If you’ve been following Only In Pennsylvania’s posts for a while, you’ve seen plenty of proof of our state’s beauty. Some sights are so whimsical, though, that they might transport you to another world: the one of mystery, wonder, and childhood delight. Here are just a few of the fantastical places in Pennsylvania that will make you feel like a little kid again.
1. The Mercer Museum
Located in Doylestown, the Mercer Museum is the fascinating collection of 19th century anthropologist and industrialist Henry Mercer. Beyond its unbelievable collection of artifacts, the building itself is almost magical. The castle-like structure is one of three buildings built by Dr. Mercer using a unique poured-in concrete method.
2. Rider Park in Lycoming County
Rider Park is such a mysterious, romantic spot that is often overlooked. At any moment it feels as if Prince Charming will emerge, atop his white stallion, from behind a layer of mist.
3. Presque Isle State Park
Lake Erie is full of deep, dark secrets: legends told only under the quiet of nighttime. Especially when a storm approaches, the beaches of Presque Isle Park take on an austere, magical glow.
4. Arcadia University
Grey Towers Castle is a National Historic Landmark, and for good reason; its architect, Horace Trumbauer, went on to design the Philadelphia Museum of Art and other area landmarks. Just try approaching this building (which is used today for administrative offices and student dorms) without a distinct feeling that you may run into Belle or the Beast at any moment. Add in its rumored secret passageways, and you've got yourself enough fantasy fodder for an entire four-year college experience.
5. The Rose Gardens in Allentown
Spring, summer, fall, winter: the Rose Gardens' charm never ceases. Anyone growing up in the Allentown area more than likely took prom pictures here. Beyond those magical memories, the grounds themselves are fit for a princess.
6. The Magic Gardens in Philadelphia
The Magic Gardens in Philadelphia is one of the most whimsical art installations in the country. The work of Isaiah Zagar, who spent over 14 years building the masterpiece, the Gardens are a gigantic mosaic spanning an entire house (inside and outside) and the adjoining yard. As you wander through the twisting and turning pathways, lined with mirrors, colored glass, and cryptic tiles, you will feel as if you've gotten lost in Wonderland.
7. Rickett's Glen State Park
Rickett's Glen State Park: so beautiful, that mermaids choose to have their photoshoots done here. Even minus the mermaid (she's not exactly par for course), Rickett's Glen is a first choice destination for many Pennsylvanians in search of a peaceful, beautiful afternoon. Its many waterfalls soothe the soul.
8. The Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh
The Cathedral of Learning, affectionally known as Cathy by Pitt students, is the tallest academic building in the country, provides nesting spots for a few peregrine falcons, and also is, more or less, the American, real-life version of Hogwarts. Stroll into Cathy's spacious lobby any weekday morning or afternoon, and you'll find dozens of students casually studying and chatting around heavy oak tables, under gothic vaulted ceilings, surrounded by medieval-style chairs and pennants.
9. Pleasant Valley in Monroe County
The view of Pleasant Valley from the Appalachian Trail is absolutely stunning. If you squint, you might be able to spot a herd of unicorns grazing in the distance. (You're going to have to squint a bit harder.)
10. The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania
Pine Creek Gorge, colloquially known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, is one of the most fantastic places in the state. You can almost imagine a dashing protagonist dangling from a cliff over the deep ravine below... Either that, or prehistoric beasts swooping over the valley. Such sights certainly lend themselves to the imagination.
What else would you add to this list? Share below, and thanks for reading.