I love a weekend road trip. It’s a great way to get away and explore a new area without having to spend a lot of time or money on a larger trip. Below you’ll find “Part 1” of my favorite weekend trips with “Part 2” coming in the next few weeks. Each of the trips below are about 4 hour drive or less from Lancaster, PA. They range in location from the mountains, to small towns, to the beach so there’s a trip for (almost) everyone. Each includes where to stay, what to eat, and what to do in the area. I’ve linked some other blog posts that go into further detail on the areas in the titles and descriptions. Happy travels!
#1 – Pocono Mountains, PA
The Poconos are about 2 hours from the Lancaster area. I’ve visited this area many times. One of my favorite things to do is visit Bushkill Falls. The park has 8 waterfalls that you can reach by a variety of boardwalks and many stairs. Hickory Run State Park has hiking and a large rock field you can hike through. In the fall, a ride on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Train is a great way to view the fall foliage. During the warmer season, a visit to the Camelback Resort area also has a lot of options including shops, ziplining, a mountain coaster, and a waterpark. In there winter, there’s many opportunities in the area for skiing. There’s two restaurants near Camelback, one being Barley Creek Brewing Company which is low key but delicious and the other is Kartrite’s Restaurant which has incredible views from the top of the mountain. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, the Shawnee Inn and Resort or an Airbnb are great options. This trip would be great for anyone looking for an outdoor adventure, who’s up for hiking, or interested in taking in scenic mountain views.
#2 – Bedford, PA
Bedford is about 2.5 hours away from Lancaster. My grandma lived in the area so I’ve visited quite a few times. A few of my favorite things to do is having lunch at the Omni Bedford Springs Hotel at the Frontier Tavern. They have great sandwiches, burgers, as well as a few unique dishes. Before or after your meal, you can explore the hotel grounds which are incredibly beautiful. If you’re looking for more of a luxury weekend, you can stay at the overnight and enjoy their indoor pool and spa. Other things to do include checking out the shops downtown like HeBrews Coffee Company and Founders Crossing Artisan & Antique Merchant, touring Old Bedford Village, or spending time outdoors in Shawnee State Park. This would make a great trip for someone looking for a peaceful and slower weekend getaway and an opportunity to explore the outdoors and a small town.
About 3 hours and 30 minutes from Lancaster is Shenandoah National Park. Some of the most beautiful views on the east coast are found from the scenic drive in the park or along the various hikes including this short but beautiful hike. You can stay overnight at one of the two lodges in the park, Big Meadows Lodge and Skyland, or check out nearby accommodations in Staunton, VA. Along your drive there or the way home, I highly recommend a stop at Luray Caverns where you can enjoy a cave tour. While I am not a huge cave fan, this place is well worth it. This trip would be great for anyone who loves hiking, scenic drives, a road trip, or the outdoors in general.
#4 – Ocean City, MD
Ocean City is about 3.5 hours from Lancaster and a beach I’ve been able to visit many times. This is ideal if you’re looking for a beach vacation with a lot of options for where to eat and are interested in a boardwalk. This tends to be a busier beach than others along the east coast, but that’s just because there’s a lot to do in the area. Whenever we visit Ocean City, Teddy and I make a point to visit Assateague National Seashore on the Maryland side at least once. We love to see the wild horses, the short hikes, and getting to see the beach in an area that’s less crowded. We also try to make it to Crab Alley at least once during each trip to get the best fresh crabs and Cream of Crab soup. Some of our other favorite spots to eat are Fishtales for a quick seafood lunch, Barn 34 for a hearty breakfast, or Assateague Island Surf Cafe for delicious breakfast sandwiches and coffee. Other things to do in the area include visiting Rehoboth, Bethany, Lewes or Fenwick Island beaches. Bethany and Lewes are more of a small town beach feel and Rehoboth and Fenwick Island are a little more like Ocean City in terms of visitors. This would make a great weekend for anyone who enjoys the beach.
#5 – State College, PA
State College is both my parents’ and Teddy’s alma mater so visiting State College, especially during football season is a must. Since we started dating, Teddy and I have made the 3 hour or so trip to State College about 10+ times, most being during football season. Prices to stay overnight are going to be less expensive if you stay in the off season or when there’s an away football game. If you decide to visit during one of those weekends, some of our favorite things to do are to hike Mount Nittany, walk through the State College Arboretum and enjoy the flowers, walk around campus visiting the restaurants and shops, visiting the creamery on campus for ice cream, and the Pump Station outside of town for breakfast and coffee. If you’re looking for something to do outside of town, you can make the drive to Bald Eagle State Park or Black Moshannon state park for hiking or to see wildlife. The places Teddy and I like to stay in the area are the Nature Inn which is inside of Bald Eagle State Park or somewhere downtown. I personally like the Graduate Hotel downtown but know there’s many other great options as well. This would make a great weekend trip for anyone who has ties to Penn State or enjoys a weekend in a college town.
This is a great place to visit in the fall, specifically to view elk during the mating season, or what is called “rut”. At sunrise and sunset are the best times of day to see elk, especially near Winslow Hill. The town of Benezette is a very small mountain town, so lodging and places to eat are best found in some of the outskirt areas like St. Marys, Emporium, Driftwood, or Ridgway. If you’re looking for something to do during the day, you can drive over and explore Kinzua Bridge about an hour away, hike over in the PA Wilds at Yost Run Falls about 50 minutes away, and Pigeon Falls about 90 minutes away. A great stop for lunch is in St. Mary’s at the Keystone Corner. It’s a little diner building downtown that has the most incredible burgers. This is a great weekend trip for someone who enjoys wildlife and the outdoors.
Stay tuned for an upcoming blog with a few more weekend trips from the Lancaster, PA area. And in the meantime, go make your own adventure!