Rough Draft: 3 Day Itinerary for Laurel Highlands, PA
Due to the COVID quarantine, I am creating rough draft, “off the shelf” travel itineraries for when travel resumes normal operations so we do not waste any time getting out and exploring!
Laurel Highlands is a region just outside of Pittsburgh, PA that I have never heard of before. I first learned about it in New Zealand, which feels entirely random to learn about “middle of nowhere PA” across the globe. Our white water rafting instructor used to work and raft in Ohiopyle State Park and recommended it for us to try. I gave it a start on the Google Maps and moved on with the rest of the 2019 travel year.
Now that we are mostly domestic bound and car bound for awhile, it forced a re-evaluation of the northeast part of the country. And there I found the star on Google Maps for Ohiopyle State Park.
The Laurel Highlands area is quite the outdoors play ground. The region spans three counties and is full of state parks that have free entry. After exploring the area’s offerings, I think staying in the Seven Springs area is most central but there are plenty of a camping opportunities, lodges, and luxury resorts to choose from.
What is there to do?
There are the standard outdoor fair, including camping, hiking, biking, fishing, and in the wintertime downhill and cross-country skiing.
The biggest draw is Ohiopyle State Park which can easily consume the entire three day trip:
- Waterfalls (Cucumber Falls, Natural Water Slides, Ohiopyle Falls)
- Bike the Great Allegheny Passage
- Walk the Ferncliff Peninsula Natural Area
- White water rafting or other water activities with Wilderness Voyaguers
Here are some additional ways to spend time in Laurel Highlands:
- There are several other state parks to visit in the region, including Laurel Hill State Park, Linn Run State Park and Laurel Mountain State Park. For more of a challenge, visit Mt Davis – the tallest point in Pennsylvania.
- Laurel Caverns is located in the southeast corner of Laurel Highlands and offers walking tours in addition of caving and spelunking options.
- Someone may have to explain this to me, but it feels like a random occurrence. There are several famous houses, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kentuck Knob and Fallingwate, known for their architecture – I guess I will have to visit to find out!
- For families, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Seven Springs Resort was highlighted by many bloggers as a great spot for kids as it offers mini golf, water park, bowling, zipline, and more. Nemacolin seems a bit pricey to stay there but you can visit the resort as a day guest.
Where to eat?
There are tons of small town spots sprinkled throughout the Laurel Highlands so I highlighted the ones in each area that I found while researching:
South (Chalkhill / Farmington area)
|Central (Seven Spring area)|| |
North (Mt Pleasant / Ligonier area)
|Lucky Dog Cafe |
Bittersweet CafeBraddock Inn RestaurantMaywood Grill
|Helen’s at Seven Springs Resort |
Out of the Fire CafeMoo Echo Dairy Farm
|Sand Hill Berries Farmer’s Market |
Ligonier Tavern and TableThe Eastwood InnThe Original Pie Shoppe
When visiting Ohiopyle State Park, there are a surprising number of places to eat:
- Ohiopyle Bakery and Sandwich Shoppe
- Bittersweet Cafe
- Ohiopyle House Cafe
- Falls City Pub
I was surprised to find a bunch of breweries and wineries along the way so take a break from hiking and create your own tasting trail.
|South (Chalkhill area)||
Central (Seven Spring area)
North (Mt Pleasant / Ligonier area)
|Christian Klay Winery||Kegg Brewing Company |
Vin De Matrix WineryGlades Pike Winery
|Bella Terra Vineyards |
Helltown Brewing Four Seasons Brewing Company
Putting all this together, here is how I would spend 3 days in Laurel Highlands. As with most 3 day weekends, I like to travel on Thursday after work to get the most out of the three days at the destination.
|Day 0||Afternoon||Travel to Seven Springs, PA|
|Evening||Laurel Hill State Park (Cole Run Falls)|
|Day 1||Morning||Mt Davis hike|
|Afternoon||Laurel Caverns Spelunking|
|Evening||Explore Chalkhill / Farmington area|
|Day 2||Morning||Ohiopyle State Park – hiking, biking, white water rafting|
|Evening||Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kentuck Knob and Fallingwater Houses|
|Day 3||Morning||Linn Run State Park or Laurel Mountain State Park|
|Afternoon||Moo Echo Dairy Farm |
Wine / Beer Trail
If you have been to the Laurel Highlands before, let me know what I missed and what your favorites are!