52 Great Weekend Getaways

Whether you're a rock climber, arts lover or foodie, we've got a destination for you.

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Zip the backpack. Grab the camera. Lock the door. It doesn’t require much planning to take a 48-hour break from the ’Burgh. In fact, we’ve done the legwork for you. Whether you’re a rock climber, arts lover or foodie, we’ve got you covered for every single weekend in 2012. So start your search engines and mark your calendar. You’re halfway there.

Cook Forest and Clarion, PA

The runner in the family can train for the Pittsburgh Marathon by signing up for the Cook Forest Half Marathon. The course is an out-and-back along the beautiful Clarion River, officially dubbed “wild and scenic” since 1996. Then, take a family walk on the easy trail in the Hearts Content Recreation Area in nearby Allegheny National Forest. Try to join hands around the massive trunks of 300-year-old beech, hemlock and white pine trees. Don’t miss: The funky Gateway Lodge, a rustic 1930s-style hotel with a vast stone fireplace.

Lancaster County, PA

Find great bargains, discover the divine dessert known as shoofly pie and meet Amish farmers and craftsmen during Lancaster County’s “mud sales” season (mainly late February through early April). Held in villages like Gratz, Bird-in-Hand and Strasburg (which has an authentic short-line railroad), these community auctions benefit local fire companies and allow a rare opportunity to meet the rural Amish. If quilts, crafts and flowers aren’t your thing, you can always buy a horse. And a buggy to go with it.

Toronto, ON

Your souvenir from our nearby Canadian neighbor could be a sari, not a toque. Cosmopolitan Toronto has been called “a cultural masala,” and Gerrard Street is the heart of one of the largest south-Asian communities in North America. With Bollywood music pouring out of shops and tempting aromas drifting out of halal (strictly Islamic) and Hindustani restaurants, you’ll be feeling the subcontinental vibe. Why pay thousands for a ticket to New Delhi? Don’t miss: The mango lassi at MotiMahal.

Cleveland, OH

We love and support the Three Rivers Film Fest, but the Cleveland International Film Festival is way more mature — not in the subjects of its 150-plus features and 130-plus short-subject films, but in the depth, breadth and celebrity draw of this 37-year-old springtime event. Many filmmakers appear in person, with categories and programs that appeal to every taste. There’s even a FilmSlam for high-school cineastes. The biggest klieg lights shine at downtown theaters — and from there, you can head over to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or do some late-night clubbing. Don’t miss: Nighttown Jazz Club.

Columbia, PA

Two great collections make this village situated on the Susquehanna worth the visit. The National Watch & Clock Museum has a gallery commemorating the famous Hamilton Watch Co., housed in Lancaster County until 1984, with an overview of the ways humans tell time. Nearby Wright’s Ferry Mansion is the former abode of one of Pennsylvania’s most accomplished early residents, Quaker settler Susanna Wright. Her 1738 home is furnished with exquisite 18th-century American furniture and crafts. Book your room at Sheppard Mansion in Hanover. Don’t miss: Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen. Seriously.

Washington, VA

How far would you go for a good meal? True foodies know that trekking to Virginia for dinner makes perfect sense, especially when the destination is The Inn at Little Washington, a big-buzz, five-star eatery. Chef Patrick O’Connell has an international reputation for his refined American cuisine. Part of the fun is identifying fellow guests as politicians and pundits on the lam from D.C., just 60 miles away. That’s probably why the exclusive Inn warns in advance of its lousy cellphone reception — but if you’re looking to unplug for the weekend, so much the better.

Philadelphia’s Main Line, PA

The real Philadelphia story is the city’s Main Line. Named for the Pennsylvania Railroad’s path through the western suburbs, the home of colleges Haverford and Bryn Mawr is truly old-school: Socks are optional, penny loafers mandatory — and if you’re invited to Merion Golf Club, which will host the U.S. Open next year, so are spikes. Don a hat for the Devon Horse Show (May 24 through June 3 this year). Wave your platinum card at Lancaster Avenue boutiques like Skirt for couture and Via Bellissima for Italian ceramics. Don’t miss: Chanticleer, the fanciful horticultural creation open to the public since 1990, in Wayne.

Bethlehem, PA

Don’t just zoom by on your way to NYC. Exit I-78 an hour west of the Lincoln Tunnel and stop in this surprising little city, dating back to 1741, with its well-preserved Moravian history. Definitely take the walking tour; linger at the Moravian Book Shop, the oldest in the world. May brings the famous Bach Festival, with performances by a magnificent all-volunteer choir. Several events are held on the Lehigh University campus, just across the river from the historic town center.

Don’t miss: Dinner at the Apollo Grill, the very best of a crop of sophisticated historic district bistros.

Wyoming, DE

Giddy up, partner! Even us Yankees long to be cowboys from time to time. To instill a little bit of the Old West in your life, head to the Wicked R Ranch in May, when it offers two-day bull-riding clinics taught by champion rider Randy Ridgely. After you’ve practiced on (mechanical bull) Mighty Bucky and received style critiques, hit the bunkhouse. Saturday-night entertainment includes a Western-style barbecue and bonfire. Blazing saddles, indeed.

Chicago, IL

We’re throwing one flying destination on the list since Chicago is so good at celebrating one of Pittsburgh’s favorite holidays. The city of big shoulders celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with not one, not two but three parades: the traditional downtown extravaganza, the Southside parade and the newest addition, the Norwood Park celebration. Afterward, join the Navy Pier festivities or grab a ticket to the Irish Film Festival.  With super-cheap direct flights from Pittsburgh to Chicago’s Midway Airport, a March trip is a sure cure for cabin fever.

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