Make the most of your time in Iron City with this guide to the most incredible day trips from Pittsburgh! You won’t want to plan your visit without this!
Pittsburgh is a fascinating city in Pennsylvania. Once an industrial powerhouse known for its steel production, Pittsburgh has transformed into a hub of technology, healthcare, and education.
The city is characterized by its iconic skyline, traversed by the three rivers – the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio – which converge at Point State Park.
Pittsburgh boasts a rich cultural scene, with world-class museums like the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, the Andy Warhol Museum, and the Heinz History Center. The city’s neighborhoods each carry a unique charm, from the historic Strip District to the vibrant and trendy Lawrenceville.
But what lies outside the city? These day trips from Pittsburgh are great ways to explore the landscapes, history, and culture of the surrounding area.
Whether you want to take rock climbing lessons in a state park or stroll through historic sites in a neighboring city or town, these Pittsburgh day trips have so much to offer.
Venture out to the wilderness areas of Ohio and rural Pennsylvania, or head north to the shores of Lake Erie. Pittsburgh is a lovely city, but some of these amazing day trips should be on your itinerary as well!
Be sure to check out our favorite things to do in Pittsburgh while you’re in the city.
Table of Contents
- 16 Lovely Day Trips From Pittsburgh
- Presque Isle State Park
- Raccoon Creek State Park
- Pine Creek Gorge
- McConnells Mill State Park
- Laurel Highlands
- Laurel Caverns
- Moraine State Park
- Allegheny National Forest
- Seven Springs Mountain Resort
- Beaver Creek State Park
- Nelson Ledges Quarry Park
- Penn’s Cave and Wildlife Park
- Mount Davis
16 Lovely Day Trips From Pittsburgh
From exploring the historic city of Wheeling, West Virginia to hiking through Allegheny National Forest or taking on the Slippery Rock Creek Trail, here are the best day trips from Pittsburgh! If you don’t already have a car, be sure to rent one so you can have freedom and flexibility on the road.
The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars, which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.
Presque Isle State Park
- Distance from Pittsburgh: 127 miles
- Driving time: 1 hour and 55 minutes
Presque Isle State Park, located in Erie, Pennsylvania, is a picturesque natural gem nestled on a sandy peninsula that extends into Lake Erie. Encompassing approximately 3,200 acres, this state park is renowned for its stunning landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and a myriad of recreational opportunities.
The park’s main feature is the 13.5-mile sandy shoreline that provides a perfect setting for sunbathing, beachcombing, and water sports. Presque Isle State Park is also home to several well-maintained trails that wind through lush woodlands, marshes, and scenic overlooks, offering visitors a chance to explore the park’s rich biodiversity.
Beyond its natural beauty, the area boasts a wealth of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Birdwatchers flock to the park for its significance as a crucial migratory bird stopover, making it an ideal destination for spotting a variety of avian species.
Additionally, the park offers opportunities for boating, fishing, and picnicking, making it a popular destination for families on the beautiful Lake Erie.
With its unique blend of recreational options and unspoiled natural beauty, Presque Isle State Park is one of the best day trips from the city!
- Distance from Pittsburgh: 134 miles
- Driving time: 2 hours and 10 minutes
Another great day trip idea is Cleveland, Ohio. Situated on the southern shore of Lake Erie, Cleveland is a vibrant and dynamic city with a rich cultural heritage. As one of the major cities in the Midwest, Cleveland has undergone a revitalization in recent years, transforming into a hub of arts, entertainment, and innovation.
The city is renowned for its iconic skyline, featuring landmarks such as the Terminal Tower and Key Tower. Cleveland’s waterfront, known as the Flats, has experienced a renaissance, with trendy restaurants, bars, and recreational spaces lining the Cuyahoga River, providing a scenic backdrop for locals and visitors alike.
Cleveland is a city deeply rooted in cultural institutions and sports fervor. The Cleveland Museum of Art is a cultural gem, hosting an impressive collection that spans thousands of years and various cultures.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame pays homage to the city’s influential role in the history of rock music. Sports enthusiasts rally around the Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA), Cleveland Browns (NFL), and Cleveland Guardians (MLB), fostering a passionate and resilient sports culture.
