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Great Reasons to Visit Pennsylvania in 2015

10 Great Reasons to Visit Pennsylvania in 2015

2015 is finally here, and if you are still planning your travels for the year, I’ve got 10 great things going on throughout the state that make 2015 a great time to visit Pennsylvania.

Some of the activities are year-long celebrations, while others are only around for a few days. However, all of them are a great reason to check out the various corners of this great state.

Check them out below and start making a list of which ones you want to visit in 2015!

Watch the World’s Largest Jeep Parade/75th Anniversary of the Jeep in Butler – June 12-14

While Ford might be best known for producing the Jeep vehicles that were so popular during World War 2, they were actually invented by a small company named Bantam, which was located in Butler, Pennsylvania.

A Bantam Jeep sits in the Butler County Historical Society in Butler, Pennsylvania.

A Bantam Jeep sits in the Butler County Historical Society.

Despite not receiving the recognition for the Jeep, and Bantam eventually being bought in 1956, the town of Butler still recognizes the company’s famous Jeep with a yearly festival.

However, this year’s festival is extra special as it’s the 75th anniversary of the Jeep’s introduction. To commemorate, they are going for the Guinness World Record for Largest Jeep Parade (there really is a category for everything). For more information on the festival and the parade, visit the festival’s website.

And, if you are looking for more things to do in Butler County, check out our archives on the area.

2015 US Women’s Open Championship in Lancaster – July 6-12

For golf fans, a major golf tournament is coming to Central Pennsylvania for the first time this coming year. That’s right, the 2015 US Women’s Open Championship is being held this July at the Lancaster Country Club.

Located just outside of downtown Lancaster, visitors to the tournament may want to take some time to check out the many other things to do in Lancaster County or the rest of Pennsylvania Dutch Country.

Even better, for those traveling through western Pennsylvania, a stop at the American Golf Hall of Fame at the Foxburg Country Club, the oldest golf course in America, is a great way to cap your golf vacation.

Bicentennial Celebrations in Kutztown – July 25-August 2

Founded in 1815, the Berks County borough of Kutztown is celebrating their bicentennial in 2015. While celebrations are sure to go on all year, the main events are being held from July 25 until August 2. Events include everything from an ice cream social to a classic car rally. August 2nd is Kutztown Day, which is sure to have a lot of fun events of its own.

For more information, visit the Kutztown Bicentennial website.

Philadelphia’s New Observation Deck – Summer

Philadelphia already has a great observation deck atop City Hall, directly under the famous statue of William Penn. However, the limited amount of space at the top severely limits the number of tickets that are available each day. That’s why the news of the city’s new observation deck is so exciting.

Located on the 57th floor of One Liberty Place in the heart of downtown Philadelphia, this observation deck will give visitors a great bird’s-eye view of the city, including the iconic statue of William Penn that you can’t really see from the City Hall Observation Deck.

There are very few details currently available about the observation deck, but it’s expected to be open for visitors in the summer of 2015.

Pope Francis in Philly – September 26-27

The Pope’s visit to Philadelphia in September is expected to draw more than 2 million people to the World Meeting of Families in downtown Philly. If you are one of the many that are attending or planning to attend to see the pontiffs first ever visit to America, you’ll be coming to one of the best cities in America. Make sure to stay a bit longer and see some of the city’s amazing sites. My favorites are featured here.

The beautiful interior of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The beautiful interior of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

And don’t leave without checking out the very impressive Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul near the event location.

Ride the New Roller Coasters at Hersheypark and Knoebels

Amusement parks are big tourist draws, and two of the best in the state are coming out with great new roller coasters in 2015.

At Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania, they are opening the country’s first “indoor, spinning glow coaster.” This ride will combine a roller coaster with a fun house, creating what is sure to be an exciting, and likely stomach-churning ride. Called Laff Trakk, it’s a great reason to visit the park this summer. A short, teaser video about the ride can be found here.

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    At Knoebels, Pennsylvania’s most well-known pay-as-you-go amusement park, they are opening a brand-new inverted steel roller coaster for the 2015 season. This ride is the most expensive in the park’s history and will reportedly reach speeds of up to 55-miles an hour.

    New Distilleries in Pennsylvania

    Distilleries are the latest rage in Pennsylvania, and a new one seems to open every few months. In 2015, there are at least half a dozen distilleries that I could find that are slated to open around Pennsylvania, and I’m sure there are more that I missed.

