12 Super Fun Weekend Road Trips From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

by Holly Riddle
Updated June 02, 2022

weekend road trips from pittsburgh pa
Photo: Steve Heap

There’s a lot to love about Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steel City is a true example of all the fabulous things you can discover when traveling around the Midwest — friendly people, great food, fun festivals, and a glittering waterfront skyline.

However, if you live in Pittsburgh or already have a trip to this city planned, you may want to get out of the city for a few days, and this location gives you a ton of options for a weekend road trip.

Want to explore another Midwest city? You can do it. Intrigued by the Great Lakes? You’re close enough to see ‘em. Want to head to the woods? A lakeside retreat? You can do it all, plus more, with little effort. Here are 12 weekend road trips from Pittsburgh to consider, and what you’ll find in each of these fabulous destinations.

Related Read: 9 Unique Places to Stay in Pennsylvania

1. Happy Valley, Pennsylvania

happy valley - pittsburgh road trip
Photo: Kristopher Kettner

Barely a two-hour drive from Pittsburgh, Happy Valley is a rural hub in the center of Pennsylvania that offers outdoor adventure in spades. While you might not want to visit during the fall for a weekend trip (the region’s home to Penn State and football weekends can get crazy), the rest of the year, you’ll find near-endless opportunities for hiking, kayaking or canoeing, camping, rock climbing, mountain biking and more.

The charming downtowns scattered across the region don’t hurt, either. Choose to stay at a campsite, a woodsy cabin, one of the area’s delightful bed and breakfasts or at a downtown hotel — your accommodations options are nearly as plentiful as your activity options.

  • Distance: 140 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Related Read: 9 Awesome & Pet-Friendly Cabin Rentals in the Poconos 

2. Jamestown, New York

jamestown - pittsburgh road trip
Photo: Zack Frank

Jamestown, New York, sits on Chautauqua Lake, where you can find tons of fun during the summer months. However, while the lake may be one of the area’s main tourist draws, you can also find a thriving arts scene here.

As this is Lucille Ball’s hometown, you can’t miss the museum dedicated to her life, or the adjacent National Comedy Center, where you’re sure to get a laugh. You’ll also find theaters, museums, independent restaurants and shops scattered around the downtown.

  • Distance: 170 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Related Read: 12 Best Spots to See New York’s Fall Foliage

3. Cleveland, Ohio

cleveland - pittsburgh road trip
Photo: Henryk Sadura

If, though, you’d rather escape to another city, versus a small town or rural area, you can easily be in Cleveland from Pittsburgh in just over two hours. While maybe not the top destination to come to mind when you think Midwest (Chicago probably gets that honor), Cleveland is really up and coming, attracting more and more travelers with its vibrant foods scene and wealth of local, independent businesses to cater to curious travelers.

Whether you’re exploring the urban outdoors at the Cleveland Botanical Garden or Edgewater Park, or you’re hitting up the local breweries before catching a baseball game at Progressive Field, you’ll find lots to fill a weekend itinerary here — and you might just have to come back for more.

  • Distance: 130 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 2 hours, 15 minutes

4. Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

hocking hills - pittsburgh road trip
Photo: Shutterstock

A little more of a drive, but well worth it for nature lovers, it’ll take you about three and a half hours to drive to Hocking Hills State Park from Pittsburgh, so you may want to leave work early. Hike, chase waterfalls, watch the wildlife, kayak, attend a festival, camp (or stay in the lodge), cycle, fish, boat, swim, zip line, rappel — have you gathered yet that there are tons of ways to enjoy some outdoor fun here?

Whatever you find yourself doing, you’ll easily see why so many nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts make repeat visits to this park season after season.

  • Distance: 195 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 3 hours, 30 minutes

Related Read: 7 Hocking Hills Cabins with Hot Tubs for a Revitalizing Getaway

5. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

shenandoah - pittsburgh road trip
Photo: Walt Bilous

If you don’t mind a three-and-a-half hour drive, though, you might want to consider a getaway to an even larger and more notable park: Shenandoah. The gorgeous, 200,000-acre park offers hiking galore, with more than 500 miles of trails.

One of the most popular hiking spots in the park is Old Rag Mountain, with its 360-degree views and rock scrambles. Just note that you will need to purchase a day-use ticket to climb Old Rag Mountain from March 1 to Nov. 30, each year.

If you’re not quite in the mood for hiking, other activities include scenic drives, wildlife watching, camping, horseback riding, fishing and rock climbing.

  • Distance: 205 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 3 hours, 50 minutes

6. Erie, Pennsylvania

erie pennsylvania - pittsburgh road trips
Photo: Shutterstock

If you want to stick around Pennsylvania, though, you can still enjoy a city set on the Great Lakes. Erie sits on (you guessed it) Lake Erie and, as you also may’ve guessed, offers a lot of water-based activities. Beaches abound, such as those on Presque Isle, Pennsylvania’s most-visited state park and a national natural landmark that attracts more than 4 million visitors each year.

