In the last installment of the Mid-Atlantic portion of our trip, those who are on The Greatest Road Trip Ever Taken fill their lungs with fresh air to set out for Pennsylvania. If there is a state to rival the District for history, Pennsylvania would be a contender.
The namesake of William Penn, The Keystone State is larger than its surrounding states. That’s a fact that belies its relatively small size. Pennsylvania is the 17th smallest state in the Union. It is the fourth most populated. An urban State, for sure.
Pennsylvania is bordered by New York to the north and Lake Erie to the northwest. To the south, Pennsylvania shares borders with West Virginia and Maryland. Delaware bounds Pennsylvania on the southeast and New Jersey is on Pennsylvania’s doorstep to the east.
Did we mention American history? Perhaps the best example is found at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. That’s where the signing of the Declaration of Independence took place
During the American Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg was fought in the south-central region of the state. Valley Forge near Philadelphia served as General Washington’s headquarters during the bitter winter of 1777–78.
The capital of Pennsylvania is Harrisburg. The largest city is Philadelphia, which is joined by Pittsburgh, Allentown, and Erie as cities exceeding 100,000 in population. Philly is almost five times the size of Pittsburgh, which is second in population.
The highest point in Pennsylvania is atop 3,213 foot Mt. Davis, located almost astride the Maryland border, in the southwestern part of the State. The lowest point is sea level along the Delaware River. The geographic center of Pennsylvania is a matter of some conjecture, but the best scholarship sets it 2.5 miles SW of Bellefonte.
Stretching 280 miles west to east, residents of Pennsylvania on either end of the state have a distinctly different worldview from each other. Pittsburghers have a Midwestern sensibility, while Philadelphians are hardcore east coasters. Both are passionate about hometowns, sports, and culture.
Major Airports in Pennsylvania:
Lehigh Valley International serves over a half million passengers a year. Atlanta is the most common destination.
Harrisburg International greets about 600,000 passengers every year. Chicago and Charlotte share most popular destination honors.
Pittsburgh International serves the needs of three million customers annually. Many of them are traveling to Atlanta.
Philadelphia International is the 15th busiest airport in the world and enplanes almost 16,000,000 flyers a year. Atlanta is the most common domestic destination. London is the most common international destination.
Top Movies Filmed in Pennsylvania:
The Sixth Sense (1999)
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Groundhog Day (1993)
President: James Buchanan
Politics/Military: George McCellan, George C. Marshall, and Alexander Haig.
Actors: Jimmy Stewart, Will Smith, Kevin Hart, Amanda Seyfried, Sabrina Carpenter, Tom Mix, Gene Kelly, John Barrymore, Bryshere Gray, Bob Saget, Bradley Cooper, and Bill Cosby.
Entertainers: Ethel Waters, Payton Ackerman, Prodigy, Mac Miller, Chris Motionless, Daya, Meek Mill, Steven Vincent Benet, Mario Lanza, Marilyn Horne, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, W. C. Fields, Kendall Vertes, Paige Hyland, Pink, Nia Sioux Frasier, Brooke Hyland, Martha Graham, Gelsey Kirkland, Chloe Lukasiak, Taylor Swift, Maddie Ziegler, Mackenzie Ziegler, and Lil Uzi Vert.
Authors: Louisa May Alcott, Steven Vincent Benet, John Updike, Hezekiah Niles, and Gertrude Stein.
Athletes: Reggie Jackson, Arnold Palmer, Tara Lipinski, Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Kobe Bryant, and Jim Kelly.
Weird and Wonderful Facts About Pennsylvania
Hershey is considered the Chocolate Capital of the United States. To the people whose mouths are, as we speak, filled with candy, this comes as no surprise.
Pittsburgh was the location of the nation’s first service station. It opened in 1913.
Philadelphia is where the first computer was built in 1943.
The world’s first oil well was drilled in Titusville in 1859.
Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag in Pennsylvania.
Each year on Christmas Day the “Crossing of the Delaware” is reenacted at Washington Crossing.
Pennsylvania is the only original colony not bordered by the Atlantic Ocean.
State College Area High School was the first high school in the America to teach driver’s education. The program began in 1958.
The city of North East PA is the home to Welch’s juices and jams.
Pennsylvania is the first state to list their website URL on its license plate.
In Hazleton, there is a law on the books prohibiting a person from sipping a carbonated drink while lecturing students in a school auditorium.
Let’s take a Trip Through Pennsylvania:
Get up! Get up! We’re going to cross this state from west to east. We’ll get to see some history, eat some chocolate (Oh, you’re up and dressed!) and a TastyKake (Wow! You’re already in the car!)
We’re starting our 313 mile trip in Pittsburgh. Built on the broad shoulders of the steel industry employees (Pittsburgh’s most famous sports team is called the Steelers, after all.) this city has been rebuilt and remade with renewable energy and aesthetics in mind. There is plenty of aesthetic with which to work. The confluence of the Allegheny, and Monongahela Rivers, forming the Ohio River makes for a lush setting.
We are going to take the Duquesne Incline to get a look around. It is a 160+-year-old trolley incline that climbs Mt. Washington across the river from downtown Pittsburgh. The views are fantastic, and there are some really good restaurants are at the top.
Later, we visit the Carnegie Museum of Art. One of the nation’s finest art museums, it benefits from contributions made by the Carnegie Foundation. The steel barons that were Pittsburgh in the early part of the 20th century helped out, as well. We’ll stay at the Hampton Inn Pittsburgh-Mcknight Rd. for $98 a night.
Away we go the next day. We are going to drive through some of America’s truly bucolic landscape in Amish country. Adherents of a lifestyle all their own the Amish want to be left alone with their beliefs. We will respect their wishes.
Hersheypark in Hershey, PA is our next stop. It was a 215-mile trip without stopping, but the wait was worth it. A year-round theme park, Hersheypark tells the tale of the famous chocolate and throws in an amusement park to boot. Have you ever had (wait for it), deep fried peanut butter and jelly? You will today!
We didn’t get into Hershey until late afternoon. So plan to stay two nights at the White Rose Motel, for $64 a night.
Just 95 miles east finds us in Philly, and what a wondrous place it is! Of all the cities we will visit, only Boston is as chockablock with history. I can’t wait to show you around. We’ll hit Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and Christ Church. That’s where we will sit in the same pew George Washington inhabited.
We’ll finish the trip at the National Constitution Center. It is an exhibit showing how the document is designed to be for all the people. As a living document, it continues to grow and breathe new rights for the citizens of this great nation.
Lodging in major cities is expensive. We have already learned that in cities like Miami and New Orleans.We will need a minimum of two nights in Philadelphia. Three would be better. We like the Alexander Inn for convenience and value for $134 a night.
Pennsylvania is a fascinating state. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we enjoyed bringing it to you.
Next up: New Jersey.