Where-ever Shall We Go?
June 29, 2008 7:59 AM   Subscribe

What's cool to see/visit in western Pennsylvania?

I'm considering organizing a family trip into central and western Pennsylvania. There's a family function (my lovely wife's family) near Johnstown and I have always wanted to visit Mahaffey, PA (founded, I think, by an ancestor). So I wonder of there are a few places out that way worth taking my teen and tween daughters to see.
posted by mmahaffie to Travel & Transportation around Pennsylvania (12 answers total)
I suppose the obvious answer would be Pittsburgh, which is awesome and about an hour and a half from Johnstown. Pittsburgh previously in AskMe.

Also: Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater is about 40 minutes from Johnstown.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 8:23 AM on June 29, 2008

Punxsutawney is about an hour north of Johnstown ... Probably not so exciting this time of year, but they do have a Groundhog Zoo and a few other attractions in town.
posted by LolaGeek at 9:05 AM on June 29, 2008

In Johnstown, ride the Inclined Plane and see the flood memorial.

Bedford is a historic, pretty town, worth a look. It's proud of its newly spiffed-up historic hotel, the Bedford Springs. The weekend breakfast buffet is $14.95 plus drinks and tip (you need reservations) and you get a chance to gawk at the grand old building where President James Buchanan received the first trans-Atlantic cable from Queen Victoria (nowhere near the Atlantic, so maybe it came up through the springs). There is/are one/two other restaurants on the premises and a golf course. (Not worth a long drive, in my opinion, but if you're close.)

Fallingwater would be my first choice. Kentuck Knob is another Wright building nearby.
posted by sevenstars at 9:14 AM on June 29, 2008

I'm from Somerset - which is 25 minutes south of Johnstown. Growing up there, my knee-jerk response to your query was "nothing" but I realize that's not helpful.

Economically, the area has just never recovered from the crash in the steel industry in the seventies, and the '76 flood pretty much sealed Johnstown's fate. Thanks to generous earmarks by a certain notorious congressman, there is a fair amount of defense contracting in the area, but it hasn't had any noticeable affect on local industry, and tourism is nonexistent.

So for Johnstown, I'll second the incline plane - it is the steepest in the world, and worth a ride, with a stop for food at the City View Bar and Grill at the top of the incline.

The Johnstown Flood Museum is in downtown Johnstown. The Flood Memorial, which is run by the National Park Service, is located 10 miles out of town in South Fork (on the former site of the dam.)

I'd also recommend you grab breakfast (or, if feeling more adventurous, a very very late/early morning meal) at Coney Island. Get a Sundowner.

You don't mention when you're going. If the fall, the view of fall foliage from the Conemaugh Gap is fantastic (take 56W towards Indiana, PA, a few miles out of town. there's an overlook).

That's about it, for Johnstown.

The Flight 93 Memorial is a few miles outside Somerset - so half an hour from Johnstown.
There's an authentic railroad-car style diner with inexepensive, greasy-spoon eats in Somerset, called "The Summit Diner" if that's your thing.

Otherwise, you're venturing an hour or more from J-town to find entertainment. As others have mentioned, Pittsburgh is not far away (you can be in the outskirts in 45 minutes, and downtown to downtown is about twice that).
posted by namewithoutwords at 9:57 AM on June 29, 2008

Fallingwater is one of my favorite places.

Nemacolin is a fancy resort nearby. It's been about 12 years since I last stayed there, but it was lovely - swanky without being too pretentious.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 12:52 PM on June 29, 2008

Check out OhioPyle State Park. It's southeast of Pittsburgh. There's a natural water slide, good hiking, good water holes for swimming, waterfalls, and you're right near the Youghigheny River if you want to do some real whitewater rafting.
posted by salvia at 1:34 PM on June 29, 2008

If you like amusement parks, check out Kennywood . Up until a friend took me there, every amusement park I had been in could be completely disassembled with a sufficiently large crescent wrench and a philips screwdriver. This is an amusement park where they have bricks stuck to other bricks with mortar and a 100 year old roller coaster that is still in operation.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:16 PM on June 29, 2008

A bit north of where you'll be, but Oil City has a very fun state park, with a railroad ride and a wonderfully tacky film sponsored by some industry group in the 50's and staring Vincent Price.
posted by QIbHom at 3:52 PM on June 29, 2008

Okay, Johnstown in-depth is perhaps not for everyone (The story of the flood is grim and the past seems very present there.) but if your family is history-minded, it would be unforgettable. Take in the Johnstown Flood Museum, the National Parks Service site and Grandview Cemetery for the big picture of what was THE story of its time and one which remains an incredibly moving tale, illustrative of several grand American narratives and the occasion of great individual heroism. Have a bite to eat at the Johnstown Brewing Company after the cemetery and reflect on their choice of names for their (flood-themed) brews.

The city itself is still quite economically depressed, and has a ghostly air. (This just to say that you should not be behindhand in purchasing souvenirs, such as are available at the Inclined Plane.)

Oh, and read this book.
posted by Morrigan at 5:55 PM on June 29, 2008

You should definitely go to both Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob, they're amazing. Ohiopyle is really nice too: there are rapids there as well as the natural slide.

I personally wouldn't recommend Nemacolin, I was just there recently and apparently they've replaced a lot of the older buildings. It now looks just like any other expensive resort.
posted by version control at 11:00 AM on June 30, 2008

Seconding Fallingwater. It's really amazing!
posted by dipolemoment at 3:32 PM on June 30, 2008

How coincidental this question was asked! I'll be on an away job in Clearville, PA (about an hour east from Johnstown and Fallingwater) and was hoping someone might have suggestions about culture or nature things to do in the area...
posted by Queen of Spreadable Fats at 11:47 AM on July 3, 2008

« Older Change searching in windows in Firefox   |   Elon University Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.