The Ultimate PA Bucket List: 101 Things to Do in Pennsylvania Before You Die
Over the past four and a half years, I’ve shared hundreds of amazing places throughout all 67 counties in Pennsylvania. And, truthfully, those places are just the tip of the iceberg. There are truly many amazing things to do in Pennsylvania.
To help you narrow things down a bit, I decided to put together the ultimate Pennsylvania bucket list. These are the 101 things to do in Pennsylvania before you die. No matter where you live in the state or what your interest is, you’re sure to find something great to do on this list.
You can use the links below to jump to the various regions of Pennsylvania, which are listed below, roughly east to west.
Of course, you can also browse our Pennsylvania travel map to find even more things to do near where you live or are traveling.
Philly and its Suburbs | Lehigh Valley | The Poconos | Northeastern Pennsylvania | Susquehanna Region | PA Dutch Country | The Alleghenies | Pennsylvania Wilds | Laurel Highlands | Pittsburgh and its Suburbs | Great Lakes Region
Independence Hall – The site where the Declaration of Independence was signed in July 1776 was already my top place to visit in Philadelphia. See where the United States was born and learn about the site’s other fascinating history.
The Liberty Bell – Located adjacent to Independence Hall (and originally housed in its bell tower), the Liberty Bell is another must-see stop for those wanting to experience American history.
Longwood Gardens – Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square might be the most beautiful natural area in all of southeastern Pennsylvania. The gardens here feature thousands of plants, many fantastic fountains, and one of the largest conservatories in the world.
Rosenbach Museum – The Rosenbach Museum might be the best-kept secret in Philly. Located on a tree-lined street in Rittenhouse Square, this museum is one of the country’s best rare book libraries featuring many one-of-a-kind books and manuscripts dating back hundreds of years.
Mercer Mile – The Mercer Mile in Doylestown is comprised of three amazing concrete structures built by Henry Chapman Mercer in the early 20th century. Fonthill (his home) and the Mercer Museum were built to resemble European castles, the Moravian Pottery and Tiles Works was designed like a Spanish monastery.
Reading Terminal Market – Once the ending point of the Reading Railroad (of Monopoly fame), Reading (pronounced “Redding”) Terminal Market is now filled with dozens of stalls selling delicious foods from all over the world. This is a must-visit food stop in the city.
Christ Church – Christ Church might be the most historic church in the country. It was where many of our Founding Fathers, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, worshipped during their time in Philly.
Ringing Rocks County Park – Located in northern Bucks County, Ringing Rocks County Park is one of the oddest places in Pennsylvania. When you tap the rocks of this boulder field with a hammer, they ring like a church bell. There is also another nearby ringing rocks field called Stony Garden.
Eastern State Penitentiary – A prison from 1829-1971, Eastern State Penitentiary is now a tourist site that allows visitors to learn about its history. Much of the prison has been left in a state of ruin, which makes the building both unique and very creepy.
Valley Forge National Historical Park – The story of Valley Forge is one of the most well-known stories of the Revolutionary War. Here Continental Soldiers under the command of George Washington spent a harsh winter that both decimated them and prepared them for the long war ahead.
Philadelphia Museum of Art – The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the country’s best art museums and showcases everything from Ancient Asian art to 20th century American works. Also, don’t miss the chance to run up the famous Rocky Steps that lead to this great museum.
Simeone Automobile Museum – The Simeone Automobile Museum is one of the region’s best antique car museums. The museum focuses on the history of auto racing throughout the world, giving this museum a unique theme relative to other automobile museums in PA.
Philadelphia City Hall Observation Deck – From 1894-1908, Philadelphia City Hall was the tallest habitable building in the world. Go to the top of this historic building and visit the observation deck just below the feet of William Penn. This deck offers great panoramic views of the city 500 feet below.
Washington Crossing Historic Park – Washington Crossing Historic Park is located along the Delaware River north of Philly. This is the spot where Washington and his army famously crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night in 1776. Don’t miss their annual Christmas day reenactment.
