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STORY IDEAS & FACTS

Need some fast facts or a good story idea? Look no further!

Check out the story ideas, did-you-knows and tourism statistics we think are useful in creating your story. There are so many unique Laurel Highlands story ideas to choose from including high adventure, world-class cultural attractions, classic family fun, delicious dining and locally-crafted spirits. Of course, this information doesn't cover everything, so please contact us for additional story ideas and data.

View and download our 2017 Story Sheet!

ABOUT THE LAUREL HIGHLANDS

A magnificent mountainous region, the Laurel Highlands spans 3,000 square miles in southwestern Pennsylvania. Located just east of Pittsburgh, the beautiful four-season destination offers some of the most spectacular natural scenery, outstanding outdoor recreation, historic sites and attractions, classic family activities and world-class resorts. Notable destinations within the region include three architectural masterpieces by Frank Lloyd Wright – Fallingwater, Kentuck Knob, and Duncan House – Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Flight 93 National Memorial, Idlewild and Soak Zone, whitewater rafting at Ohiopyle State Park and more.

Located within 200 miles of the major metropolitan areas of Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland and Washington D.C., the Laurel Highlands can be easily accessed from exits 67, 75, 91 and 110 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

What’s New for 2018?

The Tower of Voices at Flight 93 National Memorial

On September 11, 2001, four commercial airliners were hijacked in a planned attack against the United States. Two jet liners were flown into the World Trade Center Twin Towers and a third aircraft into the Pentagon. A fourth aircraft, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed into an open field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, in the Laurel Highlands. The 40 passengers and crew of Flight 93 had time to realize that this was unlike any previous hijacking, and they developed a plan to try to take back the plane and not let it reach its intended target, Washington, D.C. They succeeded in this effort, but, unfortunately, lost their lives.

The final phase of the Flight 93 memorial, The Tower of Voices will begin with a “soundbreaking” event on Sept. 10, 2017. Once completed in September 2018, the Tower will contain 40 uniquely pitched chimes, a symbolic representation of the eternal voices of the passengers and crew members of Flight 93.

The Great Allegheny Passage Turns 40 in 2018

What started as just a small bike trail between two charming Laurel Highlands towns has grown into a phenomenon that has beckoned bikers and hikers from all over the world. A converted rail-trail, which once felt the heavy rumble of freight trains, the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) stretches 150 miles from Pittsburgh, through the Laurel Highlands and finally to Cumberland, Md. There, the GAP connects with the C&O Canal towpath, extending all the way to the Georgetown district of Washington, D.C. for a total length of 334.5 miles. Gear up for a long-haul adventure or pick a section and bike from trail town to trail town for shorter family-friendly trips.

New Pete Dye Golf Course Now Open at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort

The new Pete Dye-designed golf course, Shepherd’s Rock, significantly enhances Nemacolin’s reputation as a premier golf destination as it will join the celebrated Dye-designed Mystic Rock course, former home of the PGA TOUR’s 84 Lumber Classic and ranked in the top-60 in Golf Digest’s “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses.” The Shepherd’s Rock layout rivals the highest-rated courses in the country and is the perfect companion to Mystic Rock.

Arts & Culture the Wright Way

The Wright Kind of Getaway

See two mountain retreats designed by legendary American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and spend the night in another. Stand on the canti-levered terraces of Fallingwater overlooking the rushing waterfall while basking in the magical natural setting that inspired Wright. Visit Kentuck Knob, a stunning home built from cypress, stone and copper with a sweeping view of the Youghiogheny River Gorge. End the Wright day with an overnight stay at the secluded Duncan House, tucked deep in the woods.

Inspiring Individuals

Won't You Be Our Neighbor

“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Won’t you be, won’t you be my neighbor?” Fred Rogers began his PBS children’s television show with this song every weekday from 1968 to 2001, a total of 895 shows. An educator, minister, songwriter, author and television producer/host, Rogers is best known for creating and hosting Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Tour the Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College, where you will see artifacts from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, including his iconic cardigan sweater and tennis shoes! Take a selfie with a statue of Mr. Rogers in downtown Latrobe, his hometown and birthplace of the banana split. Spend a day at Idlewild & Soak Zone where Daniel Tiger and friends invite you and your kiddos to ride the trolley through the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

All Things Arnold Palmer in the Laurel Highlands

A humble and exceptionally talented man from Latrobe, Palmer loved his hometown and his memory will carry on for generations to come. Explore all things Arnie in the Laurel Highlands, including the playing a round of golf at the prestigious Latrobe Country Club or the first course he ever designed, Indian Lake; discover his memorabilia at SpringHill Suites, get a photo with his statue at the Palmer Regional Airport and explore the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve named in honor of his late wife.

