14 Night - Complete Pennsylvania
Our best selling self drive tour showcases the best of Pennsylvania from the cities of Philadelphia & Pittsburgh, the history of Gettysburg, a glimpse into the Amish way of life, the sandy beaches of Lake Eire to the wide open spaces of Allegheny National Forest and Pocono mountains.
2 Nights Philadelphia, 2 Nights Amish Country, 2 Nights Gettysburg, 2 Nights Pittsburgh, 2 Nights Lake Eire, 2 Nights Allegheny National Forest and 2 Nights Pocono Mountains.
Day 1: Philadelphia
It must have been rousing when the delegates and townspeople cheered as the Declaration of Independence was read and the Liberty Bell rang out. Later as the Constitution of the United States passed, the Continental Congress soon realized they had created a country like none other. The freedoms these events created starting in 1776 witnessed the foundations of the new nation. Visitors can relive the beginning of America at Independence National Historical Park which includes Independence Hall, Congress Hall, where the upper and lower houses of the US Congress first convened and Carpenter’s Hall, where John Adams, Patrick Henry, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other delegates to the First Continental Congress began it all in 1774. A timed admission ticket to Independence Hall will eliminate any waiting in line and give you more time to see the city. The Liberty Bell is close by, as is the new “dig” of George Washington’s residence that is causing a lot of provocative conversation.
After visiting Independence National Park, we suggest taking the Philadelphia Trolley or a horse driven carriage ride to get an overview of the city. Similar to Boston and Charleston, the streets of Philadelphia’s old neighbourhoods are narrow and lined with historic town homes and gracefully detailed structures. While in town, you have to try a Philly Cheese steak at Steaks on South, not far from the Liberty Bell and Independence Centre. If your visit to Philadelphia is on a Wednesday or Saturday, make sure to stop into the Reading Terminal Market, abuzz with shops and foods. Enjoy evening entertainment with the Independence After Hours program which includes a three course dinner at the City Tavern, a 1776 Walking Tour and the Lights of Liberty Show.
The Philadelphia Art Museum, with its extensive collections and featured exhibitions is certainly one of the major highlights of Philadelphia. Recreations of an Italian Colonnade, a Japanese Tea House and a Middle Eastern temple with massive winged beasts are surrounded by rooms of arms and Armour, early American artefacts, medieval tapestries and ancient objects. In between, you’ll discover gallery after gallery of some of the world’s finest paintings and sculptures by major artists. More Philadelphia “greats” await at the home of Betsy Ross, the seamstress who stitched the first American flag in 1776 and Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest continuously occupied street in America, dating from 1702. Early tenants on the street were craftsmen and sea captains, as well as others related to shipping. The Rodin Museum is home to the largest collection of the master’s works outside the Musee Rodin in Paris, France. Philadelphia has The Thinker, John the Baptist, The Cathedral and The Burghers of Calais, as well as drawings and sketches and The Gates of Hell. The Philadelphia Zoo, America’s first Zoo, is another option. To maximize your visit, you may want to pick up a Philadelphia Pass with multiple discounted admissions. There’s a lot to do and a lot to pack into two days here. Of course, you can always return on another visit and enjoy a 3, 4, or 5 day City Break to experience Philadelphia more completely.
2 nights – Philadelphia.
Hotel: Loews Philadelphia
Day 3 & 4: To Lancaster (80 miles)
You’ll love visiting Amish Country in Lancaster County to experience the slower pace of life and simple living. With traditions dating back centuries, Lancaster County is home to the oldest group of the Old Order Amish, the “Plain People” who settled in the 1720s, fleeing religious persecution. Contrary to being called “Pennsylvania Dutch, the Amish are not Dutch at all. The word was shortened from the German Deutsch. Even though the strongest bond of the Amish is German heritage, there are is Swiss, French, English, Welsh and Scottish Amish. Holding dear traditional values, they stress humility, family, community and separation from the world. Not actually stuck in history, the Amish do change. They just examine it carefully before they accept it. The best place to gain an overview of the Amish and Lancaster County is the Discover Lancaster History Museum which features 32 life-size, in-depth exhibits that recreate 400 years of Lancaster’s heritage. You’ll relive events such as the French and Indian, the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and explore the variety of cultures represented in central Pennsylvania. From the Native Americans and European immigrants, including the Amish, Pennsylvania Deutsche, Scots, Irish and English, you’ll soon discover that Lancaster is a hodge-podge of people and cultures. That fact adds greatly to the richness of life in this delightfully rural place. The best way to explore Lancaster is on the self guided walking tour. In the centre of one of America’s oldest inland cities, Central Market still serves as a bustling centrepiece and nearby streets are alive with shops, galleries and restaurants. You’ll find Amish culture at The People’s Place, considered the most authentic educational and heritage centre explaining Amish and Mennonite cultures anywhere in the world. After exploring the foundations of the two different religious sects, be sure to visit the People’s Place Quilt Museum that features antique Amish and Mennonite quilts and quilt making, along with other decorative arts.
