Gettysburg National Military Park

Gettysburg National Military Park stands as a solemn tribute to one of the most decisive battles in American history, fought from July 1-3, 1863. This battlefield preserves the memory of the Civil War’s bloodiest conflict and the site where President Abraham Lincoln delivered his renowned Gettysburg Address.

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This monument in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, commemorates the Gettysburg Address delivered by President Abraham Lincoln on 19 November 1863

Visitors can embark on guided tours or explore the park independently, walking in the footsteps of soldiers and witnessing the terrain where the battle unfolded. The park also features a museum and visitor centre, offering comprehensive exhibits that delve into the historical context and significance of the battle.

Valley Forge National Historical Park

Valley Forge National Historical Park holds great significance in American Revolutionary War history. During the winter of 1777-1778, General George Washington and the Continental Army made their encampment here, enduring great hardships while preparing for future military campaigns.

The park offers a glimpse into the challenging conditions faced by the soldiers through reconstructed log cabins and preserved landmarks. Visitors can explore the park’s extensive trail network, visit Washington’s headquarters, and learn about the resilience and sacrifices of the Revolutionary War soldiers.

Eastern State Penitentiary

The Eastern State Penitentiary, located in Philadelphia, represents a unique historical attraction that provides insight into the evolution of the American penal system. Built in 1829, it was one of the world’s first true penitentiaries, designed to implement a system of solitary confinement and reflection.

Notable inmates included infamous criminals such as Chicago Mobster Al Capone. Today, the prison stands as a haunting yet captivating site, allowing visitors to tour the preserved cellblocks and gain a deeper understanding of the prison’s history and its impact on the development of the modern prison system.

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The Eastern State Penitentiary is one of the world’s oldest prisons.

Hershey’s Chocolate World

Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey, Pennsylvania, is a delectable and delightful tourist attraction that offers visitors an immersive chocolate experience. This interactive chocolate-themed attraction provides a unique opportunity to explore the world of Hershey’s, one of America’s most iconic chocolate brands.

Visitors can embark on a free, behind-the-scenes tour to learn about the chocolate-making process, from cocoa bean to finished product. They can witness the mesmerising production line, engage in interactive exhibits, and even create their own personalised chocolate bars.

Beyond the delicious and educational aspects, Hershey’s Chocolate World offers a range of other attractions that make it a great tourist destination. The complex houses Hersheypark, a renowned amusement park featuring thrilling rides, entertainment shows, and family-friendly attractions.

Natural Attractions

Allegheny National Forest

Located in the picturesque landscape of Northwestern Pennsylvania, the Allegheny National Forest spans over 500,000 acres, offering a haven for nature enthusiasts. The forest is renowned for its diverse ecosystem, with sprawling woodlands, pristine streams, and abundant wildlife.

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There are many scenic areas in Pennsylvania.

Visitors can partake in a range of outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, and wildlife watching. The forest is intersected by numerous trails, including the famous North Country National Scenic Trail, providing opportunities for breathtaking vistas and tranquil solitude amidst nature’s splendour.

Presque Isle State Park

Situated on a peninsula jutting out into Lake Erie, Presque Isle State Park is a natural gem in northwestern Pennsylvania. The park boasts 11 miles of sandy beaches, picturesque dunes, and vibrant wetlands. It is a paradise for beachgoers, swimmers, and sun-seekers, providing ample opportunities for relaxation and recreational activities.

Nature lovers can explore the park’s diverse ecosystems, which host a wide array of migratory birds, including rare species. The park’s lighthouse, picturesque sunsets, and water-based activities such as boating and fishing further enhance the park’s appeal.

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, spanning across Pennsylvania and New Jersey, is a natural wonder characterised by the majestic Delaware River and the dramatic Kittatinny Ridge. The area offers breathtaking vistas, cascading waterfalls, and scenic hiking trails that wind through lush forests.

Outdoor enthusiasts can engage in activities such as canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and camping. With over 100 miles of trails, the area caters to hikers of all levels, including the famous Appalachian Trail. The Delaware Water Gap is a haven for those seeking serenity and a connection with nature.

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Fallingwater was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.


Designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater is a masterpiece that seamlessly blends architecture with the surrounding natural environment. Located in Mill Run in southwestern Pennsylvania, this iconic house is built over a waterfall, skillfully combining nature and structure.

Visitors can tour the interior and exterior of Fallingwater, marvelling at the innovative design, cantilevered balconies, and panoramic views of the surrounding woodlands. The house stands as a testament to Wright’s genius and his belief in architecture that harmonises with its natural surroundings.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

Hidden in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Pennsylvania, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is a globally recognised destination for bird migration observation. It serves as a vital resting and feeding site for raptors, making it an ideal location for bird enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Visitors can witness the awe-inspiring sight of thousands of hawks, eagles, and falcons soaring through the sky during their migratory journeys. The sanctuary features well-maintained trails, educational programs, and a scenic overlook where visitors can spot and learn about the diverse bird species that pass through the area.

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Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is the perfect destination for bird watching.