Unique Events and Attractions

Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp

Football season officially kicks off for Steelers Nation with the start of the Steelers annual summer training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe at the end of July through mid-August. See why this is the favorite NFL camp experience for one of America's premier pro football writers, Peter King of Sports Illustrated.

The Great American Banana Split Festival

Join in the fun at the Annual Banana Split Festival in August which celebrates the gooey scrumptious summer treat that was created in Latrobe in 1904.

Mother Earth News Fair

The pages of the longest-running, environmental lifestyle publication comes to life each September during the annual Mother Earth News Fair. A family-oriented sustainable lifestyle event, the Mother Earth News Fair features dozens of practical, hands-on demonstrations and workshops from the leading authorities on: Renewable Energy, Small-scale Agriculture, Gardening, Green Building, Green Transportation and Natural Health.

Pennsylvania Maple Festival

Maple season festivities culminate with the annual Pennsylvania Maple Festival in Meyersdale, a.k.a. “Maple City USA.” The festival features a variety of activities including maple syrup production demonstrations, live entertainment, quilt show, tea with Queen Maple, children’s activities, and tractor and farm equipment shows. Not to be missed are the Grand Feature Parade, Lions Club pancake breakfasts, and “Legend of the Magic Water,” a historical pageant brought to life by more than 100 local residents to depict the discovery of maple syrup as well as the history of Meyersdale through song, dance and narration.

Big Mac Museum

Tour the unique museum, where the inventor of the Big Mac is honored with this exhibit, just off the Irwin, PA Turnpike exit 57. The Big Mac was invented right here in the Laurel Highlands.

WHERE Scenic Beauty And HISTORY MEET

Small Town Charmer

Ligonier is a charming town where dozens of specialty shops grace tree-lined streets and rolling horse country provide the perfect country getaway. Favorite spots include Idlewild & SoakZone - voted the No.1 Best Kid's Park in the World, as well as historic Fort Ligonier and Laurel Mountain, home to the steepest ski slope in Pennsylvania. This picturesque town hosts many special events during the year from an ice festival in the winter, outdoor antique shows in summer to a Scottish fall festival in early autumn.

Historic Routes through the Laurel Highlands

Stretching from New York City to San Francisco, America's first transcontinental highway was designed for motorists. The Lincoln Highway in the Laurel Highlands is particularly rich with history, scenic beauty and small towns that have flourished because of the historic route, with a 5,000 sq. ft. museum is now open in Latrobe as the centerpiece for the Laurel Highlands' Lincoln Highway story. This museum enhances the Lincoln Highway Roadside Museum and other landmarks.

Travel the 90-mile National Road through southwest Pennsylvania. See historic sites and learn about historic events, such as the Fort Necessity National Battlefield or Braddock's Grave. During the spring, there is a National Road Festival that celebrates the first federally funded highway and features encampments, arts and crafts, food, historic tours and a period wagon train.

The 68-mile Laurel Highlands Scenic Byway is the perfect way to take in the view that the Laurel Highlands has to offer. Park near the waterfalls at Ohiopyle State Park along the way or stop by Ligonier for some small town charm. Travel across the picturesque farmland, deep into forests, and through small towns, such as historic Ligonier. The byway passes Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece, Fallingwater®, which offers even more breathtaking views.

From Wild to Mild: Something for Every Outdoor Enthusiast

Whitewater Rafting on the Youghiogheny River

The heart of the fun in the Laurel Highlands is the fast-flowing Youghiogheny River, which attracts whitewater boaters from spring to early fall. With Class III and IV rapids, the seven and a half mile Lower Yough is the busiest section of whitewater east of the Mississippi River.

But you don’t have to be an experienced paddler to join in on the adrenaline-pumping fun. The section known as the Middle Yough features Class I and II rapids, making it ideal for novice kayakers, families with young children, and anglers. Climb on board an express trip for a shorter ride down the river that doesn't take up the whole day, or jam-pack an entire weekend with fun on water.

Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail

The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is a 70-mile backpacking and hiking trail in Western Pennsylvania. One of the most celebrated Pennsylvania hiking trails for its varied terrain and wondrous beauty, the trail runs from Ohiopyle State Park to the Laurel Ridge State Park meeting the 1,000-foot Conemaugh Gorge.

On the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, you'll pass eight overnight areas approximately every 8 to 10 miles. All are equipped with fresh water, Adirondack-style shelters, tent pads and comfort stations. Whether or not you stop along the hiking trail is up to you. But, you'll never be far from a place to rest, relax, or call it a day.

Glamp it Up - Luxury Camping

Glamping - one of the hottest lodging trends is right here in the Laurel Highlands on Campbell Farm. Love Mother Nature but do not want to give up life's creature comforts? Then luxury camping is for you! Curl up in a comfy bed under the stars - protected by a tent while taking in an amazing view of the Laurel Highlands from an historic Appalachian farmstead. Soak in a claw foot tub al fresco, curtains provided, but not needed, no one will see you except for a squirrel or two.

NATURAL BEAUTY

Fall Foliage That Rivals New England

Mountain vistas, historic highways, fertile farmlands and thousands of acres of unspoiled state parks, Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands is the ideal destination for a fun, family leaf-peeping getaway. The region’s towering trees are ablaze in a spectacular palette of red, orange, yellow, russet and bronze colors. Take a drive under a canopy of colors on scenic byways and through picturesque covered bridges. In addition to the wonderful foliage, autumn also brings fantastic fall festivals, harvest goods, haunted amusements and more.

Pennsylvania's Highest Mountain Elevation

See some of the Mid-Atlantic's most incredible views and rugged natural landscape from PA's highest mountain ridges (Mount Davis in Forbes State Forest 3,213-ft.) Hike the nationally-acclaimed Laurel Highlands Hiking trail a 70-mile hiking and backpacking trail with overnight Adirondack-style shelters. Climb to the top of the lookout tower at Mt. Davis and see three states. The region's high elevation means snow and lots of it! The Laurel Highlands can receive more than 150 inches during a winter season which is great for Alpine and Nordic activities.

Pennsylvania's Deepest River Gorge

The frothy waters of the Youghiogheny River which proved challenging enough to stop George Washington at the Ohiopyle Falls is today a water enthusiast's destination. From Class I-IV white water rafting, kayaking and fishing, the Yough is the focal point for the 20,500-acre Ohiopyle State Park. Not to miss are Ohiopyle's Meadow Run Natural Waterslides named one of Travel + Leisure's Top Ten Swimming Holes in the Country for Ditching the Pool Crowds!

Laurel Caverns

A natural calcareous sandstone cave, Laurel Caverns is a three mile labyrinth with ceilings anywhere from 10 to 50 feet high. The largest cave in Pennsylvania, Laurel Caverns sits beneath a private 435 acre geological preserve. The cave is also the largest bat hibernaculum, which is why the caves are closed for the hibernation period, November through April.

World-Class Resorts

Expect the Unexpected at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort

Sprawled across 2,000 wooded acres, the secluded Nemacolin Woodlands Resort has earned the distinct Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond ranking as a luxury and family resort destination. From the resort's acclaimed golf courses and spa to every outdoor activity imaginable, a $50 million art collection and Pennsylvania's largest private wine cellar are just a few samples of its abundant amenities. Most notable are Nemacolin's signature luxurious accommodations and superb cuisine.

Pennsylvania's Outdoor Adventure Playground - Seven Springs Mountain Resort

Only in the Laurel Highlands will you find Pennsylvania's largest ski and year-round resort. Seven Springs has 33 slopes and trails on 285 skiable acres, seven nationally-acclaimed terrain parks and the region's largest snow tubing park. Having established itself as one of the most popular winter sports destinations on the East Coast, you'll love the activities and special events that Seven Springs offers during the winter, spring, summer and fall seasons. Zip through the Laurel Highlands on Seven Springs' Screaming Hawk Zipline or glide through the tops of majestic trees via the Laurel Ridgeline Canopy Experience. Relax at the Trillium Spa, a sanctuary like none other and end the day with a delicious dinner at Helen's - A Wine Spectator Award Restaurant, located in the resort's original charming chalet. The resort's other amenities include an 18-hole golf course, sporting clays, Segway tours, Alpine Slide, fly fishing, horseback trails and much more.