2 nights – Lancaster.
Hotel: The Inn @ Leola Village
Day 5 & 6: To Gettysburg (55 miles)
At the Gettysburg Battlefield, you can almost still hear the drums of war beating within the stilling silence. In this place, where the fate of America changed forever, the landscape has been preserved to tell the story of war, yet honour the soldiers who fought valiantly for their cause. It was at Gettysburg that the leaders of both the Union and Confederate armies who would ultimately play out the Civil War to its end, first met in gigantic and carefully strategized battles. All seemed to understand that the outcome of the war would be determined on these grounds. Whomever prevailed would be likely to conquer. In a bold attempt to invade America’s capital city, the Confederate army amassed thousands of troops ready to open a gateway to take Washington, DC from the north. The Union understood that the ground had to be held at whatever cost, otherwise the war would be lost. President Abraham Lincoln also understood the gravity of the situation when he delivered what some consider to be one of the world’s best orations. Having stood the test of time, his eloquent words still stir the emotions when delivered even today. However, within all of this important history, Gettysburg is more than just about battles. Founded in 1797, more than 60 years before the Civil War, the town was settled by Scots-Irish settlers on their way to the Shenandoah Valley. Original buildings from this era still stand on Lincoln Square. Now surrounded by great antique shopping, vineyards, neighbouring historic villages and quiet timeless countryside, Gettysburg stands as a hallmark to its important history, complemented with the thriving life and rich culture of southern Pennsylvania.
2 night – Gettysburg.
Hotel: Best Western Hotel Gettysburg or Wyndham Gettysburg
Day 7: To Pittsburgh (185 miles)
Built at the meeting point of the Allegheny, Ohio and the Monongahela rivers, Pittsburgh history evolved its strategic location at the headwaters of this key intersection. A settlement was established by the Native Americans well before English settlers arrived to build Fort Pitt. A ride on one of the city’s Gateway Clippers will take you out onto the rivers for a great perspective on the whole city. The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, cousins of Carnegie Mellon University, include the Museum of Art, the Science Centre and the Museum of Natural History. The Senator John Heinz History Centre, Pennsylvania’s largest history museum is also worth a stop. A multitude of artefacts, interactive exhibits, and the building itself illustrate Pittsburgh’s fascinating past, along with the heritage of the
South-western Pennsylvania region. The Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium is also one of America’s best zoos and worth a visit as well. America’s favourite condiment, Heinz Ketchup, was invented here, as was the Big Mac! You can even try a restaurant serving locally grown food or a farmers market visited daily by various chefs.
You have the opportunity today to take a drive into the countryside surrounding Pittsburgh. It’s amazing that farmland, covered bridges and quaint towns can peacefully coexist with such a large city. Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterpiece is located outside a tiny village in South-western Pennsylvania. Built over a waterfall, it remains an enduring work of art. Several types of guided tours are available, as well as a separate tour at another of Wright’s designs, Kentuck Knob. Nearby, Meadowcroft Rockshelter and the Museum of Rural life are must sees as well. Meadowcroft Rockshelter is the site of the oldest human habitation in America. You can try using an atlatl, a prehistoric spear-thrower like those used by Meadowcroft's first inhabitants. Meadowcroft Village
lets you experience elements of everyday family life in the 19th century. Watch a blacksmith forge red-hot iron or enjoy fresh-baked bread from the open hearth. If there is any time left in your day, plan to meander the scenic byways of the Laurel Highlands on the way back to your accommodations in Pittsburgh.
2 nights – Pittsburgh.
Hotel: Omni William Penn
Day 9 & 10: To Lake Erie (122 miles)
Presque Isle State Park is a 3,200-acre sandy peninsula that arches into Lake Erie. As Pennsylvania's only "seashore," Presque Isle offers its visitors a beautiful coastline and many recreational activities, including swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, bicycling and in-line skating. A National Natural Landmark, Presque Isle is a favourite spot for migrating birds. Because of the many unique habitats, Presque Isle contains a greater number of the state's endangered, threatened and rare species than any other area of comparable size in Pennsylvania.
