Last Updated on January 15, 2021 by Jeremy
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Discover the Burgh is, at its heart, a Pittsburgh blog.
As such, we do not feature destinations and attractions outside of the metro area- so more-or-less anything beyond what we would call a Pittsburgh day trip (about 60-90 minutes each way). You can see more of this on our interactive Pittsburgh map at the end of every post here as well.
While we do explore elsewhere in Pennsylvania, the country, and world quite a bit on frequent trips each year, we have decided to publish all non-southwestern Pennsylvania content on our sister travel blog, Living the Dream.
On this site, we've covered journeys from as a close to home as Cleveland, the Finger Lakes in New York, or the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky all the way to international destinations like Thailand, Mount Everest in Nepal, and Easter Island to name a few.
But to share Pittsburgh weekend trips ideas that you can take within a few hours of driving, this guide was born!
What Makes a Good Weekend Trip from Pittsburgh?
To us, a weekend trip from Pittsburgh would satisfy two specific points:
- The destination can be reached anywhere between 90 minutes to five hours from Pittsburgh (anything less could be a day trip, anything more may require more than a weekend for most).
- Would require at least one overnight stay to fully enjoy (while some may require a day or two extra to make it a long weekend).
For the purposes of this guide, we're also only going to feature destinations available via driving as well. However, if you are planning a weekend trip requiring a flight we have likely featured many of those over at Living the Dream as well!
First, we're going to start with weekend trips within Pennsylvania, and then we'll branch out to cover states nearby.
Pennsylvania Weekend Trips
When it comes to weekend trips within the state of Pennsylvania, we have to be upfront and state that we cannot do the state justice. With 67 counties spanning over 46,000 square miles, it would take us quite a bit of time to explore all PA has to offer. The following are a few places to consider when planning a weekend trip in the state and are a mix of recommendations from our own travels and via our friends at UncoveringPA!
The Laurel Highlands
The Laurel Highlands is one of those spots that is easily reached from Pittsburgh in a day trip but also covers such a vast distance that it could be a weekend trip in its own right. From the Laurel Highlands ski resorts in the winter, Frank Lloyd Wright houses such as Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob, numerous parks like Ohiopyle, white water rafting in the summer, amusement parks like Idlewild & Soakzone, or historical spots like Fort Ligonier or Bushy Run Battlefield, there is truly enough to see in this stretch of Pennsylvania to fill up multiple weekends without ever running out. So make a trip out of it!
Looking for where to stay in the Laurel Highlands? If staying north, how about checking out The Campbell House B&B in Ligonier or if staying near Ohiopyle, perhaps a stay at the luxury resort Nemacolin? Or, check out prices for Airbnbs in the Laurel Highlands too!
Erie is a close, two-hour drive for most in Pittsburgh, and while this one could easily be visited in a long day trip, we think it is best explored over the course of a weekend. Why? Well, apart from being perfectly situated on the lakes, Erie is home to a number of wineries, the Erie Ale Trail (full of some stellar breweries), and the gorgeous Presque Isle State Park– a peninsula on the lake featuring beaches and beautiful nature. Definitely far more to enjoy than just a day trip!
Looking for where to stay in Erie? For those who want to be right on the water, the Sheraton Erie Bayfront is a great option. Otherwise, Cobblestone Hotel & Suites is a few blocks away as well! Or, check out prices for an Airbnb in Erie for something a bit different.
Harrisburg / Hershey
As the state's capital, Harrisburg offers a number of historical sights to check out including the Capitol building and Broad Street Market (one of the oldest continually operating farmer's markets in the country). The city's location in central PA (about 3 1/2 hours from Pittsburgh) also makes it a great spot for restaurants and breweries, with the popular Troeg's Brewery calling the region home. Just on the outskirts of Harrisburg is Hershey, home to the famed amusement park and resort offering many Hershey-themed dining options as well.
Looking for where to stay in Harrisburg? Check out The Manor on Front– a great value option just a short walk from downtown or The Hershey Lodge for a Hershey resort experience. Or, if you want a homestay, check out prices on Airbnb!
