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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For lovers of the great outdoors, central Pennsylvania offers unique experiences and breathtaking scenery. Here are six nearby destinations for those looking to reconnect with nature over a lovely weekend.
Ridgway, located on the southeastern edge of Allegheny National Forest, provides easy access to outdoor adventure. Canoe the Clarion River, ride horseback from the Kelly Pines campground (with tie-down stalls for equestrian campers) or bike/hike the 18-mile Clarion-Little Toby Rail Trail.
Drive 45 minutes eastward to the Elk Country Visitor Center, where trails lead to elk-watching spots. Elk were reintroduced to Pennsylvania from the western U.S. in 1913 after the state’s native population was wiped out; now, conservation has yielded a healthy herd. The adjacent Elk Mountain Homestead farmhouse sleeps 10 and can be rented for vacation and overnight stays.
Back in Ridgway, you can watch hunks of wood become fine art right before your eyes every February at the annual Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous. After the sawdust flies, come in from the cold and eat like a woodsman at Lumberjacks Steak and Seafood.
They don’t call this charming town “Fisherman’s Paradise” for nothing! The dark, swirling waters of Bellefonte’s Spring Creek make it one of Pennsylvania’s most densely populated wild-brown trout streams. Wildflower-filled banks beckon fly fishermen, hikers, bikers and picnickers. A newly opened 4.4-mile trail through Spring Creek Canyon offers easy access to watch the lovely arc of fly-casts, hunt for native plants or spot bald eagles.
In town, check out Tussey Mountain Outfitters for paddling gear and a beginner-friendly trip from the shop’s put-in — or try Sayers Lake at Bald Eagle State Park. This 5,900-acre park offers swimming, boating, fishing, hiking trails and camping. Sleep in total comfort at The Nature Inn, a lakeside homage to conservation that earned gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Hungry? Visit Café on the Park for breakfast or lunch; for dinner, don’t miss the fine food and craft beers at The Gamble Mill Restaurant and Microbrewery. This one-time home to five Pennsylvania governors also boasts a family-friendly local art museum and community children's garden.
Bring a picnic, your camera and someone special to kiss beside the 22 different waterfalls of Kitchen Creek cascading through the Glens. This National Natural Landmark can be found at Ricketts Glen State Park, 30 miles north of Bloomsburg on Route 487. Hike and explore an old-growth forest, with diverse wildlife and trees that are more than 300 years old.
Stop at the many covered bridges en route to Bloomsburg, where you’ll explore the Benton Farmers Market for local produce, artisanal food, handmade soap, jewelry, rugs and ironwork — plus alpaca-wool scarves, hats and gloves. A beautiful fountain anchors this college town, which features a variety of eateries and specialty shops for browsing. Stop outside Bloomsburg at Bill’s Old Bike Barn on Route 11 to gawk at Bill’s collection of vintage motorcycles, antique vehicles and 1939 New York World’s Fair memorabilia.
Outdoor lovers will find a big slice of heaven in Huntingdon and nearby Raystown Lake, the state’s largest inland lake. Mountain-bikers can dig and grit through 32 miles of wooded trails on the Allegrippis Trails, and road cyclists can pick a nearby 43-mile, 64-mile or 72-mile route. For a bird’s-eye view, brave the 1,043 stone steps halfway up the rugged trail that climbs Jacks Mountain. Don’t forget to look for fossils along this trail, accessed on Rt. 22 East, just 8 miles east of Huntingdon.
If you’d rather stroll than grind, check out the new renovation of the town’s 1872 Pennsylvania Railroad Train Station, the century-old stately cinema now known as the “Clifton 5” and the campus of Juniata College. In late October, downtown becomes “Hauntingdon” with a Halloween parade, ghost tours of Huntingdon and a haunted open house at the 1896 Gage Mansion. For good eats, hunker down at Boxer's Cafe for sandwiches and a variety of microbrews.
Is there a better way to see Pennsylvania’s exquisite fall foliage than aboard a huge nylon sail, soaring through a crystal-blue sky above a blanket of crimson, rust and gold? The dramatic overlook at Hyner View State Park, 40 minutes northwest of Lock Haven, is one of the state’s most popular spots for hang-gliders. Even if you don’t have the required nerves of steel, just watching the gliders soar is a lovely way to spend a crisp fall day.
Speaking of autumn adventures, grit and glory abound for endurance hikers and trail-runners in September during the 26-mile Bald Eagle Megatransect perseverance challenge. Competitors climb and descend along forested streamside trails and an intimidating boulder field. The start/finish area is in Lock Haven; its bustling downtown boasts a restored cinema, shops and eateries amid stately architecture. The town rests along the Susquehanna, where a vibrant waterfront and floating stage hosts summer concerts and events.
Hikers love Greenwood Furnace State Park for its miles of beautiful ridge walks and views of mountain notches that vanish into the horizon. See the handsome brick furnace and structures that remain from the 19th-century iron-making community that once flourished here. Hike the 6.6-mile Greenwood Trail, which connects to the 171-mile Mid-State Trail; you’ll pass the Greenwood Fire Tower and the Alan Seeger Natural Area, with 20-foot rhododendrons and an old-growth hemlock forest untouched by loggers.
Head for Belleville, located in the Kishacoquillas Valley, for the wide stretch of farmland rimmed by the ridgelines of Stone Mountain and Jacks Mountain; you’ll surely hear the clattering of horse hooves pulling Amish buggies. Taste the fruit of this valley at the Brookmere Winery & Vineyard Inn, offering a wide selection of whites and reds along with daily tastings.
Omni Bedford Spring Resort
Fish. Swim. Hike. Golf. Eat (very, very well). Unwind on your private balcony. And if all that doesn’t get you relaxed, take a dip in the indoor, mineral spring-fed pool as part of the deluxe spa treatment. Ten presidents vacationed here — if they can find time to get away, so can you.
The significance and history behind this now-tranquil town will draw you. The luxurious B&Bs, fine dining, shopping and even nightlife will bring you back. Not thrilled about navigating through crowds? Go off-season (autumn through early spring).
Yes, our downtown. We’ve got luxury accommodations, world-class theater and music, fine dining, breathtaking vistas — who says you have to leave to get away? Book a weekend in the city — or better yet, win one. See this issue’s On the Web (page 6) or pittsburghmagazine.com/vaca for details.
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa
The variety of accommodations at Nemacolin is astounding. From the five-star Chateau Lafayette to the Maggie Valley RV park, there’s room here for every traveler. Want to bring the pooches? Some facilities are pet-friendly — plus, you can always book Fido a room at the “Wooflands” Pet Resort.
Hidden Valley Resort
Want to turn your tots into Olympic skiers? Get ’em started at Hidden Valley — which offers reasonable rates for stay-and-ski getaways, as well as beginners’ lessons. Even if your little ones don’t take to the slopes, they’ll definitely love snow tubing.
Seven Springs Mountain Resort
The transformation that Seven Springs has made to a year-round destination means there’s never a bad time to make the short trip. And if you’ve got an aspiring snowboarder in the house, they’ll go nuts for The Streets, a new urban terrain park.