SPONSORED | Butler County Tourism & Convention Center May 7, 2021
Strategically located for businesses and residents alike, Butler County, PA, sits just 20 minutes north of Pittsburgh and is easily accessed by the PA Turnpike, I-79, I-80, and State Routes 422, 19, and 8. With its prime location, Butler County is experiencing rapid growth ranging from high tech, energy, agricultural, and manufacturing. As a result, new businesses, tech companies, and healthcare facilities are planting their roots here.
Butler County is the headquarters of Westinghouse, Butler Technologies, Mine Safety Appliances, and many more. Many companies are not only making advancements within the county but also around the world. For instance, Butler Technologies Inc. worked with Ralph Lauren designers and DuPont engineers to add heating elements inside the heavy-duty, down-filled, red, white, and blue jackets worn by each of the U.S. team members at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Butler County’s landscape is very diverse. Cranberry Township is one of the fastest-growing communities in Pennsylvania and in the country. While the busy hub of Cranberry features a plethora of restaurants, hotels, and modern-day conveniences, other areas of the county consist of small, charming towns, rolling farmlands, and off-beat attractions. Butler County is home to beautiful parks, versatile sporting venues, multi-functional event facilities, and so much more, providing countless recreational activities. As a result of continued economic growth and development, Butler County residents benefit from the area’s excellent quality of life, making it a great place to live, work and play.
Birthplace of the Jeep
What makes something stand the test of time while the world around us is evolving with new technology every day? The men behind the development and design of the Bantam Reconnaissance Car (BRC) would have been great people to ask since the American Bantam Car Company’s BRC, born in Butler, Pennsylvania, is the predecessor to the Jeep® vehicles you see on the road today.
In 1940, the U.S. Army asked over 100 tractor and auto manufacturers to design a four-wheel drive, 40-horsepower, 1,200-pound reconnaissance car that could haul soldiers as well as heavy artillery and requested a working prototype within 49 days.
With only two companies responding to the request, the American Bantam Car Company created the Jeep prototype responsible for making American forces mobile during WWII.
The Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival in June was created to commemorate the history and birthplace of the Jeep. This year, the festival will be celebrating its 10th anniversary June 11-13. This event continues to be one of the county’s largest and most attended events, drawing in thousands of people worldwide. The Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival helps local businesses generate additional revenue and brings a sense of community pride to Butler County.
The festival has also been recognized as the “Event of the Year” by Pennsylvania’s Keystone Society for Tourism.
When visitors come to Butler County, they are never disappointed by what our small
towns have to offer… and the offerings keep getting better! The revitalization bug has hit Butler County. Many of our small towns are taking advantage—beautifying the streetscapes, encouraging new businesses and partnerships, creating signature events, and making these towns a true destination for visitors. Going one step further, these towns are doing it while keeping their charming heritage and historic architecture intact!
The historical town of Butler is the county seat and has so much to offer to residents and visitors alike. It has an intriguing automotive history and is known around the world as the birthplace of the Jeep. A town previously named 7th Best Small Town in America by Smithsonian Magazine, it’s really living up to the title with multiple new businesses and developments on Main Street, including two locally-owned breweries. From trendy shops and restaurants to cozy B&Bs and coffee shops, this dynamic downtown has it all! The town’s vibrant art scene along Main Street is bursting with color and creativity and makes for a unique experience downtown.
The charming towns of Butler County like Saxonburg, Zelienople, and Harmony are captivating! These German towns feature museums, trendy boutiques, unique dining options, and more! A stroll along Main Street in Saxonburg offers local restaurants and idyllic shops. A stop in the park pays homage to John Roebling, founder of the town and creator of wire rope, and designer of the Brooklyn Bridge. Affectionately described as “similar to Mayberry,” the quaint town of Zelienople is lined with locally-owned businesses, gorgeous historic buildings, and a thriving art scene. Harmony is a National Historic Landmark District and captivates visitors with old brick and log buildings. Another interesting town is Mars, where visitors get an opportunity to take a selfie with a spaceship.
Butler County’s small towns have been inspired by the movement to revitalize, beautify and add visitor appeal to their communities. Many of them have taken it upon themselves to create and sustain special annual events to bring visitors to their towns. Events range from focusing on arts, history, and holidays to annual festivals and monthly socials.
Tourism is a top industry in Butler County, and it has dramatically enhanced the area in several ways. As a result of the county’s growth, the area is constantly hosting events, festivals, and tournaments generating millions of dollars benefiting the local economy. Several attributes make the county unique, like its beautiful parks, rich automotive history, agricultural impact, versatile sporting venues, and more.
Butler County features over 21 hotels, nine B&Bs, and eight campgrounds! The bustling area of Cranberry Township is one of the fastest-growing communities in the country. It has over a dozen hotels, trendy shops, and a multitude of restaurants.
Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau is the area’s destination marketing organization. Its mission is to promote Butler County, Pennsylvania, as an attractive tourism and business destination. The Tourism Bureau wants residents and visitors to know about the wonderful things the county has to offer. Every year they produce an Official Visitors Guide, which serves as an effective marketing tool along with their website, event calendar, and social media platforms. The Bureau also has multiple self-navigated trails in place like the Butler County Beer Circuit and the Sweet Tooth Trail, which encourages visitors to go to various businesses, fill up their passports, and turn them into the Tourism Bureau to claim a commemorative prize. The Bureau is always looking for ways to market the area and bring visitors to Butler County.
Moraine State Park is the county’s biggest attraction and sees close to two million visitors a year. It consists of 16,725 acres of pure beauty intertwined with an abundance of outdoor activities, making it the most visited attraction in the county at any time of the year. Moraine State Park is the third largest park in Pennsylvania. It offers various activities for year-round enjoyment like hiking, biking, boating, disc golf, cross-country skiing, cabin rental, and more!
Moraine State Park is referenced as a “National Hidden Gem” by Rand McNally’s Pocket Guide for American Express, and in 2008 it was named “number one park in the state of Pennsylvania.”
The main feature of Moraine State Park is Lake Arthur, spanning 3,225 acres and offering 42 miles of shoreline. Moraine has 28 miles of hiking trails, including The North Country National Scenic Trail that stretches from North Dakota to Vermont. The Park also hosts numerous events throughout the year, providing something for everyone!
The newest attraction is “Preston’s Pearl,” a new educational tour boat at Moraine State Park. The new enclosed tour boat increases the passenger capacity of the previous boat. It has an upper deck for outdoor viewing. Cruises are offered from Memorial Day Weekend through October, and passengers will learn about the area’s history and wildlife within the Park. The tour boat also offers environmental programs, dinner cruises, private charters for business meetings, seminars, and parties.
Butler County hosts several events, festivals, and tournaments, giving us strong brand recognition and drawing in large crowds from all over the world. Not only does this have a positive financial impact on our county, but it benefits local businesses and vendors as well.
Major events include the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival, Moraine State Park Regatta, Big Butler Fair, German Christmas Market, and the many regional and national hockey tournaments at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, the practice facility for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
With its rolling hills and open layout, Cooper’s Lake has become a recurring destination for Pittsburgh’s Tough Mudder. This two-day event brings many out-of-market visitors to the county. It generates business for hotels, restaurants, and local shops.
Butler County also features a variety of championship disc golf courses located at Moraine State Park, Slippery Rock University, and a brand new course in Cranberry Township, which is one of the world’s longest and most challenging disc golf courses. The county has hosted several national tournaments and an international disc golf tournament, resulting in a significant economic impact for the area.