LAUREL HIGHLANDS (KDKA) – Looking for a way to get away somewhere close for the weekend?
Consider traveling a bit east and south of Pittsburgh.READ MORE: Parents Watch Clairton-Leechburg Football Game From Outside The Stadium
How about following a trail that involves no hiking or biking and “offers 15 locations with a direct connection to our favorite neighbor?”
Michael Chapaloney is the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Department of Tourism and he’s talking about the “Fred Rogers Trail” with stops throughout Western Pennsylvania with ties to Mr. Rogers.
“So you’re going to really experience locations that were in the footsteps of America’s favorite neighbor,” he says.
Ligonier is on that trail but Chapaloney says it’s worth a visit on its own.
“Ligonier is one of the greatest small towns in Pennsylvania, honestly, the shopping, of course, but the key thing to see is Fort Ligonier, which is really incredible,” he explains.
Not far away is the Flight 93 Memorial near Shanksville in Somerset County.
“An incredible sight, you know in important to U.S. history, but also just a beautiful casual peaceful experience,” he says.
Also in that neck of the woods are the ski slopes.
“Including the amazing Seven Springs, which is truly like everything from zip-lining to all the experiences on that mountain. Our, our four-season experience,” Chapaloney says.
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Of course, there is the signature hike in the Laurel Highlands, the 62 mile Laurel Highlands Trail.
“Even bike packing destinations where you hike or ride your bike in and then you camp at that location,” he says.READ MORE: Fourth Stimulus Check: Will You See Another Relief Payment Soon?
If you’re looking for something less exerting there is the The Westmoreland Museum of American Art right there on North Main in Greensburg.
“Their art collection is amazing, and it’s truly a treasure in that region where in the past couple years they’ve expanded their collection and the museum itself into a really a true gem of Western Pennsylvania,” Chapaloney says.
To the east of Pittsburgh is Keystone State Park with its manmade lake, beach, boating, hiking, and camping. In fact, there are six other state parks with similar offerings all along the Laurel Highlands.
For that outdoor getaway in Fayette County, there is Ohiopyle State Park. Consider hiking or biking the Great Allegheny Passage Trail which cuts through the heart of the park as Chapaloney did.
“There were waterfalls on my right, there was whitewater rafting on my left, and you’re on an amazing bike trip, so it’s just the Ohiopyle part is so beautiful,” he describes.
That trail runs all the way from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C.
Of course, you can’t consider a trip to the Highlands without a must-stop at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water. But Chapaloney says that’s not all.
“In Polymath Park you have the Duncan house and Mantyla, where you can stay overnight in a Frank Lloyd Wright property,” he says.
A day trip to Avella in Washington County and Meadowcroft would be eye-opening for the entire family, “And you can see artifacts from as far back as 16,000 years ago.”
And how about a covered bridge outing?
“Washington and Greene really do a fantastic job they have a driving tour that will connect both counties and see the covered bridges along the way.”
Finally, like so much of Western Pennsylvania, there are Wineries and Distilleries.
The Southwest Passage Wine Trial with guide you through the region’s abundant offerings.MORE NEWS: UPMC Children's Hospital Leaders Say Hospital Will Not Turn Kids Away Or Ration Care Amid Increase In Patients