Nestled in the heart of southwestern Pennsylvania, the Laurel Highlands is a region that attracts adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike. Comprising Fayette County, Somerset County, and Westmoreland County, this picturesque area is home to a population of approximately 600,000 residents. Renowned for its rich tapestry of plant and animal life, densely forested mountain ridges, pristine streams, and abundant recreational opportunities, the Laurel Highlands is a treasure trove of scenic beauty. Pennsylvania is filled with unique towns to visit.
The landscape here is as diverse as it is breathtaking, fostering an extraordinary level of forest community diversity. Just an hour’s drive to the east of Pittsburgh, the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape stretches across five counties, encompassing Somerset, Westmoreland, Fayette, and parts of Cambria and Bedford. It is defined by three majestic Allegheny Plateau ridges—the Chestnut, Laurel, and Allegheny. There’s no place like Laurel Highlands and the countless beautiful towns in Pennsylvania that encompass it.
Things To Do
For anyone headed to Laurel Highlands in Pennsylvania, there will be much to see and do. From nature areas to charming hotels and restaurants, here is the ultimate guide!
Pay Your Respects At The Flight 93 National Memorial
Path between a forest in Cook Forest State Park, a beautiful natural space to visit in Cooksburg, Pennsylvania
- Address: 6424 Lincoln Hwy, Stoystown, PA 15563
- Hours: Open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM
One of the first places to check out while on a trip to the Laurel Highlands area is the Flight 93 National Memorial. Here is where the memorial was built to commemorate the crash of United Airlines Flight 93, which was one of four aircraft hijacked during the September 11 attacks in 2001.
Although somber, many people find this location incredibly peaceful and important to see.
Head Underground At Laurel Caverns
Hiking Trail through lush green Pennsylvania forest.
- Address: 1065 Skyline Dr, Farmington, PA 15437
- Hours: Open daily from 9 AM to 4 PM
- Tickets: $17 per person
Another thing to do for those in the Laurel Highlands area is to check out the Laurel Caverns. Here, visitors can see the largest cave in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by volume and area.
- Location-wise, the caverns are in the community of Farmington, which sits on the Chestnut Ridge near Uniontown, roughly 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
Snap Epic Photographs At Fallingwater
A river runs through the Laurel Highlands in western Pennsylvania
- Address: 1491 Mill Run Rd, Mill Run, PA 15464
- Hours: Open every day but Wednesday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM
- Tickets: $15 per person
Another idea for travelers headed to Laurel Heights in PA is the Fallingwater attraction, boasting a house designed by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935 in the Laurel Highlands of southwest Pennsylvania, about 70 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
This has become a highly-photographed location in the area, so crowds can form on weekends and holidays.
Have Family Fun At Idlewild & SoakZone
Jacobs Creek Waterfall
- Address: 2574 Lincoln Hwy, Ligonier, PA 15658
- Hours: Saturday – Sunday from 11:30 AM to 6 PM
- Tickets: $39.99 per person
For families visiting the Laurel Highlands area of Pennsylvania, checking out the ultra-fun Idlewild & SoakZone is worth it. Here lies the amusement park in the Laurel Highlands near Ligonier, Pennsylvania, United States, about 50 miles east of Pittsburgh, along US Route 30.
Especially during summer, this water park become a must-see destination in the region, with family-friendly fun at moderate prices.
Explore History At Fort Ligonier
Flowers in garden, Laurel Highlands, PA
- Address: 200 S Market St, Ligonier, PA 15658
- Hours: Open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM
Another idea for people in Laurel Highlands, PA, is to check out Fort Ligonier. Here lies the British fortification from the French and Indian War located in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.
Dating back to the 17th century, this fort served as a staging area for the Forbes Expedition of 1758. During the eight years of its existence as a garrison, Fort Ligonier was never taken by an enemy.
Learn More At The Johnstown Flood Museum
Panorama of Johnstown, Pennsylvania
- Address: 304 Washington St, Johnstown, PA 15901
- Hours: Open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM (opens at 12 on Sundays)
- Tickets: $10 per guest
For anyone wanting history, the Johnstown Flood Museum is a great spot to learn more about the area. Here, tourists can see the Johnstown Flood of 1889. The museum is housed in the former Cambria Public Library, also found in the area’s historic downtown district.
Soak Up The Landscape At Seven Springs Mountain Resort
Outdoor pool in front of snowy slopes at Bear Creek Mountain Resort, Pennsylvania
- Address: 777 Water Wheel Dr, Seven Springs, PA 15622
- Hours: Open daily from 11 AM to 5 PM
If you’re heading to Laurel Highlands in the winter, staying at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort is a great choice. Here, the all-season resort located in the borough of Seven Springs, Pennsylvania, boasts some of the highest elevation skiing in the state, at a whopping 3,001 feet.
Wander Over To Cucumber Falls
Frozen Cucumber Falls, Ohiopyle State Park, Pennsylvania, USA
- Address: Sr2010, Dunbar, PA 15431
- Hours: Open 24 hours
Another exciting thing to do in Laurel Highlands is visit Cucumber Falls, where a short hiking trail among rhododendrons takes visitors to the sandstone ledge and crest of the falls, then down to its base, and finally, behind the waterfall. It’s also located within the Ohiopyle State Park.
See The Critters At Living Treasures Animal Park
Cucumber Falls in Ohiopyle State Park, Pennsylvania
- Address: 288 PA-711, Jones Mills, PA 15646
- Hours: Open daily from 10 AM to 6 PM (Sun-Thurs) and closing at 10 PM Fri/Sat
- Tickets: $16.99 per guest
Up next, the Living Treasures Animal Park is another family-friendly attraction to see in Laurel Highlands, with 70+ species, from peacocks to porcupines. It has feeding and petting zones plus pony rides.