Mütter Museum – The Mütter Museum is the collection of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and features some of the most unusual medical oddities in the world. Take a stroll and see human skulls, slices of Einstein’s brain, and many more disturbing, but fascinating pieces.
Wanamaker Organ – The Wanamaker Organ is located inside a Center City Philadelphia Macy’s and is the world’s largest, still-functioning pipe organ in the world. Concerts are offered six days a week throughout the year.
Glencairn Museum – The Glencairn Museum in Bryn Athyn is a castle-like building that is home to one of the greatest collections of religious artifacts in the country. Explore the history of religion dating back millennia and from various cultures throughout the world.
Barnes Museum – The Barnes Museum is another great art museum in Philadelphia. Once a private collection in the city suburbs, it’s now located in downtown Philly. It focuses on works by Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Modernist artists.
American Treasure Tour – The American Treasure Tour is a massive collection of American antiques and kitsch items. Take a ride through the museum on their tram to see the highlights of this fantastic collection.
Brandywine River Museum of Art – The Brandywine River Museum near Chadds Ford offers visitors the chance to see the works of the Wyeth family, along with other artists that were prominent in the Brandywine School. The museum has an especially large collection of works by Andrew Wyeth.
Mummers Parade – The Mummers Parade is the oldest folk parade in the country and dates back to 1901 (though the tradition dates back much further). Watch as a variety of costumed performers parade down the streets of Philadelphia on New Year’s Day performing a variety of shows to delight the crowd.
Laurel Hill Cemetery – Laurel Hill Cemetery is one of the only cemeteries in the country on the National Register of Historic Places. It is home to many important graves including a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a well-known Civil War general, and a Baseball Hall of Famer.
Monk’s Cafe – Monk’s Cafe might not be the best place to eat in Philadelphia, but it is one of the best bars in the country. Monk’s features a fantastic selection of imported Belgian beers, many of which are incredibly rare and some that can’t be found anywhere else in the country. Outside of breweries, this might be the best place in Pennsylvania to have a beer.
Wharton Esherick Museum – If Dr. Seuss came to Pennsylvania, he’d feel right at home here. The museum is the home and workshop of artist Wharton Esherick and offers visitors the chance to learn about his life and art. It’s filled with pieces designed by Esherick and placed much as he would have had them during his life.
Hoover-Mason Trestle – Walk along an elevated rail line that once took supplies to workers at the Bethlehem Steel plant in Bethlehem, PA. This walkway offers a closeup look at what remains of the impressive blast furnaces.
C.F. Martin Guitars Factory Tour – C.F. Martin Guitars are not only some of the best in the world, but many are still handmade in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Visitors can take a free tour of this factory and watch as workers make these beautiful instruments.
Mack Trucks Historical Museum – Located inside the company’s former testing facility, the Mack Trucks Historical Museum is home to dozens of Mack Trucks dating back to the very earliest years of the company. Free tours give visitors a chance to explore these vintage trucks and learn about the company’s history.
National Museum of Industrial History – Opened in the summer of 2016 inside an old Bethlehem Steel building, the National Museum of Industrial History tells the story of America’s industrial past, with a special focus on the industries that shaped the region.
National Canal Museum – The National Canal Museum near Easton is home to a fun interactive museum, and the only canal boat ride in Pennsylvania. Take a ride on their recreated canal boat which is pulled along a historic canal by mules.
Raymondskill Falls – Raymondskill Falls in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is the tallest waterfall in Pennsylvania. The three drops here total approximately 150 feet, making the total height of this waterfall more than Niagara Falls in New York.
The Boulder Field at Hickory Run State Park– The boulder field at Hickory Run State Park is one of the most impressive in Pennsylvania and is a National Natural Landmark. Take a walk out onto this beautiful boulder field and explore its many nooks and crannies.
Downtown Jim Thorpe – Despite its unusual name, Jim Thorpe is a great town to visit in Pennsylvania. Nestled in the mountains, this community almost appears like it should be in Switzerland instead of PA. Explore the many shops and museums of this great small town.