Preque Isle State with its 11 sandy beaches and abundance of outdoor activities is only the beginning. The Pennsylvania coastline is home to amusements parks and waterparks, Lake Erie cruises, shopping for unique gifts & collectibles, Fishing and boating.
Erie, Pennsylvania offers up a wide variety of entertainment through the performing arts. Opportunities to see a ballet, comedian at a comedy club or an orchestra performance are minutes from your hotel as are a wide variety of restaurants.
2 nights – Lake Erie
Hotel: Wingate by Wyndham (Includes American Breakfast)
Day 11 & 12: To Allegheny National Forest (100 miles)
Allegheny National Forest, where the power of nature and the power of mankind will amaze you. The majestic Allegheny National Forest in located in the most northern tier of the Pennsylvania Wilds and sprawls over 512998 acres and the four wild and beautiful counties of McKean, Warren, Elk and Forest Highlights include the mighty Allegheny (Kinzua) Reservoir and over 600+miles of trails, including hiking, biking, snowmobile trails and cross country skiing.
Beautiful scenery, designated overlooks are yours to enjoy along the the Longhouse National Scenic Drive. The extensive trail system, which includes 96.3 miles of North Country National Scenic Trail, provides opportunities for bird watching and wildlife viewing. American Bald Eagles soar over the Reservoir.
The Allegheny National Forest offers a rugged landscape of rolling hills, meandering streams and virgin hardwood forests. All of this natural beauty offers abundant opportunities for recreation, including four beaches, six boat launches, sixteen campgrounds, three scenic overlook areas, nine picnic areas, dozens of trout streams.
Favorite activities within the Allegheny National Forest include hiking the North Country Trail, canoeing through the Allegheny Islands Wilderness area, fishing in the Allegheny Reservoir, biking in Buzzard Swamp, visiting the ruins of the former 1882 Kinzua Bridge, and enjoying the scenery along the National Longhouse Scenic Byway
Allegheny Reservoir and Kinzua Dam: Many of the recreation areas in the Allegheny National Forest are located in the area around the Allegheny Reservoir, a 25-mile lake created by the Kinzua Dam. Here you can enjoy the views from two nearby scenic overlooks, visit the dam, fish or boat in the reservoir, or camp in one of the many campgrounds located on the shores of the Allegheny Reservoir.
Allegheny River Islands Wilderness: Seven islands in the Allegheny River between Buckaloons Recreation Area and the town of Tionesta, offer remote canoeing and back-country camping for a unique East Coast wilderness experience. This federally-designated wilderness area totals 368 acres. The islands are named for early settlers and are used primarily by fishermen and campers on overnight canoe trips down the Allegheny River.
Hiking & Biking Trails: Over 300 trails criss-cross the Allegheny National Forest. Multiple hiking trails offer hiking for all levels, include a 96-mile portion of the North Country Scenic Trail. There are also over 100 miles of ATV trails and 54 miles of cross-country ski trails. Many of the hiking and ATV trails are also open for mountain biking. The 9.6 miles trail system around Buzzard Swamp is an especially nice place for anyone looking for a relatively flat hiking or biking trip.
Horseback riding isn't allowed on developed hiking and cross-country trails in the Allegheny National Forest, but open riding is permitted through most other sections of the forest.
Fishing & Wildlife: The Allegheny Reservoir, along with other smaller reservoirs and over 500 miles of streams, offer outstanding fishing opportunities and over 71 species of fish in the Allegheny National Forest. A Pennsylvania license is required for fishing in all Pennsylvania portions of the Allegheny National Forest, except on PA fish for free days
More than 300 species of mammals call the Allegheny National Forest home, including black bear, white-tailed deer and wild turkey. Bald eagles have even been spotted in the Kinzua Dam area.
Boating & Swimming: The Allegheny and Clarion Rivers and Tionesta Creek offer almost 300 miles of river travel within the Allegheny National Forest the for the canoe or kayak enthusiast.
