Check out the story ideas, did-you-knows and tourism statistics we think are useful in creating your story. There are so many unique Laurel Highlands story ideas to choose from including high adventure, world-class cultural attractions, classic family fun, delicious dining and locally-crafted spirits. Of course, this information doesn't cover everything, so please contact us for additional story ideas and data.
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A magnificent mountainous region, the Laurel Highlands spans 3,000 square miles in southwestern Pennsylvania. Located east of Pittsburgh, the beautiful four-season destination offers some of the most spectacular natural scenery, outstanding outdoor recreation, historic sites and attractions, classic family activities and world-class resorts. Notable destinations within the region include four architectural masterpieces by Frank Lloyd Wright – Fallingwater, Kentuck Knob, Mäntylä and Duncan House – Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Nemacolin, Flight 93 National Memorial, Idlewild and Soak Zone, whitewater rafting at Ohiopyle State Park and more.
Located within 200 miles of the major metropolitan areas of Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland and Washington D.C., the Laurel Highlands can be easily accessed from exits 67, 75, 91 and 110 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Discover all that the Laurel Highlands has to offer! Contact me for more information or to plan a press visit.
It’s official! The World Heritage Committee has inscribed Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece, Fallingwater, and seven other works by Wright, to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List. Inaugurated in 1973, UNESCO’s site list includes famed locations such as Yellowstone National Park, India’s Taj Mahal, the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, Victoria Falls in southern Africa, Machu Picchu in Peru, and the Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route in Bethlehem, West Bank.
Perhaps Wright’s most widely-acclaimed creation, Fallingwater was designed in 1935 for the Kaufmanns, a prominent Pittsburgh family. Dramatically cantilevered over a waterfall, the house exemplifies Wright’s concept of organic architecture: the harmonious union of art and nature. A National Historic Landmark, Fallingwater is the only major Wright-designed house to open to the public with its furnishings, artwork, and setting intact.
From moonshine, rye whiskey, and IPAs to cider, mead, and fruit wines, get a taste for southwestern Pennsylvania on the new Laurel Highlands Pour Tour! Explore the region’s rolling farmland and towering mountaintops while sampling flavors as the region’s diverse landscape. Every drop and flavor tells the story of the Laurel Highlands – its history, heritage, agricultural diversity, and entrepreneurial spirit.
Pennsylvania Maple Festival, late March to early April
March is the sweetest month in the Laurel Highlands! Our region takes great pride in the tradition of tapping maple trees and producing maple syrup and other goodies.
Kecksburg UFO Festival, late July
On Dec. 9, 1965, Kecksburg residents reported that a fireball streaked through the sky and then an object showed up in the nearby woods. Was it aliens, a meteor, or something else entirely?
Great American Banana Split Festival, late August
Explore the hometown of Mister Fred Rogers and golf legend Arnold Palmer and the birthplace of the banana split – Latrobe!
Ligonier Highland Games, mid-September
Follow the skirl of bagpipes to beautiful Ligonier for the annual gathering of the Scottish Clans!
Mother Earth News Fair, mid to late September
This fun-filled, family-oriented sustainable lifestyle event features dozens of practical, hands-on demonstrations and workshops.
1794, farmers and distillers from western Pennsylvania rose up to protest the federal government’s whiskey tax in a revolt that is now known as the Whiskey Rebellion. Visit the heart of Whiskey Rebellion territory and raise a glass to those who led the charge.
A must see stop along the trail in the Laurel Highlands is West Overton Village. It was here in 1829 that Abraham Overholt expanded his family distillery, as Old Farm Pure Rye became one of the most successful rye whiskey brands of all time. After a 100-year hiatus, the distilling has returned to this historic site. Get up close and personal with the new “Seed to Sip” experience, where groups can see, taste, touch, and experiment with the mash and distilling processes.
On September 11, 2001, four commercial airliners were hijacked in a planned attack against the United States. Two jet liners were flown into the World Trade Center Twin Towers and a third aircraft into the Pentagon. A fourth aircraft, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed into an open field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, in the Laurel Highlands. The 40 passengers and crew of Flight 93 had time to realize that this was unlike any previous hijacking, and they developed a plan to try to take back the plane and not let it reach its intended target, Washington, D.C. They succeeded in this effort, but, unfortunately, lost their lives.
The final phase of the Flight 93 memorial, the 93-foot tall Tower of Voices was dedicated in September 2018. The tower’s 40 uniquely pitched chimes are a symbolic representation of the eternal voices of the passengers and crew members of Flight 93.
“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Won’t you be, won’t you be my neighbor?” Fred Rogers began his PBS children’s television show Mister Roger’s Neighborhood with this song every weekday from 1968 to 2001, with a total of 895 episodes. Come visit Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands! Tour the Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College, where you can see artifacts from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, including his iconic cardigan sweater and tennis shoes. Take a selfie with a statue of Fred in downtown Latrobe, his hometown and birthplace of the banana split. Spend a day at Idlewild & Soak Zone where Daniel Tiger and friends invite you and your kiddos to ride the trolley through the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.
