Family Road Trip - 5 Spectacular Scenic Drives in Pennsylvania

5 Spectacular Scenic Drives in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is a state rich in natural wonders, bustling cities, and historic American landmarks. Few states have played such a key role in shaping this nation’s history, but that’s not the only reason we love everything about PA. It’s also home to some of the most beautiful scenic drives out there, and we’re here to fill you in on our favorites.  

Whether you have a few hours, a few days, or a whole week to spare, there’s a scenic Pennsylvania drive to satisfy every traveler. Many of these routes are exceptionally breathtaking in the fall, but you can truly enjoy them almost year-round. Let’s dive in to the most scenic drives in PA!  

5 Scenic Drives in PA

Pennsylvania Scenic Drives: Brandywine Valley Byway – Route 52 and Route 100 

  • Distance: 12.25 miles 
  • Time needed: 1 hour/1 day 

The Brandywine Valley Byway is full of beautiful landscapes, historic estates and architecture, and lush gardens. There are few scenic routes in Pennsylvania as spectacular as this one, and you can enjoy the whole experience in one afternoon. You’ll start your drive from Rodney Square in Wilmington and continue on Routes 52 and 100 to the Delaware-Pennsylvania State Line. 

USA Scenic Drives in Pennsylvania - Brandywine Valley Byway

Although you can drive straight through in an hour, we suggest taking a minimum of two hours. After all, there are so many places to stop at and explore, like the Nemours Mansion and Gardens. The Nemours Mansion was modeled after Versailles and boasts the largest formal French garden on the northern continent. 

A portion of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway is also included along Route 52. Of course, your trip wouldn’t be complete without stopping at the Old Kennett Meeting House, where abolitionists gathered in 1855.  

If you’re a lover of art, you won’t want to miss the Brandywine River Museum, which resides in Hoffman’s Mill, an 1800s-era gristmill in Chadds Ford. Nature lovers will enjoy visiting John Chads House, which offers picturesque views of the Brandywine River. Longwood Gardens are also along the route. This American botanical garden has over 1,000 acres of woodlands, parks, and meadows. Or you can stretch your legs on the 9 miles of walking trails of the Stroud Preserve in West Chester.  

When to go: We recommend traveling the Brandywine Valley Byway in spring, summer, and early fall.  

Pennsylvania Scenic Drives: Covered Bridge Tour – Route 152, Route 611, Route 232  

  • Distance: 96.1 miles 
  • Time needed: 4 hours/1 day 

If you’re searching for a unique way to enjoy the Pennsylvania scenery, take the self-guided Covered Bridge Tour in beautiful Bucks County. This scenic Pennsylvania drive can be divided into two separate excursions, or you can combine them into a day-long outing.  

USA Scenic Drives in Pennsylvania - Covered Bridge Tour

The Eastern Half Loop takes about 2.5 hours and begins at Washington Crossing Historic Park and concludes at Moods Covered Bridge in Perkasie. Washington Crossing Historic Park is a beautiful area to explore, with over 500 acres of both natural and historical sights. (Pro Tip: If you’re traveling through in October, enjoy seasonal beers and autumn leaves at the Fall Brewfest.) The Eastern Half Loop introduces you to nine covered bridges, concluding with Moods Covered Bridge in Perkasie.  

While it’s not possible to pull over and take pictures at every bridge, you can do so in Perkasie. Take in the picturesque setting before enjoying other interesting stops in the area, such as the Pearl S. Buck House, Sellersville Theater, or Peace Valley Lavender Farm.  

The Western Half Loop takes about an hour and a half straight through, extending from Perkasie to Washington Crossing Historic Park. The second portion of the drive introduces you to three more covered bridges, as well as Tyler State Park. Once you complete your journey, stop for a bite to eat in New Hope to end your day.  

When to go: We recommend taking the Covered Bridge Driving Tour during summer and fall, as the fall scenery is gorgeous along the route.  

Pennsylvania Scenic Drives: Pennsylvania Route 6 Scenic Drive – Route 6 

  • Distance: 427 miles 
  • Time needed:  8 hours/6-7 days 

There is truly no more spectacular drive in Pennsylvania than Route 6, which National Geographic has called “one of America’s most scenic drives.”

USA Scenic Drives in Pennsylvania - Route 6

This magical route extends over 400 miles across the northern portion of the state, taking you through 19 state parks, several state forests, and Allegheny National Forest. It’s one of the most scenic drives in Pennsylvania, and we recommend taking at least a week to experience all that Route 6 has to offer.  

