Cucumber Falls Ohiopyle State Park-resizedWestern Pennsylvania is rich in culture and history and overflowing with opportunities for fun and excitement. There are countless things to do in the Laurel Highlands, including many family-friendly free activities.

Laurel Highlands State Parks and Forests

Thousands of acres of the region’s stunning natural resources are comprised of pristine Pennsylvania State Parks and Forests*, which provide exhilarating outdoor seasonal experiences. From fishing, birding, and cross-country skiing to hiking, biking and swimming, our magnificent state parks and forests are one of the Laurel Highlands main attractions. For a complete list of Laurel Highlands State Parks and Forests go to www.dcnr.state.pa.us.

Pittsburgh Steelers Summer Training Camp

Come watch America’s most popular sport at the best site in the NFL according to Sports Illustrated’s Senior Editor Peter King who picks the Steelers Training Camp as “The best training camp in the NFL, the best venue for watching real football in the NFL, and my favorite place to soak in what sports should be.” Most practices are held late afternoons mid-July through mid-August. Go to www.steelers.com for 2012 training camp dates.

Big Mac Museum 3Big Mac® Museum Restaurant

Ok, you will be tempted to spend a few bucks on a Big Mac, which just happened to be created right here in the Laurel Highlands in Uniontown, PA. But, this cool new museum is not just for fast foodies but for kids of all ages. Located in North Huntingdon, just off the Irwin Exit #67 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the world’s largest Big Mac statue and collection of memorabilia are on display along with inventor M.J. Delligatti’s story. www.bigmacmuseum.com.

SummerSounds

Pack a picnic, bring a blanket or lawn chair and enjoy the tunes at “the best outdoor music series in Western Pennsylvania.” St. Clair Park in Greensburg’s emerging cultural district is hopping on Friday nights in June, July and August when the sounds of traditional jazz, new age, folk, bluegrass or rock fill the air. All shows are 7:00 to 9:30 PM. Check back with www.summersounds.com for the 2012 schedule of performers.

Covered Bridges of Somerset County

Scattered throughout pastoral Somerset County are ten covered bridges well worth discovering with your family. These charming icons of the past are located near some of the region’s great fall festivals as well as lovely bed and breakfasts and restaurants. Go to www.somersetcountychamber.com to request a map.

Pedal the Great Allegheny Passage

Fresh air, spectacular scenery and a nearly level trail most of the way make the Great Allegheny Passage a bike rider’s dream ride. Free outdoor recreation doesn’t get any better than cycling a portion of the longest rail-trail in the east. It doesn’t matter what kind of shape you are in, cyclists of all ages, shapes and sizes love the trail. Hop on at a trail town where you will find bike rentals and places to eat. Go to www.GAPtrail.com.

Fort Ligonier reenactmentFollow George…

George Washington’s military career began in what is now called the Laurel Highlands. French and Indian War sites where his history making events occurred are either free or accept a small donation. See the Great Meadow at Fort Necessity where his first battle began, stop at Fort Ligonier and see the new gallery dedicated to Washington with two American treasures, his original hand-written “Remarks” and “saddle” pistols. Go to www.nps.gov/fone and www.fortligonier.org.

*Some sites may request a small donation or parking fee.

Visit the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau for more ideas.