20 Things You Must Do Your First Year Living in Pennsylvania

Moving to Pennsylvania? The toughest part is narrowing down your to-do list. Let us help.

By
Sarah Kuta
On Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - 19:00
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When you first arrive in Pennsylvania, of course you’ll need to get a handle on all the little logistics and necessary details that come with a big move — deciding what neighborhood to live in, figuring out where to send your kids to school, starting your new job.

But thanks to Pennsylvania’s low cost of living and seriously awesome quality of life, you’ll want to next turn your attention to all the one-of-a-kind experiences the state has to offer. The sooner you get started, the better. Just in case you don’t know where to begin, we made this handy list of 20 things you must do your first year living in Pennsylvania

And even if you’ve lived in Pennsylvania for some or all of your life, how many of these Pennsylvania bucket list items can you check off the list?

1. Visit Hershey

It’s practically a rite of passage in Pennsylvania — you simply must pay a visit to Hershey, PA, and see how the famous Hershey’s milk chocolate and other sweets get made. While you’re there, take a factory tour, ride the roller coasters at Hersheypark, indulge in a chocolate-themed spa day and visit the Hershey Story Museum. Oh, and of course, be sure to eat some sweets, too!

2. Go to a winery

Did you know there are more than 300 wineries in Pennsylvania? It’s true — and they’re all fantastic. Spend an afternoon wine-tasting among the vines.

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3. Visit a Carnegie library

Philanthropist and steel magnate Andrew Carnegie made a huge, lasting impact on this country, but perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in Pittsburgh, where Carnegie built much of his fortune. If you’re in town, consider visiting one of the 19 public libraries gifted by Carnegie himself.

4. Visit the Pennsylvania Amish

Head to Lancaster County for a horse-and-buggy tour of the Pennsylvania Amish countryside, which has remained mostly unchanged for 300 years. Afterward, be sure to shop for handmade Amish crafts and other items.

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5. Run up the art museum steps (like Rocky)

Want to have the ultimate Rocky Balboa experience? Run up the iconic stone steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Pro tip: For the full experience make sure to play "Gonna Fly Now" as you ascend the 72 stone steps. 

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6. Pause and reflect at Gettysburg

Take a moment to consider a pivotal period in American history by visiting Gettysburg, the site of the bloodiest battle in the Civil War.

7. See Andy Warhol’s Art 

Pop over to the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh for an informative gallery talk, where you’ll learn all about Warhol’s life and work. Be sure to give yourself enough time to stick around to peruse the exhibits, too.

8. Take a nearly-vertical ride

Pennsylvania is home to the steepest vehicular incline in the world: the Johnstown Inclined Plane. The grade is steep — 70.9 percent, to be exact — so maybe go before lunch, just in case. You can ride as a passenger, in your vehicle or on a motorcycle. 

9. Get splashed by Bushkill Falls

With a nickname like “the Niagara of Pennsylvania,” you know it’s going to be good. This western PA natural landmark is actually a series of eight waterfalls, which you can access via bridges and hiking trails.

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iStock/Sean Pavone

10. Shop the Reading Terminal Market

This popular Philadelphia staple has been around since 1892, so you’ll be a part of history as you peruse the wares of more than 80 vendors.

11. Take the Harley-Davidson Factory tour

If you’ve got a need for speed, consider taking the Harley-Davidson Factory tour in York, PA. Here, you’ll get to see how they make an array of different motorcycles, including Sportster, Softail, Touring, Trike and CVO.

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12. Drive through a covered bridge

Pennsylvania has the most remaining covered bridges in the country — nearly 200, to be exact. These unique structures offer a window into Pennsylvania’s past (many have been standing since the mid-1800s). Flanked by wilderness and other natural scenery, they also make for some gorgeous photos.  

13. Stay in a cabin or cottage

Plan a weekend getaway and take advantage of Pennsylvania’s rustic lodging options by staying in a cabin or cottage. You’ll be able to rest and recharge while immersing yourself in the commonwealth’s beautiful natural scenery. 

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14. View all the important sites from “The Office” 

Scranton is where the magic happens for the fictitious employees of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. Whether you’re a die-hard fan of the show or just a casual watcher, you can follow in the footsteps of Michael, Jim, Pam and Dwight when you take the self-guided walking tour of Scranton.

15. Attend Groundhog Day

Every Feb. 2, the world’s most famous groundhog emerges from his burrow, looks up at the sky and then looks for his shadow, thus declaring whether there will be six more weeks of winter or not. Attend the official Groundhog Day ceremony in Punxsutawney, PA, to be part of the magic yourself.

16. Shop the 100 Mile Yard Sale

One hundred miles of other people’s stuff — what could be better? Held every July for more than 20 years, the 100 Mile Yard Sale runs along Route 879 outside of Clearfield, PA. It’s a fun community event with some seriously awesome deals.

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17. Wander through a Frank Lloyd Wright house

Specifically, the Fallingwater house in Mill Run, PA. It’s the only remaining house designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright with all its original furnishing and artwork still intact.

18. Celebrate 1-4-3 Day

In honor of Pennsylvania’s beloved native son, Fred Rogers (of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”), Pennsylvanians celebrate the 143rd day of the year by participating in intentional acts of kindness. 1-4-3 was Mr. Rogers’ way of saying “I love you” in a special code based on the number of letters in each word. Every day is a good day to be a Pennsylvanian, but on May 23, you can really feel — and share! — the love.

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19. Go leaf-peeping

Every fall, Pennsylvania comes alive with reds, oranges and yellows. During your first year living in PA, be sure to take a scenic drive or a hike, then snap some photos of the truly Instagram-worthy fall foliage.

20. Root for the home team 

Professional sports are a huge deal in Pennsylvania, particularly in cities like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. It’s definitely worth your time to attend a home game — take your pick of the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Eagles, 76ers, Phillies or Flyers, just to name a few. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Kuta is an award-winning Colorado writer and editor. She regularly writes about travel, nature, education, personal finance and other topics.