    So, no matter where you are in Pennsylvania, there is a good chance that there will be a brand-new distillery for you to sample in 2015.

    Visit the New Visitor Centers at the Flight 93 Memorial and Kinzua Bridge State Park

    The open plaza contains several signs with information about the events of September 11, 2001 and Flight 93.

    The Flight 93 National Memorial is finally getting an official visitor center in 2015.

    Two of Pennsylvania’s newest and most visited sites are finally getting visitor centers in 2015.

    The Flight 93 National Memorial near Somerset, PA, currently has a single, tiny room that serves as a quasi-indoor meeting space during poor weather, but otherwise no visitor center. However, by June 2015, the park hopes to open their brand-new visitor center, that will better tell the story of the events that occurred at that spot on September 11, 2001. More information on what will be in the visitor center can be found here.

    Also slated to open in 2015 is the visitor center at Kinzua Bridge State Park. As with all state park centers, this one will include interpretive space to learn about the history of the park, as well as information about the surrounding area. It is scheduled to open in the fall, and more information can be found here.

    The 100th Birthday of the Tunkhannock Viaduct – September 11-13

    The Tunkhannock Viaduct, also known as the Nicholson Viaduct or Nicholson Bridge, was built in 1915 and was the largest concrete structure in the world when completed. A hundred years later, the bridge still carriers train traffic over the Tunkhannock Creek below.

    Plans are underway for a 100th-anniversary celebration, and more information can be found on NicholsonBridge100th.com. Even if you can’t make it during the celebration, the bridge is worth checking out any time of the year. I know it’s on my list of places to visit when I have the chance to return to Northeastern Pennsylvania.

    Celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War’s End at the National Civil War Museum

    A visit to the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg is perfect for any history buff

    A visit to the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg is perfect for any history buff, especially in 2015.

    For the last few years, the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg has had special exhibits about each year of the Civil War. And, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the battles of 1865, the museum will be featuring a new exhibit displaying items related to the last year of the war.

    In addition to the special exhibit, the museum will also feature a variety of lectures throughout the year about the events of 1865. This is all on top of their excellent regular exhibits that tell the story of the entire Civil War. History buffs will want to take the time to visit this great museum and special exhibit.

    Do you have a special reason you’re traveling in Pennsylvania during 2015? Let me know in the comments below.

    AUTHOR - Jim Cheney

    Jim Cheney is the creator of UncoveringPA.com. Based in the state capital of Harrisburg, Jim frequently travels around Pennsylvania and has visited all 67 counties in the state. Jim has also traveled to more than 30 different countries around the world.

    9 Comments

    • Cathy

      I have really enjoyed reading all about your travels through PA. I have been to a few on your top ten list. Thank you for the time you put into this.

      • Jim Cheney

        Thanks for the kind words, Cathy. I’ve really enjoyed traveling around Pennsylvania finding great places to visit.

    • Malerie

      Hi Jim – a great list!!! Taught me a few things, too. Mal

    • Ross Garside

      Sunbury, Pa, has the Edison Hotel (formerly the City Hotel), which is the first electrically-lit building in the world, done by Thomas Edison himself.
      Adjacent Northumberland, Pa, has the home of Joseph Priestley – discoverer of O2, CO2, soda water, photosynthesis, inventor of the eraser, father of modern chemistry, founder of the Unitarian Church in America, and original writer of the “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” portion of the Declaration of Independence, which his correspondent Thomas Jefferson, got credit for.
      Priestley has many other accomplishments, besides these major ones listed here (e.g. invented self-closing doors for his home).

      • Ross Garside

        Sunbury also has the world’s largest inflatable dam.

      • Jim Cheney

        Sounds like some interesting things to see, Ross. I definitely want to make it up that way at some point in 2015. Thanks for the suggestions!

    • Bobbie Lewis

      I grew up just miles from the Tunkhannock Viaduct, it’s an amazing site. I think I took it for granted all those years, can’t believe it’s celebrating 100 years this year.

    • Joshua Stull

      Jim!

      Thank you for the suggestions and including our Bridge: the Nicholson Bridge. The 100th celebration to be held by our community is set for September 11-12-13, 2015. Here is more info: http://www.nicholsonbridge100th.com. Thank you for spreading the word!

      Josh

      • Jim Cheney

        Thanks for the information, Joshua. I’ve updated the article to reflect the dates of the festival.

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