11 Pennsylvania Famous Landmarks To Visit In 2023
Looking for some famous Pennsylvania landmarks to put on your bucket list?
Then you’ve come to the right place! And who better to highlight Pennsylvania’s famous landmarks than a local who knows this state inside and out. That’s why we’ve turned to our friend Jessica at Past Lane Travels for this post.
Pennsylvania, also known as the Keystone State, or just ‘P-A’ (as it is referred to regionally), is a mid-Atlantic state teeming with history and natural beauty.
Whether you’re a history lover, outdoorsman, ghost hunter, or want to explore something new, Pennsylvania has no shortage of famous historic landmarks, national parks, natural wonders, and bucket list destinations.
Famous Landmarks in Pennsylvania to Visit
Many people don’t realize that Pennsylvania boasts a diverse geographic landscape—from vast plains in the west, mountainous terrain in the central region, and rolling hills and valleys to the east—making it a great destination no matter what your interests are.
The places on this list of 11 Pennsylvania famous landmarks (from a life-long resident) are intended to show the variety of cultural, historical, and natural landmarks in this great state.
So get ready to pack your bags and explore the Keystone State!
1. Gettysburg National Military Park
Ask someone to name some famous historic landmarks in Pennsylvania, and they will probably mention the Gettysburg National Military Park and Battlefield.
Not only was the town the scene of the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War, it is also where President Abraham Lincoln dedicated the Soldiers National Cemetery with a speech that is now known as the Gettysburg Address.
Today, the National Military Park consists of over 6,000 acres, giving Civil War buffs plenty of room to roam through this national historical park. The town is home to a variety of museums that feature both the military angle of the battle and the civilian impact.
If you want to see the annual Civil War battle reenactment, it takes place on the weekend closest to the anniversary of the battle (July 1, 2, 3) and draws thousands of period-dressed reenactors.
Tip: Book your trip early. The year of 2023 marks the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.
By the way, Gettysburg also offers a variety of small-town boutiques, gift shops and antique stores, as well as wineries, craft breweries and distilleries, for those who might just be “along for the ride.”
And if you’re into the “spirit” world then you might be interested to know that Gettysburg is considered one of the most haunted small towns in the United States and is very popular at Halloween!
Hersheypark is another famous Pennsylvania landmark, and it’s worth mentioning because… well, it’s located in Chocolate Town, USA! (And who doesn’t want to visit Chocolate Town?)
Founded in 1906 by Milton Hershey as a park for the employees of the Hershey Chocolate Company, it is now a large theme park that is home to world-class rollercoasters, a wave pool and a “Boardwalk of Hershey” water park.
Next door to the park is Hershey’s Chocolate World which contains shops, restaurants and a chocolate-factory-themed tour ride. Visitors can even have their photo taken and receive a piece of chocolate at the end of the ride. (The smell alone is worth the visit).
And that’s not all! Hershey also has an 11-acre ZooAmerica, home to 75 species and 200 animals, including some that are rare or endangered.
Plan to spend the entire day here because this is one of the most popular Pennsylvania landmarks with lots to do.
3. Ohiopyle State Park
For those who are interested in outdoor activities, Ohiopyle State Park is one of the best natural landmarks in Pennsylvania, offering something for anyone who loves nature and the outdoors.
From whitewater rafting to hiking, fishing, and hunting, this beautiful park is one of the most beautiful and restorative places in Pennsylvania.
This famous Pennsylvania landmark encompasses about 20,500 acres of natural beauty, including the rushing waters of the Youghiogheny (yawki-gay-nee) River Gorge.
The “Yough” (yawk) is known for having some of the best whitewater boating spots in the eastern U.S.
4. Longwood Gardens
What started as a Quaker farmstead and arboretum in the eastern part of the state is now one of the most famous landmarks of Pennsylvania and horticultural wonders in the country.
No matter what time of year you visit, Longwood Gardens is a masterpiece of seasonal beauty. The site encompasses 400 acres of formal gardens, open meadows, and winding paths that provide breathtaking views.
Not only does Longwood Gardens display native and exotic plants indoors and out, they also sponsor special events, educational lectures, gardening workshops, and seasonal attractions.
Close to Philadelphia and worth a visit!
Tip: If you’re planning a trip during a holiday (like Christmas), the displays are spectacular and can sell out, so book early.
5. Old Towne Philadelphia
Speaking of Philadelphia, if you want to visit a handful of famous Pennsylvania landmarks all in one place, then this city has to be on your bucket list.
Those who love history will want to see the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall (Independence National Historical Park), and the Museum of the American Revolution, as well as a host of other historical landmarks like Elfreth’s Alley and the Betsy Ross House.
But being home to some of the top historical sites in Pennsylvania isn’t the only thing that makes Philadelphia worth visiting.
Shoppers will love the variety of unique boutiques, foodies will love the wide array of cultural dishes, and Instagrammers will drool over the stunning architecture of Philadelphia City Hall.
These Old Towne Philadelphia landmarks are some of the most famous places in Pennsylvania for a good reason.
6. King of Prussia Mall
If you’re the kind of person who thinks the perfect destination includes great shopping, there is a famous Pennsylvania landmark that fits the bill.
The King of Prussia Mall near Philadelphia is the largest shopping mall on the East Coast and the third largest shopping mall in the country. (How does 2.3 million square feet of shopping space sound?)
The 450 stores in the mall might be overwhelming to some, but 20 million people visit this famous landmark in Pennsylvania every year to “shop til they drop.”
First opened in 1963, the mall includes famous department stores like Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, and Macy’s, along with hundreds of specialty stores like Apple and Louis Vuitton.
Of course, you’ll get hungry with all that shopping, but don’t worry. More than 30 eateries are available for snacking, drinking, or sitting down for a full meal.
