Planning to spend extra time in Allegheny County? Add the best day trips from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, into your itinerary! Discover plenty of activities for nature lovers, history buffs, and families around an hour away from bustling downtown Pittsburgh.
Experience Cleveland’s rock and roll culture, or find endless outdoor activities from the lakeside fun of Conneaut Lake to Allegheny National Forest. History and nature collide at McConnells Mill State Park, and small-town charm emanates from nearby Wheeling, West Virginia.
So, what do you say? Got time to make a few excursions from Pittsburgh? Plan your trip with this comprehensive guide to the ultimate Pittsburgh side trips!
Top-rated Pittsburgh side trips
Explore beyond the Mid-Atlantic region with a day trip to Cleveland, OH. A two-hour drive from Pittsburgh awaits the Midwestern urban oasis of rock and roll history, world-class art museums, and a thriving food scene. Settled on the shores of Lake Erie, Cleveland has something for everyone.
Groove your way over to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Browse the exhibits of inductees with stars ranging from Aerosmith to the Beatles and over 350 more bands and artists.
Look upon memorabilia, outfits, instruments, and signatures. Watch induction nights from the past on screen in the Connor Theater, then make your own music in the Garage.
Drop by the University Circle neighborhood and examine over 61,000 pieces of art and artifacts at the sprawling Cleveland Museum of Art. Admire relics, modern art, and masterpieces by icons like Georgia O’Keeffe and Vincent van Gogh.
The West Side Market is the perfect spot for foodies to find a pick-me-up. In operation since 1912, this public market offers local produce, homemade baked goods, and freshly prepared food.
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Grab a treat to go and have a picnic at Edgewater Park. Photographers will be delighted by the striking views of the downtown skyline from the pier.
Ohiopyle State Park, PA
Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, listen up! Ohiopyle State Park, PA, is just an hour-long day trip away from Pittsburgh that you can’t miss. Covering 20,500 flourishing acres of the Laurel Highlands, you’ll find anything from serene forest trails to exhilarating river rafting.
Head out early to make the most of the day, and begin your explorations in town with a calm bike ride along the Youghiogheny River on the Ohiopyle Bike Trail. Then, swing by the Ohiopyle Bakey & Sandwich Shoppe for homemade donuts and hearty breakfast sandwiches to fuel up for your day.
Begin your Ohiopyle State Park excursion at the Laurel Highlands Falls Area Visitor Center to learn about the local wildlife you may encounter. Hike through the vivid green forests of the Youghiogheny River Trail until you begin to hear the roar of the water tumbling down the Youghiogheny River Gorge.
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Climb the rocks, splash around, or head to the smooth natural water slides of Meadow Run‘s stone water park. To end the day, take in the stunning sights of the waterfall from the Cucumber Run lookout.
Laurel Caverns, PA
Adventurous travelers looking for a bit of caving excitement will want to head an hour south to Laurel Caverns, PA. Trek, crawl, slide, and shimmy through the four miles of trails in Pennsylvania’s largest cave. This side trip from Pittsburgh is the perfect chance for families to make memories while getting active.
Get transfixed by the Traditional Tour’s red, green, and purple light show, accentuating the rocky formations as you follow a guide through the level path. Kiddos will be amazed by the Grottoes of Learning, playing with a cave simulation to discover how stalactites are formed. Then, they’ll learn how to sift for gems in the panning station, styled after an 1800s gold-panning trough.
If you’re ready to get your heart pumping, go spelunking in the Upper Cave of Laurel Falls. Get on your belly and crawl through tight spaces, past the Petit Falls and Roland’s Dig Passage.
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Once completing this challenge, decide if you’re ready to tackle the Lower Cave. Delve 45 stories beneath the earth, venturing to the ‘sump,’ where the cave’s lit trails disappear into unchartered territory.