Buskhill Falls – While calling it the “Niagara of Pennsylvania” is a bit of a stretch, there’s no denying that Bushkill Falls is home to several impressive waterfalls. Walk the boardwalk and trails through this park to see their eight waterfalls.
Glen Onoko – The short, but challenging hike through Glen Onoko near Jim Thorpe isn’t for everyone, but it’s definitely one of the most beautiful destinations in Pennsylvania. Explore the three named waterfalls here, along with the many other beautiful cascades as you walk through this scenic gorge.
Dorflinger Glass Museum – The Dorflinger Glass Museum is home to more than 1,000 pieces of Dorflinger Glass, the largest such collection in the country. This incredible beautiful glass was made in the factory turned museum, and offers visitors a great look at this historic company.
Dingmans Falls – Dingmans Falls is the second tallest waterfall in Pennsylvania and is located in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Take a walk down the boardwalk to this great site. Don’t miss Silverthread Falls, another impressive waterfall along the path.
Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen State Park – The Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen State Park might be the best hike in all of Pennsylvania. With 21 named waterfalls along this 7.2 mile trail, you’ll be stopping every few minutes to take in the beauty of another impressive sight.
Steamtown National Historic Site – Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton showcases the history of the railroad in northeastern Pennsylvania and throughout the country. They feature many historic train engines and offer excursions through the area.
Tunkhannock Viaduct – The Tunkhannock Viaduct (also known as the Nicholson Bridge) spans the Tunkhannock Creek Valley north of Scranton. The impressive bridge, which was once the largest concrete structure in the world, is made even more impressive as it dwarfs the town below it.
Lackawanna Coal Mine – Journey underground into a former coal mine near Scranton at the Lackawanna Coal Mine. Visitors ride into this old mine and are given tours by former miners anxious to show you what life was like underground.
Houdini Museum – Scranton’s Houdini Museum showcases many items from the life of Harry Houdini, one of the greatest escape artists in history. The highlight, however, is the fantastic and semi-private magic show that’s put on by two of the world’s highest ranked magicians.
The Susquehanna Region
Little League World Series – The Little League World Series is held every August in South Williamsport, PA. This free event draws the best youth baseball players from all over the world to compete to see which team is the best. If you can’t make it in person, you can watch the tournament on national television.
Knoebel’s Amuseument Park – Knoebel’s Amusement Park is the largest, free-admission amusement park in the United States. Stroll their beautiful grounds and either pay for only the rides you want to go on or get a day pass good for nearly all of the attractions.
McIntyre Wild Area – Hidden away in northern Lycoming County, the McIntyre Wild Area is home to Rock Run, often called the most beautiful stream in Pennsylvania. Several of its tributaries (notably Miners Run and Hounds Run) are home to hidden waterfalls that require hiking directly up the creek to see.
Yuengling Brewery Tour – Yuengling is America’s oldest brewery and has been producing beer since 1829 with only a short break for Prohibition. Today, visitors can tour their historic Pottsville brewery to learn how this classic American beer is produced.
Bowman’s Field – Bowman’s Field, officially known as BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman’s Field, is located in Williamsport. First opened in 1926, it’s the second oldest professional baseball field in the country. During the summer, it is home to the Williamsport Crosscutters, the Single-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Pennsylvania State Capitol – The Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg might be the most impressive state capitol building in the country. Built in the early 20th century, this building is beautiful both inside and outside. Free guided tours are offered, but visitors can also look around on their own.
Gettysburg Battlefield National Battlefield – The Battle of Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War and was a major turning point in the conflict. Today, visitors can tour this important battlefield to learn more about its story and impact.
Wheatland – Wheatland was the Lancaster home of the only president born in Pennsylvania, James Buchanan. Buchanan lived in this home before, during, and after his presidency, and many of his possessions are still in the home.
Koziar’s Christmas Village – Koziar’s Christmas Village is located in rural Berks County and is one of the most impressive light displays in the region. More than a million lights brighten the cold nights on this working farm from early November through early January.
