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Cyclists stop at an overlook to take in sweeping views of the Lehigh Gorge

Pennsylvania

3 Pennsylvania Adventures for an Epic Family Vacation

By: Idoia Gkikas

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  • States:
    Pennsylvania

It’s no easy task to find vacation activities that will keep the whole family happy.

Pennsylvania’s outdoor attractions are sure to do the trick. You won’t hear a single “I’m bored!” or “Are we there yet?” with these three awesome outdoor adventures. 

Visit Wild Elk

One of the nation’s largest herd of wild elk is right here in northern Pennsylvania. View them at the Elk Country Visitor Center, less than three hours from the big city of Pittsburgh. This site attracts more than 400,000 visitors each year to view these impressive animals in their natural environment.

Inside the Visitor Center, you can touch real elk antlers, listen to an elk bugle, check out interactive exhibits and watch an educational movie in the immersive, 4-D theater that will engage all your senses. Step outside and explore the trails by foot or take a wagon or sleigh ride to catch a glimpse of the elk – August through October is prime viewing season. 

If you want to stay to enjoy the wilds, there’s a three-bedroom homestead you can reserve, ideal for a memorable family getaway.

Elk viewing at Elk Country Visitor Center

Elk viewing at Elk Country Visitor Center
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Experience Ziplining

One of the best places to experience ziplining in the state is at Spring Mountain, which offers year-round adventure in the trees (weather permitting). 

The canopy tours feature a series of zip lines and bridges, with options for different experience levels and ages. The Full Monty tour will have you rappelling, climbing, balancing and zipping for hours of excitement, while the Saturday evening tour has all of this – in the complete darkness of night. Kids and families can do the Junior Explorer tour, a scaled-down version of the bigger courses. 

Other activities include rock climbing, mountain biking and geocaching. During the winter, Spring Mountain opens up for skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing.

Zip through the forest canopy at Spring Mountain

Zip through the forest canopy at Spring Mountain
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Biking the Great Allegheny Passage

Connecting Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland, the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) is a phenomenal biking experience. Much of the trail is flat, well maintained and smooth-surfaced, making it great for all ages and experience levels. 

Looking for some elevation on your ride? Then you’re in luck. The Eastern Continental Divide, at 729 meters above sea level, offers a nice challenge for your legs as well as beautiful views from the top. 

Along the way are plenty of shops, restaurants, bike outfitters and other points of interest. Plus, you’ll enjoy the company of the Youghiogheny River, which hugs the trail all the way from Pittsburgh to Confluence, Pennsylvania.

Cyclers enjoy a scenic ride along the Great Allegheny Passage

Cyclers enjoy a scenic ride along the Great Allegheny Passage
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Getting There

Pennsylvania is centrally located between several gateways. Choose Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) or Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) to fly direct into the state. Or, fly to international airports in nearby Washington D.C. and Newark, New Jersey. Regular rail service from New York is also available. 

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