The drive across Pennsylvania—beginning in Pittsburgh and ending in Philadelphia—is notoriously dull if you adhere to the statewide Turnpike aka America’s Super Highway, built in 1940. The ride isn’t that long (just under five hours) but its design prohibits small businesses and sightseeing destinations from populating its path. When embarking on this trip, we suggest making a few stops in the beginning for breakfast and snacks; taking an iconic design diversion; hitting up a fresh market and cafe in the middle; and then several hot spots once you arrive. There are many highlights in this state, and while many won’t be found on its largest thoroughfare, this road trip can be a very satisfying one.
Creative Coffee Supply
Downtown Pittsburgh’s newest coffee shop Creative Coffee Supply serves as the perfect starting point. Its owners have been roasting coffee in the city since 2013, but only recently adopted 309 Smithfield Street as their flagship location. There they host all of the necessary roasting equipment, space for educational classes and cupping sessions and a stylish bar. Choose from a selection of classics—drip coffee, Americanos and the ilk—or pick a seasonal recipe like the Sorghum Latte, a 10-ounce drink made with a double shot of espresso, sorghum syrup, cinnamon and steamed milk. This location also offers easy access to I-376, the first leg of your trip toward Philadelphia.
Squirrel Hill bagel shop Pigeon Bagels sits just off I-376, along the way to the Turnpike’s western PA point of entry. Pause the GPS for certified kosher single bagels and schmear, baked goods and coffee. All of their options are delicious, and they’ve only gotten better since the group’s days as a stand inside the city’s Bloomfield farmer’s market. Ordering is easy, but must be done online. There’s also stylish merch for sale designed by Pittsburgh-based design agency Parallel Studio.
One of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpieces, Fallingwater is worth a diversion for its exquisite harmony between the mid-century structure (crafted from native sandstone) and its environs, including the waterfall upon which it is built. Located in the town of Mill Run, the UNESCO-protected house is a museum that’s open to the public, but visitors should take time to stroll through some of the landscape, too. Booking tour tickets in advance is recommended.
Broad Street Market
In Harrisburg, the non-profit Broad Street Market—the oldest continuously operating market house in the US, dating back to 1860—stocks goods from more than 40 local vendors. This includes locally grown produce and premium organic products, as well as prepared meals spanning cuisines from Jamaica to Poland. It’s also an ideal place to stop for snacks (especially any one of their local ice creams) or a local wine to take home.
Passenger Coffee sits just past the halfway point of this trip. Located in Lancaster, they’re a certified B Corp slinging complex, often limited edition, coffees and bites. They emphasize employee welfare, ethical sourcing and environmentalism, resulting in a sip (whether coffee or tea) that’s both made properly and thoughtfully—with the belief that strong, transparent sourcing relationships are better for the industry as a whole. Passenger operates two locations in their hometown, and their original brick-and-mortar (located at 7 W King St) is our favorite. There they offer an array of coffees and baked goods by their sibling shop, Commissary Kitchen and Bakery.
Omoi Zakka Shop
If you left Pittsburgh in the morning, you’re likely to arrive in Philadelphia shortly before you’re allowed to check in to your hotel. There are plenty of places to visit while waiting. The Omoi Zakka shop in Old City has been around since 2006 (in various forms), and has since consolidated. Founder Liz Sieber explains that Omoi Zakka is “driven by considerate design, affordability and a good sense of humor,” and that the goods in the store are “items that we like, use and believe in.” From stationery and desk objects to trinkets and totes, there’s much to explore within the four walls—and leaving without at least one item is nearly impossible.
CH favorite YOWIE sits within walking distance from Omoi Zakka—15 minutes on foot. The stylish design store offers apparel and homeware, but through its own unique lens. Owner Shannon Maldonado stocks the shelves with colorful, playful kitchen goods, printed matter, zines, toys and beyond. “We’re a lot of things but mostly a creative platform, shop and design studio,” Maldonado explains on Instagram. Black-owned brands abound here, and are labeled both online and in-person.
New Philadelphia hotel Archway Fishtown operates much like Atelier Ace’s recent NYYC upstart, Sister City. Check-in is done on a tablet, they emphasize a “service unseen” policy (aka no on-site staff) and the rooms, of which there are 11, are expansive and welcoming. Not only are the rooms functional and fit for longer stays, they’re also incredibly stylish, courtesy of Philadelphia designer Katherine Lundberg’s unique eye for interiors. Arches abound (hence the name) and sunlight graces each room in an artful way. It’s also within walking distance of many of our favorite Fishtown bars and restaurants.
Owned by Steven Cook and head chef Michael Solomonov, longtime favorite Zahav is an Israeli restaurant nestled in Philadelphia’s historic district. (Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell are mere blocks away. So too are the stops we recommended earlier, should you follow this list in reverse.) The menu for indoor dining and the outdoor Yurt Village (presented to American Express cardholders exclusively) are both prix-fixe, but offer room for alterations and additional drink pairings. Zahav does fill quickly and reservations are treasured rarities. If you’re left without one, the Cook and Solomonov’s CookNSolo restaurant group boasts several other spots to visit: Abe Fisher, Dizen Goff, Goldie, K’Far, Merkaz and Laser Wolf.
Images courtesy of respective venues, hero image courtesy of Omoi Zakka