15 Best Day Trips from Pittsburgh

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Pittsburgh is an exciting and versatile city in Pennsylvania. There is a lot to explore in this city, in fact, Harper’s Bazaar named Pittsburgh on of the ‘best places to travel in 2017’ and they’re keeping up their fantastic track record.

The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are surely the highlight of any visit to Pittsburgh.

Art lovers will fall head over heels for the Andy Warhol Museum and the Carnegie Museum of Art.

With so much to see and do in Pittsburgh you’ll be hard pressed to find time to venture out of the city limits. You really should though.

Lying within easy reach of Pittsburgh are dozens of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered.

Let’s take a look at the best day trips from Pittsburgh:

1. Cleveland

ClevelandSource: f11photo / shutterstock

Crossing over the state lines into Ohio, Cleveland is a wonderful city in which to spend a day.

There is plenty to see, do and explore.

Cleveland lies on the shores of Lake Erie and is one of the most historical cities in the state.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a massive attraction in Cleveland and is home to exhibits on the world’s biggest and best music superstars.

The Cleveland Museum of Art holds an impressive selection of artistic works from the last 6,000 years.

If you’re travelling with children the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is a great place to spend an afternoon.

2. Penn’s Cave

Penn’s CaveSource: Daderot (talk) 11:39, 21 August 2009 (UTC) / Wikimedia
Penn’s Cave

Penn’s Cave is America’s only wave cave and wildlife park.

This fun and family friendly day out is one of the most easily accessible and affordable day trips from Pittsburgh.

You can opt for a steady day walking around the wildlife park and observing the animals go about their business or you can tick of everything Penn’s Cave has to offer.

You can tear around the Miner’s Maze in search of the treasure, you can take a tour of the cave complex themselves or even pan for gemstones.

Engaging and educational, Penn’s Cave is a great day out for all; no need to pack a picnic, grab lunch at Cave Cafe.

3. Fallingwater

FallingwaterSource: Sean Pavone / shutterstock

Fallingwater is one of Pennsylvania’s most iconic homes.

Designed and constructed by Frank Lloyd Wright, one of America’s greatest ever architects, Fallingwater has been preserved as a National Historic Landmark.

Since 1964 over five million people have come from far and wide to tour this impressive architectural gem.

The team at Western Pennsylvania Conservancy run tours of Fallingwater daily from 10 am – 4 pm, except on Wednesdays.

During your tour you will learn about the quirky and innovative design features of the house and its interesting history too.

Over the weekends it is possible to team a house tour with a landscape hike for a more rounded day trip.

4. Hartwood Acres

Hartwood AcresSource: MikeMurphy / Wikimedia
Hartwood Acres

Hartwood Acres Mansion is one of Pittsburgh’s best kept secrets, lying just outside the city limits the mansion and grounds are a joy to explore.

The mansion itself is built in 16th-Century style Tudor design and is simply majestic in its stature.

The heritage preservation teams run tours of the property and grounds on a daily basis.

The Allegheny County Park in which Hartwood Acres Mansion spans an impressive 629-acres, although you cannot cover all that ground in one day taking a stroll through the gardens and taking in the scenic vistas is a refreshing change from the traffic and city smoke in Pittsburgh.

5. Columbus

ColumbusSource: f11photo / shutterstock

Leave Pennsylvania behind and head to Ohio and its state capital, Columbus.

Rich in history and with a wonderful selection of sights to explore Columbus is an interesting and insightful day trip from Pittsburgh.

Columbus was home to German settlers in the early 1800s and their restored village homes can still be visited today.

The Franklin Park Conservatory is a peaceful and relaxing spot to spend an afternoon.

The gardens have both plant and art exhibitions and there is something truly photogenic to snap everywhere you turn.

The COSI Columbus is a great place to head if you’re interested in science and stars.

They have a planetarium and plenty of hands on exhibits to experience.

6. Gravity Hill

Gravity HillSource: J.D. Abolins / Flickr
Gravity Hill

A visit to Gravity Hill is a bit of a novelty nonetheless is really rather cool.

Also known as magnetic hill, gravity road and mystery hill, Gravity Hill can be found in sleepy Bedford County.

This magical spot appears to make cars roll freely uphill and soccer balls struggle to roll downhill.

You’ll know you’ve reached the spot when you see ‘GH START’ spray painted on the road before you.

Knock the car into neutral, gingerly take your foot of the brake and let the phenomenon begin.

The landscape surrounding the road only serves to intensify the optical illusion and make the feeling of movement even more bizarre.

7. Washington DC

Washington DCSource: Orhan Cam / shutterstock
Washington DC

It’s always a pleasure to visit the capital city of a nation and none so true of the United States of America.

Washington DC is a full day trip from Pittsburgh but well worth every mile.

The first port of call should, naturally, be the White House closely followed but the United States Capitol building.

It is possible to book on to guided tours of both buildings should that be of interest.

You could easily spend a day, or more, touring through the Smithsonian Institution.

Their vast collection of museums, zoo and research facilities are simply incredible.

8. Chautauqua

Chautauqua LakeSource: Steve K Hayes / shutterstock
Chautauqua Lake

Should you be seeking an action packed, fun filled day out then head to Chautauqua, you will not be disappointed.