Conneaut Lake, PA
Escape Pittsburgh’s busy city atmosphere with a day trip to the quaint town of Conneaut Lake, PA. Hop on Interstate 79 and travel north for over an hour until you reach this welcoming town of 674 residents. Family-friendly activities abound on the shores of Pennsylvania’s biggest natural glacier lake.
Get some classic theme park thrills at Conneaut Lake Park, dating back to 1892. Follow the bells and carnival music to the antique amusement park, where you’ll stop and go on bumper cars and other classic rides. Head down to the park’s Boardwalk for fun in the sun, swimming, jet skiing, or boating.
Tee off at Oakland Beach Golf Course‘s 18-hole championship course. Enjoy picturesque views of the lake peeking out from behind the trees as you get a hole-in-one.
On the south end of the lake, stop by Vacavi Cafe for fresh, locally roasted coffee. Grab your latte or smoothie and sightsee at Ice House Park, gazing across the glassy waters of Conneaut Lake.
Sommeliers will find their bliss at Conneaut Cellar Winery. Partake in wine tastings of Pennsylvania-made wine and spirits in a cozy cabin-like building. Sip a glass in the Picnic Pavillion on the rolling lawn surrounded by forests and wildflowers.
Allegheny National Forest, PA
Immerse yourself in the lush greenery of Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest. With 514,029 acres of the Allegheny Plains to explore, you’ll frolic through meadows, wander nature trails, and paddle down rivers. Make the 100-mile trip from Pittsburgh to Alleghany National Forest and discover a nature fanatic’s paradise.
Rev up your ATV or dirt bike on the Willow Creek Trail. Or, take a longer spin along the Timberline Trail while mountain bikers speed through Jake’s Rocks Extreme Mountain Bike Trail.
If you’d rather explore on foot, take the Tracy Ridge Hiking Trail through the thriving wilderness. Then, trek Morrison Hiking Trail, crossing over trickling creeks and climbing boulders.
Bob down the Clarion River, kayaking or canoeing the subtle riffles between two steep hills. Or, take it easy on the Allegheny River, birdwatching as your drift along. Traverse the trails leading to the Allegheny Reservoir, bordering New York.
Cast a line, catch a trout or bass, or take a dip in the chilly waters at Kinzua Beach. Wrap up your day trip with a cruise down the Longhouse National Scenic Byway for awe-inspiring overlooks of the reservoir and the Allegheny National Forest.
Raccoon Creek State Park, PA
The wilderness wonderland of Racoon Creek State Park, PA, boasts some of Beaver County‘s top outdoor recreation. From hiking to hunting, fishing, camping, and more, you won’t run out of activities at this park. Pack the car, hit the road heading west, and in just over half an hour, you’ll arrive at this glorious state park.
Raccoon Lake’s forested shores are bursting with natural beauty, seemingly untouched by mankind. Mosey through the Wetlands Trail, keeping your eyes open for graceful waterfowl along the way. Stroll the down the Audobon Trail in Wildflower Reserve, particularly lovely in spring with multicolored flowers blooming throughout the oak and hickory woodlands.
Cool down in the Frankfurt Mineral Springs. Standing under the spray of fresh water bouncing off the rocks, judge whether or not the legends of its healing properties are true.
Climb the nearby hill and uncover the nearby stone remnants of the dilapidated Frankfurt House, once a hotel for those seeking the miraculous spring water.
Pop a tent at the Racoon Creek State Park Campground, or rent a cabin at the Lakeside Lodge to extend your side trip. Enjoy the serenity of the lakeside setting as you toast marshmallows around a fire ring.
McConnells Mill State Park, PA
Only have time for local day trips? Experience the pinnacle of Pennsylvania wilderness at McConnells Mill State Park, PA. Take a spin by Portersville to venture into a world of historical sites and natural wonders only 45 minutes out of the city. Enjoy tranquil nature trails dotted with waterfalls along the eleven miles of hiking trails in this state park.
