Happy Pennsylvania Day! Here’s why the Keystone State Is worth celebrating.

A sign welcoming travelers to Pennsylvania in West Middlesex, Mercer County, near the Ohio border. (Photo: Shutterstock)

By Patrick Berkery, Patrick Abdalla

July 20, 2023

It’s National Pennsylvania Day, the perfect time to highlight some of the things that make the commonwealth such a great place to call home.

Pennsylvania is hardly perfect. The minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 since 2009.

Recreational marijuana remains a pipe dream here despite neighboring states legalizing it. Doug Mastriano is still serving in the state legislature. And don’t get us started on the potholes and incessant road construction.

That said, Pennsylvania is still undeniably a great state, rich with culture and history, countless natural wonders, amazing food, buzzing big cities and unique smaller towns, great things to do, and so much more.

Seeing as today is National Pennsylvania Day (it’s not an officially recognized holiday, mind you, more of a marketing thing… but we’re still playing along) let’s take a few moments to recognize some of the places, people, foods, and more that make Pennsylvania such a great place to call home. After all, there wouldn’t even be a union without us.

In no particular order…

Pennsylvania Is Home to Great Cities, Big and Small

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 Reading Terminal Market.

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

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. Of course, there’s Lancaster and Bethlehem, too.

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

Happy Pennsylvania Day! Here's why the Keystone State Is worth celebrating.

Duquesne Incline (Photo: Visit Pittsburgh)

We Have So Much Good Beer

Pennsylvania’s 531 craft breweries (the second-most of any state) produced more than 3 million gallons of beer last 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.

There’s 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.

We Make 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, and Utz.

Move a bit north into central Pennsylvania and you have Middleswarth and Hartley’s. Northeastern Pennsylvania lays claim to Wise. Let’s not forget Dieffenbach’s in Berks County and Good’s in Adamstown

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

Discover the Crunchy Details: 5 Fun Facts About Herr's Snack Company of Pennsylvania

(Photo: Jazz Guy/Creative Commons)

We Also Make (Almost) All of the Pretzels in the US

This state makes a lot of things, but nothing as well as the pretzel, whether you like it crunchy or soft.

We’ve got the oldest commercial pretzel bakery in the US, in Julius Sturgis. And who doesn’t love a bag from Snyder’s of Hanover or Unique? 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.

“The Office” Is Set Here

This comedic cultural phenomenon is set not in New York or Los Angeles, but Scranton. The Electric City.

Many of the restaurants mentioned in the show really exist.

As Michael Scott once said, “Ain’t no party like a Scranton party ‘cuz a Scranton party don’t stop.”

Happy Pennsylvania Day! Here's why the Keystone State Is worth celebrating.

A visitor to Ohiopyle State Park in Ohiopyle, Pa. enjoys the natural waterslide at Meadow Run Sunday, May 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

We Have Beautiful State Parks

Pennsylvania’s greatest treasure might be its beauty. The Keystone State has 124 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 parks. 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.

Our State Is Rich 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.

You don’t have to travel far in Pennsylvania to encounter an interesting historical marker. So many fascinating people and important events have occurred here.

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, and locations from the civil rights movement as well.

Happy Pennsylvania Day! Here's why the Keystone State Is worth celebrating.

Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh (Shutterstock)

We Have 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.

The Biggest Pop Star in the World Is From Here

Taylor Swift is from Berks County. NBD.

It’s not just that Swift is the musical voice of her generation. Her “Eras” tour is bolstering local economies everywhere she plays.

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