Fred Rogers, television icon and friend to children, grew up in Latrobe, PA. And while he did move around a couple of times before settling in Pittsburgh, PA, his memory is alive and well in his hometown. To honor the childhood hero of many, The Fred Rogers Trail was created to give folks an easy way to walk in his steps. Created with driving and proximity in mind, the suggested stops on the Trail take you from his childhood to where he’s laid to rest. Here are the stops on The Fred Rogers Trail: Latrobe, PA, and why a visit is a must for every fan.
A Tribute to A Childhood Hero
If you’ve read my other articles or watched my Youtube video on the “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” documentary on Mr. Fred Rogers (thank you!), you know he’s my hero. As in, my-hero-since-childhood-and-still-as-an-adult hero. In my eyes (and heart), he’s the unequivocal, soft-spoken genius who taught children how to be themselves, if only for a 28-minute television show. He was my friend when I was sick in bed, which was pretty often, he was my singing companion, and he was the guy in the sweater.
These days he’s my hero, but for different reasons. When I’m having a bad day, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood is what I’ll put on the tele to decompress. It’s his kind manner and kind demeanor that leave me smiling by the end of the show. So, it truly was a no-brainer trip to Latrobe, PA, to visit the town’s spots on The Fred Rogers Trail. if you’re not sure where Latrobe, PA, is located, it’s in a gorgeous part of Pennsylvania called the Laurel Highlands. Here’s where they are and why each is a must-stop.
The Fred Rogers Trail spans from Latrobe, PA to Pittsburgh, PA, and has 14 stops plus a couple of extras.
Latrobe Art Center
Located in the heart of Downtown Latrobe, the Latrobe Art Center is a beautiful thing. It offer art classes to locals, houses art for sale, and has plenty of Fred Rogers merchandise. If you’re hungry, the in-house Ricolita’s Cafe has a creative, affordable menu and is a great place to enjoy a meal.
During our visit, a painting from Laney Crozier caught my eye, and it’s no wonder. Laney Crozier (Nancy Elaine Rogers) is Fred Rogers’ sister and a true artist. Make sure to check it out when you visit.
Location: 819 Ligonier St. Latrobe, PA 15650
Time: 30 minutes to one hour, depending on if you’d like to eat at Ricolita’s.
James H. Rogers Park – Fred Rogers Statue
A couple of blocks away from Latrobe Art Center sits James. H. Rogers Park. Named for his father, the shining star in the park is the Fred Rogers life-sized statue. It’s so inviting, and sculptor Jon Hair wanted it that way. Fred, depicted in an easy pose with arm around the back of a bench, is truly life-sized. Mr. Hair asked for specifics when creating the sculpture including Fred’s shoe and pant sizes.
Location: 200 Main St. Latrobe, PA 15650
Time to Visit: As long as you like. It’s a beautiful park for resting and enjoying a meal.
Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College
Saint Vincent College has such a sweet tribute to Fred Rogers. The interactive exhibit is a trip back through time, but the show artifacts are what made me tear up. Yeah, I did.
You’ll see everything from Daniel Striped Tiger’s Clock to Fred’s Top Sider sneakers (the man was hip!) to a few sweaters that his mother knitted for him. There are also recorded interviews playing in the background that are definitely worth a listen. What I found most endearing are the larger-than-life candid photos of Fred.
Location: 300 Fraser Purchase Rd. Latrobe, PA15650
Time to Visit: 30 minutes to one hour depending on how much you like to mosey.
Latrobe High School
Latrobe High School has quite a large display of memorabilia from Fred Rogers’ high school years, along with Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood items. The Rub? You’ll only be able to see them when the school is open to the public.
There is an alternative, though. Head to the old Latrobe Elementary School (1501 Ligonier St, Latrobe, PA 15650) and take a look around the outside. We walked up the walkway and sat on the front steps. It was fun to think of Fred as a boy, books in hand, walking through the front doors.