Whilst it’s impossible to name all the must-see stops along your drive, we’ll highlight a few to add to your road trip bucket list. The first is the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, located in the Tioga State Forest. The canyon’s actual name is the Pine Creek Gorge, reaching over 45 miles with depths reaching almost 1500 feet.

Pro Tip: Be sure to visit the East Rim of the PA Grand Canyon and hike down the Turkey Path.  

The Pennsylvania Lumber Museum is also an interesting historical stop, as is the Allegheny Reservoir in the Allegheny National Forest. This area is one of the most popular outdoor recreation spots in the United States, and it’s absolutely breathtaking when decorated in fall foliage. Finally, you must venture across the Kinzua Viaduct, a 600-foot glass walkway counted among the World’s Top 10 Most Beautiful Skywalks and Viewpoints in the World.  

When to go: Explore all or part of Pennsylvania Route 6 at any time, although some portions of the state and national forests may be closed during winter.  

Pennsylvania Scenic Drives: Pennsylvania Route 30 – Route 30, Philadelphia to Pittsburg  

  • Distance: 300 miles 
  • Time needed: 6 hours 34 minutes/5-6 days 

Pennsylvania Route 30 is one of the best scenic drives near Philadelphia, and you can drive straight through to Pittsburg in less than 7 hours. However, we advise taking plenty of stops along the way! This picturesque route along the southern portion of the state has many noteworthy attractions along the way for everyone to enjoy.  

USA Scenic Drives in Pennsylvania - Route 30

Also known as the Lincoln Highway, Pennsylvania Route 30 is overflowing with cultural, historical, and natural attractions along its 300-mile route. Before leaving Philadelphia, visit the Philadelphia Zoo, take a selfie in front of the Liberty Bell, and enjoy an authentic Philly cheesesteak. 

After Philadelphia, head west to Lancaster, where you’ll encounter rolling hills, tranquil farmland, an outlet mall, and experience Amish culture at the Amish Farm and House. (Pro Tip:  If you’re traveling with young children, give them an outlet for their energy at Busy Bodies Play Café, where kids are invited to play, discover, and learn.)  

After Lancaster, your next stop is Gettysburg. Enjoy a carriage ride across the battlefield while admiring the fall foliage, attend the National Apple Harvest Festival, go on a ghost tour, and more. You can even tour the battlefield on horseback. There are so many exciting places to visit along the way, we promise you that Pittsburg will arrive all too soon.  

When to go: If we had our way, everyone would get to experience Route 30 in the fall. However, you can enjoy the Pennsylvania scenery year-round on this journey.  

Pennsylvania Scenic Drives: Laurel Highlands Scenic Byway – Route 30, PA 985, Interstate 70.76 

  • Distance: 68 miles 
  • Time needed: 3 hours/1 day 

The Laurel Highlands Scenic Byway sits a few hours outside of Pittsburg. This almost magical stretch of Pennsylvania scenery is both beautiful and historical, even featuring one of America’s most famous pieces of architecture. You can easily make this trip in a day, but it’s also the perfect way to spend a 3-day weekend.  

USA Scenic Drives in Pennsylvania - Laurel Highlands Scenic Byway

Begin your drive at Laurel Ridge State Park in Seward, PA. This magnificent park features over 13,000 acres of lush forests and hiking trails. However, if you really want to test your walking stamina, try to complete the Laurel Highlands Trail – it’s nearly 70 miles long!  

Once you’re finished taking in the sights, drive to Fort Ligonier, an essential part of the French and Indian and Revolutionary War. The 26-year-old Colonel George Washington resided there, and you can view the special George Washington Collection at the local museum. If you have time, grab a craft beer at Wicked Googly, a local pub inside Ligonier Lanes bowling alley.  

Whether or not you’re traveling with kids, you’ll want to stop at Living Treasures Wild Animal Park in Jones Mills. Marvel at the big cats exhibit, feed animals from the palm of your hand, and meet over 300 creatures big and small from 50 different species. It’s a unique and wonderful experience for everyone! Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterpiece in Mill Run, PA, is a final can’t-miss opportunity. The home is open for public tours and is truly a sight to behold.

Pro Tip: Although you can buy tickets in person, we recommend purchasing them online, as slots tend to fill up rather quickly.

When to go: You can drive along the Laurel Highlands Scenic Byway year-round, but it is particularly beautiful in the fall.  

© Family Road Trip 2024

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