What Is Pennsylvania Known For? 5 Things Pennsylvanians Love About Their State

Philadelphia on Broad Street
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Written by Sarah Feaster

Published: November 16, 2023

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Penn’s Woods. The Keystone State. P-Ay. Pennsylvania goes by many different names and offers easily twice the amount of reasons to love it. From breathtaking nature, charming folk culture, and an abundance of history, to scrumptious foods and a sporting event that welcomes the entire world annually, Pennsylvania has something for everyone. Keep reading to learn about the top things Pennsylvania is known for, and why Pennsylvanians love their home state.

The Stunning Scenery of Penn’s Woods

Clarion River Pennsylvania

With plenty of opportunities to paddle, hike, bike, and camp, Pennsylvania is a nature-lover’s dream!

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While outsiders may automatically associate Pennsylvania with its metropolitan areas of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the state is actually most notably known for its beautiful forests. In fact, William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, named the Keystone State in honor of his father. The name is a combination of Latin words which translate to “Penn’s Woods.” This is because the lush, gorgeous state showcases more than 16.6 million acres of woodlands. In modern Pennsylvania, the beautiful forests nestled throughout the state provide endless opportunities to take in the wildlife, camp, hike, swim at manmade beaches, and paddle lakes and rivers. Pennsylvania is home to 19 stunning national parks and 124 state parks. Lastly, the world capital of mushrooms is Kennett Square, a suburb of Philadelphia!

Pennsylvania: Known for Its Cultural Kaleidoscope

Amish Buggy in Holmes county Ohio. All four hoves of the horse off the ground as the ladies head home from shopping.

Keep an eye out for Amish buggies on Pennsylvania roads!

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Both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are melting pots of art, cuisine, and achievement. But, that doesn’t mean you have to stick to the cities to get a taste of some of the most unique cultural elements sprinkled throughout the state. In fact, in the more rural areas is where you can encounter Pennsylvania Dutch influences, as well as interact with the “plain people.”

The Plain People

Local Amish, Mennonites, and other small Christian groups are referred to as the plain people due to their intentional separation from the world. They typically focus on modest, self-sufficient living, and utilize minimal technology in their daily lives. While a secluded and close-knit community, you can commonly run across Amish at farmer’s markets, at produce stands across rural Pennsylvania, and travelling on the roadways with their horse-drawn buggies.

Pennsylvania Dutch

Additionally, the Keystone State is home to an ethnic group known as the Pennsylvania Dutch. Heavily influenced by their German ancestry, Pennsylvania Dutch have greatly contributed to the cuisine and folk art of the area. An easily identifiable symbol of the Pennsylvania Dutch influence is the large hex signs or emblems painted on barns throughout the state. These symbols are typically large, round, colorful, and highlight beautiful floral or geomatic motifs. These gorgeous displays of art were originally thought to protect farms from witches’ spells.

Pennsylvania: Strolling through the Pages of America’s History Books

Liberty Bell and Independence Hall in Philadelphia

Visitors of Philadelphia can check out the Liberty Bell at The Liberty Bell Center.

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Pennsylvania: Strolling through the Pages of America’s History Books

Interested in taking a trip that’ll immerse you in American history? Boston and Washington DC are common destinations, but don’t overlook Pennsylvania! The Keystone State isn’t just one of the original 13 American colonies; it’s also home to stunning historical landmarks, such as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Independence Hall is where the Founding Fathers debated and ultimately adopted the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. After touring these amazing finds in the Philadelphia area, venture out on day trips to visit Gettysburg and Valley Forge, both significant locations during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Additionally, Pennsylvania contributed to America’s growth and success by playing pivotal roles in the coal mining, steel, lumber, and railroad industries. Finally, Penn’s Woods is known for being home to the first American stock exchange, the first hospital, and where Betsy Ross created the first American flag.

Williamsport Welcomes the World

Boy sliding into base during a baseball game with Instagram style filter

Every August, Williamsport welcomes the world to The Little League World Series.

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One of the most famous things Pennsylvania is known for is being the home of Little League Baseball. Every year, travelers from all over the globe gather around the tiny town of Williamsport to cheer on their Little League teams as they compete for the title of world champions. Little League was originally a competition among Pennsylvania teams only. However, within a few years, the program grew significantly in popularity and the Little League Baseball World Series became an international event in 1950. Little League celebrated its 75th World Series last year and expanded the series to 20 more teams. So far, 28 countries outside the United States have attended the Little League Baseball World Series.

