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Pennsylvania’s outdoors


Courtesy Cherry Crest Adventure Farm


From group tours that delve deep into cavernous groves to fishing in the more than 4,000 miles of cold water streams for the state’s famous brook trout, outdoor adventures are plentiful across Pennsylvania.

Officially recognized as a commonwealth, Pennsylvania has a rich history that is best explored not in the confines of a museum, but in the sprawling lands across this 46,055-square-mile state. With more than 120 state parks scattered across the land featuring mountains, river valleys, caves and pristine farmlands, each acre tells a story about the state and offers something everyone in the group can enjoy. Here are some of the top spots for sampling and exploring Pennsylvania’s expansive outdoor offerings.

Laurel Highlands
The Laurel Highlands region of Pennsylvania is a four-season destination. Encompassing a large part of the western section of the state, this region is packed with outdoor activities, from downhill skiing in the winter to fly-fishing in the spring and even white-water rafting in the summer.

Outdoor enthusiasts can take to the mighty Youghiogheny River for the best-stocked trout streams in the state, visit the highest point in Pennsylvania at Mount Davis or take a leisurely stroll along the historic Allegheny Passage in Ohiopyle State Park.

“We have more than 120,000 acres of preserved state parkland, so given our amount of green space and our topography, we’re a great destination for outdoor activities,” explained Julie Donovan, a Laurel Highlands native and current director of marketing and public relations for the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau. “I can’t imagine living anyplace else. The region has been able to remain undeveloped, so even though we’re close to these major metropolitan areas, when you get here, you can just breathe a sigh of relief because it’s just tranquil and beautiful.”

Cherry Crest Adventure Farm
Dating back to 1774, when the records show that Madam Mary Ferree received a land grant from William Penn himself, the Cherry Crest Adventure Farm is located in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Dutch Country and is a great way to explore the historic and agricultural side of Lancaster County while having a ton of fun on the farm.

“Cherry Crest Adventure Farm is an outdoor adventure in itself,” said Jack Coleman, the farm’s owner for the past 25 years. “We are surrounded by beautiful Amish farms and only a few minutes away from the other attractions Lancaster County is famous for. It’s great to watch families bond together with activities that educate and create self-fulfillment.”

Along with a five-acre corn maze and more than 15 acres of games and rides — check out the giant jump pillows — this farm is also a 300-acre working cattle, poultry and farming operation that gives groups a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to operate a green farm and teaches about the farm’s many conservation programs to make sure the land stays unspoiled.

Kristy Alpert

Kristy Alpert has traversed more than 50 countries in her quest to uncover stories for her outlets in Food & Wine, Men's Health, Group Travel Leader, American Way, and more. When she's not on the road, you can find her teaching yoga and exploring around her new home in Germany with her husband and her Boston Terrier, Tobias.