You can learn about the city’s history with a unique twist by going on a ghost walking tour through the historic streets. With a blend of historical significance, cultural attractions, and a welcoming community spirit, Cleveland stands as a dynamic urban center in the heart of the Midwest.
Raccoon Creek State Park
- Distance from Pittsburgh: 30 miles
- Driving time: 35 minutes
Raccoon Creek State Park, situated in southwestern Pennsylvania, is a sprawling natural oasis that spans over 7,500 acres of diverse landscapes. The park is centered around the serene 101-acre Raccoon Lake, offering visitors opportunities for boating, fishing, and picnicking along its scenic shores.
The surrounding woodlands provide a haven for hikers and nature enthusiasts, with miles of hiking trails winding through lush forests, meadows, and around the picturesque lake. One notable feature is the Wildflower Reserve, where a vibrant display of native flora adds to the park’s natural beauty, particularly during the spring and summer months.
Raccoon Creek State Park is also equipped with facilities for camping, making it a popular destination for those seeking a tranquil escape into nature. The park’s campground provides a range of camping options, from tent sites to RV hookups, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the peaceful ambiance of the park.
With its diverse ecosystems, recreational amenities, and a commitment to environmental conservation, Raccoon Creek State Park is a lovely day trip for those looking to escape into nature.
Pine Creek Gorge
- Distance from Pittsburgh: 185 miles
- Driving time: 3 hours
Pine Creek Gorge, often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania,” is a breathtaking natural wonder nestled within the Tioga State Forest in north-central Pennsylvania. Though it’s a 3 hour drive from the city, the drive is worth it as it’s one of the coolest day trips from Pittsburgh!
Carved by the meandering Pine Creek, the gorge stretches for over 45 miles and reaches depths of up to 1,450 feet, creating a dramatic and rugged landscape. The region is characterized by steep canyon walls, dense woodlands, and scenic vistas that attract outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers, and photographers alike.
Pine Creek Gorge is home to the Pine Creek Rail Trail, a popular 62-mile trail that follows the former railway corridor, providing a scenic route for biking, hiking, and cross-country skiing, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the stunning beauty of the gorge.
The canyon offers numerous overlooks and vistas, including the iconic Leonard Harrison State Park and Colton Point State Park, both situated on opposite sides of the gorge. These vantage points provide panoramic views of the expansive canyon, offering glimpses of Pine Creek winding through the valley below.
Whether exploring the trails, enjoying the scenic viewpoints, or simply appreciating the tranquility of the surroundings, visitors to Pine Creek Gorge are treated to an unforgettable experience in one of Pennsylvania’s most striking natural settings.
No visit to Pennsylvania is complete without spending some time in Philly – check out our 3 Day Itinerary!
McConnells Mill State Park
- Distance from Pittsburgh: 40 miles
- Driving time: 40 minutes
Another one of the best day trips from Pittsburgh is McConnells Mill State Park in western Pennsylvania. The park’s focal point is the breathtaking Slippery Rock Creek Gorge, where the rushing waters have carved out unique geological formations, including the iconic McConnell’s Mill.
This historic gristmill, dating back to the 19th century, stands as a testament to the region’s industrial past and adds a touch of historical charm to the park. Visitors can explore the mill and witness the impressive rock overhangs and cliffs that characterize the surrounding landscape.
The park offers a wealth of outdoor activities, attracting nature lovers, hikers, and rock climbers alike. A network of trails, including the popular Slippery Rock Gorge Trail, takes hikers along the creek, offering stunning views of the gorge and the picturesque covered bridge.
McConnells Mill State Park is also renowned for its challenging rock climbing opportunities, with the imposing Breakneck Bridge providing a thrilling vertical canvas for climbers. McConnells Mill State Park offers an adventurous day trip into the wilderness and it’s only 40 minutes from Pittsburgh!
- Distance from Pittsburgh: 50 miles
- Driving time: 1 hour
The Laurel Highlands, a picturesque region in southwestern Pennsylvania, is a captivating landscape characterized by rolling hills, lush forests, and meandering rivers. This area is renowned for its natural beauty, highlighted by the majestic Laurel Ridge, which gives the region its name.
