LAUREL HIGHLANDS (KDKA) – Looking for a way to get somewhere close for the weekend?
Consider traveling a little east and south of Pittsburgh.
How about walking down a trail that doesn’t involve hiking or biking and “offers 15 seats with a direct connection to our beloved neighbor?”
Michael Chapalani is the executive director of the Pennsylvania Department of Tourism, and he talks about “Fred Rogers Trail” with stops throughout Western Pennsylvania with ties to Mr. Rogers.
“So you really feel the places that were in the footsteps of America’s beloved neighbor,” he says.
Ligonie is on that path, but Chapalani says it is worth a visit on your own.
“Ligonier is one of Pennsylvania’s largest small towns, to be honest, shopping, of course, but the main thing to see is Fort Ligonier, which is truly incredible,” he explains.
Nearby is the Memorial of Flight 93 near Shanksville in Somerset.
“An incredible spectacle that you know is important in U.S. history, but also just a beautiful casual peaceful experience,” he says.
In addition, in this forest hill are ski slopes.
“Including the amazing Seven Springs that really look like everything from a zipliner to all the impressions on this mountain. Our, our four-season experience, ”Chapalani says.
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Of course, there’s the iconic trek to Laurel Highlands, the 62-mile Laurel Highlands trail.
“Even places to pack bikes where you go hiking or biking and then set up camp in that place,” he says.
If you’re looking for something less stressful, there’s the Westmoreland Museum of American Art right there on North Main in Greensburg.
“Their art collection is amazing, and it’s really a treasure in the region where over the last couple of years they’ve expanded their collection and the museum itself into a truly gem of Western Pennsylvania,” Chapalani says.
East of Pittsburgh is Keystone State Park with its man-made lake, beach, boating, hiking and camping. In fact, there are six other state parks with similar offerings throughout the Laurel Highlands.
For this outdoor recreation in Fayette County there is Ohiopil State Park. Consider hiking or biking along the Great Allegheny Passage Trail, which cuts through the heart of the park, as Chapalany did.
“To my right were waterfalls, to my left was rafting, and you’re on a weird bike ride, so it’s just that part of Ohiopila is so beautiful,” he describes.
This trail runs all the way from Pittsburgh to Washington
Of course, you can’t consider a trip to the Highlands without a mandatory stop at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water. But Chapalani says that’s not all.
“At Polymath Park you have a Duncan and Mantilla house where you can stay overnight owned by Frank Lloyd Wright,” he says.
A day trip to Avell in Washington and Medeacroft County will open the eyes of the whole family: “And you can see the artifacts 16,000 years ago.”
What about going to the covered bridge?
“Washington and Green are really doing a fantastic job, they have a tour that will connect both counties and see covered bridges along the way.”
Finally, like much of Western Pennsylvania, there are wineries and distilleries.
Test the Southwest Passage wine with guiding you through the region’s rich offerings.