A Taste of Pennsylvania – from Hershey’s Chocolate to Philly Cheesesteaks

Homemade Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich

One of the most famous foods found in Pennsylvania are the Philly Cheesesteaks.

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Finally, the delectable foods from Pennsylvania are remarkable influences in our country’s cuisine scene. The Keystone State is the root of many common household brands known all across the country, as well as the original creation of several foods enjoyed by everyone. Check out these noteworthy examples:

  • Heinz: Originally founded in Sharpsburg, PA, in 1869, Heinz is now a worldwide food processing company with plants located on six continents. Heinz is most notably recognized for its ketchup!
  • Primanti Bros: While still mostly known in the eastern United States, this chain of sandwich shops originated in Pittsburgh. It’s most well-known for its fun and unique ingredients, such as including French fries and coleslaw right on the sandwich!
  • Tastykake: Established in 1914, this Philadelphia company manufactures snack foods loved throughout the East Coast and Southern United States.
  • The Hershey Company: Hersey’s is one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the world. Founded in 1894 by Milton S. Hershey, Hershey’s is most notably known for its “Hershey’s Kiss” chocolate. However, Hershey’s also produces candy bars, baked goods, and even milkshakes.
  • Yuengling: Known as America’s oldest operating brewing companies, Yuengling was originally founded in 1829 in Pottsville, PA. It’s also known as one of the country’s largest craft breweries. As of earlier this year, Yuengling is now available in 26 of America’s 50 states.

Specific Foods from Pennsylvania

  • Hoagies: Also referred to as subs, heroes, or grinders, hoagies originated in the Philadelphia area during the first World War. They were initially referred to as hoggies, due to being made by Italian immigrants working at the Hog Island shipyard.
  • Philly Cheesesteaks: In competition with Primanti Bros’ sandwiches to be Pennsylvania’s best hot hoagie, Philly cheesesteaks showcase caramelized onions, cheese, and thinly sliced ribeye steak. While the type of cheese it hotly debated within the state, this sub is a pillar in Pennsylvania restaurants.
  • Lebanon Bologna: Originally from Lebanon County, Lebanon bologna is a common deli meat in the Keystone State. Unlike most bologna, Lebanon bologna is a semidry beef sausage that is cured, smoked, and fermented. This creates a unique, tangy flavor perfect for sandwiches or stacked on a cracker with cheese.
  • Shoo-fly Pie: This confection is another influence of the Pennsylvania Dutch. Shoo-fly pie is a delectable dessert featuring a crumb cake baked within a pie crust. The unique taste of shoo-fly pie is a result of its primary filling ingredients: molasses and brown sugar.
  • Scrapple: Another Pennsylvania Dutch food, scrapple consists mostly of leftover pork scraps. This loaf typically comes in a tin and is most commonly served pan-fried.
  • Honorable Mentions: Pierogis and soft pretzels are not considered originally from the United States. However, their first appearances in our country are traced back to Pennsylvania.  

Celebrating the Heart and Heritage of Pennsylvania

Evening view of Pittsburgh from the top of the Duquesne Incline in Mount Washington, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Visit the Keystone State and see for yourself why Pennsylvanians love calling it home.

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No matter what you’re looking for, there are so many reasons to visit Pennsylvania. The heart of the Keystone State may be its gorgeous woodlands, which blanket 60-percent of its area, but Penn’s Woods is also known for its amazing food, a world-renowned kids’ baseball competition, a variety of historical sites, and enchanting small towns that showcase a variety of fascinating cultures. Whether you’re exploring the great outdoors, grabbing a bite in center city Philly, or buying fresh vegetables straight off the vine at a roadside Amish stand, one trip to Pennsylvania is enough to understand why locals love calling Penn’s Woods home.

Summary of the 5 Things Pennsylvanians Love About Their State

RankWhat Pennsylvania Is Known for
1Stunning Scenery
2Cultural Kaleidoscope
3American History
4The Little League World Series
5Mouthwatering Meals

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About the Author

Sarah Feaster is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on outdoor recreation and dogs. A 2009 graduate of Lycoming College, Sarah is a creative and strategic marketing professional with more than a decade of experience crafting captivating content. When she's not in front of her computer, Sarah is typically losing herself in the Pennsylvania woods or enjoying the sunshine from her SUP - but either way, she's always accompanied by her two dogs.

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