One of the most iconic features of the Laurel Highlands is Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterpiece, Fallingwater, perched dramatically over a waterfall.
The scenic beauty of Ohiopyle State Park, with its cascading waterfalls and the rushing Youghiogheny River, further adds to the allure of the Laurel Highlands. The centerpiece of the park is the picturesque Ohiopyle Falls, where the river dramatically descends over a series of cascades, attracting visitors with its breathtaking beauty.
Adventure enthusiasts flock to Ohiopyle State Park for its thrilling whitewater rafting and kayaking opportunities, navigating the challenging rapids of the Youghiogheny River for an adrenaline-pumping experience.
Beyond its natural wonders, the Laurel Highlands is steeped in history and cultural significance. Fort Ligonier, a reconstructed 18th-century fort, provides a glimpse into the region’s colonial past and its role during the French and Indian Wars.
The Great Allegheny Passage, a 150-mile rail trail, winds through the Laurel Highlands, offering cyclists and hikers a scenic journey through charming towns and breathtaking landscapes.
Whether exploring its historic sites, enjoying Ohiopyle State Park, or simply savoring the tranquility of its natural surroundings, the Laurel Highlands is an excellent day trip destination that celebrates the rich tapestry of Pennsylvania’s diverse landscapes and heritage.
- Distance from Pittsburgh: 59 miles
- Driving time: 1 hour
One of the best day trips from Pittsburgh is Wheeling, a city situated along the Ohio River in the northern panhandle of West Virginia.
This West Virginia city has a rich history and a blend of cultural charm. Once a thriving industrial hub, Wheeling played a crucial role in the westward expansion during the 19th century and served as the first capital of the newly formed state of West Virginia during the Civil War.
The city is home to a wealth of historic architecture, including the iconic Suspension Bridge, which was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it opened in 1849. Today, the historic district of Wheeling showcases elegant Victorian homes, cobblestone streets, and well-preserved buildings that transport visitors back in time.
In addition to its historical significance, Wheeling offers a range of cultural and recreational amenities. The Capitol Theatre, a beautifully restored venue, hosts a variety of performances, from live theater to musical concerts, providing a vibrant cultural scene for residents and visitors alike.
The Wheeling Heritage Port along the riverfront is a popular spot for events and festivals, offering stunning views of the Ohio River. With its rich history, architectural heritage, and commitment to cultural vibrancy, Wheeling, West Virginia, stands as a city that seamlessly blends its past with the present, inviting exploration and appreciation of its unique character.
Explore more of West Virginia with a visit to Harpers Ferry!
- Distance from Pittsburgh: 69 miles
- Driving time: 1 hour and 25 minutes
A little over an hour from Pittsburgh lies another intriguing day trip destination. The majestic Laurel Caverns is the largest cave system in the state and a captivating underground world waiting to be explored.
This extensive labyrinth of limestone passages stretches for more than three miles beneath Chestnut Ridge, offering visitors an immersive and educational experience.
Guided tours take adventurers deep into the caverns, where they encounter fascinating geological formations, including stalactites, stalagmites, and crystal formations, all formed over millions of years.
The cave’s vast chambers and narrow passageways contribute to an otherworldly atmosphere, making Laurel Caverns a thrilling destination for spelunkers and curious explorers alike.
Laurel Caverns also offers above-ground attractions, such as a challenging rock-climbing area and a panoramic mountain overlook.
With its blend of subterranean marvels and outdoor activities, this is a stunning day trip destination and one of the most fantastic attractions in Pennsylvania.
Moraine State Park
- Distance from Pittsburgh: 40 miles
- Driving time: 40 minutes
Those looking for a day trip into nature can head over to Moraine State Park, located in western Pennsylvania. This sprawling outdoor haven spans over 16,725 acres and is centered around the serene Lake Arthur.
The park’s landscape is a harmonious blend of woodlands, wetlands, and meadows, offering visitors a diverse range of recreational opportunities. Lake Arthur, a 3,225-acre reservoir, is a focal point for water-based activities such as boating, fishing, and swimming. The park boasts marinas and numerous boat launches, catering to both casual boaters and avid anglers seeking the variety of fish species inhabiting the lake.