Whether you want to treat yourself to a high-end shopping excursion at this massive mall or just window shop and enjoy the atmosphere, King of Prussia Mall is one of those famous Pennsylvania sites that offers an experience you can’t find anywhere else.
7. Valley Forge Historical Park
Just a stone’s throw from the King of Prussia Mall is the Valley Forge National Park where George Washington and his troops spent the winter of 1777-1778.
The park features 3,500 acres of monuments that commemorate the sacrifice and bravery of the Continental Army.
You can drive through this national historical landmark or choose to walk or ride a bike through 26 miles of trails. The park is beautiful, with scenic landscapes of picturesque meadows and wide open vistas that include monuments erected by different states.
The Visitor Center and Museum feature original artifacts and provide a good introduction to the American Revolution.
A main attraction of the park is the restored stone house used by General George Washington as his headquarters during the encampment. It is set up just as it would have been during the Revolutionary War.
Visitors can also see other restored historic structures, such as the log huts that were built by the soldiers.
You get two for the price of one at this national historic site because another one of the most famous historical landmarks in Pennsylvania is located within the park.
Called the National Memorial Arch, this massive tribute to George Washington and his troops was dedicated in 1917.
8. Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville
Though indeed not a “happy” place, the importance of this famous Pennsylvania landmark cannot be overstated and should be on everyone’s list to see once.
The National Park Service oversees this museum and its memorial to the 40 passengers and crew aboard Flight 93 on September 11, 2001 (9/11), who helped thwart an attack on the U.S. Capitol.
In addition to the museum, there is a 93-foot-tall Tower of Voices monument with 40 one-of-a-kind tubular chimes that make music when the wind blows.
This imposing and inspiring landmark feature stands at the site entrance, serving as both a visual and audible reminder of the heroism of the 40 passengers.
The winding road to the remote location and its surrounding scenery help ease the heaviness as you travel to the Flight 93 National Memorial, one of the most significant monuments in Pennsylvania.
9. The Poconos
If you’re looking for a famous Pennsylvania landmark in the “romantic getaway” category, the Pocono Mountains should be at the top of your list.
Why? The Poconos are the birthplace of the heart-shaped tub and are a well-known mountain hideaway for couples wanting to get away from it all and relax.
Made up of a four-county region famous for its natural scenic beauty and quaint historic towns, the Pocono Mountains region offers a range of getaway experiences.
Whether you’re looking for a private rustic cabin with a large fireplace or a resort with its own ski slope, the Poconos offer lots of opportunities, including hiking trails, water sports, and mountain adventures that can be enjoyed any time of year.
One of the reasons why the Poconos Mountains are such a famous Pennsylvania landmark is that they lie within a two-hour drive to millions of metropolitan area residents in New York who seek isolation to rest and restore.
10. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Museum of Natural History
You can spend an entire day exploring the Carnegie Museum of Natural History by heading to the western side of the state to the beautiful city of Pittsburgh.
Founded in 1896 by Andrew Carnegie, the 115,000-square-foot museum includes artifacts from ancient Egypt, beautiful minerals and gems, and exotic wildlife, as well as its most popular exhibit—dinosaurs.
About 75 percent of the more than 230 dinosaur-related objects on display are original fossils, and the exhibits of skeletons are real. No replicas!
And don’t worry if you get hungry during your exploration. You can grab a meal at Carnegie Café or pick up a snack at “Fossil Fuels.”
Pittsburgh itself also offers a lot when it comes to boutiques and eateries along the waterfront.
Located at the union of three rivers, Pittsburgh is also known as “Bridge City,” and it’s easy to see why. They have 446 bridges!
11. Go To The Beach At Presque Isle State Park
You probably don’t think of the “beach” when looking for major landmarks in Pennsylvania to visit, but there is one that makes the trip to the northernmost part of the state worthwhile.
Presque Isle State Park is a 3,200-acre peninsula on Lake Erie and Pennsylvania’s only claim to a “seashore.”
Even though it borders a lake and not an ocean, Presque Isle offers visitors a beautiful coastline and a wide array of recreational activities, including swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, and bicycling.
This US National Natural Landmark is also a favorite spot for migrating birds and is a haven for birdwatchers.
What Are Other Must-Visit Places In Pennsylvania?
As you can see, Pennsylvania has a lot to offer regardless of your interests or tastes. Steeped with natural landmarks and historical sites, the list of must-visit places in Pennsylvania is practically endless.
Here are a few other top landmarks of Pennsylvania that are sure to create a memorable trip:
📍 The PA Grand Canyon (Pine Creek Gorge) – The PA Canyon is a scenic gorge that can be viewed while canoeing, kayaking, or rafting. A 12-mile section of Pine Creek Gorge is designated as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service.
📍 Eastern State Penitentiary is a former Philadelphia prison that was operational from 1829-1971. In addition to its architectural significance, the prison held notorious criminals like Al Capone. It is now a U.S. National Historic Landmark and open for tours (including nighttime ghost tours).
📍 Fallingwater is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous houses and is located in the Laurel Highlands part of the state. Seeing this house positioned over a waterfall truly is a wonder of art and nature. In addition to being a famous Pennsylvania landmark, is included as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Wrap-Up: Pennsylvania Famous Landmarks
From romantic mountain retreats in the Poconos to the beautiful beaches of Lake Erie, Pennsylvania offers a diverse array of activities and state landmarks that should land on everyone’s bucket list.
And because most of the Keystone State is an easy drive from major cities like Manhattan, Baltimore, and Washington, the sites on this list make the perfect day trip—or you can plan to explore a handful of Pennsylvania famous landmarks during a more extended excursion.