Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Westmoreland County, PA

  • Published 2023/05/07

Westmoreland County sits on the western side of the Allegheny Mountains.

Founded in 1773, it was formed from parts of present-day Bedford, Lancaster, and Northumberland counties.

Named after the historic English county of Westmorland, it’s the first county in the Pennsylvania colony entirely bordered by the Alleghenies, making it a favorite destination of recreational skiers.

After the Civil War, Westmoreland became a leading coal producer and manufacturer of iron, steel, and glass.

At one point, almost a third of the county’s settlements were comprised of “coal patches” or communities built for miners.

Today, traces of the county’s mining heydays are almost gone, with around 100 mines abandoned.

Here are the best things to do in Westmoreland County:

Learn About the Story of the French and Indian War at Fort Ligonier

The grounds of Fort Ligonier

The original uploader was Mind meal at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on S Market Street, Ligonier is Fort Ligonier.

The British fortification was built in 1758 overlooking Loyalhanna Creek along Forbes Road.

Fort Ligonier was one of the final pieces in the Forbes Campaign puzzle, which aimed to build a road and a series of fortifications 300 miles across the Appalachian mountains.

General John Forbes named it after Sir John Ligonier, the commander-in-chief of the British Army.

Defenses at Fort Ligonier

Wilson44691, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The fort consists of 4 buildings: the Artillery Train, the Forbes Hut, the Pennsylvania Hospital Ward, and the Powder Magazine.

The Artillery Train was meticulously replicated based on original documents during the Forbes Campaign of 1758.

The Forbes Hut is a replica of General Forbes’ office, while the Pennsylvania Hospital Ward was where wounded soldiers were treated.

The Powder Magazine was rebuilt by archaeologists based on a 1759 floor plan that’s still displayed at the entrance.

Trail at Fort Ligonier

Ron Shawley, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take on the Twenty Slopes of the Laurel Mountain Ski Resort

Located on Summit Ski Road, Boswell is the Laurel Mountain Ski Resort.

Sitting atop the Laurel Mountain State Park, the 70-acre ski resort boasts an 800-foot vertical drop, the highest recorded in Pennsylvania.

Designed by renowned Austrian skier Johann Schneider, the park opened in 1940 with 20 slopes—10 for beginners, 7 for intermediate, and 3 for advanced skiers.

Originally an exclusive club for the rich and famous in and around the state, Laurel Mountain, together with the Laurel Mountain Ski Resort, was gifted to the commonwealth in 1964.

Starting in 2005, the resort closed to undergo extensive renovations, only reopening during the 2016-2017 ski season with upgraded, state-of-the-art facilities.

Included in the upgrade is a quad chairlift capable of transporting 2,400 skiers per hour up and down the mountain ridge.

The original 1940s lodge called the Midway Cabin still stands on Broadway slope.

Stroll Around the Historic Hanna’s Town

Cabins at the Historic Hanna's Town

JERRYE AND ROY KLOTZ MD, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Forbes Trail Road, Greensburg is the historic Hanna’s Town.

The archaeological site was originally built and settled in 1773, consisting of 30 log cabins, 2 taverns, and a palisaded fort.

It was the first seat of power for the county, hosting the first English court west of the Alleghenies.

Hanna’s Town and its residents played a significant role during the American Revolution, serving as a haven to those seeking peace and justice.

The town was ransacked in one of the final conflicts of the Revolutionary War in 1782 and never recovered.

Today, the 180-acre property houses the remnants of the once-great town, with well-preserved log houses and taverns depicting the daily life in the old Hanna’s Town.

Grab A Burger and A Few Bottles of Beer at Oliver’s Pourhouse

Located on North Pennsylvania Avenue, Greensburg is a gastropub called Oliver’s Pourhouse.

The bar and grill features American pub favorites and an excellent selection of drinks served in a comfy cool atmosphere.

It’s best known for its signature burgers made with juicy beef patties.

One of its bestsellers is the Blackbird Burger, which is made of a quarter-pounder patty with a deep-brown crust, topped with fried egg, ham, and cheddar cheese.

Another must-try is the Home Wrecker Burger, which is slathered with peanut butter and topped with bacon and a sunny side egg and served with a side of maple syrup.

Oliver’s Pourhouse has a great selection of beers and cocktails that will go well with your choice of burger.

