Hidden Treasures: This 4-day itinerary begins in Titusville, PA and explores four counties in the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania.
|Day 1: Oil Heritage, Titusville|
|Day 2: Presque Isle|
|Day 3: Scenic Route 6, Meadville|
|Day 4: Mercer County|
Day 1: Oil Heritage, Titusville
On Day 1 of your journey, immerse yourself in the woodlands and gingerbread-trimmed homes of Venango County. This uniquely charming area just southwest of the Allegheny National Forest is steeped in a proud past of industrial success and a wooded landscape of seemingly untouched beauty. While the Pennsylvania oil boom has come and gone, The Drake Well Museum and Park eloquently illustrates the history of the petroleum industry, which began in 1859 when crude oil was discovered in a nearby creek.
During your morning at the Drake Well Museum, explore the replica of the original oil well and see the exhibits that explain Pennsylvania's oil fever phenomena. May thru April, open Monday thru Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. November thru April, open Tuesday thru Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Open on Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day.
For lunchtime, fuel up in downtown Titusville, the small town that has something to suit every taste. Options in town include Perkins, McDonald's, Burger King and several local pizza and sandwich shops. You'll want to stop for just a quick bite and get on your way, as there's much to explore in the Oil Heritage Region.
In the afternoon, get outdoors at Oil Creek State Park and continue to learn about oil heritage, observe industrial artifacts on-site and hike the many, stunning trails. Visitors can learn about the former boomtowns of Petroleum Centre and Pithole while enjoying the park's natural beauty, which has returned to the way it was before the discovery of oil shook this region topsy-turvy.
An alternative to Oil Creek State Park is the Victorian town of Franklin, further south at the junction of U.S. Route 8 and PA Route 322. Visit St. John's Episcopal Church to see the Tiffany stained glass windows, and then browse the pleasant main streets for shopping, antiquing and sight-seeing along the Allegheny River.
If it's the third week in August, you will be just in time for the Annual Titusville Oil Festival, a pandemonium of art shows, craft markets, small theater productions, food and fairground activities.
Accommodations vary from the Cross Creek Resort, to various campgrounds, to The Inn at Franklin, a full-service hotel and banquet facility and home to French Creek Tavern, a deliciously good stop at the end of the day.
Kids Would Love:
|Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad|
|Venango Museum of Art, Science and Industry|
|DeBence Antique Music World|
|Cross Creek Resort, Titusville|
|Oil Creek Family Campground, Titusville|
|Oil Heritage Region Tourist Promotion Agency|
|Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce|
Major Highways from Titusville to Presque Isle: PA Route 8 from Titusville to Union City. PA Route 97 to US Route 19 into Erie.
Day 2: Presque Isle
Day 2 begins with an early wake-up call. Erie and the Presque Isle beaches are slightly more than an hour away from Titusville. If the weather cooperates (and you wake-up in time!) plan to see a gorgeous sunrise for which Erie is famous.
Begin your day at Presque Isle State Park, home to a lighthouse, abundant wildlife, a biking/hiking trail that circumscribes the "near island," and seven miles of beachfront. A full array of beach activities along Lake Erie includes everything from sunbathing to boat tours. The Perry Monument towers over the tip of the park in honor of General Oliver Hazard Perry, a naval leader in the War of 1812.
Be sure to reserve two hours of your day to spend at The Erie Maritime Museum. The museum is homeport to the U.S. Brig Niagara, a 19th century, two-mast sailing ship that's insightful, engaging and fun. Call ahead to see if the ship will be in port during your visit.
For a meal, Peach Street is a bustling thoroughfare, lined with many amenities and conveniences. Quaker Steak'n Lube, 7575 Peach Street, is famous for its wings and burgers. For microbrews and pub fare, don't miss Erie Brewing Company, 123 W.14th Street. And for Asian fare, check out Hibachi Japanese Steak House, 3000 W. 12th Street.
An important historical point can be found just south of Erie in Waterford, at the Fort LeBoeuf Museum. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the grounds to learn about early French and English pioneers and the fur trade. You'll need to plan additional time in your schedule for travel to enjoy this unique destination.