Lancaster County Covered Bridges – Lancaster County is home to more historic covered bridges (29) than any other county in Pennsylvania. Take a ride through the countryside to see a few of these great pieces of history. We have guides to the southwestern bridges, the northwestern bridges, and the northeastern bridges.
Reading Pagoda – Originally constructed to be part of a hotel, the Reading Pagoda now sits alone atop Mount Penn overlooking downtown Reading. This very authentic Japanese pagoda has great views of the city below from both inside and out.
Lancaster Amish County – While nearly every county in Pennsylvania is home to a population of Amish, nowhere in the state has more than Lancaster County. Places like Intercourse are popular destinations to see this unique religious sect. Another great option is a seasonal mud sale.
Columbus Chapel and Boal Mansion – One of the most surprising sites in all of Pennsylvania, the Columbus Chapel and Boal Mansion features a collection of artifacts from around the world that has to be seen to be believed. The highlight, however, is the chapel from the Columbus family castle in Spain.
Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike – In the late 1960s, the Pennsylvania turnpike was rerouted, creating a 13-mile stretch of roadway that was essentially abandoned. Today, visitors can walk or bike this historic roadway and even pass through two abandoned tunnels that are each nearly a mile long.
Swigart Museum – Considered the oldest automobile museum in the world, the Swigart Museum has an incredibly long history of collecting cars. Visitors to their Huntingdon museum can see a portion of their collection of incredibly rare and one-of-a-kind cars.
Johnstown Incline – The Johnstown Incline takes people and cars from downtown Johnstown and into the hills above the city. As the world’s steepest incline that takes cars, a ride offers the chance to see Johnstown from above.
Horseshoe Curve – The Horseshoe Curve near Altoona is one of the greatest feats of engineering in U.S. history. It was this curve that allowed trains to conquer the Allegheny Mountains. Visitors can visit the viewing platform and watch trains pass through this historic curve.
Hawn’s Overlook – There are many amazing overlooks in Pennsylvania, but few are as great as the view from Hawn’s Overlook. This vista offers an expansive view over Raystown Lake and is a great place to catch sunset over the lake.
Penn’s Cave – The only all-water cavern in Pennsylvania, a visit into Penn’s Cave requires a boat ride along the subterranean lake. After exploring this beautiful underground world, make sure to tour their wildlife park and try your hand at their maze.
Johnstown Flood National Memorial – The Johnstown Flood National Memorial tells the story of the 1889 Johnstown Flood which killed more than 2.200 people. Learn about the devastating impact of this flood and see the historic club that was responsible for the failed dam.
Gravity Hill – While there are others around the state, the Gravity Hill in Bedford County is well worth taking the time to see. Marvel as your car appears to roll uphill along this country road. Is it an optical illusion or a distortion in the earth’s gravity? You decide.
Kinzua Bridge – Ever since the Kinzua Bridge was completed, it’s been a popular attraction. However, what was once the world’s longest and tallest railroad bridge now lies half destroyed in the valley below. Today, visitors come to this state park to see the power of nature and the great view from what remains of the bridge.
Foxburg Country Club – The Foxburg Country Club in Clarion County is the oldest, continually-operating golf course in the United States. While it only has nine holes, it offers visitors a chance to play an incredibly historic course. Don’t miss the American Golf Hall of Fame which is also on the grounds.
Cherry Springs State Park – Cherry Springs State Park in Potter County is home to the darkest night skies on the east coast. That makes this park the perfect place to go stargazing. Several fields have been set up to help ensure both professionals and amateurs have a chance to see the brilliant sky.
Groundhog Day – If there’s one event that’s synonymous with Pennsylvania, it has to be Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney. This quirky tradition dates back 1886 and should be experienced at least once.
Bilger’s Rocks – There are many outcroppings around Pennsylvania, but few are as fun to explore as Clearfield County’s Bilger’s Rocks. Climb through the nooks and crannies between the rocks and look for some of the decades old rock carvings.
Leonard Harrison State Park – On the eastern edge of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, Leonard Harrison State Park should be on every PA traveler’s bucket list. Enjoy sweeping views of this impressive gorge and hike down the Turkey Path to see several great waterfalls.