Location: 131 High School Rd. Latrobe, PA 15650
Time to Visit: 15 minutes
Latrobe Presbyterian Church
I love churches. I also love that Fred Rogers was an ordained minister. Latrobe Presbyterian Church, the church that Fred attended as a boy, is a beauty. We walked up to the door, grabbed the iron handle, and just stood in quiet peace. Of course, when it’s holding a service, all are welcome to attend.
Location: 428 Main St. Latrobe, PA 15650
Time to Visit: Five minutes; longer if you attend a service.
Latrobe Historical Society
The Latrobe Historical Society has cool Fred Rogers’ pieces like his seminary graduation robe, high school year books, and photos of his family. But what’s unique are his puppets. Yep, Fred Rogers was a puppeteer from an early age. Donated to the Society, many of the puppets look handmade.
On a side note, there’s so much more to the Society in addition to the Mr. Rogers’ pieces. The things and people that put Latrobe, PA, on the map are featured including Arnold Palmer, famous golfer. We also learned about the history of Rolling Rock beer (folks STILL don’t know what the 33 stands for!), and how Latrobe Airport was the first stop for nonstop air mail pick up. Fun!
Location: 416 Weldon St. Latrobe, PA 15650
Time to Visit: 15-30 minutes. The Society is open Tuesdays, Fridays, & Saturdays. Please make sure to check the open times before you go.
Idlewild & Soakzone
Idlewild Park is a place that never apologizes for being a classic. You won’t find top-speed thrill rides. What you will find is Amusement Today’s “Best Children’s Park in the World”. And that park includes a Fred Rogers’ tribute with a Daniel Tigers’ Neighborhood trolley ride. Originally a Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood ride, it’s been given a refresh and update to highlight the endearing 21st Century show.
After you’ve taken a trolley ride, hang around the park and ride a few classics. If you really want a blast from the past, head to Storybook Forest for a refresher course on Mother Goose nursery rhymes. As soon as we walked though the giant fairy tale book, we were astounded by the miniature houses and characters including Old King Cole, Jack Be Nimble, and The Good Ship Lollipop. Head toward the back of the park to The Enchanted Castle for a chance to meet Princess Lily.
Location: 2574 U.S. Route 30 Ligonier, PA 15658
Time: Anywhere from a half-day to full day depending on how much time you’d like to spend. SoakZone Waterpark is included in park admission and has some fun water slides and water play areas to cool off.
Fred Rogers’ Place of Burial
A place of reflection, Fred Rogers is buried in Unity Cemetery, about a six minutes’ drive from Saint Vincent College. We had to do a little research to find the exact location, but the cemetery is not very large so, once we looked online, it was pretty easy to find. You’ll find his place of rest in the Given Mausoleum.
Look for the area with several mausoleums and it’s on the corner of the road. We found tributes to the childhood hero in the form of notes, rocks, and flowers. It touched my heart and pained it at the same time.
Location: 114 Chapel LN. Latrobe, PA 15650
Time: Five minutes or more
Can You Visit the Fred Rogers Trail in Latrobe in a Day?
If you’re ambitious, yes. My suggestion is to make it a two-day trip and spend most of a day at Idlewild Park and SoakZone. If you break up the Trail spots into two days, you won’t have to race from place to place, too.
Where We Stayed
Our hotel for the night was Springhill Suites Latrobe. Located on Arnold Palmer Drive, not only was our two-queen bed room spacious, it was super clean and comfy. With plenty of Arnold Palmer touches, we has a delish complimentary breakfast, free parking and wifi, and a pretty view. Another bonus for staying at Springhill Suites? If you’d like to enjoy a meal at the Latrobe Country Club, ask the front desk to make a reservation for you. It’s a perk of staying at the hotel!
Disclosure: I was hosted by the folks at Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau to give you the scoop on The Fred Rogers Trail. All opinions (and photos!) are my own! To check out more of what Laurel Highlands has to offer, visit the website link above.