Story Ideas

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 2019 Story Sheet!

About the Laurel Highlands

A magnificent mountainous region, the Laurel Highlands spans 3,000 square miles in southwestern Pennsylvania. Located 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 four architectural masterpieces by Frank Lloyd Wright – Fallingwater, Kentuck Knob, Mäntylä 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.

Discover all that the Laurel Highlands has to offer! Contact me for more information or to plan a press visit.

Anna Weltz, Director of Public Relations

Anna Weltz
Director of Public Relations

Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau®
120 East Main Street
Ligonier, PA 15658
724-238-5661 Ext. 108
aweltz@laurelhighlands.org

View and download our 2019 Story Sheet!

What’s New for 2019?

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Mäntylä Moves to Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands

Mantyla at Polymath Park

Sixty years after the death of America’s most prominent architect, Frank Lloyd Wright’s legacy lives on, not only at his landmarks like Fallingwater and Taliesen West, but also in architecture schools across the world. Wright’s legacy also lives on with Tom and Heather Papinchak, owners of Polymath Park, an architectural park tucked away in the Laurel Highlands, where Wright fans can tour and stay overnight in two of his designs, including the newly-rebuilt Mäntylä house, and two homes designed by his apprentice, Peter Berndtson.

Built for the Lindholm family in Cloquet, Minn., Mäntylä had been on the market for many years and was in danger of demolition due to encroaching development. The property owners donated the home and all of its original furnishings to the Usonian Preservation Inc., a non-profit associated with Polymath Park, in hopes that Mäntylä would find a new life. Thanks to the Papinchaks, it did. The L-shaped home with a distinct prow is now tucked away under the towering trees of Polymath Park and will open to visitors for tours and overnight lodging in May 2019.

Just a short scenic drive from Polymath Park are Wright’s masterpiece, Fallingwater, and his grand Usonian, Kentuck Knob, making the Laurel Highlands a must-visit for architecture fans.

Celebrate the American Family Vacation Road Trip

Lincoln Highway Experience

The first transcontinental highway in the United States, the Lincoln Highway was created in 1913. Today, it stretches from Times Square in New York City to San Francisco, with 70 scenic miles weaving through Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands. The creation of the historic road meant vacation destinations weren’t limited to locations serviced by the railroad. The options were endless and families could explore the country at their own pace.

Take a step back in time at the Lincoln Highway Experience museum to explore the history, retro memorabilia, vintage roadside signage and a stunning new expansion featuring a beautifully restored 1938 diner, a 1937 Packard-120, vintage tourist cabin and filling station. Added bonus – every admission includes a slice of pie and cup of coffee in the vintage diner.

A Taste of Laurel Highlands History: West Overton Distilling Company

West Overton

After a 100-year hiatus, the whiskey will be flowing once again at West Overton Village. Perhaps best known as the birthplace of 19th century industrialist and financier Henry Clay Frick, West Overton was the original distilling site for Old Overholt Rye Whiskey until Prohibition began in 1920. The Old Overholt brand, said to be the oldest continually maintained whiskey brand, is currently produced by the makers of Jim Beam.

In summer 2019, West Overton Distilling Company will open its doors in what was formerly a stock barn. Visitors will be able to see the distillery process up close, sample the whiskey made onsite and eventually purchase a bottle to enjoy at home.

Westmoreland Museum of American Art is Celebrating 60 Years

Westmoreland Museum of American Art

What started in 1959 as a small yet significant collection of American art is now a modern space with 3,400 objects of fine art from more than four centuries, including a stunning Tiffany window, Homer Winslow pieces and the country’s largest collection of Fraktur, a combination of decorative art and gothic calligraphy on important documents such as birth certificates or marriage licenses. The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, located in downtown Greensburg, does a phenomenal job of honoring the region by showcasing artwork reflecting its industrial and agrarian heritage in the stunning McKenna Gallery. The museum is very kid-friendly, with rooms dedicated for little ones to get creative and hands-on, art classes and summer camps. In late 2018, the museum eliminated the admission fee to ensure the facility is accessible to all.

Living Treasures Wild Animal Park is Getting Three New Friends

Living Treasures Animal Park

At Living Treasures Wild Animal Park, visitors get the chance to reach out and touch wildlife, give the animals a snack and take pictures. Furry friends include marmosets, fennec foxes and the popular two-toed sloth. But as animal lovers know, there is always room for one more. In 2019, Living Treasures will develop a habitat for three binturongs, also known as bearcats.

Tour the New History Education Center at Historic Hanna’s Town

Sharon Speelman, Historical Hanna, Somerset

In early 2019, Historic Hanna's Town will unveil its brand new history education center, which will serve many purposes to visitors. For the first time, items will be taken out of storage and be displayed, thanks to the brand new exhibit space. The exhibit gallery will also showcase items from other regional historic groups. The multipurpose room will be utilized for year-round programs, classes and events for all ages. And as if the center isn't cool enough, a laboratory will be home to significant portions of the historical society's archaeological artifacts, available for research by professionals and students.

Inspiring Individuals

Honoring the Heroes of Flight 93

Tower of Voices

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 93-foot tall Tower of Voices was dedicated in September 2018. The tower’s 40 uniquely pitched chimes are a symbolic representation of the eternal voices of the passengers and crew members of Flight 93.

Explore the Fred Rogers Trail

Original puppets at Fred Rogers Center in Latrobe

“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 Mister Roger’s Neighborhood with this song every weekday from 1968 to 2001, with a total of 895 episodes. Come visit Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands! Tour the Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College, where you can see artifacts from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, including his iconic cardigan sweater and tennis shoes. Take a selfie with a statue of Fred 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

Laurel Highlands Golf Club

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

Westmoreland Arts and Heritage Festival

Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival

Join in on the fun at the Westmoreland Arts and Heritage Festival, an annual summer celebration held at Twin Lakes Park, near Latrobe, Pa. In 2019, the festival will be celebrating its 45th year. There is more than enough to do during the festival weekend, including more than 50 live performances, 180 arts and crafts booths, heritage and history demonstrations, children’s activities and tons of ethnic food booths. In addition to art exhibitions and sales, the festival hosts “FestivalCon” for superhero and anime fans and a juried poetry and short story contest.

Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp

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.

Mother Earth News Fair

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

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.

Adventure Around Every Corner

Whitewater Rafting on the Youghiogheny River

Rafting

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

Hiking the Laurel Highlands

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.

Natural Beauty

Fall Foliage That Rivals New England

Fall in the Laurel Highlands

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

Mount Davis View from Tower

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

Meadow Run Waterslides

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!

Largest Cave System in Pennsylvania

Laurel Caverns

A natural calcareous sandstone cave, Laurel Caverns is a three mile labyrinth with ceilings anywhere from 10 to 50 feet high. 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.

SPOTLIGHT