Even if you don’t want to get sand in your shoes or captain your own lake vessel, you can still find fun on the water thanks to boat tours, sunset cruises and plenty of overlooking or on-the-water dining. For a little taste of naval history, you can visit the Erie Maritime Museum and the U.S. Brig Niagara.

  • Distance: 130 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 2 hours

Related Read: 12 Best Spots to See Pennsylvania’s Fall Foliage

7. Columbus, Ohio

columbus ohio - pittsburgh road trip
Photo: Shutterstock

Likely the largest city you could visit with convenience on a weekend from Pittsburgh, Columbus is worth your consideration. At under a three-hour drive, it’s easy enough for a quick trip after work on Friday. The state capital, Columbus is more populated than both Cleveland and Pittsburgh, but still doesn’t feel overwhelmingly large.

Some of the most popular attractions to add to your itinerary? Scioto Mile (a trail system lining the Scioto River), the Columbus Museum of Art (with its sculpture garden), and the German Village, with its 19th-century architecture.

  • Distance: 185 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 3 hours

8. Morgantown, West Virginia

morgantown - pittsburgh road trip
Photo: Steve Heap

At just about an hour’s drive away, Morgantown is such a convenient trip from Pittsburgh, it’s difficult to pass up. The small and charming riverfront town is known as one of the best small cities in the country thanks to its residents’ high quality of life.

While West Virginia University may draw its fair share of visitors to the town, there’s a lot more here beyond college sports. Hike at Dorsey’s Knob Park for beautiful views and look outs. If you’re traveling with the kids, visit the Spark Imagination and Science Center. For a bit of history, visit the Metropolitan Theatre or Morgantown History Museum.

  • Distance: 75 miles
  • Drive time without stopes: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Related Read: 8 Adventurous Treehouse Rentals in West Virginia

9. Hershey, Pennsylvania

hershey pennsylvania - pittsburgh road trip
Photo: George Sheldon

For a getaway with a sweet twist, try a visit to Hershey. This town named after none other than the chocolate brand is a great pick for families. You can’t stop in without a visit to Hershey’s Chocolate World, which details just how the company got its start and how it makes its world-famous chocolate.

Hersheypark is likewise a must-visit for families, as the theme park offers tons of rides and excitement, plus some really cool seasonal activities if you happen to visit around Halloween. The Hotel Hershey is the top place to stay while you’re in town, with its fine dining and chocolate-inspired spa.

  • Distance: 215 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 3 hours, 45 minutes

Related read: 10 Luxury Cabin Rentals in the Poconos

10. Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania

Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania
Photo: Michael Yatsko

Another fantastic camping destination in Pennsylvania, Cherry Springs State Park is notable for its night skies. A Dark Sky Park, it’s known as one of the best spots in the entire eastern half of the country for stargazing, whether you want to view planets and nebulae or entire galaxies. Astronomy fanatics flock here for the views that are simply unobtainable anywhere else.

Staying the night at the park is an adventure like no other, for sure. The camping accommodations are non-electric, with non-flush restrooms only, and using lights without red filters, or even building large campfires, is frowned upon. And if that’s not serious enough for you, there’s a separate overnight astronomy observation field where you can camp for ultimate darkness; campfires and all forms of white light are prohibited.

  • Distance: 182 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 3 hours, 45 minutes

Related Read: 15 Best Cabin Rentals in Pennsylvania

11. Cedar Point, Ohio

cedar point - pittsburgh road trip
Photo: David McGill

For those who prefer a more adrenaline-pumping thrill beyond observing the cosmos, driving in the opposite direction will take you to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. This little barrier island in Lake Erie is home to the rollercoaster capital of the world, and one of the top theme parks in the entire world, also named Cedar Point.

While roller coasters abound, if you’re not quite a roller coaster fanatic, you’ll find other ways to keep yourself occupied at the park — like at the beach. There’s a hotel at the park right on the shore, but you can also find rentals in the area.

  • Distance: 180 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 3 hours

12. Frederick, Maryland

frederick maryland - pittsburgh road trip
Photo: Christian Hinkle

History lovers will enjoy a visit to Frederick, Maryland. Museums abound, including the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, the Schifferstadt Architectural Museum and the Rose Hill Manor Park & Museum.

After you’ve spent all day indoors, exploring 1750s architecture and gruesome 19th-century medicine, you can escape for a bit of fresh air at Gambrill State Park, with its mountain hiking and scenic views.

  • Distance: 210 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 3 hours, 30 minutes

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