One thing I’ve come to understand about Pennsylvanians is that we have no idea how many amazing destinations there are within our borders.
Sure, we all know about Hershey Park, Independence Hall and the Gettysburg Battlefield but what about all those quirky out of the way attractions that don’t have big marketing budgets? Check out my top 10 favorite Unique, quirky, and sometimes downright odd attractions in PA…
10. Penn’s Cave & Wildlife Park, Centre Hall, PA – America’s only all-water cavern where visitors take a one-hour underground tour by boat!
9. The Jimmy Stewart Museum, Indiana, PA – Indiana, PA is the hometown of an actor on everyone’s Top 10 list, Jimmy Stewart. The museum celebrates Stewart’s family acting and military careers with artifact and displays. The actor himself gave many of the mementos to the museum.
8. Cherry Springs Dark Skies, Galeton, PA – Potter County has been using the tag line “God’s Country” to represent the untouched beauty of the area for many years. To me, the tag line is never as appropriate as it is during one of the Black Forest Star Parties in Cherry Springs State Park. The skies are so dark, that you can literally see the heavens with the naked eye. In fact, Cherry Springs Park has been designated an official Dark Sky Park. The park is said to have the darkest skies east of the Mississippi.
7. Insectarium, Philadelphia, PA – This would not be my first choice of museums to visit in Philly, but I have to admit it is interesting, in a creepy-crawly sort of way. The Insectarium is the largest insect museum in the US. From giant Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches to African Millipedes, they have every nightmarish creature you can think of.
6. The National Christmas Center, Paradise, PA – There’s a very good reason that the Travel Channel calls the National Christmas Center “the most Christmassy place in America!” It doesn’t matter what time of year you visit, you will feel like a kid on Christmas again!
5. Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, PA – Okay, we’re back to the creepy with this attraction. Eastern State has been on numerous “ghost hunting” shows like “Ghost Hunters” and “Ghost Adventures” and is widely accepted as one of the most haunted places in the US. I don’t know whether that’s true or not but you sure get a ghostly feeling as you walk through the cellblocks where inmates we left to rot in solitary confinement.
4. Presque Isle, Erie, PA – I included this destination because Presque Isle has a beach.Imagine that, Pennsylvania has a beach. Presque Isle is actually a peninsula with miles and miles of beaches. Swimming, boating, scuba diving, fishing, hiking and just relaxing are just some of the reasons people continue to drive north instead of south or east to visit the beach.
3. Christian C. Sanderson Museum, Chadds Ford, PA – This is one of the most obscure museums in the state and one of the most interesting. From the moment you step onto the wooden porch of Sanderson’s (1882-1966) country home, you know this is going to be unlike any museum you’ve ever visited. Today, this man would have been featured on one of those hoarder shows because Sanderson seemed to save everything he came across. What makes his ‘obsession’ a museum is the quality and variety of the things he decided to collect.
2. Mutter Museum, Philadelphia, PA – This museum is perhaps the most unusual in PA. The Mutter Museum at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia has a collection of 20,000 medical instruments, preserved anatomical and pathological specimens and instruments that belonged to famous doctors and scientists. The museum’s collection of pathological specimens is interesting, incredible and at times disturbing, including the 27-foot massive colon that looks like something out of the movie “Tremors.” Although the museum is extremely unusual it is not meant to be a freak show, rather a place of medical discovery and knowledge.
And, finally my #1 Unique, Quirky and Sometimes Downright Odd Attraction in PA is…
1. The Stoogeum, Ambler, PA – If the Mutter Museum is the most unusual museum in Pennsylvania, the Stoogeum has to be the state’s best-kept secret. Gary Lassin the museum’s founder has amassed a huge 100,000-piece Stooges collection. From rare person items from Moe, Larry Curly and Shemp to movie props and posters, this place is a Three Stooges fan fantasy. The Stoogeum even has an 85-seat theater that plays a continuous loop of Stooges shorts. Would I recommend the Stoogeum? Soitenly!
If you want to know more about the famous and lesser known attractions in PA check out whereandwhen.com.