Pennsylvania’s Top Historic Attractions

Battle enactment

From the American Revolution to the Industrial Revolution, Pennsylvania is a snapshot of stories and history – a tome of tales about war, religion, architecture and natural resources. Here are a few of those stories:

Architecture & Engineering

The Fort Pitt Block House in Pittsburgh’s Point State Park is all that remains of Fort Pitt, one of the largest and most elaborate British forts in North America and a key defense during the French and Indian War. The block house has stood in its same location for nearly 250 years – a witness to Pittsburgh's history as a frontier fort, large industrial center and leading modern city.

As guests walk through The Hotel Hershey, a 276-room property with a 1930s Mediterranean design, historical photos lining the walls tell the story of chocolate magnate Milton S. Hershey and the town he built around the confection.

You may know it from its location between Oriental Avenue and Income Tax on a Monopoly game board, but the Reading Railroad was more than a conglomeration of railroads. The Reading Heritage Museum tells the tale of the industrial giant that helped fuel the Industrial Revolution as its lines helped transport anthracite coal, iron-making and shipbuilding materials.

Colonial Days

Tours of the reconstructed and restored Fort Ligonier war fort – high atop a commanding hilltop in the Laurel Highlands – reveals some of the world’s finest artifacts from the French and Indian War.

If you can’t make it in December to Washington Crossing Historic Park in Bucks County for a re-enactment of George Washington’s Christmas assault on Trenton, check out the park’s new visitor center, which houses artifacts and exhibits about Washington’s midnight crossing.

Commemorate the adoption of the Articles of Confederation with a visit to historic downtown York, where the Second Continental Congress adopted this historic document uniting the 13 colonies on November 15, 1777.

Military

Explore the hallowed battlegrounds at Gettysburg National Military Park, with its visitor center and introductory films, exhibits and the 360-degree Cyclorama depicting Pickett’s Charge.

The Dobbin House Tavern, a former Underground Railroad slave hideout, overlooks the site of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Enjoy candlelit elegance at the restaurant or stay the night at the circa-1776 home, which operates as a B&B.

PA Military Museum recounts the story of commonwealth citizens who served our country in defense of the nation. Their service is highlighted through exhibits and artifacts documented by the museum's excellent collection of vehicles, small arms and a range of other artifacts from the 20th and 21st centuries.

Natural Resources

An electric train carries passengers 1,600 feet into the mountainside at No. 9 Mine & Museum. A guided walking tour explores an underground mule-way, a miner’s hospital and the 900-foot-deep original elevator shaft, which once hauled loaded coal cars to the surface.

At its peak, the town of Bradford, near the Allegheny National Forest, delivered 93.8 percent of the nation’s oil production. Take a self-guided walking tour of the eclectic architecture constructed during the oil boom days of the late 1800s.

Learn how the discovery of anthracite coal changed the world and fueled our country’s economy in the early 19th century at the PA Anthracite Museum in Scranton.

Go down in history – 300 feet beneath the surface of the Earth – in the once abandoned but now-restored Lackawanna County Coal Mine to see where and how men and boys worked to heat a nation and fuel the conversion of our nation’s economy from agriculture to industry.

See a working reproduction steam engine pump petroleum from May to Oct. at the Drake Well Museum in Titusville, where the American oil industry was born in 1859.

Pennsylvania German Heritage

The state’s first National Historic Landmark District outside of Philly, Historic Harmony, was the first home of the German communal Harmony Society.

Step back in time and explore the practices and traditions of Pennsylvania German rural culture at Landis Valley Museum, a living history village and farm in Lancaster.

Religion

One of only 200 National Historic Landmark Districts in the country, Historic Bethlehem features the Colonial Industrial Quarter, God’s Acre cemetery, the Sun Inn and buildings of the Central Moravian Church, the city of Bethlehem, Historic Bethlehem and Moravian College.

Faithful visitors from around the world venture to a spot in the Susquehanna River in the town of Harmony in the Endless Mountains where priests Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were baptized in the river and began writing the Book of Mormon and establishing the roots of the Mormon faith.

Sports & Culture

Warner Brothers opened its first permanent theatre in 1907 – a Nickelodeon called The Cascade in New Castle. The building will reopen in 2015 with a replica of the theater and a mural depicting what life would have been like in New Castle during this era.

Foxburg is home to the oldest golf course in continuous use in the United States. The second floor of the clubhouse houses the American Golf Hall of Fame with priceless collections of clubs, photos and exhibits depicting the 400-year history of the sport.