With summer coming to a close, people across Pennsylvania are planning last-minute weekend trips before colder weather arrives. We can help — the CDT has spent the past few months finding hidden gems across the commonwealth for our 2023 North, South, Centre travel series.
From ghost towns to hiking trails, elephant emporiums to amusement parks, here are all the places we’ve featured this summer. Many of them are still fun options for the fall.
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DelGrosso’s Water Park
When the DelGrosso family was looking to expand their pasta sauce making operation, they found the most unlikely place — an amusement park. Seventy-six years later, the pasta sauce factory has moved across the street and the park has expanded to include the nation’s only Italian-themed waterpark.
The Tipton park is open weekends-only through Sept. 24, but is open on Labor Day.
Yellow Dog Ghost Town
This former mining company town outside of Kittanning was left abandoned for years after residents moved away. Now, it’s a place for beginner urban explorers to wander without the risk of trespassing.
Discovered during the construction of U.S. Route 22, this Huntingdon cave has been a roadside attraction for nearly a century. The 75-minute tour shows both the Lincoln Caverns and Whisper Rocks, detailing the millions of years of history in their formations.
“Ghosts and Goblins” haunted cave events are held throughout October.
Heisler’s Cloverleaf Dairy
Located in the “middle of nowhere,” this hidden gem destination has its own creamery, mini golf course, arcade and restaurant. Although hard to find — in Walker Township, Schuylkill County — the dairy is an oasis filled with food, mini-golf and more.
The Kinzua Bridge in McKean County was the longest and tallest railroad bridge ever built in 1882 and once called the Eighth Wonder of the World. Now the remains of the bridge have been converted into a pedestrian walkway and viewing platform over the valley.
Bellefonte KOA Campground
Named campground of the year by Kampground of America, this stop off of Interstate 80 offers much more than your average RV campground. The camp boasts sand volleyball courts, a pool, fishing pond, a jumping pillow, a bike park and more.
Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium
Featuring more than 12,000 elephants, the owners of this roadside stop in in Orrtanna, Adams County have been collecting items featuring their favorite animals for generations. Aside from elephants, the 4,000-square-foot store sells candy and homemade fudge.
Miniature Horse Farm
This miniature horse farm in Port Matilda lets you pet, ride and even paint the horses. You can even take a quiz online to see which of the four miniature horses is most like you.
National Civil War Museum
The National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg is home to more than 4,400 artifacts and 21,000 archival pieces detailing the history of the nation’s bloodiest conflict. Located near the remains of Camp Curtin, the museum has dozens of exhibits that explain the causes and effects of the Civil War.
This Hamburg store has nearly a million cigars inside its 12,000-square-foot shop. With cigars from $3 to $2,000, this store has something everyone, from newbies to experts.
The Thousand Steps Trail
This former path for quarry miners has 1,037 sandstone steps over a half-mile, with 850 feet of elevation. The steps are part of the 85-mile Standing Stone trail that connects Tuscarora Trail to the Mid State Trail.
This Stillwater Airbnb has a bubble tent perfect for stargazing this fall. The tent has a heater and a queen-sized bed so guests can sleep under the stars at night.