As one of the first colonized states, it's really no wonder that Pennsylvania is full of surprising locations. Some are publicly accessible while others are hidden away, regardless, people seem to stumble upon them anyways.
From abandoned towns that inspired horror films to some charming castles that look like they were plucked straight out of a fairytale, there's no shortage of cool places to check out. So get your map out because you're going to want to mark all these must-see surreal locations in Pennsylvania.
Where: Centralia, PA
Home to the infamous "Graffiti Highway," Centralia is perhaps one of the coolest hidden gems in Pennsylvania. The history of this now-nearly abandoned town is quite interesting — so interesting that the producers of the Silent Hill series were inspired by it.
Sound familiar? To anyone who has seen the Silent Hill films, the whole "underground mine fire" should ring a bell. While Silent Hill is obviously fictional, its story was based on the underground mine fire that has — and continues to — create chaos in Centralia. Occasionally on cooler days, you can still see smoke rising out of some spots in the ground — much like the foggy atmosphere in Silent Hill.
The mine fire has been burning under the town since the early 1960s, caused by what is suspected to be a deliberate burning of trash in a former strip mine. This poor decision ignited a coal seam fire that is still very much alive today and has enough fuel to continue to burn for the next 250 years.
Due to this, the ground is very unstable and touring any location outside of the designated areas, like the cemetery and church, is strictly prohibited and enforced by the state police — meaning the highway is off limits. Clearly, that doesn't stop some people but know that it is illegal to trespassand state police fines are steep.
In fact, as an attempt to deter curious people like you and me, many of the town's buildings have been demolished. The very few buildings left are still lived in by the brave people who refused to leave.
Where: Forbes State Forest
Okay so maybe you've already heard of Centralia, but I bet you haven't heard of Big Spring. Located on Pennsylvania's highest mountain region, a Mt. Davis trail will lead you to an enchanting crystal clear natural body of water. This blue-green spring spans 125ft across and measures 18ft in the deepest area. It features brilliant white sand that is constantly bubbling from water emerging up from spring below.
Cherry Springs State Park
Where: 4639 Cherry Springs Rd
There aren't many places in Pennsylvania where you can see the Milky Way, that's why Cherry Spring State Park makes the list. Due to the low light pollution in the area, the skies remain dark enough to uncover a rare view of the night sky. Seriously, look at some of the amazing photos taken here.
Ringing Rocks Park
Where: 4156 Trout Run Road, Hellam
This place gives a whole new meaning to "rock" concerts. This Pennsylvania park features a natural phenomenon — mysterious rocks that ring musically when struck with a hammer. The sound the rocks make is compared to that of a ringing bell. In 1890, the Buckwampum historical society enjoyed an astonishing concert performed by J.J. Ott, who gathered the musical rocks from a nearby boulder field and used them as his instrument.
While the rocks were studied by scientists in the 1960's, the exact mechanism causing them to ring when struck still remains unclear. Click here to listen to some rocks being played.
And while you're here you should definitely check out the magnificent waterfalls.
Windber Trolley Graveyard
If you like abandoned places you'll appreciate the Windber Trolley Graveyard. After one man's very unsuccessful attempt to preserve these retired trolleys, they now lay rotting away in the forest — making for a pretty cool and eerie find for those who stumble upon it.
While some people take it upon themselves to seek out the graveyard, others go straight to the source, Mr. Ed Metka, owner of the Trolley Graveyard, and ask for tours — which he does occasionally give.
Taking a tour with Metka is certainly recommended since he explains the history of the trollies. There is also a hired security guard there to ensure no one wears out their welcome.
Where: (4 locations) 706-798 Pleasant View Rd, Lewisberry; 461 McKinney Rd, Wexford; Napier Township; New Paris
There are four Gravity Hill locations throughout Pennsylvania and they all feature one weird aspect: from water to cars, things appear to go against gravity and move in the direction of up the hill. Don't believe me? Watch this video of someone testing out the Wexford location.
Located on one of the Great Lakes, Presque Isle will surely make you feel like you're on a private island. This state park is the closest "beach" for many Pennsylvanians, and it's so well maintained — with miles of sand, changing rooms, quieter areas, a lighthouse, and so much more — that many people choose to vacation here over going to an actual saltwater beach.
Waves are generally very calm here, so the water is usually pretty clear. It's a great location for rock and driftwood picking, nature watching and swimming.
Eckley Miners' Village
Where: 2 Eckley Back Road, Weatherly
Another extraordinary nearly-abandoned town is tucked away in the hills of Pennsylvania. Eckley Miners' Village is a well preserved 1860's coal miner town, saved from destruction by a Sean Connery movie.
After the 1970 filming and release of The Molly Maguires’ movie, the town was donated to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
About 20 people still call the village home, several of which are descendants of original Council Ridge miners. Complete with a museum and gift shop, it has since been preserved as an area for the public to visit and "step back in time."
Where: 5123 Water Street, Kecksburg
If you didn't guess from the name, you're looking at a space acorn, because obviously there are oak trees in space. But no, actually this oddity got its name from a 1965 UFO sighting, allegedly witnessed by thousands of people across six U.S. states and Ontario.
As the legend goes, the townspeople of Kecksburg reported that the object had crashed in their local woods. Soon thereafter, military personnel sealed off the area and were seen removing a large object.
According to witnesses who arrived on the scene before officials, they described seeing a large, bronze-colored, acorn-shaped object marked with hieroglyphic-like symbols. Officials dismissed the claims, stating that it was nothing more than a meteor and that they hadn't removed anything from the area.
Many people didn't agree with the official statement, leading this UFO sighting to became so locally famous that a replica "acorn" was made and the town continues to celebrate their yearly UFO festival. You can learn more about this incident here. Are you a #believer?
Where: Spring Mill Road, Gladwyn
This stunning 18th-century castle-style mansion is a national historic landmark that was dedicated by an evangelist named Father Divine as the Mount of the House of the Lord, now owned and operated by Palace Mission Inc. of the Peace Mission Movement. It is open for tours during certain times of the year, and a certain dress code is required. Click the website link below for complete details.
The Reading Pagoda
Where: 98 Duryea Dr., Reading
This seemingly out of place Japanese-inspired building is now a town icon. The construction of the Pagoda began in 1908, funded by William A. Witman who envisioned the building's future as a unique resort. Unfortunately, after Witman was unable to acquire a liquor license the project was terminated and the building was later turned over to the city during the pre-radio era, who had then used it as a light display tower for Morse code.
Now the building is open to the public and offers some of the most spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding area. Oh, and there is a 16th-century Japanese bell that hangs in the top story of the building.
Cats of Longwood Gardens
Where: 1001 Longwood Rd, Kennett Square
Calling all crazy cat ladies, the Longwood Gardens employ a full-time team of nearly a dozen tame rescue kitties (if you read that in Bubbles' voice then you're totally hip and obviously a Netflix addict) for pest control — and because they're so stinkin' cute.
Pine Creek Gorge
Where: Watson Township
Hailed as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, the Pine Creek Gorge stretches for over 45 miles with depths of nearly 1500 ft. The Gorge is best known for the birds-eye view of the creek, but it's also home to many waterfalls, trails, and other nature-based activities. If you really want some spectacular views, plan your visit here in autumn.
Where: 138 Bushkill Falls Trail, Bushkill
You've heard of the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, but have you heard of the Niagara Falls of Pennsylvania? Like Pine Creek Gorge, Bushkill Falls earns its nickname honestly. This park is home to some of the best — if not the best — waterfall landscapes in all of Pennsylvania.