Forks in the Road: Food and Travel in Central PA - A Community Blog

Adrienne Wolter shares local restaurant reviews, day trips and cooking adventures

5 Getaways You Can Do in a 3-Day Weekend

Written by Adrienne Wolter, Community Blogger | Aug 25, 2014 7:43 AM

Experiencing a little Wanderlust? Symptoms include the inherent need to constantly be moving, Googling places around the globe, feeling claustrophobic inside the four walls of your house and yes, the overwhelming feeling that you will become a slave of routine, much like an android...a very uninteresting android at that.

So, how can you become culturally informed, experience the world outside of your four walls and do only minor damage on your bank account? Well, with Labor Day coming up, it's the perfect time to step away for a few days to satisfy your inner traveler. With three days to get up and go, what is a Central Pennsylvanian to do?

Okay, so it's pretty impossible to manage travelling out west or south in only three days. Sure, you can hit neighboring states like New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and even the Washington D.C. metropolis; however, let's limit the amount of stress – and driving time – from your vacation. Believe it or not, there are so many great places to visit within a couple hours of your hometown.

One of the biggest benefits to living in Central Pennsylvania is we are such a unique hub. Okay, what I really mean is we are close to so many major cities and places. So why don't you push aside ideas of a staycation and venture to any one of these fabulous destinations. You'll definitely have some great stories to share when people ask what you did on Labor Day this year.

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Photo by Matthew Paulson

1. Iron City Bound: Pittsburgh

Steelers fan or not, this city has so many hidden gems to discover. With 446 bridges to cross, its skyline alone is breathtaking. Book a hotel downtown, and dish out the money to park your car for the weekend. Everything to experience within the city limits is all manageable by taking the Port Authority bus. With limited parking, this is your best bet.

Make time to visit the Duquesne Incline on Mt. Washington for the best photo ops. On Saturday morning, be sure to shop in the Strip District for fresh produce and local art – The Pittsburgh Popcorn Factory is there to satiate your sweet tooth. Afterwards, venture through Oakland to see the beautiful Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh or visit Squirrel Hill for some great coffee and small shopping boutiques.

Don't forget to check out Station Square, The South Side, The Waterfront, The National Aviary, The Pittsburgh Zoo, The Mattress Factory, Andy Warhol Museum, Kennywood and countless other adventures. You'll be saying "yinz" before you know it!

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Photo by Peter Miller

2. The City of Brotherly Love: Philadelphia

Of course, Will Smith has made Philly iconic for his role in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, but there are so many neat things to see and do in the hustle and bustle of this city. For a taste of the nightlife, make it a point to stop and stretch your legs on South Street, where there is a plethora of restaurants, concert venues like the TLA and of course, some of the best bars in the city. With a block walk to the waterway, it's also a great view for some photos. Look for concert events on the other side of town at the Electric Factory for a night out.

Are you a Phillies fan? Try to catch a ball game at the beautiful Citizens Bank Park and be sure to pay the cover charge for Xfinity Live! to experience dining and dancing. Or, catch an Eagles game in pre-season. Philly is known for excellent and safe tailgating... they even have designated spaces to park to set up your grill and get your game on.

Maybe you're looking for a little more culture in your life. Stomp through the well-known Philadelphia Zoo and take the tour through Historic Philadelphia, home to America's most historic square mile. View the Liberty Bell and visit the Betsy Ross house. Nothing will make you feel more like an American than this one mile.

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Photo by Alex Eflon

3. Get Your Wine On: The Finger Lakes

Feeling like your weekend should be spent with your pinky up? Okay, maybe you aren't that snooty, but you'd like to experience Labor Day with a little class and sophistication. The Finger Lakes is an excellent way to experience some of the best wine and beautiful vineyard backdrops. Get a taste at any of the local wineries and experience some shopping fineries.

If you aren't much of a planner, there are some great packages you can purchase to make your trip all-inclusive. Then, you can choose whether you'd like a peaceful trip or something more adventurous. Visit a spa to relax, kayak on one of the lakes or revel in the beauty of the Corning Museum of Glass. Whatever you do, you're on your own time schedule, so enjoy every moment.

4. Be a Wild Stallion: Assateague Island

Is being near the water really important to you? Assateague Island is such a unique vacation spot that often times it goes overlooked. A stunning National Seashore near Chincoteague, Virginia and Ocean City, Maryland, this hotspot is home to wild ponies, making this a trip you will never forget. If you get the chance, watch the ponies swim and see how environmentalists and scientists use devices to explain this phenomenon.

You can park your car and get out and walk all weekend for the best sightseeing experience so close to home. Take a sightseeing cruise by boat, kayak the beautiful inlet or put your feet in the sand. If you're feeling a little adventurous, take a hike or bike through the trails, go crabbing or grab your binoculars and do some bird watching. With over 37 miles of beach, you'll have plenty of time to stock up on your seashell collection!

5. Reach New Heights: The Poconos

Do you want to feel like you've really gone off the grid? Grab your walking stick and head to a mountain cabin in the Poconos. There are many great family resorts and private getaways to stay and put your feet up and enjoy family and friends.

Tour all that Mother Nature has to offer with kayaking, swimming, fishing, hiking, biking and yes, even whitewater rafting. Venture into Jim Thorpe to see some wonderful local shops and eats. You'll never get bored with its spectacular views and things to do. So, put away your cell phone and experience life before technology.

Whatever your destination, don't be afraid to experience it right from the comfort of your own state. If you crave city life, forget Chicago or NYC and try our neighboring cities. If you desire a place in the Bahamas, look no further than your own backyard. And, if you're feeling adventurous, forgo Wyoming and try some of our mountain majesties. Just know that you have an opportunity for a three-day weekend. Don't waste another moment wishing you were someplace else.

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