The best daytrips near Pittsburgh. Covered bridge at McConnells Mill State Park in Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh offers many great amenities including world-class museums, top notch skyline views, historic neighborhoods, a lively sports scene, and many great local dining establishments. However, it’s always great to check out new places. Pittsburgh’s convenient location puts you within an easy drive of many major cities. Also, as one of the nation’s most heavily forested states, there is much nature to explore just a quick drive away. Featured below are several great daytrips, all located with an easy 2 hour max drive of the city.

Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland script sign at Edgewater Park

Distance from Pittsburgh: 2 hours

Top attractions: A Christmas Story house, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum, Cleveland Zoo, Cleveland Metroparks, Cleveland Browns Stadium, West End Market, Cleveland Museum of Art

Cleveland, “The Forest City,” is known for its’ award-winning park system and proximity to Lake Erie beaches. With 18 parks (featuring over 100 hiking trails), you will never run out of ways to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. You will also find 8 beautiful lakefront parks, perfect for a day of fun-in-the-sun during the warmer months. Edgewater Park is gorgeous and features a beautiful lakefront biking path and fabulous skyline views. Here you can take your pic next to the famous script sign.

The Cleveland Zoo is very spacious (183 acres) and really quite gorgeous, and honestly much nicer than the Pittsburgh zoo. Strolling through this wooded zoo feels more like taking a nature walk.

Scenic bike path with skyline views - Edgewater Park in Cleveland
The scenic bike path at Edgewater
Grizzly bears at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Grizzly at the Cleveland Zoo

Another must-do here is touring the famous house from “A Christmas Story.” This is a really fun tour where you will learn some unique facts about the filming process. Plus, you can take some cool photos holding Ralphie’s BB gun and see the iconic leg lamp in the window.

Ralphie's house from A Christmas Story in Cleveland, Ohio

Of course, you cannot forget about Cleveland’s lively sports scene. From attending a Browns game to cheering on the Guardians and Cavaliers, Cleveland is an oasis for sports fans. And don’t forget about Cleveland’s rock n’roll history-learn more about how Cleveland became the “Rock N’ Roll capital at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Cleveland Browns game
The beautiful Cleveland Browns stadium

McConnells Mill State Park

Small waterfall at McConnells Mill State Park

Distance from Pittsburgh: 40 min

Top attractions: McConnells Mill Covered bridge, 19th century grist mill, Hells Hollow waterfall, Slippery Rock Gorge trail, Leaf peeping in the fall, white water kayaking (no rentals)

McConnells Mill is the best hiking daytrip near Pittsburgh. This park is so gorgeous especially during the peak of fall. In addition to hiking, there are is a historic grist mall from the 19th century which you can tour and a gorgeous covered bridge (built in 1874) to photograph.

Grist mill tour at McConnells Mill State Park in Pennsylvania
The Grist Mill
Covered bridge at McConnells Mill State Park in Pennsylvania
The gorgeous covered bridge

Hiking is a real treat here as the trails offer peaceful views of Slippery Rock Creek. Slippery Rock Creek Gorge is a National Historic Landmark. The Slippery Rock Gorge trail is difficult, but very scenic and rewarding. An easier option is the Hells Hollow trail which is short at just half a mile, yet woodsy and features a small yet dazzling waterfall.

Hells Hollow at McConnells Mill State Park
Hells Hollow – a small, yet beautiful waterfall

For the truly adventurous, kayaking (must bring your own) on Class II to IV rapids is a really thrilling experience. Note that only experienced rafters should attempt to navigate Slippery Rock Creek. Rafting is an inherently dangerous activity, and all rules must be followed. Fishing, picnicking, and wildlife watching are just more ways to enjoy the great outdoors at McConnells Mill. Note no swimming due to the dangerous rapids.

Rapids at McConnells Mill State Park in Pennsylvania

Read more about the history of McConnells Mill and Slippery Rock Gorge

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Boardwalk trail to Brandywine Falls at Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio

Distance from Pittsburgh: 1 hour 40 min.

Top attractions: Brandywine Falls, Ohio and Erie Canal towpath trail, Fall leaf peeping, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic train ride, Cross country & downhill skiing

This gem near Cleveland is one of America’s most visited national parks with 2+ millions visitors per year. The convenient distance near several major cities in the Midwest doesn’t hurt. Also, it happens to be one of just a dozen or so free national parks. Most notably, this park is home to Brandywine Falls, the most mesmerizing waterfall in the Midwest at 65 feet. The trail to the falls is relatively easy enough for anyone in basic shape. 125 miles of trails means there is an option for everyone, from those seeking a casual nature stroll, to those seeking a multi day adventure. Keep in mind that any hike is even more beautiful during the colorful autumn season.

Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Another highlight here is the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath, a 120+ mile long former rail trail which crosses through a picturesque 20 mile section of the park. This trail is very flat and thus perfect for long runs and bike rides. Even better, you can receive discounted rates on the scenic Cuyahoga Valley train ride via the Bike or Hike Aboard program! Just flag down the train at any of the station stops. This is a great deal at just $5 one way compared to the $18 charged regularly.

Pretty views along the Erie Ohio Towpath trail at Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio
Biking the gorgeous Towpath trail

Ohiopyle State Park

Cucumber Fall at Ohiopyle State park in Pennsylvania

Distance from Pittsburgh: 1 hour 20 min.

Top attractions: Ohiopyle Falls, Cucumber Falls, natural waterslides, whitewater rafting, Youghiogheny river trail

This beautiful rugged state park is the perfect choice for the adventurous. The Youghiogheny River Gorge passes through the park and offers some of the best whitewater rafting conditions in the country. Both tame beginner Class I and II and more thrilling Class III and IV rapids are available. Inexperienced rafters should sign up for a guided tour – it’s a great way to learn more about the rafting process in a hand’s on way. Check out a few of the licensed outfitters offering guided trips.

Scenic river view at Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania

If hiking is more your style, you will have your pick amongst 79 miles of beautiful trails. Trails range from easy to very difficult. The must-do here is Cucumber Falls, a short 1/2 mile trek which leads to a beautiful waterfall.

If relaxing is more your style, there is still much to do. Consider packing a picnic and enjoying the scenery, fishing, or biking along the Youghiogheny river trail. In the winter months, you can also cross country ski this trail. And, of course, gorgeous Ohiopyle Falls which spans the entire river, is worth the drive alone. Several observation decks allow you an up close view.

Ohiopyle Falls at Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania

Other activities at the park include mountain biking, horseback riding, winter sledding and snowmobiling, natural waterslides, and rock climbing. Check the website for full details.

Raccoon Creek State Park

Creek view at Racoon Creek State Park near Pittsburgh

Distance from Pittsburgh: 40 min

Top attractions: Mineral Springs loop trail, Ice skating on Racoon Lake, Raccoon Creek beach, Cross country ski trail

This is one of the largest and most visited parks in the state. There are 44 miles of trails to enjoy here, the most impressive and popular being the Mineral Springs Loop trail which will take you past a small waterfall and old mineral springs. On this trek, you will come across the remains of the Frankfort Mineral Springs Resort of the 1800’s – a place people once visited to enjoy the healing properties of the rich mineral water.

Small waterfall at Racoon Creek

In the summer, you can enjoy kayaking, canoeing and swimming in Racoon Lake, while in the winter it becomes a popular ice skating destination. Birdwatching is also quite popular here – check out the Audubon trail. Also be sure to plan a picnic for the day, You will find over 200 beautiful picnic tables. Each area features grills, water, and restrooms.

Leaf peeping at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania
Great leaf peeping destination!