Chautauqua is home to the self proclaimed ‘World’s Vacation Learning Centre’, the Chautauqua Institution.

Hosting daily talks and seminars on every last topic you can think of; arts, sciences, sociology and more you’ll leave a more enlightened individual for sure.

Then there is Chautauqua and the aerial adventure playground at Peek ’n’ Peak Resort.

Get rushing through the forest canopy on zip lines or perhaps grace the lake on a kayak and explore the beaches and coves that are lying in wait.

9. Baltimore

BaltimoreSource: Sean Pavone / shutterstock

Time to tick off another state on your American adventure and stray into Maryland, to visit Baltimore for the day.

A vast city home to 200 very different neighbourhoods Baltimore has a diverse culture and a welcoming array of communities.

Sitting on one of the most important and lucrative mid-Atlantic trading routes Baltimore is still a thriving port and dock today.

Great spots to visit in Baltimore include the National Aquarium, Fort McHenry and Port Discovery.

The American Visionary Art Museum is inspiring even for those who generally remain unmoved by fine art.

There are some unsual and truly unique artistic exhibits to explore.

10. Seven Springs

Seven Springs Mountain ResortSource: Ron Shawley / Wikimedia
Seven Springs Mountain Resort

For all you adrenaline junkies and adventure seekers out there you will be thrilled with a visit to Seven Spring Mountain Resort.

There is a whole mile of zip line courses to explore that see you whip from treetop to treetop with the valley sprawling away beneath you.

Mountain bikers will feel like they’ve landed in paradise.

Offering a great selection of trails from beginner level all the way through to near-pro Seven Springs is adventure central.

In the winter months, once the snow has settled you can don the skis or even the snow board and hit the downhill trails in a whole other way.

11. Monongahela National Forest

Monongahela National ForestSource: Jon Bilous / shutterstock
Monongahela National Forest

Monongahela National Forest is one of West Virginia’s best kept secrets and lovers of the great outdoors will be stoked to explore this vast wilderness.

Spruce Knob is the highest peak of the Allegheny Mountains and can be accessed from Monongahela National Forest.

The Dolly Sods Wilderness is a breathtaking landscape featuring fiery red spruce trees, smooth, weathered boulders and vast expanses of forest.

There are hiking trails crisscrossing through the park and you can find route maps and information at the Visitor’s Centre.

On your way back to Pittsburgh take a pit stop at the Mountain State Brewing Co, you won’t be disappointed.

12. Lake Erie

Lake ErieSource: Doug Lemke / shutterstock
Lake Erie

This is a popular spot for weekend getaways and has dozens of camping spots and picnic parks.

With Lake Erie being so incredibly large you can easily forget that you’re in the heart of the USA as the gentle waves lap against the pebbledash shoreline.

If you’re travelling with children who like a little more structured fun be sure to take a trip to Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park Resort.

It’s also a great place to keep in mind if the rain clouds appear.

13. Laurel Highlands

Laurel HighlandsSource: Jim Finke / shutterstock
Laurel Highlands

Lying just south of Pittsburgh is the magnificent mountainous landscapes of the Laurel Highlands.

Looked over by Mount Davis this area of Pennsylvania is the gateway to the Great Allegheny Passage.

The Laurel Highlands encompasses eight individual state parks that all offer free entry to visitors.

The route to the Mount Davis’ peak is completely paved, all the way to its 3,213 ft pinnacle, its possible to drive most of the way and hike the final ascent.

There is so much to see and do in the Laurel Highlands, from canoeing in the rapids, to pottery making sessions, there’s a number of high-end hotels with luxury spa complexes open to non-residents too.

14. Meadville

MeadvilleSource: Doug Kerr from Albany, NY, United States / Wikimedia

Budding brewers and self proclaimed foodies will be chuffed to discover Meadville PA. Home to an ever expanding community of craft brewing companies, it is advisable to book a driver for a day trip to Meadville.

Popular breweries include TimberCreek Tap & Table and Voodoo Brewery.

The Sprague Farm & Brew Works produces 100% keg conditioned, unfiltered lagers and ales all on their humble, family run farm.

You can get tours of their operation on Thursdays, Fridays from 4-9 pm and Saturday from 12 – 9 pm.

You can soak up your beer with a visit to Hoss’s Steak and Sea House for a phenomenal surf ’n’ turf dinner.

15. Niagara Falls

Niagara FallsSource: TRphotos / shutterstock
Niagara Falls

A trip to Niagara Falls is an incredible day trip from Pittsburgh and is one of the great wonders of North America.

Straddling the international border of Canada and the United States of America the Niagara Falls must be visited once in every lifetime.

This iconic collection of waterfalls can be experienced from one of the many viewing platforms or by jumping aboard the Maid of the Mist.

This boat tour takes you as close as possible to the roaring falls and you’ll feel the formidable force of the 600,000 gallons of water gushing into the river below.

15 Best Day Trips from Pittsburgh:

  • Cleveland
  • Penn’s Cave
  • Fallingwater
  • Hartwood Acres
  • Columbus
  • Gravity Hill
  • Washington DC
  • Chautauqua
  • Baltimore
  • Seven Springs
  • Monongahela National Forest
  • Lake Erie
  • Laurel Highlands
  • Meadville
  • Niagara Falls