Elk Country Visitor Center – The Elk Country Visitor Center is the focal point for viewing Pennsylvania’s growing elk herd. These reintroduced animals can be found around the land surrounding the visitor center and are a beautiful sight that’s not to be missed.
Austin Dam – The ruins of Austin Dam are one of the most remote sites on this list, but it’s worth taking the time to visit. A dam disaster here in 1911 killed 78 people and destroyed the surrounding communities. Today, the ruins of the dam can be explored by curious visitors.
Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub – Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub in Clearfield is home to some of the world’s largest hamburger eating challenges. Come and try to conquer the two, three, six, fifteen, or even twenty-five pound burger challenges. Finish a burger challenge and get your picture on the wall.
Marion Brooks Natural Area – Located within the Quehanna Wild Area, the Marion Brooks Natural Area is home to a beautiful strand of white birch trees. In addition to these beautiful and rare (in PA) trees, the area is home to one of the best hikes in the state.
Forest Cathedral at Cook Forest State Park – Cook Forest State Park is home to the Forest Cathedral, one of the largest and most beautiful strands of old growth forest remaining in Pennsylvania. Hike through these towering giants and imagine what PA used to look like before the lumber industry.
Pine Creek Rail Trail – The Pine Creek Rail Trail might be the most beautiful bike ride in Pennsylvania, especially the upper third that passes through the PA Grand Canyon. This relatively flat rail trail is perfect for bikers of all ages and experience levels.
Scripture Rocks Heritage Park – Located in the woods surrounding Brookville are hundreds of rocks inscribed with the religious beliefs and mutterings of an early 20th century preacher and eccentric. The largest collection of these rocks can be found at Scripture Rocks Heritage Park.
Fallingwater – Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater is one of the world’s most iconic homes. Built above a waterfall in southwestern Pennsylvania, this home is open for tours for those wanting to experience its beauty and architectural majesty.
Flight 93 National Memorial – The Flight 93 National Memorial honors the life, legacy, and sacrifice of those who died on United Airlines Flight 93 on September 11, 2001. Visit to see the crash site and learn about those who died on this fateful flight.
Laurel Caverns – Pennsylvania is home to several beautiful show caves, but none are larger than Laurel Caverns. There are several miles of caves, and visitors can take a guided tour, go spelunking, or even go repelling inside the caverns.
Ohiopyle State Park – Ohiopyle State Park is one of the best state parks in Pennsylvania. Visitors can explore the many great waterfalls here, most notably Ohiopyle Falls and Cucumber Falls. There are also several great vistas and some of the best white water rafting in PA.
Fort Necessity National Battlefield – Fort Necessity National Battlefield preserves the sites where a young George Washington and his troops fired the first shots of the French and Indian War. This is a great spot to learn about this little-known war and its effect on U.S. history.
Idlewild and SoakZone – Idlewild and SoakZone near Ligonier has been named the best amusement park for kids in the country for the last eight consecutive years. Young kids will especially enjoy the section of the park devoted to Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.
Great Allegheny Passage – The Great Allegheny Passage travels 150 miles from Cumberland, Maryland, to Pittsburgh, but the majority of its miles are in the Laurel Highlands. This biking trail is perfect for long-distance rides and features incredible beauty and history.
Pittsburgh and its Suburbs
Mount Washington – There might be no better urban vista in the world than the view of downtown Pittsburgh from the top of Mount Washington. Combine your visit with a ride on the historic Duquesne Incline or Monongahela Incline to have the full bucket list experience.
Meadowcroft Rockshelter – Meadowcroft Rockshelter is the oldest-known site of human habitation in North America, with a history dating back 16,000 years. While there, also visit the recreated 19th-century town and 16th-century Native American village.
St. Anthony’s Chapel – St. Anthony’s Chapel in Pittsburgh’s Troy Hill neighborhood is home to the second largest collection of Catholic relics in the world (only the Vatican has more). Whether you are religious or not, this is a fascinating collection to see.
