Our editor makes the case for visiting the “other” side of Pennsylvania.
What is it about Western Pennsylvania that inspires such indifference among Main Liners? And I’m not talking about Harrisburg. I’m referring to the part of our great commonwealth that exists beyond the Blue Mountain and Kittatinny Mountain tunnels just past Newburg. At this point along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the Alleghenies make their stunning first impression. And it doesn’t let up all the way to Pittsburgh.
My family and I ventured out that way recently, spending two unforgettable days in the Laurel Highlands region southeast of Pittsburgh, which is spotlighted this month in travel editor Marilyn Odesser-Torpey’s feature, “Leaf-Peeper’s Guide.” The mountains of the Highlands are the largest in the state. At 3,213 feet, Mount Davis in Somerset County is Pennsylvania’s loftiest point.
The Poconos may have their charms and convenience, but an additional two hours of driving gets you the sort of geological drama you won’t find off the Northeast Extension. Our sunset view of Uniontown and the surrounding countryside from the Historic Summit Inn high atop Chestnut Ridge was nothing short of mesmerizing. Within 15 miles are Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater house, Fort Necessity National Battlefield, numerous hiking and biking trails, and Ohiopyle State Park, a thriving river-sports hub.
Once you get past the city’s obsession with those pesky sports teams, Pittsburgh has plenty to offer, including a walkable downtown, the Carnegie and Andy Warhol museums, the Duquesne Incline cable car that scales Mount Washington, and Point State Park, where the famed three rivers meet.