Moraine State Park also has many hiking trails that are perfect for nature lovers. The park features an extensive network of nature trails, including the popular North Country National Scenic Trail, which winds through the park’s picturesque landscapes. The Glacier Ridge Trail provides panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
The environmental education programs offered by the park enhance visitors’ understanding of the local ecosystems and wildlife. With its vast recreational options and natural beauty, Moraine State Park draws outdoor enthusiasts and families alike to explore the diverse landscapes.
Allegheny National Forest
- Distance from Pittsburgh: 91 miles
- Driving time: 1 hour and 50 minutes
Just under a two-hour drive from Pittsburgh is the Allegheny National Forest. Full of diverse ecosystems, scenic beauty, and outdoor recreation opportunities, this is another one of the best day trips from Pittsburgh.
The forest is characterized by rolling hills, deep valleys, and over 600 miles of hiking and biking trails that wind through lush woodlands. One of the prominent features is the Allegheny Reservoir, a sprawling body of water that provides a stunning backdrop for various water activities, including boating, fishing, and kayaking.
Allegheny National Forest is a haven for wildlife, with white-tailed deer, black bears, and bald eagles among the many species that call this area home.
Outdoor enthusiasts flock to Allegheny National Forest to explore its extensive trail system, offering opportunities for hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding. In the winter you can use the trails for cross-country skiing!
The North Country National Scenic Trail passes through the forest, providing a connection to a broader network of trails for long-distance hikers.
Those looking to see some history can also check out the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Landmark in the neighboring Allegheny County.
Read next: The Best Day Trips From Washington DC
Seven Springs Mountain Resort
- Distance from Pittsburgh: 59 miles
- Driving time: 1 hour
Nestled in the scenic Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania, Seven Springs Mountain Resort is a premier year-round destination offering fun outdoor activities against the backdrop of breathtaking mountain landscapes.
Known for its extensive skiing and snowboarding facilities during the winter months, Seven Springs Mountain Resort caters to outdoor enthusiasts with numerous trails and slopes for all skill levels.
In addition to winter sports, the resort transforms into a vibrant summer playground, offering activities such as zip-lining, alpine slide rides, hiking, and mountain biking.
The resort’s dedication to providing a comprehensive outdoor experience is reflected in its well-maintained trails, challenging terrain parks, and state-of-the-art facilities.
Seven Springs is not just a haven for adventure seekers; it also boasts an array of amenities and accommodations, making it an ideal destination for both day trips and extended stays.
The resort features multiple dining options, spa services, and a variety of lodging choices, including hotels, condos, and cabins.
The family-friendly atmosphere and the range of activities available make Seven Springs Mountain Resort a popular choice for individuals, families, and groups looking to enjoy the natural beauty and recreational opportunities throughout the year.
Beaver Creek State Park
- Distance from Pittsburgh: 51 miles
- Driving time: 1 hour
Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in eastern Ohio, Beaver Creek State Park is a charming natural retreat that makes a great day trip from Pittsburgh.
The park is renowned for its picturesque landscapes, featuring dense woodlands, meandering streams, and the pristine Little Beaver Creek.
A highlight of the park is the historic Gaston’s Mill, a restored 1830s gristmill that provides visitors with a glimpse into the region’s industrial past. There are plenty of opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and picnicking along the scenic banks of Little Beaver Creek as well.
Outdoor adventures are a focal point of the park, with a network of trails winding through the wooded terrain. The North Country National Scenic Trail is a local favorite, attracting hikers seeking a longer trek. The park also features a campground, allowing visitors to extend their stay and immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the area.
With its blend of history, natural beauty, and recreational offerings, Beaver Creek State Park is one of the best day trips from Pittsburgh where you can connect with nature and just have fun!
If you’re planning to spend time in Philadelphia, check out our list of the best things to do!
- Distance from Pittsburgh: 185 miles
- Driving time: 2 hours and 50 minutes
Columbus, Ohio, the state’s capital and largest city, stands as a vibrant and diverse urban center in the heart of the Midwest. Known for its friendly atmosphere, Columbus is a city that seamlessly blends modernity with rich historical and cultural elements.
