Should I drive or fly from Baltimore to Pittsburgh?
May 12, 2008 9:51 AM   Subscribe

Should I drive or fly from Baltimore to Pittsburgh?

So, I have a conference to go to in downtown Pittsburgh from Saturday to Monday. I can get a Southwest flight for about $99 each way. I'm close to BWI, but I'm thinking I might rather drive, since it offers a little more flexibility and flying doesn't really save much time once you factor in the hour you have to arrive beforehand and associated nonsense.

Driving takes 3 to 4 hours, which I don't especially mind, but is there anything to see on the way? I know about Fallingwater, but are there any other notable stops? Any recommended routes? Any places where I can buy delicious pies or see the world's largest ball of twine? Any other arguments for or against driving?
posted by electroboy to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total)
It's not a bad drive, and I agree that a flight this short is almost a nusiance (plus i hate southwest)

I can't think of anythink note worthy on the way, but then again i usually just stick to the highways and just get there and back!
posted by Mr_Chips at 10:30 AM on May 12, 2008

I've made this trip many times. It's an easy drive, if a bit boring. I would definitely drive instead of fly.

Rather than taking Interstate 70 to the turnpike at Breezewood, consider going through western MD on 68. You can then take 219 north and join the turnpike at Somerset. (I've found the optimum way is to take Garrett Shortcut Road; googlemap directions here.) Although it's a few extra miles this way, I find 68 to be a much more pleasant drive than the turnpike, and faster too.

A few miles west of the turnoff to 68 (near Hancock MD) is the free Sideling Hill exhibit center. As you approach you'll see a big notch in the mountains where the road goes through. If you have any interest in geology this is a pretty interesting stopover.
posted by Wet Spot at 10:37 AM on May 12, 2008

We've done that drive a few times. It's a pretty easy drive, though not much of excitement along the way.

If you're planning on doing any sightseeing or exploring around Pittsburgh while you're here it's definitely nice to have a car - there's not a lot going on in downtown itself. I get around the city just fine without a car and can advise you on routes if there's anything particular you'd want to see, but things are sort of spread out.
posted by Stacey at 10:41 AM on May 12, 2008

There isn't much to see on the Turnpike (70 to 76). It's really intended as the heavy-freight corridor across the state. If you just want more general scenery and no tolls, you might take 70 west to 68 west to 79 north, which takes you a little longer (+20 mins) but makes for a more visually pleasant drive.
posted by el_lupino at 10:42 AM on May 12, 2008

If you take Wet Spot's route, you'll miss the Giant Coffee pot in Bedford along the PA turnpike.
posted by octothorpe at 10:46 AM on May 12, 2008

If you drive (and I'd lean towards that if I were you) make sure you factor traffic in your decision about when to leave. 70 can get pretty bad sometimes.
posted by inigo2 at 11:38 AM on May 12, 2008

If you take 68 through Grantsville, stop for a real Amish breakfast/brunch at Penn Alps. The locally made sausage with locally made maple syrup! Dirt cheap too. If you fish, without moving your car you can walk to great trout fishing on the Casselman River to work off said sausages.

Can't imagine flying would be worth it.
posted by Patapsco Mike at 12:20 PM on May 12, 2008

having recently flown from Pittsburgh to Dulles (and back) I HIGHLY recommend driving.
I spent more time in airport delays just on the flight out than it would have taken me to drive.

I'll second taking 68 to 219 and the 'pike from there- and wave as you go through Somerset - it's my hometown!
posted by namewithoutwords at 1:23 PM on May 12, 2008

Nthing the I68 route thru the Maryland panhandle. Much better than the turnpike, and much better than flying.
posted by dinger at 1:47 PM on May 12, 2008

I do this drive frequently and I would also recommend not going via the PA turnpike. I only drive it to go between school and home so I've never tried to take the longer way through the Maryland panhandle but the turnpike drive is pretty boring so anything has to be better than that. I don't know if you've ever been to Harper's Ferry but thats a 30 minute detour outside of Frederick and something to consider seeing. There's also the outlets at Hagerstown if you're into shopping.

Also, 70 will back up like crazy until you get past Hagerstown so make sure you're not starting your drive any time near evening rush hour.
posted by elysenavidad at 5:04 PM on May 12, 2008

Forget about joining the turnpike in Somerset, hop on Route 30 and then 31, and then hit I-70 for about 5 miles or so then take Rt. 51 north to come straight up into the city. Rolling country roads, little traffic, running through nice little towns. Just gas up in Somerset before you start.
posted by Dreama at 7:27 PM on May 12, 2008

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