A delightful getaway just north of Pittsburgh

06/21/2014  | 

Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival Encampment Photo by Tony Barocco

Create a memorable experience in award-winning towns. Smithsonian Magazine voted “7th Best Small Town in America” to Butler, the birthplace of the Jeep. Bloomberg Businessweek voted Cranberry Township “Best Place to Raise Kids” in Pennsylvania. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Butler County is easily accessed from I-79, I-80, the PA Turnpike and Routes 422, 19 and 8. There’s plenty to do from exploring museums and art galleries to enjoying the scenery of parks and the rolling countryside. Relax at the spa, hit the greens or do a wine tasting. You’re cordially invited to spend some time getting familiar with festive and friendly Butler County.

The best way to experience Butler County is with an Official Visitors Guide. Not only will you find information on events, but itineraries, great stories, maps and a discount card. The Val-U-able Treasure discount card offers you savings at over 70 restaurants, shops, fun sites and accommodations. Don’t visit without one!

In the 2014 visitors guide, one of the feature stories is on local top chefs. Pittsburgh is becoming a culinary destination, and that talent is trickling north. Read about some amazing chefs who have chosen Butler County to open a restaurant, then visit for a meal you won’t soon forget! Favorites include RestaurantECHO, an upscale establishment which prepares local foods. In Harmony, Burgh’ers serves up “the best burgers in the ‘Burgh.” In downtown Butler, the unique “Chop Shop” has a creative menu and a fun automotive atmosphere where you are encouraged to write on the bathroom walls.

To add a little something to your getaway, visit during one of the many festivals and events that happen all year long. Summer is especially packed with fun, from the North Washington Rodeo to the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival. Events are a great time to explore the quaint Main Streets and get a feel for small town life. A calendar is maintained regularly on www.VisitButlerCounty.com.

Butler County’s most popular site, Moraine State Park, is the third largest state park in Pennsylvania, centered around 3,000-acre Lake Arthur. Just about any outdoor activity you can think of can happen at the park, and even some more unique ones you might not think of like disc golf, geocaching and windsurfing. SurfSUP Adventures offers paddleboarding excursions on the lake. The North Country Trail, the nation’s longest National Scenic Trail also runs through the park. And, Moraine has one of the top ten most technical mountain bike trails in the WORLD.

In addition to Moraine, there is plenty of other awesome greenspace! Jennings Environmental Education Center has the only protected prairie in the state. In late July/early August, the spectacular purple Blazing Star flower blooms. Guided hikes and even a Celebrate the Bloom event take advantage of this beauty.

Two great freebie ideas are the drive-it-yourself tours, Washington’s Trail and the Butler County Barn Trail. Follow in the footsteps of 21-year-old George Washington during his dangerous 1753 mission. The Washington’s Trail Brochure teaches you a lot of great history and outlines the scenic drive. The Barn Trail features 16 different barns along three routes; some available for scheduled tours and each with its own unique history.

Speaking of history, history buffs will find their place in Butler County, too. Many museums and historical societies preserve the region’s rich past. Be sure to check out the calendar ahead of time for neat hands-on and living history events. A must-see is the Maridon Museum, a museum of ancient Asian art and culture, also featuring German Meissen porcelain.

History can also be found in the quaint towns of Saxonburg and Harmony. The first National Historic Landmark District in Pennsylvania can be found in Harmony, along with charming shops, a museum and more. Another delightful town is Saxonburg. There you’ll also find shopping, history and dining, but something a bit more... A sizeable replica of the Brooklyn Bridge can be found in Roebling Park. This was constructed in homage to the town’s founder, John Roebling who not only designed the bridge, but also invented the wire rope used on it. Other quirky sites such as this can be found around the county, such as the spaceship parked in Mars and the stealth bomber-shaped toy store, Plaything, Etc. on Route 8 north of Butler.

For a totally different travel activity, sign up for a Blue Ribbon Experience with Tack Operator Training. Dig for fun with an excavator, bulldozer, skid steer, compact excavator or backhoe. An experienced instructor will work with you the whole way. Anyone can do it – men, women, doctors, nuns, athletes, stay-at-home moms, you name it. (Just not the kids!)


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