Cherry Springs may not be the most well-known weekend trip from Pittsburgh, but it is one of the most interesting. That is because this spot is known as the darkest location east of the Mississippi in the USA, making it a great spot to go stargazing! But, when visiting this one, we highly recommend spending multiple nights as your ability to view the stars may be impacted by the weather (worth it for the roughly 4-hour drive, too). On our last visit, we booked too far in advance and ended up being rained out!
Looking for where to stay in Cherry Springs? We recommend checking out the options on Airbnb!
Out of all the weekend trip options featured in this guide, Philadelphia is among the most historical (and the furthest at almost exactly 5 hours). The birthplace of the USA occurred in Independence Hall, and there are many more historical sites to see when visiting. In between, hitting up restaurants to enjoy the iconic Philly cheesesteak is an absolute must as well! (And as far as the Pat's vs Geno's debate is concerned, it is no contest- Geno's for us)!
Looking for where to stay in Philadelphia? Check out Stay Alfred at the Broderick– a great value in downtown Philly and just steps away from Independence Hall (parking is on your own)! Looking for an Airbnb instead? Click here to check out prices in the city!
The Poconos is another popular natural area in Pennsylvania, much like the Laurel Highlands, that is known for hiking, waterfalls, and reconnecting with nature. At 4 1/2 hours from Pittsburgh, this one is a bit of a drive, but those who make the journey will be rewarded with a stunning weekend out in nature!
Almost every American should be well aware of the Battle of Gettysburg that occurred over three days in 1863. It is often considered to be the bloodiest battle ever on American soil, and during the course of the fight over 40,000 troops lost their lives. Today the site lives on as a battlefield memorial, and at approximately 3 1/2 hours from Pittsburgh is a great weekend trip idea for those who are looking to learn more about Civil War history in the state.
Looking for where to stay in Gettysburg? Check out the Inn at Cemetery Hill or possibly an Airbnb. Or, to make it a bigger trip, stay in Frederick, Maryland (below), to have a base for more historical Civil War spots!
Lancaster County, located about four hours east of Pittsburgh, is known primarily for being Pennsylvania Dutch Country and home to a thriving Amish community, covered bridges, and a whole lot more. But while this is often one of the biggest draws to this part of the state, Lancaster city is also home to a modest restaurant scene, the National Watch and Clock Museum, and a whole lot more- making it a great weekend trip.
For more things to do in Pennsylvania, click the previous link to check out more from our friends at UncoveringPA!
Trips Outside of Pennsylvania
For weekend trip ideas outside of Pennsylvania in the surrounding states, we recommend checking out the following destinations and articles on our sister site, Living the Dream. These destinations are all reached within driving distance, too!
We may give Cleveland a lot of grief because of the Browns, but all sports situations aside, the city is actually quite the fun place to visit (and at just 2 hours away from Pittsburgh, an easy weekend trip too!). Cleveland is home to a wonderful assortment of breweries, modern restaurants, the iconic Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and is conveniently located on the shore of Lake Erie- giving a number of options for those who want to have a weekend trip somewhat close to home!
Looking for where to stay in Cleveland? Check out the Hilton Cleveland right in the heart of downtown near the Rock Hall or Clifford House B&B in the trendy Ohio City neighborhood. Or, if Airbnb is more your style, there are a number options in Cleveland too.
Looking for a great Cleveland blog for more ideas? Check out Cleveland Traveler which is run by a good friend of ours!
Keeping up the trend of nearby sports cities that we can be somewhat considered rivals with, Cincinnati is an easy 4 1/2 hour drive from Pittsburgh. Between visiting for the sports teams (perhaps watching the Steelers beat the Bengals, or the Reds and Pirates being awful together), enjoying the city's stellar breweries, or simply marveling at the architecture along the Ohio River (including the Roebling Bridge, whose wire support system was created just outside of Pittsburgh), you'll have a great time exploring a city that isn't all too different from Pittsburgh when visiting here!
