3 Weekend Trips from Pittsburgh to Get Out of the City

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A city that has reinvented itself since the end of the last century, Pittsburgh has become a lovely city to live in. Referred to as the “Steel City”, Pittsburgh is full of fun places to see and cool things to do. It’s even become quite quirky over recent years, adding to its upbeat energy and fun atmosphere.

However, if you live in the city or are visiting for a while, you’re sure to be on the lookout for weekend trips from Pittsburgh. There’s nothing quite like an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, and luckily for you, Pittsburgh is within arm’s reach of several awesome destinations for holidays and weekend getaways.

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The Best Places To Go To For Weekend Trips From Pittsburgh

If you’re looking for an escape from Pittsburgh’s city life, there’s no shortage of options available to you. We’ve put together a list of three of the top destinations for weekend trips from Pittsburgh – including what to do and where to stay – so that all you have to do is make a choice.

Niagara Falls, New York

weekend trips from pittsburgh to niagara falls overview of the waterfall and mist
Image via Pexels by Chait Goli

The world-famous Niagara Falls is right at the top of this list because if you haven’t been to Niagara Falls, you absolutely need to get there at least once. And if you’re thinking that there’s only one thing to do there, you’re absolutely wrong. In addition to the roaring waterfalls, there are several other spectacular outdoor attractions to visit, including hikes and historical sites, among other things.

Distance from Pittsburgh: 240 miles

Duration of Journey from Pittsburgh to Niagara Falls: 3 hours and 40 minutes

A Few of the Best Things to do in Niagara Falls

It may seem like a bit of a drive, but if you’re looking for weekend trips from Pittsburgh that’ll knock your socks off, it’s totally worth it. Here are a few of the best things to do in Niagara Falls.

Visit the Waterfalls

The first thing you need to do in Niagara Falls is see the famous waterfalls – obviously! Best of all, there are several different ways you can do this, so you can choose the one that tickles your fancy. Whether you’d like to view the mighty falls from a boat, an observation tower, or from behind in the caves, you’re guaranteed to be completely awestruck. Here are a few of your options:

Make sure to wear a waterproof jacket – or buy a poncho before you set off on your tour – because you’re bound to get a little bit wet!

Niagara Falls Botanical Gardens and Butterfly Conservatory

Get away from the crowds and the roaring waterfalls when you visit one of Niagara Falls’ best-kept secrets. Boasting spectacular gardens and a beautiful collection of butterflies, this is the perfect place to go for a morning or afternoon of wandering around and simply enjoying the sights on offer.

It covers a total of 100 acres, and if you’d like to get some pretty pictures during your weekend getaway from Pittsburgh, this is the place to do it.

Niagara Glen Nature Reserve

niaragra glen trail river through the gorge
Image via Flickr by Wikimedia Canada

Get a firsthand experience of the exquisite natural surroundings that Niagara Falls has to offer and check out one or a few of the trails in the area. With varying difficulty levels and types of scenery to see, you can choose the trail that best suits your skill level and requirements for the day. Here are a few cool hiking trails in Niagara Falls.

  • Woodend Conservation Area – Easy
  • Niagara Whirlpool Loop – Moderate
  • Niagara Recreation Trail – Difficult

Escape from the thunderous roar of the waterfalls and crowds and enjoy the serenity of the mountains – this is one thing you won’t regret doing during weekend trips from Pittsburgh, especially while in Niagara Falls.

Looking to know what Niagara has to offer outside of the Falls?

We have the guide just for you!

Where to Stay in Niagara Falls

With a plethora of accommodation options available to you, it won’t be difficult to find a great place to stay. Here are two that you’re sure to love.

Tower Hotel at Fallsview

Super close to lots of cool Niagara Falls attractions, the Tower Hotel at Fallsview is is a great place to stay and if you’d like to be up close to the action. As a bonus, it’s also super affordable.

Embassy Hotel at Hilton

For a touch of class and sophistication, stay at the Embassy Hotel at Hilton. You’ll have everything you could possibly need available at your fingertips.

Ellicottville, New York

weekend trips from Pittsburg road trip through Ellicottsville New York main street
Image via Flickr by mark.hogan

Easily one of the best destinations for weekend trips from Pittsburgh, Ellicottville. It is known for the peaceful atmosphere far removed from busy city life. Best of all, if you’re the kind of person that enjoys relaxing on holiday by doing fun activities and getting to know the area, this is the place for you.

Well known for epic ski slopes and gorgeous mountain trails, there’s no better place to enjoy the great outdoors than Ellicottville, New York. Just make sure you check the weather report and visit at the right time of year to ski!

Distance from Pittsburgh: 203 miles

Duration of Journey from Pittsburgh to Ellicottville: 3 and a half hours

Fun Things to do in Ellicottville, New York

To make your life easier, we’ve found a few of the best things you can do while visiting Ellicottville to help plan your weekend getaway from Pittsburgh.