A humble and exceptionally talented man from Latrobe, Palmer loved his hometown and his memory will carry on for generations to come. Explore all things Arnie in the Laurel Highlands, including the playing a round of golf at the prestigious Latrobe Country Club or the first course he ever designed, Indian Lake; discover his memorabilia at SpringHill Suites, get a photo with his statue at the Palmer Regional Airport and explore the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve named in honor of his late wife.
Join in on the fun at the Westmoreland Arts and Heritage Festival, an annual summer celebration held at Twin Lakes Park, near Latrobe, Pa. In 2019, the festival will be celebrating its 45th year. There is more than enough to do during the festival weekend, including more than 50 live performances, 180 arts and crafts booths, heritage and history demonstrations, children’s activities and tons of ethnic food booths. In addition to art exhibitions and sales, the festival hosts “FestivalCon” for superhero and anime fans and a juried poetry and short story contest.
Football season officially kicks off for Steelers Nation with the start of the Steelers annual summer training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe at the end of July through mid-August. See why this is the favorite NFL camp experience for one of America's premier pro football writers, Peter King of Sports Illustrated.
The pages of the longest-running, environmental lifestyle publication comes to life each September during the annual Mother Earth News Fair. A family-oriented sustainable lifestyle event, the Mother Earth News Fair features dozens of practical, hands-on demonstrations and workshops from the leading authorities on: Renewable Energy, Small-scale Agriculture, Gardening, Green Building, Green Transportation and Natural Health.
Maple season festivities culminate with the annual Pennsylvania Maple Festival in Meyersdale, a.k.a. “Maple City, USA.” The festival features a variety of activities including maple syrup production demonstrations, live entertainment, quilt show, tea with Queen Maple, children’s activities, and tractor and farm equipment shows. Not to be missed are the Grand Feature Parade, Lions Club pancake breakfasts, and “Legend of the Magic Water,” a historical pageant brought to life by more than 100 local residents to depict the discovery of maple syrup as well as the history of Meyersdale through song, dance and narration.
The heart of the fun in the Laurel Highlands is the fast-flowing Youghiogheny River, which attracts whitewater boaters from spring to early fall. With Class III and IV rapids, the seven and a half mile Lower Yough is the busiest section of whitewater east of the Mississippi River.
But you don’t have to be an experienced paddler to join in on the adrenaline-pumping fun. The section known as the Middle Yough features Class I and II rapids, making it ideal for novice kayakers, families with young children, and anglers. Climb on board an express trip for a shorter ride down the river that doesn't take up the whole day, or jam-pack an entire weekend with fun on water.
The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is a 70-mile backpacking and hiking trail in Western Pennsylvania. One of the most celebrated Pennsylvania hiking trails for its varied terrain and wondrous beauty, the trail runs from Ohiopyle State Park to the Laurel Ridge State Park meeting the 1,000-foot Conemaugh Gorge.
On the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, you'll pass eight overnight areas approximately every 8 to 10 miles. All are equipped with fresh water, Adirondack-style shelters, tent pads and comfort stations. Whether or not you stop along the hiking trail is up to you. But, you'll never be far from a place to rest, relax, or call it a day.
Mountain vistas, historic highways, fertile farmlands and thousands of acres of unspoiled state parks, Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands is the ideal destination for a fun, family leaf-peeping getaway. The region’s towering trees are ablaze in a spectacular palette of red, orange, yellow, russet and bronze colors. Take a drive under a canopy of colors on scenic byways and through picturesque covered bridges. In addition to the wonderful foliage, autumn also brings fantastic fall festivals, harvest goods, haunted amusements and more.
See some of the Mid-Atlantic's most incredible views and rugged natural landscape from PA's highest mountain ridges (Mount Davis in Forbes State Forest 3,213-ft.) Hike the nationally-acclaimed Laurel Highlands Hiking trail a 70-mile hiking and backpacking trail with overnight Adirondack-style shelters. Climb to the top of the lookout tower at Mt. Davis and see three states. The region's high elevation means snow and lots of it! The Laurel Highlands can receive more than 150 inches during a winter season which is great for Alpine and Nordic activities.
The frothy waters of the Youghiogheny River which proved challenging enough to stop George Washington at the Ohiopyle Falls is today a water enthusiast's destination. From Class I-IV white water rafting, kayaking and fishing, the Yough is the focal point for the 20,500-acre Ohiopyle State Park. Not to miss are Ohiopyle's Meadow Run Natural Waterslides named one of Travel + Leisure's Top Ten Swimming Holes in the Country for Ditching the Pool Crowds!
A natural calcareous sandstone cave, Laurel Caverns is a three mile labyrinth with ceilings anywhere from 10 to 50 feet high. Laurel Caverns sits beneath a private 435 acre geological preserve. The cave is also the largest bat hibernaculum, which is why the caves are closed for the hibernation period, November through April.