Are thrill rides more your speed? The 3 hour trip to Sandusky, Ohio, to visit Cedar Point is a must. This one is often considered to be the Rollercoaster Capital of the World (although is now #2 in terms of coaster count) and is home to some of the tallest, longest, and fastest rollercoasters you'll ever ride. While you can easily visit this park in a single day, a weekend trip is a must in order to experience everything they truly have to offer!
Looking for where to stay near Cedar Point? We always stay just steps from the park at the Hotel Breakers! While we are a fan of this hotel due to its proximity, there are a number of Airbnb options in Sandusky too!
Depending on where you live in the city, you could possibly make it all the way to Toronto in just over five hours of driving. However, as we're keeping this list to feature spots you can visit in under five hours of driving, we're going to stop just a bit closer at one of the largest waterfalls in the region- Niagara Falls!
This massive waterfall can be reached on the US side in just about 3 hours and 45 minutes from Pittsburgh and throw on a bit more to cross the border and you can be on the (admittedly more beautiful) Canadian side to see the raw power of nature for yourself- just don't forget your passport.
Looking for a place to stay near Niagara Falls? Check out Hyatt Place Niagara Falls on the New York Side or Sheraton on the Falls on the Canadian side. There are also a number of Airbnbs on the US and Canadian sides as well!
Upstate New York
To us, when we think of upstate New York what we specifically are thinking about is the area including Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse. This area was home to a lot of historical figures like Susan B Anthony and Frederick Douglass, is enjoying an explosion in modern breweries thanks to recent state law changes, and is also home to some of the most stunning New York waterfalls we've seen. For those who like city, nature, food, and it all, a trip through upstate New York is a fabulous option all within 3 to 5 hours of driving depending on how far you want to travel!
The Finger Lakes
In a way, we could call the Finger Lakes part of Upstate New York and be fine, but this particular stretch of New York (about 5 hours from Pittsburgh) is home to beautiful lakes, many impressive Finger Lakes wineries, Watkins Glen State Park (one of our favorite state parks anywhere we've been), and a whole lot more. As such, you could spend an entire weekend checking out the lakes and wineries all without visiting any other city. Or, if you want just a bit more, head to Corning on your way home to stop at the iconic Corning Museum of Glass.
Looking for where to stay in the Finger Lakes? Check out the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel on the shores of Seneca Lake, steps away from Watkins Glen, and a short drive from some of our favorite wineries like Boundary Breaks and Hermann J Weimer! There are also a wealth of Airbnb options right on the lake as well.
Washington DC is the kind of city that doesn't need much explanation. The nation's capital is home to some of the most impressive memorials, monuments, and museums in all of the USA, and the short 4-hour drive from Pittsburgh makes for a great weekend trip to take in as much history as possible!
Looking for where to stay in Washington DC? Check out the great value at the Holiday Inn Washington-Capitol- just steps away from the National Mall! Or, check out some Airbnb options right in the heart of the city.
Looking for more in DC and nearby? Check out the travel blog DC Travel Magazine run by a friend of ours!
We have to admit, our interest in visiting Baltimore is often less on history and more on the food. The city, located just 4 hours from Pittsburgh, is a hub for all things seafood (namely crabs) and serves up a number of options at the many local restaurants, famous Lexington Market, and more.
At first glance, Frederick, MD, may not seem like your conventional spot to visit, but this one offers a strategic location to use as a base for trips to Washington DC, Baltimore, Gettysburg, and nearby Harper's Ferry as well- all just 30 to 60 minutes away (while Frederick itself is only just over 3 hours from Pittsburgh)! The city boasts a beautiful creek path, vibrant downtown full of shopping and dining options, and its own unique civil war history on its own right (be sure to visit the National Museum of Civil War Medicine), making it a great spot to enjoy for a few days on its own, or at night after returning from many of the other historical cities nearby.
Have a suggestion for another great weekend trip from Pittsburgh? Comment below to share so we can add it to this guide!