Cross the quaint, bright red 1874 McConnells Mill Covered Bridge over Slippery Rock Creek, and turn the corner to McConnell Mill. This old gristmill from 1868 now remains a relic of the past. Tour inside, and then get the perfect shot of the mill backed by the river and bridge.
Take the Slippery Rock Gorge Trail along the creek, stopping to rest on the sandy shores as you go. Head toward Hell’s Hollow Falls, and descend the wooden steps to the bottom. Skip across the rocks, and look up in awe at the water tumbling down the limestone.
On your way back to Pittsburgh, order a tasty ice cream or a snow cone from The Snowman. Choose decadent flavors like Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffle or their famous Unicorn Ice. Then, snap a photo in front of the 13-foot-tall snowman, a Butler County landmark.
Take a side trip to Wheeling, WV, to experience South Atlantic American culture an hour southwest over the border. This West Virginia town has a whole lot of history and charm with a dash of kitschiness. Founded in 1806, Wheeling’s heritage runs deep and can be felt throughout the quaint town, from museums to landmarks and Victorian architecture.
As West Virginia’s original state capital, Wheeling is proud to be the home of the West Virginia Independence Hall. Visit the stately office where Governor Pierpont wrote to Lincoln requesting West Virginia’s statehood. Peer through the old Federal Courthouse, restored to its 1800s splendor.
Awaken your inner child at The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum. Youngsters and seniors alike will bond through board games, interactive vintage trains, and pinball machines in this Victorian schoolhouse. Take the Wheeling Suspension Bridge over the Ohio River, getting out to inspect the 1849 stonework.
On the east side of the river, find the Capitol Theater. This ornate Art Deco gem has witnessed legendary performances like Johnny Cash and still hosts Broadway and Wheeling Symphony productions today.
After the show, grab a refreshing pint at the Wheeling Brewing Company. Test out locally-made craft beers in this cozy pub setting.
Moraine State Park, PA
Avid hikers and leisurely walkers will find a trail to suit them at Moraine State Park. Explore stunning landscapes, serene forests, and a variety of rugged hikes and manicured paths spanning 16,725 acres. Being only twenty minutes down the road from McConnells Mill State Park, consider combining the two into one road trip.
Start your morning out with a homestyle breakfast of fluffy pancakes as big as your face, eggs and toast, and fresh, hot coffee at Brown’s Country Kitchen. Head to the south side of Lake Arthur, and mosey the Sunken Garden Trail, as the sunlight streams in through the veil of leaves.
If you’re visiting Moraine State Park in winter, bundle up and cross-country ski the trail. Wander to Pleasant Valley Beach, where you can wade through the gentle tides to cool down.
Up for a more intense hike? The Glacier Ridge Trail‘s strenuous incline is all worth it once you get to the top and take in the picture-perfect scene of the still surface reflecting the sky and trees.
Head to the northwest section of the lake to the McDanels Boat Launch. Take a Pontoon Boat Tour to learn about the local ecology and history of the park.
New Wilmington, PA
Always wanted to see what life’s like in Amish Country? Now’s your chance! From Pittsburgh, keep heading north past Portersville, and you’ll find yourself in New Wilmington, PA. This Lawrence County city of 2,500 people is small but boasts rich Amish culture, flourishing farms, and a warm, small-town feel.
Yes, you did just pass a family in a buggy. And yes, you did just see a man plowing his fields with a horse-drawn plow. Learn about the Amish lifestyle and customs with the Simple Life Tours. Your guide, Susan, will whisk you away through the backcountry roads of Amish villages.
Meet the locals and discover the traditions of the Old Order Amish community. Pick up a souvenir as you browse their bakeries, quilt stores, and oak furniture shops.
A family-centric haven, Iron Mills Farmstead is New Wilmington’s premier spot for outdoor fun. If you’re visiting during the tail end of summer, awe at their field of sunflowers, and during the fall season, find your way out of the massive corn maze. Little ones will have a blast feeding the goats and piglets, tackling Hay Mountain, and riding the Farmstead Express.