Explore the Trails of Linn Run State Park

Waters at Linn Run State Park

Carolyn Lee Anderson /

Located on Linn Run Road, Rector is the Linn Run State Park.

The 612-acre park encompasses the townships of Cook and Ligonier and borders Forbes State Forest.

The area is now considered a second-growth forest, having been a lush old-growth forest more than a century ago.

Most of Linn Run State Park’s forest was clear-cut during the height of lumbering in Pennsylvania, with smaller logs used to reinforce mine shafts and coal mines in the area.

Stone house ruins at Linn Run State Park

Maykl Freuchen /

The remaining treetops would then be ignited by passing steam locomotives, starting massive wildfires that damaged the park’s ecosystem forever.

Part of conservation efforts is to import white-tailed deer from Michigan and New York to reintroduce their population to the park.

Today, the park is a popular hiking spot, with 4 main rocky trails offering a moderate challenge to hikers.

A cabin at Linn Run State Park

Generic1139, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pet and Feed the Animals at the Critter Country Animal Farm

Located on PA-981, Smithton is Critter Country Animal Farm.

The feed-the-animals farm was established by Laurie and Rob Salvio as a menagerie of domestic farm animals.

It has since grown into a zoo with over 300 species of exotic and domestic animals from all over the world.

The family-run Critter Country Animal Farm houses a collection of big cats, including leopards and Bengal tigers.

Sheep, alpacas, zebras, and water buffalo can be fed by visitors for a fee.

A small gift shop inside the estate offers shirts, mugs, and other knickknacks you can take home to remind you of your visit to the zoo.

Appreciate Southwestern Pennsylvanian Art at The Westmoreland Museum of American Art

Exterior of Westmoreland Museum of American Art

Canadian2006, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on North Main Street, Greensburg is The Westmoreland Museum of American Art.

Established in 1959 through The Woods Marchand Foundation, it features the art and history of southwestern Pennsylvania.

Before entering the museum, you’ll be greeted by a kinetic sculpture by celebrated artist Tim Prentice on the southern façade.

The museum has a rotating exhibit of up-and-coming American artists, as well as permanent exhibits featuring masterpieces of contemporary artists including French painter George Hetzel, American painter Rembrandt Peale, and sculptors Harriet Whitney Frishmuth and Paul Manship.

The Westmoreland Museum of American Art offers K-12 tours but is also open for self-guided tours.

There’s a museum shop where you can buy souvenirs and a café called Café Marchand where you can grab a quick snack.

Ride the Wild Mouse at Idlewild & SoakZone

Located on Lincoln Highway, Ligonier is an amusement park called Idlewild & SoakZone.

More commonly known as Idlewild Park, it was opened in 1878 along the Ligonier Valley Railroad, making it the oldest amusement park in the state and the third oldest in the country.

It was owned by the Mellon family until 1951 when they abandoned the park and the railroad after the closing of coal mines decreased foot traffic in the area.

Sitting on foothills of Laurel Ridge, Idlewild & SoakZone offers scenic mountain views that serve as the perfect backdrop to its two roller coasters: the Rollo Coaster and the Wild Mouse.

The Soak Zone, which was originally an island contains pools, bathhouses, water slides, raft rides, a heated wave pool, and a lazy river.

Spend the Day at Keystone State Park

Boats at Keystone State Park

CMS Photography /

Located on Keystone Park Road, Derry is the 1,200-acre Keystone State Park.

First opened in 1948, its main attraction is the man-made Keystone Lake that’s a favorite spot for fishing, swimming, and kayaking.

The lake is stocked with striper, walleye, bass, and catfish.

There are three main trails that will take you around the park: the Keystone Lake Loop, the Davis Run Trail and Strawcutter Trail, and the Stone Lodge Loop Trail.

Paddle-boarding and kayaking at Keystone State Park

CMS Photography /

The 2-mile Keystone Lake Loop is mostly paved and is popular among runners, while the 1-mile Stone Lodge Loop runs through the woods and is great for birdwatching.

Keystone State Park’s longest trail, the Davis Run Trail and Strawcutter Trail goes for about 3.8 miles and will take you through swamps and muddy areas where you’ll see an abundance of wild mushrooms.