The downtown skyline features a mix of contemporary high-rises and historic structures, reflecting the city’s continuous growth and development. The city is home to Ohio State University, contributing to a youthful and dynamic energy with a wide range of cultural and educational activities.
The vibrant Short North Arts District beckons with its eclectic boutiques, galleries, and restaurants, while the renowned Columbus Zoo and Aquarium offers a family-friendly adventure with its impressive array of wildlife.
The city’s cultural scene is enriched by institutions like the Columbus Museum of Art, featuring a diverse collection of fine art, and the innovative Center of Science and Industry (COSI), providing hands-on science exhibits for all ages. You can save money on some of the city’s top destinations with a multiple attractions pass!
Columbus is celebrated for its green spaces, including the picturesque Scioto Mile along the Scioto River, offering a scenic waterfront and recreational amenities. As a thriving and welcoming city, Columbus is an appealing destination for residents and visitors seeking a blend of urban sophistication and Midwestern warmth.
Nelson Ledges Quarry Park
- Distance from Pittsburgh: 90 miles
- Driving time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Nelson Ledges Quarry Park is another one of the best day trips that is just over an hour’s drive from downtown Pittsburgh.
The park centers around a picturesque quarry that has been transformed into a crystal-clear lake, providing visitors with an idyllic setting for swimming and sunbathing. The clear water of the quarry is surrounded by rugged cliffs and lush greenery, creating a serene and natural atmosphere.
Beyond its scenic beauty, Nelson Ledges Quarry Park is renowned for hosting a variety of music festivals and events throughout the year. The park’s amphitheater, nestled within the natural amphitheater created by the quarry walls, provides a unique and acoustically impressive venue for live performances. Music enthusiasts from various genres gather to enjoy concerts surrounded by the natural beauty of the park.
This fusion of outdoor recreation and live entertainment makes Nelson Ledges Quarry Park a distinctive destination that appeals to those seeking a harmonious blend of nature and music.
Penn’s Cave and Wildlife Park
- Distance from Pittsburgh: 154 miles
- Driving time: 2 hours and 40 minutes
Penn’s Cave and Wildlife Park is a captivating destination that boasts the title of America’s only all-water cavern and wildlife park. Visitors to Penn’s Cave embark on an underground boat tour that navigates through an expansive limestone cavern, revealing stunning stalactite formations, intricate chambers, and ethereal passageways.
The serene boat journey glides along the crystal-clear waters of Lake Nitanee, providing a unique perspective on the subterranean wonders hidden beneath the surface. The cave, with its fascinating geological features, has been a popular attraction since its discovery in 1885, and the guided tours offer a memorable blend of education and awe-inspiring natural beauty.
Adjacent to the cave, the wild animal park complements the underground experience with an above-ground adventure. Spanning over 1,600 acres, the park is home to a diverse array of North American wildlife. Visitors can embark on guided bus tours or explore the park at their own pace, encountering animals such as elk, bison, Texas longhorns, wolves, and more in a setting that mimics their natural habitats.
With its dual offerings of subterranean exploration and above-ground wildlife encounters, Penn’s Cave stands as a unique and comprehensive destination that showcases the wonders of both the hidden underworld and the vibrant wildlife thriving in the open landscape.
- Distance from Pittsburgh: 84 miles
- Driving time: 1 hour and 45 minutes
Mount Davis, situated in Forbes State Forest in southwestern Pennsylvania, holds the distinction of being the highest point in the state. Standing at an elevation of 3,213 feet (979 meters), Mount Davis offers sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding Laurel Highlands and neighboring states.
A stone observation tower crowns the summit, providing visitors with an elevated platform to appreciate the expansive vistas. The area around Mount Davis features hiking trails, including the High Point Trail, leading adventurers through a mix of woodlands and open meadows.
Whether for its prominence in Pennsylvania’s topography, its scenic beauty, or the recreational opportunities it offers, Mount Davis stands as a notable destination for nature enthusiasts and those seeking a high-altitude perspective in the Keystone State.
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