Pennsylvania Is the Best State for Many Reasons. Here Are the Top 10.

A "Welcome to Pennsylvania" sign in downtown Easton. (Shutterstock/Andriy Blokhin)

By Patrick Abdalla

July 20, 2021

It’s Pennsylvania Day! We have many reasons to be proud to call Pennsylvania home.

Admit it. Pennsylvania is the best state. We here in the Keystone State don’t like to brag. It’s not in our nature. Actually, we prefer being the underdog. After all, Rocky is one of us. 

But we just can’t avoid the fact that we’re the best state. None of the others are even really close. Especially not New York. Is Delaware even really a state? It’s so … small.

And we all know New Jersey is just New York City’s landfill. 

Don’t believe us? Here are 10 reasons why we truly are the best state in the union. After all, there wouldn’t even be a union without us. 

10. We Have Some Great Colleges and Universities

Whether you want an Ivy League diploma, experience in a small liberal arts college or a degree from a respected public university, Pennsylvania has opportunities for you.

The University of Pennsylvania, Pitt, Temple and Penn State might be the marquee names, but the state also has prestigious liberal arts institutions like Carnegie Mellon, Bucknell, and Lehigh, as well as powerhouse public schools like Shippensburg and Bloomsburg. We also have religious schools like Villanova, the University of Scranton, and Messiah.

Pennsylvania actually has the fourth highest number of colleges and universities in the country.

Pennsylvania Is the Best State for Many Reasons. Here Are the Top 10.
The University of Pennsylvania. (Shutterstock/f11photo)

9. We Have Some of the Best Cities in the US

Some of the best small and large cities in America are in Pennsylvania. 

Philadelphia is the cradle of liberty, and it has great food, awesome arts, America’s oldest zoo, and the single greatest place in America: The Reading Terminal Market.

Pittsburgh has great museums, a fantastic zoo, and good food, as well. Don’t miss a ride on the Duquesne Incline.

Pennsylvania Is the Best State for Many Reasons. Here Are the Top 10.
A view of downtown Pittsburgh from the top of the Duquesne Incline. (Shutterstock/f11photo)

8. ‘The Office’ is Set Here

The NBC hit is still popular—it was the most streamed show last year—and will always call Scranton home. Many of the restaurants mentioned in the show really exist.

While very little of the show was actually filmed in the Electric City, the cast still loves the place. You can even enjoy Pretzel Day with Stanley (Leslie David Baker) this October in Scranton.

7. We Make A Lot of [Really Good] Ice Cream

Pennsylvania produces the second most ice cream of any state in the nation. We have 31 independent creameries. Every region of the state has its own popular ice cream producer.

Then there’s Turkey Hill, which distributes its ice cream and frozen treats across the United States.

Editor’s note: This assignment is making us hungry.

Pennsylvania Is the Best State for Many Reasons. Here Are the Top 10.
Lolly Lesher scoops some peach ice cream into a cone on Aug. 26, 2020, at Way-Har Farms in Berks County. The dairy farm, owned by William and Lolly Lesher, celebrated their 50th anniversary. (Reading Eagle via Getty Images/Ben Hasty)

6. We Have So Much Good Beer 

Pennsylvania has 444 craft breweries that produce more than 3 million gallons of beer a year, according to the Brewers Association.

D.G. Yuengling & Sons in Pottsville is the oldest craft brewery in the US and the largest by sales volume.

And then there’s Rolling Rock, which was founded in Latrobe; Appalachian Brewing Company in Harrisburg, Brew Gentlemen in Braddock, Susquehanna Brewing Company in Wilkes-Barre, Troegs in Hershey, Yards in Philadelphia, and so many more.

Pennsylvania Is the Best State for Many Reasons. Here Are the Top 10.
The Yuengling factory in Pottsville. (Shutterstock/Bennekom)

5. We Have Some of the Coolest Small Towns

Interesting small towns with cute little coffee shops and nice boutiques are a short drive away from you, wherever you live in or near the Keystone State. 

Jim Thorpe is a quaint little hamlet that features shopping and entertainment. Millions of people visit Gettysburg for the history every year only to fall in love with the downtown area and surrounding community. Wellsboro is a popular holiday destination, but features fun events year-round.

We could go on, and on, and on and on.

Pennsylvania Is the Best State for Many Reasons. Here Are the Top 10.
Businesses on Steinwehr Avenue in downtown Gettysburg, Adams County. (AP File Photo/Matt Rourke)

4. We Have Tons of Potato Chips

So many great chip companies. It’s hard to know where to start. In south central, you have Bickel’s, Herr’s, Martin’s, Snyder’s, and Utz. That’s not one company. That’s five different companies. And they’re all within an hour of each other. 

Move a bit north into central Pennsylvania and you have Middleswarth and Hartley’s. Northeastern Pennsylvania lays claim to Wise.

No state has more potato chip companies. Those businesses produce more than $50 million annually in chip sales.

Meanwhile, most other states are stuck with different flavors of Lay’s.

Editor’s note: We’re getting very hungry 

Pennsylvania Is the Best State for Many Reasons. Here Are the Top 10.
Utz chips in a supermarket. (Shutterstock/rblmfr)

3. We Make [Almost] All the Pretzels in the US

This state makes a lot of things, but nothing as well as the pretzel. 

Who doesn’t love a bag from Snyder’s of Hanover ? Or a cinnamon-covered treat from Auntie Anne’s? Or soft pretzels from Philadelphia Pretzel Factory?

You can get so many different types of great pretzels in Pennsylvania.

That’s because we make 80% of the nation’s pretzels. 

Pennsylvania Is the Best State for Many Reasons. Here Are the Top 10.
Snyder’s of Hanover pretzels at a grocery store in Florida. (Shutterstock/Joni Hanebutt)

Editor’s note: We’re going to take a break for a brief snack.

Editor’s note: OK, we’re back.

2. We Have Beautiful State Parks 

Pennsylvania’s greatest treasure might be its beauty. The Keystone State has 112 state parks that display those natural wonders. 

From Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon in Colton Point State Park and the magnificent waterfalls at Ricketts Glen State Park to the shores of Presque Isle State Park, the views are spectacular.

The parks also offer plenty of activities. You can camp, hike, and bike at many. There’s hunting and fishing, too. Some offer lakes or pools you can swim in. Others offer amenities like paddle boats, disc golf, and even a riverboat ride.

Pennsylvania Is the Best State for Many Reasons. Here Are the Top 10.
Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen, which spans Luzerne, Sullivan, and Columbia counties. (Shutterstock/nathaniel gonzales)

1. The State Is Loaded With History

Pennsylvania turned the colonies into states in 1776, then it formed the United States in 1787, it stopped the Confederacy in 1863. It helped save the country again in 2020. 

So you can’t walk three blocks in Pennsylvania without bumping into an interesting historical marker. So many fascinating people and important events have occurred in Pennsylvania.

Hang out in Old City Philadelphia and you’ll wander the same streets our founders walked as they argued over declaring independence in 1776, or building a new central government 11 years later.

Of course, there are plenty of important military sites like Valley Forge and Gettysburg.

You can also find important locations in the battle for workers’ rights, spots along the Underground Railroad, or locations from the civil rights movement as well.

Pennsylvania Is the Best State for Many Reasons. Here Are the Top 10.
The exterior of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, on April 26, 2019. The location is featured in a collection of mini-essays by American writers published online by the Frommer’s guidebook company about places they believe helped shape and define America. (AP File Photo/Matt Rourke)


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