Go Skiing or Snowboarding

weekend trips from pittsburgh to ski resort chair lift ascending a mountain
Image via Flickr by joncutrer

Whether you’re a novice or a pro, hitting the slopes is one of the best, and coolest, things to do while you’re in Ellicottville. Nestled in the foothills of the Alleghany Mountains, this is a great place to spend all day on the slopes and enjoy the powdery snow.

If you need to rent gear, there are several places to hire skis, snowboards, and other things from within Ellicottville and at the bottom of the slopes, so not to worry if you don’t have your own.

The two main slopes are known as Holiday Valley and HoliMont, named after the resorts that they’re located close to. The area is known for its epic snow and short lines, making it a skier’s paradise during the wintertime. The lifts are also revered by many as the best in the East, so enjoy the ride!

Hiking in Ellicottville

Up until not too long ago, Ellicottville was almost entirely known for its ski slopes, but these days, it has even more to offer. If you visit during the summertime, you can enjoy the spectacular hiking trails that provide fantastic options for hikers of all ages and skill levels. Whether you’re an experienced climber wanting to have a good, tough day out or a family with small children just wanting to get some fresh air, you’ll find what you’re looking for. Holiday Valley also offer

Here are some of the best hiking options in Ellicottville:

  • Spruce Lake Trail – Easy
  • Hollimont Winter Loop – Easy
  • Zoar Valley – Moderate
  • Gorge Trail – Moderate

Just make sure you check your route properly before you go to avoid getting lost!

Holiday Valley also offers adventures outside of the winter season. Check out Sky High Adventure Park for fun for the whole family including gem mining, climbing forest and chair lift rides!

If you’re not much of a hiker, you may also just want to enjoy the parks and relax in nature. There are a few delightful places you can do that in Ellicottville:

  • Rim Rock Overlook and Picnic Area
  • Letchworth State Park
  • Panama Rocks Scenic Park

And if you’re more of a fisherman, why not head to Alleghany State Park to wet a line and enjoy the bliss of the peace and quiet.

So get out into nature and enjoy what the great outdoors has to offer you!

Visit a few of Ellicottville’s Favorite Establishments

Regardless of your preferences when it comes to eating and drinking, there’s something to suit everybody’s taste and preferences in Ellicottville. Boasting epic wineries, awesome restaurants, and other specialty stores, you better make sure you leave time to explore.

  • The Winery of Ellicottville: Boasting a mixture of classic varietals, specialty wines, and even some hard cider, visit the Winery of Ellicottville for a fun day out of tasting and drinking beverages made in the area.
  • Watson’s Chocolates: If you’ve got a sweet tooth, Watson’s Chocolates is the place for you. Crafting chocolates since 1946, these guys really know what they’re doing, so grab a treat and hit the slopes.
  • Madigan’s: If you’re looking for somewhere to grab lunch or dinner, try out Madigan’s. It is well known in the area and is sure to help fill your belly after a tough day out.

Where to Stay in Ellicottville

After a long day on the slopes, all you’re going to want to do is eat a warm meal and have a good night’s rest. Here are two different accommodation options where you can do just that.

Edelweiss Ski Lodge

Cozy, comfortable, and affordable, the Edelweiss Ski Lodge is exactly what you need when you after your ski adventures.

The Kelly House

Ideal for a family or group of friends visiting Ellicottville for fun weekend on the slopes, the Kelly House is a snazzy vacation home with an historical edge.

The Finger Lakes, New York

road trip into finger lakes new york autumn on caygua lake
Image via Flickr by Jo Zimny Photos

It may sound like a place straight out of a Stephen King novel, but I assure you, it’s not. If a break from the city is what you want, a break from the city is what you’ll get when you you escape to The Finger Lakes. If you’re looking for day trips from Pittsburgh, this may be a bit far, but for an entire weekend, this is a spot where you can completely unwind and recharge your battery.

Distance from Pittsburgh: 332 miles

Duration of Journey from Pittsburgh to Finger Lakes: 5 hours and 15 minutes

Things to Do While Visiting the Finger Lakes, New York

A visit to the Finger Lakes is one that heroes the great outdoors and the beauty of nature. Of course, you don’t have to be a professional hiker or Bear Grylls-type adventurer to enjoy it – for some, the quiet time alone is enough to make this trip worthwhile.

The Finger Lakes area comprises of a whopping 11 different lakes and 9 different counties – impressed yet? Well, unsurprisingly, there’s a lot to do in the area, regardless of your preferences. Here are a few.

Enjoy the Outdoors

We’ll start with the obvious. The Finger Lakes are known for, well, incredible lakes and surrounding scenery, so the first thing you absolutely need to do when visiting the area is explore the lakes and trails.

