29 Cool Things Pennsylvania is Known For (+ Famous For)

From the Liberty Bell to the Steel City, Pennsylvania is filled with notable things that make it famous, and if you’re wondering, “what is Pennsylvania known for?” then you’ve come to the right place!

As an American who has traveled the USA all over, I can tell you that the answer to, “what is Pennsylvania famous for?” is – quite a lot!

You’ve got Philly, one of America’s oldest cities, but you’ve also got popular universities like the University of Pittsburgh (my alma mater), as well as Hershey Park (a theme park based on chocolate, yes please), and so much more.

In this guide, we’ll uncover all the cool things Pennsylvania is known for, including foods Pennsylvania is famous for and people Pennsylvania is known for!

1. History

Pennsylvania stands as a testament to the foundations of the United States, playing an instrumental role in shaping the nation’s history.

Philadelphia, as the site of the signing of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitutional Convention, has rightfully earned its moniker as the “Birthplace of America.”

2. Philadelphia

As Pennsylvania’s largest city, Philadelphia boasts a multifaceted identity that effortlessly blends its rich history with contemporary vibrancy.

Beyond the well-preserved historic district, Philadelphia is celebrated for its thriving arts and culture scene, showcased through world-class museums like the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation.

The city’s neighborhoods each have their unique character, from the bohemian charm of Fishtown to the multicultural melting pot of South Philadelphia.

3. Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh’s evolution from a steel industry hub to a modern-day technology and innovation center is a testament to the city’s resilience and adaptability.

The city’s history is deeply rooted in its steel production, a legacy still visible in the preserved steel mills and bridges that dot the skyline.

However, Pittsburgh’s reinvention as a hub for technology, healthcare, and education has ushered in a new era.

4. Amish Country

Nestled within the picturesque landscape of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, lies a remarkable cultural enclave known as Amish Country.

The Amish community is characterized by its commitment to a traditional way of life, rooted in simplicity, faith, and self-sufficiency.

Visitors to this region can experience a glimpse into a lifestyle that seems to exist beyond time – horse-drawn buggies meander along country roads, and fields are tilled without modern machinery.

5. Hershey

Known as the “Sweetest Place on Earth,” Hershey, Pennsylvania, is synonymous with the iconic Hershey’s chocolate brand.

Founded by Milton S. Hershey, this charming town offers more than just delectable treats; it provides a window into the philanthropic legacy of its founder.

The Hershey Story Museum explores the life and impact of Milton Hershey, who used his wealth to establish the Milton Hershey School, a nonprofit educational institution that still benefits underprivileged children today.

6. Gettysburg

The solemn fields of Gettysburg National Military Park hold within their soil the memory of one of the most significant battles in American history.

The Battle of Gettysburg, fought during the American Civil War, marked a turning point that shaped the course of the nation.

Today, visitors can stand upon the hallowed grounds where soldiers from both the Union and Confederate forces fought and fell.

7. Cheesesteaks

The legendary Philly cheesesteak is a culinary phenomenon that embodies Philadelphia’s flavor and spirit.

This sandwich, crafted with thinly sliced beefsteak, melted cheese, and often sautéed onions, is a mouthwatering representation of the city’s food culture.

8. Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, left an indelible mark on Pennsylvania’s history.

His intellectual prowess, innovative ideas, and contributions to the fields of science, literature, and diplomacy are celebrated through attractions like the Benjamin Franklin Museum.

9. Steel Industry

Pennsylvania’s history is closely intertwined with the rise and prominence of the American steel industry.

The state’s abundant resources, skilled labor force, and geographic advantages led to the establishment of steel mills that powered the country’s industrial growth.

10. Amusement Parks

Pennsylvania is a destination for thrill-seekers and family fun alike, with a selection of iconic amusement parks.

Hershey Park offers a delightful blend of chocolate-themed attractions and heart-pounding rides. Kennywood, situated in Pittsburgh, is another beloved park with a history dating back over a century, featuring classic wooden coasters and modern entertainment.

11. Carnegie Museums

Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museums complex, established by the industrialist Andrew Carnegie, comprises a trio of cultural institutions: the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and the Carnegie Science Center.