Educational and Scientific Attractions

Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh

The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh comprise four distinctive museums offering a diverse range of educational and scientific attractions. The Carnegie Museum of Art showcases an extensive collection of fine art, including works by renowned artists from around the world.

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History presents captivating exhibits on palaeontology, anthropology, and natural history, including the famous dinosaur displays. The Carnegie Science Center provides interactive exhibits and immersive experiences that explore various scientific disciplines, such as physics, astronomy, and robotics.

Franklin Institute

The Franklin Institute, located in Philadelphia, is a premier science museum and educational centre. Named after Benjamin Franklin, one of the nation’s founding fathers and a polymath, the institute aims to inspire a passion for science, technology, and innovation.

The museum features interactive exhibits that explore a wide range of scientific disciplines, including physics, chemistry, biology, and space exploration. Visitors can engage in hands-on experiments, participate in interactive demonstrations, and explore the museum’s planetarium and IMAX theatre.

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The Pennsylvania State Capitol building is in Harrisburg.

Pennsylvania State Capitol

The Pennsylvania State Capitol building, situated in the capital city of Harrisburg, is an architectural marvel that serves as the seat of government for the state. The Capitol building is an exemplar of Beaux-Arts architecture and features stunning interiors adorned with exquisite artwork and intricate detailing.

Visitors can take guided tours that provide insights into the building’s history, architecture, and the functions of state government. The Capitol’s grandeur and historical significance offer a unique educational experience, allowing visitors to appreciate the state’s political heritage and democratic processes.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Established in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is the oldest art museum and school in the United States. The academy’s museum features an extensive collection of American art spanning from the 18th century to the present day.

Visitors can explore works by renowned artists such as Charles Willson Peale, Thomas Eakins, and Mary Cassatt. The academy also offers educational programs, including exhibitions, lectures, and art classes. These provide opportunities for art enthusiasts and aspiring artists to engage with the traditions and practices of American art.

Artistic Attractions

Andy Warhol Museum

Located in Pittsburgh, the Andy Warhol Museum is the largest museum dedicated to a single artist in North America. This vibrant museum celebrates the life and works of the iconic pop artist Andy Warhol. The museum showcases a vast collection of Warhol’s art, including paintings, prints, sculptures, and multimedia installations.

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The Andy Warhol Museum is located in Pittsburgh.

Visitors can explore Warhol’s artistic evolution, delve into his cultural impact, and gain insight into his unique perspective on art, celebrity, and consumer culture. The museum also offers educational programs, workshops, and special exhibitions that further illuminate Warhol’s contributions to contemporary art.

Barnes Foundation

The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia houses an extraordinary collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and early Modernist artworks. Founded by Dr. Albert C. Barnes in 1922, the museum showcases an impressive array of masterpieces by artists such as Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso, and Van Gogh.

The museum’s unique display method, known as the “ensembles,” combines paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts to reflect Dr. Barnes’ artistic and educational vision. This allows visitors to gain a deeper understanding of the artistic movements that shaped modern art.

Brandywine River Museum of Art

Nestled along the scenic Brandywine River in Chadds Ford, the Brandywine River Museum of Art is renowned for its collection of American art, particularly works by the Wyeth family. The museum showcases the family’s distinct styles and contributions to American realism.

Visitors can admire landscapes, portraits, and illustrations that depict the beauty of the Brandywine Valley and the intimate moments of everyday life. The museum’s serene location and the art it houses provide a tranquil and immersive artistic experience.

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Hershey’s Chocolate World is one of the most popular attractions in the state.

Rodin Museum

The Rodin Museum, located on Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway, houses one of the largest collections of sculptures by the renowned French artist Auguste Rodin outside of Paris. The museum showcases Rodin’s most celebrated works, including “The Thinker” and “The Kiss.”

Visitors can explore the museum’s serene gardens, adorned with sculptures, and appreciate Rodin’s mastery of capturing human emotion and movement. The museum’s intimate setting and the timeless beauty of Rodin’s sculptures create a serene and contemplative atmosphere for art enthusiasts.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Situated at the end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the largest and most distinguished art museums in the United States. The museum’s vast collection spans various periods and styles, encompassing artworks from around the world.

Visitors can explore galleries dedicated to European, American, Asian, and modern art, as well as textiles, photography, and contemporary works. The museum’s notable highlights include works by renowned artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Salvador Dalí, Marcel Duchamp, and Georgia O’Keeffe.

The museum’s iconic steps, featured in the movie “Rocky,” offer a memorable entrance to a world of artistic wonders.

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The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the best art museums in the USA.

Pennsylvania is Full of Amazing Tourist Attractions

Pennsylvania is a fantastic US holiday destination. The state’s tourist attractions offer an enticing blend of history, nature, art, culture, and culinary experiences, appealing to a wide range of interests and preferences.

With its abundance of attractions, its commitment to preserving its heritage, and its dedication to embracing innovation, Pennsylvania draws tourists looking to explore its many wonders.

If you’re planning a holiday in the United States, check out these 6 Must-Visit USA Cities.

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