Most Popular Historical Sites to Visit in Pennsylvania

PENNSYLVANIA - This state is steeped in rich historical sites and monuments. The state spans the Appalachian and Mid-Atlantic regions and the Great Lakes and Northeastern areas. Visiting these sites can be an unforgettable experience.

Most Popular Historical Sites to Visit in Pennsylvania
Photo: Independence Hall (NPS)


Historical Sites to Visit in Pennsylvania

Independence Hall

Independence Hall, a historical monument in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United States. Known as the birthplace of America, it was the venue where the Declaration of Independence was adopted. The Hall was also used for the signing of the Constitution. It has been preserved as a historic site since the early 19th century. The National Park Service administers Independence Hall. To enter the building, you must pass through a security check. You can find the screening area on Chestnut Street, west of Fifth Street.

A tour of the building will take about 20 minutes. If you miss a tour, you should try to get on the next one. You must arrive at the visitor's center at least 30 minutes before the tour. However, it would help if you remembered that the tour would not happen without available tickets. A "Birthplace of a Nation" pamphlet provides detailed information about the rooms you will visit. It can be purchased for a dollar.


Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is home to the Gettysburg National Military Park, one of the most important battlefields in the United States.  This national park is a popular destination for history enthusiasts. The Gettysburg Battlefield commemoration includes replicas of military encampments and displays of period antiques.

The National Park Service manages the Gettysburg National Cemetery. It contains the graves of many soldiers who died in later wars. One of the first national cemeteries is located on Cemetery Hill. A memorial to Abraham Lincoln is also located here. Visitors to Gettysburg can enjoy the town's charming Main Street and historic Lincoln Square. These areas are on the National Register of Historic Places.

For a more detailed look at the battle, visit the Gettysburg Heritage Center. It has interactive exhibits and dioramas to help visitors learn about the battle. You can also take a self-guided tour or book a tour with a guide. There is no charge to enter the Gettysburg Museum. This museum provides an overview of the Civil War. You can find artifacts and books about the battle.

The Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell is an iconic American symbol and one of the most famous historical sites to visit in Pennsylvania.  It was cast in London, England, and is one of the most recognized symbols of American independence. The Liberty Bell is now on display in the Liberty Bell Center. The center spans a block and features exhibits and photo displays. You can view it from the inside and outside of the building.

The original Liberty Bell was cast in 1752 and placed on the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House. In 1776, the bell was used to alert citizens to public meetings and proclamations. Liberty Bell is inscribed with a biblical quote from Leviticus 25:10, which states, "proclaim liberty throughout all the land." The quote was chosen by the bell's inventors as a symbol of freedom.  Visitors to the park must pass a security check to enter the museum. Those who want to learn more about the bell may visit the museum, which is open year-round.

Erie Maritime Museum

The Erie Maritime Museum is an excellent way to explore the history of the Greater Erie region.  Its displays showcase commercial fishing, naval service, and the meaning of the lake. Visitors can also see a variety of artifacts from the war of 1812 and the early nineteenth century. As the only authentic lake port in Pennsylvania, Erie has always been influenced by its maritime heritage. This is evidenced by the fact that many of the Erie ships were involved in the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813.

In addition to the museum, Erie also has an ExpERIEnce Children's Museum, which specializes in displaying children's artistic creations. It is located in the historic cultural area in downtown Erie. The Erie History Center, located in Discovery Square, is another famous historical site in Erie. The museum includes an impressive collection of historical maps, photographs, and architectural drawings.

A few of the most exciting exhibits at the Erie Maritime Museum include a recreated mid-ship section of the USS Lawrence, a ship that was a part of the Battle of Lake Erie. You can learn about early 19th-century shipbuilding and ship repair and how the ship was blasted with live ammunition. There is also an interactive station for kids.

Fort Ligonier

Fort Ligonier is an eight-acre historic site located in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.  The fort was built in 1758. It was a strategic fort during the Seven Years' War. There are numerous buildings at the fort. These include barracks, officers' quarters, and the officer's mess. In addition, the Pennsylvania Hospital has been reconstructed.

Visitors can also explore the museum. The museum features artifacts and displays from various periods in history. The exhibits are "The World Ablaze: Introduction to the Seven Years' War" and "French and Indian War Art Gallery." Visitors can tour the fort as well. These tours are available with reservations. They are self-guided, and paths are paved and accessible to wheelchair users. To see the entire fort, you should allocate at least two hours.

Visitors can also attend battle reenactments. These reenactments take place twice a year. During these events, the fort is used as a stage for various historical reenactments. The museum store offers souvenirs and gift items. Additionally, the museum has a storefront that sells educational materials.

Valley Forge

Located on the northwest outskirts of Philadelphia, Valley Forge is one of the most famous historical sites to visit in Pennsylvania.  The site was the winter encampment of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. It was also the location of General George Washington's headquarters. There are 35 miles of hiking and biking trails at the park. Visitors can kayak, canoe or horseback ride the trails. Several picnic areas are available. You can even catch a movie at the theater.

Valley Forge National Historical Park is also a great destination to explore the forests and meadows. The visitor center is open seven days a week. During the summer, visitors can enjoy a summer concert series. If you want to learn more about the site's history, there are hands-on demonstrations.

Visiting Valley Forge is a great way to learn about the American Revolution. The site is home to several buildings and monuments related to the war. These are accompanied by exhibits and multimedia presentations. During the winter of 1777-1778, 2,000 soldiers died at Valley Forge. Throughout the first half of the revolution, food and money shortages plagued the Continental Army. Fortunately, George Washington was able to build a professional military organization. This helped the encampment soldiers to fight as a unified army.

Johnstown Flood Museum

Located in the heart of Johnstown, the Johnstown Flood Museum tells the story of the flood of 1889.  The museum features displays of artifacts, photographs and videos that chronicle the events of the flood. This museum is housed in a former Carnegie Library. Visitors can enjoy exhibits on the flood and rescues. There is a movie theater showing a 25-minute film about the flood.

Another great attraction in Johnstown is the South Fork Dam. This is where the flood started. It was built with Andrew Carnegie funds. When it burst, millions of gallons of water rushed into town. The city was completely flooded. Thousands of people died. Besides the flood, Johnstown also had another flood in 1936. Pre-fabricated houses arrived in Johnstown, mainly to serve as temporary housing for the flood victims.

The Flood Museum also has a research library. There are records of the victims, including Hettie Olge, a telegraph operator. Her last telegram warned the dam was about to break. The first floor of the Flood Museum features artifacts pulled from the flood. There is a diorama using color lights and sound effects. There are also photographs of the town before the flood.

Washington Crossing

Washington Crossing is where General George Washington crossed the Delaware River in 1776.  This crossing turned the tide in the American Revolution and is now celebrated by a state park in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

This 500-acre site has been preserved through the efforts of a variety of organizations. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, or DCNR, takes charge of the park. A private non-profit corporation, the Friends of Washington Crossing Park, also supports the park. The site is divided into two sections. One is in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, while the other is in Titusville, New Jersey. Both offer historic buildings and exhibits related to the reenactment of General Washington's crossing.

The upper section includes Bowmans Tower, a scenic lookout. Visitors can take in the panoramic view of the Delaware River Valley. The lower section features 13 historic buildings, including the Visitor's Center. Throughout the year, there are many special events. The Park is open for tours and recreational activities from dawn to dusk. There are picnic areas, fishing, and more.