Every kind of lodging is in Erie. Rent a quiet lakeside cottage at Lake View on the Lake Motel or choose from an array of family campgrounds. The Spencer House Bed and Breakfast offers fireplaces and canopy beds. A new hotel, The Holiday Inn Express and Suites, 8108 Peach Street, offers luxuries such as Jacuzzi suites and an indoor waterpark. The town is very busy between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and summer travel demands early reservations.
Kids Would Love:
|ExpERIEnce Children's Museum|
|Waldameer Park and Water World|
|Splash Lagoon Water Park|
|The Boothby Inn Bed and Breakfast|
|Hills Family Campground and Cabins|
|Comfort Inn - Erie|
|Erie Area Convention and Visitors Bureau|
|Western Pennsylvania Port Authority|
Major Highways from Erie to Meadville: From Erie, take Interstate Route 79 south to Meadville. Or, take Route 19 south to scenic Route 6 into Meadville.
Start Day 3 a little later in the morning. Take the time to enjoy your choice accommodations and a hearty breakfast in Erie. Or, if you're up for it, you may try to catch that Presque Isle sunrise that you missed on Day 2.
When you're ready to be on your way, begin a quiet, scenic drive along U.S. Route 6, navigating from Erie to Meadville. Here, you enjoy a small eastern portion of the historic highway that stretches across Pennsylvania's northern tier, all the way to the Pocono Mountains. Route 6 will take you to Meadville, where you should look for signs for downtown or the Market House.
For some lunch, eat at Valenti's Restaurant, 251 Chestnut Street, a quick walk away from the Market House. This local favorite serves delicious steak, seafood, sandwiches and a lot of pasta with Italian flair. For something quick, there is a small diner located inside the Market House.
The Meadville Market House, 910 Market Street, is a town meeting place, where farmers have been bringing produce to market for over a century. Observe the sturdy architecture that served many diverse functions during the market's heyday. Today at the Market House, visitors and local residents can shop for fresh fruits, vegetables and hand-made crafts. Contact the Market House before your trip to find out what events are planned during your stay.
Another gem in Meadville is the Baldwin Reynolds Mansion, former home of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice and two of Meadville's mayors. This house tour offers great insight into life at the turn of the 20th century.
Later on in the day, you may wish to travel further west along Route 6 to Conneaut Lake. Enjoy the lake, the local award-winning winery, and, in the summer, the amusement park.
Another option is Pymatuning State Park, still further west on Route 6, where visitors can see ducks walk on the backs of fish at the Linesville Spillway. One of Pennsylvania's largest lakes, Pymatuning is a great place to continue the beach and boating activities you may have enjoyed at Erie.
Reserve a night of unique lodging in Meadville at Wynken Blynken and Nod Bed and Breakfast, within walking distance of downtown Meadville. The innkeepers can impart an insider's view of the area, and the inn offers immaculate accommodations and breakfast at a nice price.
Kids Would Love:
|Conneaut Lake Park|
|Brookdale Family Campground|
|Motel 6 - Meadville|
|Days Inn Conference Center - Meadville|
|Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau|
Major Highways from Meadville to Mercer County: From Meadville, travel south on Interstate 79. Near the intersection of Interstate 80, travelers can choose to go east to Grove City or west to Sharon.
On Day 4 of your journey, find your place in Mercer County. Intersected by Interstate Route 80, Mercer County is a convenient destination for those nearing the end of a road trip. Choose from the historic towns of Sharon, Volant or Grove City to conclude your trip with something memorable.
Grove City is a spectacular shopping destination with the Prime Outlets of Grove City at the center of attention. The Outlets are an easy-on, easy-off destination along Route 80 with plenty of overnight accommodations and restaurants nearby. A few miles away lies the intimate town of Volant, boasting a quiet country road flanked by antique shops and small boutiques.
Those with children should visit Sharon, and schedule a tour of Daffin's Candies and Chocolate Kingdom. You'll see amazing chocolate creations, shop for traditional milk chocolate items and take a chocolate factory tour.
A few noted restaurants in the area are The Iron Bridge Inn and Rachel's Roadhouse, both located along Route 19 between Mercer and New Castle. It's worth the 15-minute drive along country roads to enjoy the good food and warm hospitality.
Kids Would Love:
|Daffins Candies and Chocolate Kingdom|
|Radisson Hotel Sharon|
|Ameri Host Inn|
|Super 8 Motel - Grove City|
|Mercer County Convention and Visitors Bureau|
|Volant Merchants Association|