2 nights – Bradford
Hotel: Bradford Inn, BW Plus (Includes American Breakfast)
Day 13: To Pocono Mountains (280 miles)
The Pocono Mountains have been a leisure playground since 1829. There’s fresh, cool air, race cars, waterfalls, awesome scenic roads and railroads. From the building of the first boarding house hotel that created a wildly successful resort industry, the Pocono Mountains have welcomed visitors from all walks of life. Yet, today’s Pocono Mountains are not your father’s Pocono Mountains. In each season of life, the destination has grown more gracious, incorporating heritage from the past into each succeeding decade, while retaining the outdoor environments the region is so famous for. Where once city dwellers from the New York metropolitan area flocked to the outdoors from across the river, visitors now come to drive scenic roads, explore the area’s rich history and heritage and enjoy the theatre and entertainment. Today, waterfalls coexist peacefully with water parks, hot tubs with history, and honeymoons with heritage. You can enjoy the best of 2,400 square miles of playground teeming with activities and attractions. Meandering scenic drives are enhanced with an unending parade of awesome natural environments. Delving into fascinating history can be balanced with doing active things. Natural beauty shines in no less than seven National Park Service affiliated locations. The arts are well represented too as well as flight seeing, active water sports and other activities of any particular interest.
One of the highlights of the Pocono Mountains, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is less than 90 miles from Manhattan, and winds along 40 miles of the Pennsylvania New Jersey border. This is some of the most pristine water in America and supplies 10% of the country’s population with fresh drinking water. A tour on the Water Gap Trolley is a great way to learn about the area. Or head directly to the park headquarters for visitor information. More than 25 miles of The Appalachian Trail traverse this area and the views are spectacular. Climbing to the top of the mountain for the view is really worth it. You can also rent a canoe or kayak and paddle the Middle Delaware and enjoy views unspoiled by man. Make sure to visit the waterfalls at Bushkill Falls – “The Niagara of Pennsylvania” and Dingmans Falls. Spend the evening in Stroudsburg – dinner at the Stroudsmoor Country Inn is a favourite of locals and visitors alike. The Deer Head Inn is another option – live Jazz for over 60 years makes this the longest running jazz club in the nation.
2 nights – Pocono Mountains.
Hotel: Skytop lodge
Day 15: Philadelphia Airport (150 miles)
En route to Philadelphia Airport, stop by Valley Forge where you can pick up some last minute shopping at either the King of Prussia Mall boasting seven world class department stores and more than 400 stores, boutiques, and restaurants, The King of Prussia has more pure retail shopping space than any other attraction in American or if you like a bargain head for the Philadelphia premium outlets in Limerick feature more than 150 designer and brand-name outlet stores in an astounding 425,000-square-foot space. Upscale merchants such as Calvin Klein, Coach, J.Crew and Sony are among the outlet stores tempting shoppers.
For those who don’t want to shop but want a piece of American history be sure stop by Valley Forge Historical Park. The picturesque, rolling hillsides of 3,600-acre Valley Forge National Historical Park are a peaceful reminder of freedom won by men’s sacrifices long ago. It was here that General George Washington forged his Continental Army into a fighting force, during the winter encampment of 1777-78. No battles were fought, no bayonet charges or artillery bombardments took place. Nonetheless, some 2,000 soldiers died – more Americans than were killed at the battles of Brandywine and Germantown combined. Valley Forge is the story of an army’s epic struggle to survive against terrible odds, hunger and disease.
All done – it’s time to head for Philadelphia Airport which is approx 1 hour drive, drop the car and check in for your flight home.
Pre, post or extra nights: Pre, post & extra nights within the itinerary can be added to this tour, please let us know if you would like to extend your stay anywhere and we will be happy to quote the extra nights.
Documentation/joining instructions: A prepaid voucher for your first hotel stay & itinerary will be issued to you prior to travel, your fly drive guidebook with all other documents & maps etc will then be waiting for your collection at the first hotel.
Included in the tour:
All hotel taxes.
Self drive tailor-made guidebook that contains hotel vouchers, driving directions, itinerary, maps, brochures, general information, discount coupons and an extensive sightseeing section.
Not included in this tour:
Overnight parking charges if applicable.
Flights – Please contact us for a competitive quote on flights direct into Philadelphia with our airline partner British Airways.
Car Hire - Please contact us for a competitive quote on car hire with our rental partner Alamo rent a car.
All rates quoted are per adult person per package in Great British Pounds and include all taxes.
Up to two children under 12 can normally stay free when sharing the same room with two adults.
Rooms in the accommodations listed above all provide private facilities and are based on the hotels standard or lead in room type.
Should any of the above published hotels not be available an alternative property at the same level will be offered.
Tour departs everyday
01 Apr 2016 – 31 Mar 2017
Available on request
Available on request
To book this tour, flights, car hire, extra nights, please call us on 0844 80 444 80.
We are open 7 days a week until late.