Ligonier, PA, is a haven for American History. Add in the fact that the residents are a tight knit community (more on that later) that love to highlight their gorgeous neck of the woods and it’s an ideal melding for a visit, especially in autumn. So, what are the fun things to do? From festivals to a natural anomaly, here are my 5 favorite underrated experiences in fall in Ligonier, PA.
Disclosure: I was hosted by the fine folks at Laurel Highlands Visitor’s Bureau to give you the scoop on autumn in the area. All opinions are my own!
I’ve been lucky enough to see The Laurel Highlands in fall a few times and each is just extraordinary as the next. And I’ve had the pleasure of staying at Seven Springs Ski Resort in autumn which was just perfect. I’ve also made Nemacolin Woodlands Resort my digs for a few nights and explored the property – go gorgeous.
But for this visit, I wanted to really dig into the city of Ligonier and the area around it. So, Mr. Locke and I packed up the car and hit the road two hours east of home (it’s about an hour away from Pittsburgh) to see the fun, cool things to do, especially the underrated in Ligonier experiences.
And just to clarify, these places are still super fun and well worth it to check out, they just don’t make it on the obvious Laurel Highlands radar. Cool? Let’s go!
Spruce Flats Bog
Consider this: you’re hiking on a well-known path and it opens to a bog, complete with boardwalk.
When I learned that there’s a natural bog in the middle of a forest, I was super curious. And it’s a real bog like, growing cranberries in it type of bog. Spruce Flats Bog and Wildlife Area is located in Laurel Summit State Park. Almost circular, taking the 1/4 mile walking path to get to it is a must, especially in fall. When the leaves are peaking with color, it’s absolutely jaw-dropping beauty.
Fort Ligonier Days
Here’s a quick history lesson on Ligonier, PA. Long story super short: without the mid-18th Century Fort Ligonier there would be no Pittsburgh.
So, in honor of that, Ligonier rebuilt Fort Ligonier and it’s widely known as the finest fort reconstruction around. Each autumn, Fort Ligonier Days is a multi-day celebration in honor of a key battle from the French and Indian War that includes everything from food to crafts and local liquor, beer, and wine. Additionally, there’s a 5K Run if you’d like to enter.
But what I truly loved during the festival was the parade. I have never been to a parade where everyone, and I mean everyone, claps and cheers for EVERY entry. At first I was shocked at the local love but happily joined in on the fun.
Lonesome Valley Farms Valley of Terror Haunted Drive Thru
If you’ve popped on Sand and Snow before (thank you!), it’s not hard to guess what my favorite holiday is. And while I like to consider Halloween a season, finding the creepiest, coolest scary spots has become a happy past time.
On the last night of our visit, we headed to Lonesome Valley Farms Valley of Terror. A haunted drive thru style of Halloween fun, I was thoroughly impressed at the amount of time and details that’s been put into it. With separately-themed areas along a windy path through a corn field, the scareactors are not to be balked at.
Chad’s Corn Maze
In the daytime, Chad’s Corn Maze is a gorgeous walk through a massive corn maze. But at night, it’s something all together different.
It’s not outright scary (nothing jumps out at you), but get in the middle of the maze where it’s silent and there’s no light but the moon and it did me an eerie vibe – awesome!
To get out of the maze, you’ll need to find four sticker stations with clues. Find the exit door, enter the proper code and you’re out. If you get in a pinch, there are helpers to get you unstuck.
Laurel Highlands Pour Tour
In my house, craft beer is the only beer. But even if you’re not a fan of the brew, taking a trip on the Laurel Highlands Pour Tour is really fun. You’ll find far more than craft breweries, too: the drives from spot to spot in autumn is so beautiful, when there’s pub food it’s so good, and you can collect stamps to turn in for prizes.
During our visit, we hit a few craft breweries on the Trail and Mr. Locke couldn’t have been more pleased.
Do you have a spot that’s underrated in Ligonier? Let me know in the comment section below!