Here are some of the best and most popular parks and outdoor areas to hike and enjoy spectacular scenery:

  • Watkins Glen State Park
  • Robert Treman State Park
  • Taughannock Falls State Park
  • Buttermilk Falls State Park
  • Harriet Tubman Hational Historical Park
  • Women’s Rights National Park

Some of these parks are ideal for just wandering around and enjoying a picnic.

Seneca Lake Wine Trail

vineyard overloocking seneca lake new york trips from pittsburgh
Image via Flickr by pecooper98362

If you’re looking for weekend trips from Pittsburgh that allow you to explore the mountains and try out delicious local wines, you’ve hit the jackpot. The Finger Lakes area is home to the Seneca Wine Trail, boasting a total of 27 different wineries for you to visit and enjoy – although you may struggle to get to all of them, so pick a few that tickle your fancy. Not sure which to pick? Jump on this Seneca Lake Wine Tour to enjoy a day out visiting four wineries with a delicious lunch !

Dive deep into the history of New York wine making on this Keuka Wine Adventure! Known for Riesling and Cabernet, both wine stewards and plain old wine drinkers are sure to have a blast tasting unique and delicious wines cultivated within the region.

Here are a few of the top wineries to visit:

  • Fun Run Winery
  • Three Brothers Wineries and Estates
  • Ravine Wine Cellars
  • Keuka Lake Wine Trail
  • Lakewood Vineyards

If you’re not much of a wine drinker, that’s okay, because you’ll also find that many of the producers in the area also make beer or spirits. Or, why not do a brewery tour of the Finger Lakes?

The Corning Museum of Glass

If you’re looking for something unique to do during weekend trips from Pittsburgh, a visit to the Corning Museum of Glass is a cool thing to do while you’re staying at the Finger Lakes.

You can watch live demonstrations of glass making which is super interesting for the whole family. Get your creative juices flowing with the Making Your Own Glass experience! This unique opportunity is open to all experience levels.

While you’re there, make sure you take a walk around the museum and the gift shop too.

Where to Stay at the Finger Lakes

Ranging from affordable to pretty pricey, the Finger Lakes has everything you could possibly dream of when considering accommodation options. Here are two to get you started.

Candlewood Suites

Enjoy this budget-friendly option that is conveniently located and provides all the amenities you’ll require for a relaxing weekend away from the city. Candlewood Suites is a good place to stay if you’re away with the family.

Brick Inn

Located near Letchworth State Park, Brick Inn is a luxury inn offering many comforts that’ll make your stay here memorable. It may cost a little extra, but it’s worth the dough.

Final Thoughts On The Best Weekend Trips From Pittsburgh To Get Out Of The City

Road trip through Seneca Lake
Image via Flickr by Jo Zimny Photos

There you have it – three of the best weekend trips from Pittsburgh for a getaway from the city. A visit to any of these destinations is sure to give you the opportunity to relax and enjoy the scenery! Whether you’re an avid hiker, a nature lover, or an experienced wine drinker, a weekend trip to Niagara Falls, Ellicottville, or the Finger Lakes is sure to be one for the books.

So, don’t waste anymore time! Make your bookings, pack your bags, and get on your way! A weekend of fun awaits.

What are some local ski gear rental options in Ellicottsville?

Holiday Valley and HoliMont both have rental options within their facilities. Holiday Valley offers a more a la carte option where HoliMont offers packages. There are some local ski shops such as Mud Sweat n’ Gears and Boardroom Snowboard shop all are highly rated and offer comparable prices. HoliMont also offers adaptive programs that provide necessary equipment and highly trained instructors to make sure snow sports can be enjoyed to everyone!

Which wineries are suggested for first time visitors and novice wine drinkers?

If the long list of Finger Lake wineries has you overwhelmed. We suggest to start with one of these:
Pleasant Valley Wine Company-the first winery in the Finger Lakes to soak up the true history of the region.
Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery-started by a professor at Cornell who was a pioneer in adapting European grapes to the region. It is still run by the family.
Wagner Vineyards-offers top quality estate-grown wines as well as offers a craft brewery in case your whole group aren’t wine drinkers.

What is the difference between the Maid of the Mist and Hornblower Niagara Cruise boat tours?

The main difference is Maid of the Mist is out of the US side and Hornblower is on the Canadian side. Maid of the Mist offers rides between a certain set of hours based on the time of the year while Hornblower has 4 cruise types that offer different perspectives day and night. Maid of the Mist also has no set seating areas. Hornblower boats have seating, bathrooms, and enclosed viewing areas for those who prefer to stay dry. Both are wheelchair accessible. As far as cost, Maid of the Mist offers a set price for the tour which can be bought online as well as at the queue. Hornblower cruises are a bit pricier based on the tour and can also be purchased online. If you want to visit both, remember to bring those travel documents as you will have to cross the border.

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