Powdermill Nature Reserve is a Hidden Gem in the Laurel Highlands

One of the fun things about running this site is that we're always discovering new places that were right in front of us but we never noticed. One recent spot we learned about was Powdermill Nature Reserve in Rector, PA (in the heart of the Laurel Highlands), and, naturally, went immediately.

This nature reserve is managed by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and is designed to monitor the wildlife populations found in western Pennsylvania. But beyond their important work, the facility has a few fairly modest exhibits highlighting the animals of the region, a marsh machine to purify wastewater from the facility, periodic lectures and events, and some shorter hiking trails to check out as well!

So while you may not have a terribly long visit at this one, if you are passing by, it is most certainly worth the stop. So let's jump into what you can see a bit more!

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Take a Stroll Through a Sunflower Maze at Maple Bottom Farm

At this point, it should be no surprise that we love checking out sunflowers near Pittsburgh when they're blooming. They're Angie's favorite flower and one of mine as well. 

So when we heard that there was a sunflower maze at Maple Bottom Farm in the Laurel Highlands, I had to go check it out shortly after it opened for the season.

While you may want to temper your expectations for the maze element of this one, this field checks a lot of boxes for us in that it is quite large, gorgeous, and allows for ample opportunities for photos inside the field itself!

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Lincoln Highway Experience – America’s First Cross-Country Road

The Lincoln Highway is America's first transcontinental highway and runs from New York City all the way to San Francisco. 

It was dedicated in 1913 and over the last 100+ years has had a pretty incredible history. To say that this road helped connect the country and opened accessibility to hundreds upon hundreds of small towns and boroughs is not an exaggeration- this one really changed the way Americans work, play, and travel.

While we weren't around to be able to enjoy the Lincoln Highway in its prime, we can get the next best thing in learning all about it at the Lincoln Highway Experience just outside of Latrobe. Next time you're in the area, you'll do well to stop and check this great little museum out!

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Everything You Need to Know About the Laurel Highlands

When it comes to day trips from Pittsburgh, we are fortunate to have a number of great options to consider. If you head east out of the city you come to one of our favorite parts of the state, the Laurel Highlands. 

From New Kensington to the north and Ohiopyle to the South, the region known as the Laurel Highlands covers three counties in southwest Pennsylvania and truly has a lot to see.

In this guide, we break down just about everything you need to know when exploring this gorgeous part of Pennsylvania!

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Experiencing Socially Distant Skiing at Seven Springs

We were hosted by Seven Springs when visiting for this story; however, all opinions are our own.

Much like everything else in 2020 (and onward into early 2021), the current environment has resulted in a number of changes for experiences throughout the region. The ski season at Seven Springs in the Laurel Highlands is no different.

While skiing is inherently an activity that can be enjoyed at a distance, the ski resorts in the Laurel Highlands have made many changes for the 2020-2021 season to ensure guests are safe when off the slopes. Naturally, we wanted to see what it was like towards the start of the season and share some things you can expect if visiting Seven Springs this year!

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15 Cool Apartments, VRBOs, and Airbnbs in the Laurel Highlands

When you think of the Laurel Highlands, you may not realize just how big the area is. This one encompasses Westmoreland, Fayette, and Somerset Counties and runs all the way from New Kensington in the north to Ohiopyle in the South and well past Mount Davis to the East (a solid two-hour drive from Pittsburgh).

As far as rentals are concerned, the vast majority of apartments in the Laurel Highlands are found in the area in and around Ohiopyle thanks to the numerous (and popular) parks that are nearby. Despite this, there are some pretty awesome Airbnbs/VRBOs found elsewhere in the Laurel Highlands too, and we did not want to overlook a few of them (specifically some in the furthest reaches of Somerset County).

As such, while most of the Laurel Highland apartment rentals featured below are within close proximity to Ohiopyle State Park and others nearby, some can be a considerable distance away. As such, we strongly encourage you to check the maps prior to making any bookings as the driving times for stops on your itinerary could be significant if you do not notice this in advance.

Notes: All images are credited to Airbnb/VRBO and their respective hosts. We have not personally stayed in the below rentals, but frequently book apartments when traveling and think the properties have many of the highlights we look for when renting- namely great locations, amenities, and reviews to name a few. These will be highlighted in more detail within the article although booking conditions may have changed since the initial publication. If you are looking for Airbnbs near the ski resorts in the Laurel Highlands, we recommend clicking the previous link to check out that guide specifically for more options tailored to winter visits!

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A Brief Visit to Mount Davis – Pennsylvania’s Highest Point

At 3,213 feet, Mount Davis is recognized as the highest point in Pennsylvania. And at just under two hours driving from Pittsburgh, it is an easy day trip to check off this spot from your Pennsylvania bucket list.

But while Mount Davis' claim to fame is its elevation, I have to admit, visting this one may not be exactly what you are envisioning.

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Laurel Summit State Park – Spruce Flats Bog and the Views

Laurel Summit State Park is an interesting one as it is technically only just six acres in size and can be found within Forbes State Forest surrounding it on all sides.

So while all the highlights you may expect to see when visiting this one are technically in Forbes State Forest, they're often described as being part of Laurel Summit State Park thanks to the trailheads mostly being within Laurel Summit. (The state park maps show this as such as well.)

While this is a somewhat odd naming convention, we're sticking with calling the sights as part of Laurel Summit State Park all the same, and there are several interesting things to see here!

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Laurel Hill State Park – One of Our Favorites in the Highlands

When it comes to hiking in the Laurel Highlands, there are a number of parks to choose from. In fact, this region is home to ten state parks and state forests that cover roughly 120,000 acres- and that is not even counting the smaller parks, runs, and green spaces as well.

As such, when we say that Laurel Hill State Park may be our favorite of them all, we say that with some gravity behind it.

This park is simply stunning!

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15 Airbnb Rentals Near the Ski Slopes in the Laurel Highlands

When you think of hitting the ski slopes in the Laurel Highlands, you may consider visiting in a day trip or perhaps even staying at the lodge on-site (especially at Seven Springs).

But what if you were wanting something a bit more intimate? Well, we are quite fortunate to have a number of great Airbnb rentals located on resort property and within a short drive nearby. So whether you're looking for a ski-on, ski-off townhome rental or a budget-friendly cabin a short drive away, we wanted to highlight some of our favorite options on the popular rental site!

This guide is broken up into sections based on ski resort (Seven Springs, Hidden Valley, and Laurel Mountain) as well as those that are located on-property (ski-in, ski-out style) and those that are located off-property and require a short drive to reach the resorts. 

Notes: All images of rentals are credited to Airbnb and/or the respective hosts. We have not personally stayed in any of the Airbnbs featured in this guide; however, we are frequent Airbnb travelers and selected these properties for having the things we look for when inquiring about stays- namely great reviews, their location, amenities, and more. These will be highlighted in this guide and please remember that amenities can and do change. Finally, if you book a ski-in, ski-out option be sure to visit the lodge when you arrive to pick up your lift ticket prior to hitting the slopes!

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