Andy Warhol Museum – Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum is the largest, single-artist museum in North America. The seven-story museum features pieces of art ranging from throughout Warhol’s life and features his many styles of expression.
Bayernhof Museum – Located in a home just outside of downtown Pittsburgh, the Bayernhof Museum is home to one of Pennsylvania’s best collections of self-playing instruments. Explore this collection and listen to the many working instruments while touring the home.
McConnell’s Mill Covered Bridge – McConnell’s Mill Covered Bridge is located in the state park of the same name and is one of the most beautiful covered bridges in Pennsylvania. The bridge crosses Slippery Rock Creek and is located adjacent to its namesake mill which is open for tours during the warmer months of the year.
Cathedral of Learning – The Cathedral of Learning on the University of Pittsburgh campus is the second tallest university building in the world. The first-floor Commons room looks like a setting for a Harry Potter film. The nearly two-dozen Nationality Rooms showcase the history of cultures that influenced the development of the city.
Jimmy Stewart Museum – Actor Jimmy Stewart grew up in Indiana, Pennsylvania, and his hometown has a museum dedicated to tell the story of his life, films, and legacy. A visit to the museum will help you better appreciate this legendary actor.
PNC Park – PNC Park, the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, is widely considered the best ballpark in baseball. Even if you aren’t a Pirates fan, taking in a game here is a great experience. You can even tour the stadium for a behind-the-scenes look.
Bicycle Heaven – Bicycle Heaven is the world’s largest collection of bicycles and is completely free to tour. Check out the many rare and impressive bikes in their collection, and don’t miss the Groovy Cranky Panky Sprocket Room.
Carrie Furnace – Carrie Furnace is nearly all that remains of the once massive Homestead Steel Works. Abandoned for many years, visitors today can tour the furnace with former steel workers to learn what life was like inside a working steel mill.
Carnegie Museums of Natural History and Art – While they are technically two separate museums, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the Carnegie Museum of Art are connected and have only one admission ticket. Visit these two museums for some of the best collections in Pennsylvania.
National Aviary – The largest aviary in the country, the National Aviary in Pittsburgh is a great destination for bird lovers. Come to see the many birds on display, including penguins, but don’t miss the aviary’s popular sloth.
Randyland – There might be nowhere in Pennsylvania more colorful or that exudes more joy than Randyland. The work of artist Randy Gilson, Randyland must be seen to be fully appreciated. Make sure to say hi to Randy when you visit.
Presque Isle State Park – Presque Isle State Park in Erie is PA’s most visited state park and offers 13 beaches along Lake Erie. The park is also home to miles of hiking trails and is a great place to go kayaking and fishing.
Drake Well Museum – The site of the world’s first purposefully-dug oil well, the Drake Well Museum tells the story of the beginning of this influential world-wide history.
PennDOT Road Sign Sculpture Garden – the PennDOT Road Sign Sculpture Garden in Meadville is a 1200-foot-long mural made entirely of used road signs. It showcases the history and culture of northwestern Pennsylvania.
DeBence Antique Music World – DeBence Antique Music World is home to over 100 antique, self-playing musical instruments. With nearly every instrument in the building working, it offers a great chance to hear these rare instruments play.
Daffin’s Chocolate Kingdom – Purported to be the largest candy store in the world (it’s not), Daffin’s Chocolate Kingdom in Sharron is a chocolate lover’s dream come true. The store is also home to several very large chocolate carvings including a 400-pound chocolate turtle.
What sites in Pennsylvania would make your bucket list? Let us know in the comments section below.
Philly and its Suburbs | Lehigh Valley | The Poconos | Northeastern Pennsylvania | Susquehanna Region | PA Dutch Country | The Alleghenies | Pennsylvania Wilds | Laurel Highlands | Pittsburgh and its Suburbs | Great Lakes Region
If you liked this article, you’ll also want to read the One Place to Visit in Each of Pennsylvania’s 67 Counties, 53 Facts About Pennsylvania That You Probably Didn’t Know, and the Seven Natural Wonders of Pennsylvania.