Daytime view of Keystone State Park

CMS Photography /

Get Scenic Views of Linn Run State Park and Westmoreland County at Wolf Rocks

Located on Wolf Rocks Trail, Rector is the Wolf Rocks Trail Head.

The 4.3-mile loop trail is popular with hikers, bikers, and snowshoers because of its moderately challenging and occasionally rocky terrain.

Most hikes start in the Forbes State Forest’s section of the trail, with the middle section going on a loop that merges back into the main trail before reaching the vista point.

The trail goes through a thick forest of laurels and tall ferns and several rock formations.

At the western terminus of the Wolf Rocks Trail is an overlook, which gives you a 180-degree view of Linn Run State Park and Westmoreland County.

During spring, the view atop the overlook is of lush greeneries, while it turns into a color palette of reds, oranges, and yellows in the fall season.

Grab A Slice of Pie and A Cup of Joe at the Lincoln Highway Experience

Exterior of Lincoln Highway Experience

Canadian2006, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Route 30 East, Latrobe is the history museum Lincoln Highway Experience.

It’s the largest museum in the country dedicated to Lincoln Highway, the first coast-to-coast highway on this side of the world.

The museum highlights the more than 100 years of history of the highway through exhibits that feature artifacts, photographs, and documents.

The Lincoln Highway Experience will take you back to the 1930s and 1940s with an award-winning short film entitled Through the Windshield.

The tour, which has 16 stops, includes a virtual Lincoln Highway bike ride and a visit 10 a well-preserved 1938 diner where you will be served a slice of pie paired with a cup of coffee.

At the end of the tour, you can drop by the Museum Shop to pick out some souvenirs to take home with you.

Learn About the History of the Big Mac at the Big Mac Museum

Located on Lincoln Highway, North Huntingdon is the Big Mac Museum.

The museum is inside a McDonald’s store easily identifiable by the gigantic replica of the Big Mc up front.

The famous hamburger was created in 1967 by Jim Delligatti but it didn’t find success until it was sold at the fast-food chain’s Uniontown location.

And the rest, as they say, is history, and all of that is well-documented at the Big Mac Museum.

It features all the milestones of the sandwich, from its creation in 1967 up to its present-day success as a McDonald’s staple.

Attend The Kecksburg UFO Festival

Space acorn during the Kecksburg UFO Festival

Navy2004, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1965, a flying fireball was reportedly seen in the skies of Kecksburg in the township of Mount Peasant.

Astronomers suggested that it was likely a burning meteor making a steep descent into the atmosphere.

But it was later revealed to be a Soviet satellite based on fragments found near the area where it crashed.

The event gained widespread attention and the community even started The Kecksburg UFO Festival to commemorate it.

The three-day festival celebrated the phenomenon through costume parades, arts and crafts fairs, games, fireworks, and speaking engagements.

There are also UFO-themed souvenirs and live music throughout The Kecksburg UFO Festival.

Have Brunch at IronRock Tap House

Located on Lincoln Highway, Greensburg is IronRock Tap House.

The upscale casual restaurant offers scrumptious food served with live music and an elegant atmosphere.

IronRock Tap House is popular for its brunch menu which consists of omelets, skillets, salads, and sandwiches.

One of the best-sellers is the Southwestern Eggs Benedict served with house-made roasted poblano choron sauce.

Another must-try is Hunter’s BBQ Burger made with a special blend of elk, boar, bison, and wagyu.

Attend A Guided Tour of The Compass Inn Museum

Exterior of The Compass Inn Museum

Canadian2006, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on US-30 East, Laughlintown is the historic Compass Inn Museum.

Originally built in 1799, the inn and tavern served as a resting house for those traveling along the state road.

Designed in the Georgian style, the 2 and ½-story building was 3 bays wide, but two more stone bays were added in the 1820s.

The main building, along with a blacksmith shop and a rebuilt barn, was restored in 1970 and turned into a museum.

The Compass Inn museum offers guided tours led by docents in period costumes, transporting you back to the inn’s heydays in the 1830s.

Final Thoughts

Westmoreland County promises a mix of historical and modern attractions.

From war-era sites and amusement parks to nature preserves and local grubs, you’ll never run out of things to do and places to visit.

So, plan your trip now and try the best things to do in Westmoreland County.

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