Your great-aunt Margaret is coming to town this weekend, all the way from Utah. Or maybe your long-lost childhood best friend is stopping by to catch up. What should you show them that isn’t overdone, overhyped, tacky, or touristy? Here are some fantastic ideas about where to take your guests when they visit you in the Keystone State…
1. Mütter Museum, Philadelphia
If your guest enjoys the weirder things in life, the Mütter Museum is your first stop. Not your typical museum, it showcases a medical collection of oddities and gross specimens.
2. Mercer Museum and Fonthill Castle, Doylestown
The Mercer Museum and Fonthill Castle aren't as grotesque as the Mütter Museum, but they are just as steeped in fascinating history. Henry Mercer was an anthropologist who, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, built an incredible collection of pre-industrial artifacts. They are now on display here, in what was once his striking property.
3. The Ephrata Cloister, Ephrata
The Ephrata Cloister was a religious community formed in the small town of Ephrata in the early 18th century. The community lived a strict ascetic lifestyle that involved a limited diet, sleep, and celibacy. Today, the grounds where the cloister once lived are administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
4. Bube's Brewery, Mount Joy
Bube's Brewery is a great, memorable place to take an out-of-town guest for lunch or dinner. It is a historic 19th century brewery, that not only has four dining areas, but an art gallery, ghost tours, murder mystery parties, and more... Check out the Catacombs Restaurant, pictured above.
5. Columcille Megalith Park, Bangor
Columcille Megalith Park is one of Pennsylvania's best-kept secrets. It is a meditative space, inspired by the Celtic Isle of Iona. It is a serene location to spend time with a person you haven't seen in a long time.
6. Kinzua Bridge State Park, McKean County
The Kinzua Bridge was once considered one of the country's greatest manmade wonders. Until it collapsed in 2003, it was the fourth tallest railway bridge in the country. Today, it is one of the most popular state parks in Pennsylvania, where visitors can observe the effects of nature upon the bridge's ruins.
7. Ringing Rocks State Park, Bucks County
Here's a weird activity that your guest won't be forgetting. Bring a hammer (and safety glasses, if you're worried about dust getting in your eyes) and try tapping on the rocks at Ringing Rocks State Park. True to their name, they emit a ringing sound when struck... How unusual.
8. Randyland, Pittsburgh
Does your friend like art? Quirky, outsider art, in particular? Randyland, located in Pittsburgh's North Side, is one of the most underrated attractions in Pennsylvania. The house-museum itself is impressive, but I'm told that Randy is also a fantastic host.
9. The Elk in Allegheny National Forest, Benzette
Pennsylvania is home to one of the largest wild-roaming herd of elk in the country, located in Benzette County. Visit and admire the majestic animals.
10. Cherry Springs State Park, West Branch
In the middle of Pennsylvania is Cherry Springs State Park, one of the state's most gorgeous parks. Not only is it nice during the daytime, but at night, it really becomes irresistible. Some of the darkest night skies on the eastern side of the country can be found here, making Cherry Springs a destination for professional astronomers and amateur stargazers.
What else would you add? Share your thoughts below.