Where should we vacation within a ~day drive of Pittsburgh?
April 11, 2014 10:15 PM   Subscribe

Now that we've paid the tax bill, we are thinking of scaling back a bit on our 10th anniversary trip this June.* We're leaving the kiddo with family in Pittsburgh PA and will have our car. We can drive to New York or DC or Appalachia or... you get the idea. Where should we go for 4-7 days that is some combination of fun, romantic, diverse, interesting, etc? We'd like to feel like we had a great experience for a great value.

We like the outdoors / natural beauty but we're not super-rugged fit people. We like cities with lots going on but we're not club-hopping partiers. I know I'd get better answers if I could say exactly what we're like, but we're not that exciting and not that picky.

*We had been very close to booking a week in Puerto Rico with airfares, hotel, car rental, etc. Then we paid the taxes. THANKS OBAMA
posted by secretseasons to Travel & Transportation (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Pennsylvania Dutch Country is lovely for a quick trip-- nice outdoorsy stuff with at least a few nearby state parks, interesting culture/shopping/food, some cool museums (definitely do the Watch and Clock Museum), theatre and very nice romantic B&Bs in the area. It's also close enough for day trips into Philly, or to Longwood Gardens, etc.

Seven days in the Lancaster area might be a little long, but you could also do a combo where you spend a subsequent night or two in the city or in New Hope. You'd be about ~5 hours from Pittsburgh.
posted by Bardolph at 3:17 AM on April 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Adding to what Bardolph said, the VisitPA.com website has a lot to offer. They have a map you can click on that will show you what is in each part of the state (that will fit your request to be a days drive from Pittsburgh). They even have customized road trips based on your interests.

Having said that though, I really can't think of anywhere within driving distance of Pittsburgh that I'd want to spend a whole week - that could even compare to your previous plans of a week in Puerto Rico. You might be better off just planning a mini road trip and visit different places that fit your interests. There is beautiful scenery at Bushkill Falls (the Niagara of PA!), parks and chocolate at Hershey and tons of historical places like Gettysburg and Valley Forge. According to this site, the southern Jersey shore (Atlantic City, Ocean City, Wildwood, Avalon, Cape May) are only 6 hours from Pittsburgh, so depending on when in June you were going, maybe work that into your plans so you can still get a little taste of the beach?
posted by NoraCharles at 4:10 AM on April 12, 2014

This is just a day trip really, but Frank Lloyd Wright's 'Falling Water' isn't too far of a drive from Pittsburgh. The tour was really interesting, the grounds are gorgeous. I really enjoyed the trip.
posted by Caravantea at 4:54 AM on April 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would 2nd the suggestion of a mini road trip, picking sights in PA that appeal to you. There have been some good suggestions already above, including Lancaster Co., New Hope/Bucks County, and the places NoraCharles mentions. Falling Water is also great. If you go to the Bucks County area try a night or two or at the very least a meal at the Black Bass Hotel. If you are in the Lancaster area try a night or two in Mt. Gretna at the Mt. Gretna Inn.

Re DC, it is doable, though in June you are in tourist season so it gets busier and pricier at that time.
posted by gudrun at 5:28 AM on April 12, 2014

There are some nice BnB spots in the small towns on Lake Erie. For me the obvious short getaway from Pittsburgh is up to Buffalo and Niagara, which is a pretty easy 4 hours or so.
posted by daisystomper at 5:28 AM on April 12, 2014

Asheville, NC is about an 8 hour drive from you, and I think it'd be a great option. Lots of natural beauty, a famous mansion, quirky downtown shops, street musicians and tons of great restaurants. Plenty of romantic cabins if you look on VRBO. Definitely enough different things to do for 3-5 days (plus a day for travel on each end). Seems to me that would do for a special 10th anniversary trip more than day trips in PA (not that those couldn't be nice, just doesn't seem as special).

Happy anniversary!
posted by msbubbaclees at 5:49 AM on April 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Poconos seem like a natural choice, as they have some beautiful natural features, while also featuring some affordable resorts, a casino, and proximity to Philly, New Hope/Lambertville, etc.
posted by maxim0512 at 6:07 AM on April 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Toronto is fun for a city trip - so many things to see and do. Buy a picnic and take it to the little island, lounge on the beach and play disc golf (take own discs), see some full or half price shows. On the drive, stop at Canadian parks to hike on rocks. Stop for really great Dim Sum experience at August 8 (on way but slightly out of way). Need passports.

For a less urban experience, Boone NC is on the way to Asheville. I agree that Asheville is a great destination so maybe these could be combined trips: Boone is more casual or less refined in my opinion than Asheville, both are lovely. Boone is a small town with a funky vibe: lots of college-town restaurants to please everyone from vegans to hard-core burger eaters, zip-lining, hiking, fabulous views, cute shops, VRBO, not to far from Virginia Creeper Trail for great down hill bike rental and riding.
posted by RoadScholar at 7:37 AM on April 12, 2014

Chicago is a similar distance as NYC, and the radius includes all of Ohio, parts of W. Va etc. You could stretch the point and go to Nashville.

I did notice once that the area around Philly and down to Wilmington has about 40 different public gardens and arboretums. Good for those interested, thought high summer would be a better time.

There are caves to explore in PA, if you are up for that.