- This is a fairly small animal center, and most people only need 1–2 hours to see it all.
Sit By The Water At Laurel Hill State Park
Laurel Lake Recreational Area in Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Pennsylvania during the fall
- Address: 1454 Laurel Hill Park Rd, Somerset, PA 15501
- Hours: Open from sunrise to sunset
The last thing to do in Laurel Highlands is venture over to Laurel Hill State Park. Here, people can enjoy the 3,935-acre Pennsylvania state park in Jefferson and Middlecreek Townships, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. The lake is human-made, spanning 63 acres.
Best Time To Visit Laurel Highlands, Pennsylvania
Historic Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia
One of the best times to come experience Laurel Highlands, PA, is the fall. With so many trees lining the streets of the town as well as forests close by, Laurel Highlands becomes a tapestry of red, orange, and yellow leaves for people to enjoy during September, October, and early November.
Another good time to visit is in the spring, which is when everything comes back to life and hiking conditions are their best. Winter is great for skiing, while summer brings plenty of water sports, so there isn’t a bad time to make a visit.
Best Way To Get Around Laurel Highlands
Welcome to Laurel Highlands sign, Pennsylvania
- Best Way Around Laurel Highlands: Rental car
Regarding transportation, Laurel Highlands is spread out quite a bit. Therefore, it’s best for visitors to rent a vehicle, so they can drive between towns, parks, and other monuments/attractions. Pennsylvania isn’t as big as many other US states, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily walkable either.
Buses run through popular nearby cities, although we wouldn’t recommend depending on them for daily commutes from the hotel to other areas. Biking through downtown areas is also a great idea instead of the car, but again: you need one for essentially everything else.
Where To Eat In Laurel Highlands, PA
View of the South Mountains in Pennsylvania, USA
When it comes to cuisine in Laurel Highlands, Pennsylvania, expect a mix of everything. American food will be most common here, and throughout much of this region, so easy, comfortable meals are always a winner. Here are options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks.
- Address: 136 E Main St, Ligonier, PA 15658
- Serving: Comfy, minimalist BYOB space with an open kitchen, chef’s counter & a varied international menu.
Lunch: Out of the Fire Cafe
- Address: 3784 PA-31, Donegal, PA 15628
- Serving: Cafe with scenic views serving a New American menu, known for steaks, seafood & smoked salmon.
Dinner: Tree Tops Restaurant
- Address: 187 Evergreen Ln, Acme, PA 15610
- Serving: Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired atmosphere with fresh meat and fish, as well as delicious appetizers.
Drinks: Falls City Pub & Restaurant
- Address: 112 Garrett St, Ohiopyle, PA 15470
- Serving: Easygoing, family-friendly spot with American grub, craft microbrews & patio seating.
Where To Stay In Laurel Highlands
Onondaga Falls in Ricketts Glen State Park, Pennsylvania, USA
Regarding hotels in Laurel Highlands, PA, there will be many. Here are some options for any type of stay, including budget, mid-tier, and luxury properties.
Budget: Ramada by Wyndham Ligonier
- Address: 216 West Loyalhanna Street, Ligonier, PA 15658
- Amenities: Outdoor pool, Fitness center, Restaurant, Bar/Lounge, Room service, Free Wi-Fi, Tea/coffee maker
Budget: Hampton Inn Latrobe
- Address: 3970 Route 30, Latrobe, PA 15650
- Amenities: Fitness center, Free Wi-Fi, Coffee machine, Free toiletries, Parking, Laundry service, Complimentary breakfast
- Address: 115 Arnold Palmer Drive, Latrobe, PA 15650
- Amenities: Indoor pool, Fitness center, Restaurant, Bar/Lounge, Free Wi-Fi, Coffee machine, Free parking
Mid-Tier: Thistledown At Seger House
- Address: 221 West Main, Ligonier, PA 15658
- Amenities: Restaurant, Free Wi-Fi, Coffee shop, Flat-screen TV, Free toiletries, Parking
Luxury: Colonial House on Main
- Address: 231 West Main Street, Ligonier, PA 15658
- Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, Complimentary breakfast, Coffee machine, Air-conditioned, Flat-screen TV, Parking
Luxury: Quaint Ligonier Family Home
- Address: Given upon booking
- Amenities: Kitchen, Game room, Air-conditioned, Coffee machine, Washing machine, Tumble dryer
Tips For Visiting Laurel Highlands, Pennsylvania
Downtown Pittsburgh from Duquesne Incline in the morning
For people heading to Laurel Highlands in Pennsylvania, there are things to be mindful of. First, this area is expansive, running multiple cities and counties. Therefore, to get around most efficiently, it’s worth it to rent a car or take taxis/shuttles between points A and B.
Hotel rates should also stay on the lower side here, minus peak holiday seasons or events. Pennsylvania is rich in US history, as much of the nation settled here after venturing over from Europe. Don’t be afraid to spend the day in and out of museums: they’re worth it.
How To Spend The Perfect Day in Laurel Highlands
The Welcome to Pennsylvania sign on highway
Spending the perfect day in Laurel Highlands won’t be hard. To start things off, grab a bite at a local restaurant or cafe, stroll through town, and catch a glimpse of the local culture. From there, drive to a state park or museum, engulfing yourself in the area’s splendor.
Lunch could be had at Frank Lloyd Wright’s home, under the trees during warmer seasons. Afterward, check out some of the memorial sites, like the Flight 93 Memorial, and pay respects to those who have fallen.
Winding down, head back to your hotel, freshen up, and hit the town for dinner and drinks. Have fun!