12. Presque Isle State Park

Situated on Lake Erie, Presque Isle State Park is a natural haven offering sandy beaches, tranquil trails, and water-based activities.

The park’s unique geography, featuring a sandy peninsula jutting into the lake, provides a serene escape for outdoor enthusiasts, bird watchers, and beachgoers.

13. Pocono Mountains

The Pocono Mountains region is a year-round recreational paradise, renowned for its scenic beauty and outdoor opportunities.

Whether it’s skiing in the winter, hiking in the fall, or enjoying water sports on its numerous lakes during the summer, the Poconos offer a diverse range of activities for nature lovers.

14. Philadelphia Eagles

The fervent devotion of Philadelphia Eagles fans is a defining characteristic of the city’s sports culture.

The team’s passionate fan base, often referred to as the “Eagles Nation,” has weathered highs and lows, making each game a communal experience that unites Philadelphians.

15. Philadelphia Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies, one of the oldest continuously operating professional sports franchises in the U.S., have left an indelible mark on the city’s sports history.

16. Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers, a storied franchise in the National Basketball Association (NBA), have carved their place in the city’s sports legacy.

17. Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell, an enduring symbol of American freedom and independence, is a cherished artifact housed in Philadelphia.

With its famous crack, the bell’s resonant history continues to inspire visitors, reminding them of the enduring principles upon which the nation was built.

18. Philly Pretzels

A quintessential Philadelphia snack, soft pretzels are a beloved treat enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

These doughy delights, often served with mustard, are a staple at street vendors, ball games, and snack shops across the city.

19. Chocolate Capital

Beyond the iconic Hershey Company, Pennsylvania boasts a legacy of chocolate production and candy-making that stretches across generations.

20. Civil War History

Pennsylvania’s landscape is dotted with historical markers, battlefields, and museums that commemorate its role in the American Civil War.

The National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg provides a comprehensive overview of the war’s impact on the nation and the state.

21. Quaker Heritage

Founded by William Penn as a haven for religious freedom, Pennsylvania’s Quaker heritage is embedded in its history and culture.

The principles of peace, equality, and tolerance that the Quakers championed continue to influence the state’s values.

22. Appalachian Trail

A segment of the iconic Appalachian Trail traverses through Pennsylvania’s woodlands, offering hikers a diverse range of landscapes to explore.

The trail’s rugged terrain, scenic vistas, and challenging stretches draw outdoor enthusiasts seeking a rewarding adventure.

23. Lake Wallenpaupack

Nestled within the Pocono Mountains, Lake Wallenpaupack is a haven for water enthusiasts.

Its expansive waters offer boating, fishing, and relaxation against a backdrop of picturesque mountain scenery.

24. Pennsylvania Dutch Culture

The Pennsylvania Dutch culture, stemming from Germanic roots, is an enchanting blend of old-world traditions and American influences.

This vibrant heritage is reflected in the region’s distinctive cuisine, crafts, and traditions.

25. Valley Forge

Valley Forge National Historical Park commemorates the site where General George Washington and his Continental Army endured a harsh winter during the Revolutionary War.

This trying period solidified the resolve of the American forces and stands as a testament to their dedication to the cause of independence.

26. Philadelphia Museum of Art

Beyond its status as a renowned art institution, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is famously associated with the triumphant run up its iconic steps by Sylvester Stallone’s character in the “Rocky” film series.

27. Philly Soul Music

Philadelphia is synonymous with the soulful melodies of artists like The O’Jays, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, and Teddy Pendergrass.

The city’s unique soul music scene, characterized by lush orchestration and heartfelt vocals, left an indelible mark on the music industry.

28. Pennsylvania State University (Penn State)

As a prominent research and educational institution, Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) has campuses across the state.

29. Eastern State Penitentiary

The Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia stands as a haunting testament to the history of incarceration in the U.S.

Its innovative radial design and historical significance as a model for prison reform attract visitors intrigued by its architectural marvel and dark history.

Want to know what things the other US states are known for? Check out our other guides!

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