My experience is that the Pocono summer season doesn't start until the very end of June.

You might be able to find a riverboat cruise.
posted by SemiSalt at 8:21 AM on April 12, 2014

Best answer: White Sulphur Springs, WV.

Stay at a regular motel in town, and then go to The Greenbriar for activities. Tour the Bunker and have a neat meal there. Take a falconry class.

Hike, hang out, Relax in West-By God-Virginia.

It ain't your normal retreat.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:31 AM on April 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

I really like the Hocking Hills in Southeastern Ohio. You can rent a cabin with a jacuzzi, hike calmly at a bunch of places in the area (I especially like Old Man's Cave), and get fun hippie meals in Athens, which is a neat college town.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:39 AM on April 12, 2014

Best answer: Ohiopyle might be nice in June (depending on the weather), and it's close enough to Pittsburgh that you could squeeze it in on the way to somewhere else. I know a number of people who would go there for whitewater boating, and it looks like there multiple levels of rapids available to suit your adventure levels.

Also, if you're okay with a longer drive, you could drive up to the Traverse City/Leelanau County part of Michigan. Early June might still be a little chilly some days, but the nice days will be beautiful, and there's lots to do around in that area. The Sleeping Bear Dunes are great for tromping around, and there are a number of nice eateries and art galleries scattered around. The whole area is just lovely. You could stop off in Sandusky on the way there and go to Cedar Point (if you're roller coaster people) and stop off in Ann Arbor on the way back to break up the drive somewhat.
posted by that girl at 9:55 AM on April 12, 2014

Niagara-on-the-lake, ON.
posted by brujita at 10:37 AM on April 12, 2014

Best answer: What about deep creek lake, md, located about 2 hrs south of you. I'm kind of surprised no one's already mentioned it since I understand it's traditionally been the winter-ski and summer-lake resort area for Pittsburghers.
posted by hhc5 at 3:27 PM on April 12, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for everyone's answers so far, keep them coming!

I should have mentioned that the reason we're not that informed is because we're not from Pittsburgh, just my sister-in-law who'll watch our son is. We live in Minnesota now and lived in California for a decade before that.

Again, thanks for answers and I'd love more! We'll do research and I'll try to update with our plans.
posted by secretseasons at 4:00 PM on April 12, 2014

Best answer: If you're considering Appalachia, consider Deep Creek Lake, or any of a myriad state parks in Western MD.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:48 AM on April 13, 2014

Dunno if you already know Pittsburgh well, but in Pittsburgh and western PA, you have:
-beautiful Victorian neighborhoods
-great museums and parks
-Ohiopyle, Fallingwater, and the Laurel Highlands nearby
-an abandoned blast furnace to trespass at
-the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail

You're unlikely to find particularly good value in the East Coast cities, from a Midwestern perspective, unless you get a nice hotel deal in DC and do free museums and government tours.
posted by akgerber at 8:49 AM on April 13, 2014

Response by poster: My wife is very concerned that I make it clear that "Thanks Obama" was an ironic, facetious joke. Everybody clear on that?
posted by secretseasons at 11:54 AM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I _am_ from Pittsburgh, and a big fan of meandering road trips... :)

So using the 'burgh as a starting point, you could go down to Fallingwater (and please add on Kentuck Knob - it's my preferred FLW house and has a great outdoor sculpture garden that is an easy enough hike for non-super-rugged folks) and then do a little bit more in Ohiopyle, as mentioned above. For the romantic end of that, you could splurge on Nemacolin or Bedford Springs. That could be an easy overnight, and it's _beautiful_ down there.

Going the other direction, we stayed at the Inn at Brandywine Falls last year for our anniversary - spent a few days doing the hiking trails that are adjacent, but then used it as our central point to explore out into Ohio - Cleveland has a ton to do (look at the mefi threads, they're a goldmine) as do a lot of the suburbs.

I think honestly you'd find enough to do around here that you would be able to be in the same city as your son and never cross paths. I've always wanted to stay at our Fairmont but since I can see it from our house, probably never will.

And if you like the ocean, we're six(ish) hours from Rehoboth Delaware. In June the water may still be a little cold, but I really can't say enough about that area, it's one of my favorite places in the world.

Regardless - HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! :)
posted by librarianamy at 6:48 AM on April 14, 2014

Response by poster: While we still haven't figured everything out, we've tentatively decided to venture south: Ohiopyle, Deep Creek Lake, all the way down to White Sulphur Springs. Probably a total of 5-7 days. Will update more as we figure it out, but feel free to chime in with more suggestions especially along this route!

posted by secretseasons at 4:40 PM on May 3, 2014

Response by poster: tentative plan is
drive: Wexford --> Ohiopyle (do stuff here) --> Deep Creek Lake
stay at Deep Creek Lake a day or two
drive: Deep Creek Lake --> Front Royal --> Rockfish Gap (via the Skyline Drive) --> Charlottesville
stay a day or two
drive: Charlottesville --> White Sulphur Springs
stay a day or two
drive: White Sulphur Springs --> Seneca Rocks, Elkins via the Monongahela forest, stay the night in Elkins
drive: Elkins --> Wexford

thanks for everyone's help!
posted by secretseasons at 2:23 PM on May 17, 2014

« Older Marriage etiquette question: who pays for guests?   |   Is Windows Update breaking XP? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.