By Morgan Christopher Summer 2021
Some of our fondest memories involve the family piling into the car for a summer vacation, singing tunes playing on the car’s radio, making pit stops for snacks and souvenirs, and sharing the fun of sampling the local tourist attractions. After too many months of facial coverings, hand sanitizing, and social distancing, the nostalgic idea of climbing into the car for a summer road trip is exactly what our spirits could use this summer. Here in Pennsylvania, there is hardly a place more perfectly suited for a summer road trip than the amazing Route 6 corridor.
If you start in Erie on Route 6, you can drive to its eastern tip in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Here in Pennsylvania, the 9 counties along Pennsylvania’s border with New York state are connected by this scenic route, which serves as the northern tier’s main east-west artery. This grouping of counties features some of Pennsylvania’s most beautiful parks, charming towns, and iconic landmarks to discover. Summer activities and recreational areas that visitors will find in the counties bookending Route 6 make them perfect destinations to consider when mapping out your summer road trip.
Heading East on Route 6 – Scranton to Milford
The largest city on the eastern side of the PA Route 6 is Scranton, whose rich industrial legacy now shares the spotlight with the city’s role as the iconic setting for the television series “The Office.” This blend of history and pop culture makes Scranton a great place to start a summer road trip. Take tours of the Lackawanna Coal Mine, Electric City Trolley Museum, and Steamtown National Historic Site. If that wasn’t enough adventure, make your way around town on a self-guided “The Office” Tour to discover locations mentioned in the show. (Tip: Be sure to include lunch or dinner at one of the world-famous Old Forge Pizza restaurants to sample the unique local specialty!) Continue along Route 6 East into the northern Pocono Mountains to spend time visiting Honesdale and Hawley’s eclectic downtowns. In these two mountain towns, great shopping, fabulous food, and local arts events offer fun family options.
Claws ‘N’ Paws Wild Animal Park, the Stourbridge Line Train Excursion, and Dorflinger Glass Museum make for great stops in the region. Hawley is the gateway to the Lake Wallenpaupack region, one of the Poconos’ most popular summer recreation areas. The second largest lake contained within Pennsylvania, Wallenpaupack plays home to shoreline trails, boat launches, and scenic boat tours.
Driving east, head to the charming town of Milford along the Delaware River for one of the state’s most popular small-town destinations. Arts and antiques shops, popular restaurants, and a vibrant arts community invite visitors to experience what locals treasure . The town is surrounded by a relaxed, pastoral setting, making Milford a pleasure to explore. Tubing or canoeing on the Delaware River is a popular way to cool off and unwind each summer. A day floating along the Delaware River surrounded by the beautiful Pocono Mountains is a fun way to end a multi-day road trip to the eastern side of PA Route 6!
Heading West On Route 6 – Allegheny National Forest to Erie
Known for its vast network of lush trails, the Allegheny National Forest is an ideal spot to begin a summer road trip along the western end of Route 6. Hiking, camping, fishing, and mountain biking are all popular outdoor activities to consider planning for the first part of your road trip. (The area’s Kinzua Sky Walk is one of those iconic stops that every great road trip requires, so be sure to include a visit!)
Towns along Route 6 like Smethport, Bradford, and Kane play home to popular attractions like the Zippo/Case Museum & Flagship Store, Penn Brad Oil Museum, and the Old Jail Museum. The towns feature historic architecture, neighborhood shops, and eateries that you’ll enjoy discovering along the way.
Traveling west, the Allegheny River and other recreational spots offer places to pull off for sightseeing and fun. Proceed to the Conneaut Lake region, where you will find a wide variety of options for summer activities. Be sure to check out the local shops and restaurants making their home in this pristine region!
Just off Route 6 North, Erie and the bustling lakefront are a “summer must” where the beaches and recreational resources of Presque Isle State Park await. The Erie Maritime Museum, US Brig Niagara, and the Erie Zoo offer historical sights and family fun. Eateries like Sara’s Diner serve up local favorites like Smith’s famous footlong hot dogs, which are part of the uniquely Erie fare you will want to try when visiting the western side of PA Route 6.
Don’t miss the Center of Route 6 Road Trip, which includes the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, the darkest skies east of the Mississippi and a whole lot more, in the fall issue!