Driving through Pennsylvania – starting in Pittsburgh and ending in Philadelphia – is notoriously boring if you stick to the statewide Turnpike aka America’s Super Highway, built in 1940. The drive isn’t that long (just under five hours), but the design prohibits small trips to businesses and attractions that don’t populate their way. If you embark on this journey, we recommend that you make a few stops for breakfast and snacks at the beginning. take an iconic design distraction; open a fresh market and a café in the middle; and then several hot spots as soon as you arrive. There are many highlights in this state, and while many are not found on the main thoroughfare, this road trip can be very satisfying.
Creative coffee supply
The newest coffee shop in downtown Pittsburgh, Creative Coffee Supply, is the perfect place to start. The owners have been roasting coffee in town since 2013, but only recently took over 309 Smithfield Street as their flagship location. There you will find all the roasting equipment you need, space for lessons and cupping, and a stylish bar. Choose from a selection of classics – filter coffee, americanos, and the like – or choose a seasonal recipe like the Sorghum Latte, a 10-ounce drink that is made from a double shot of espresso, sorghum syrup, cinnamon and steamed milk. This location also provides easy access to I-376, the first leg of your trip to Philadelphia.
The Squirrel Hill Bagel Shop Pigeon Bagels is located just off I-376 on the way to the Turnpike’s western PA entry point. Stop the GPS for certified kosher single bagels and Schmear, baked goods and coffee. All of their options are delicious, and they have only gotten better since the group’s days as a stall in the town’s Bloomfield farmers market. Ordering is easy but must be done online. There are also stylish merch for sale designed by Pittsburgh-based design agency Parallel Studio.
Fallingwater, one of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpieces, is well worth a diversion as it offers an exquisite harmony between the mid-century structure (made from native sandstone) and its surroundings, including the waterfall on which it was built . The UNESCO listed home is located in the town of Mill Run and is a museum that is open to the public. However, visitors should also take the time to stroll through the countryside. It is recommended to book tour tickets in advance.
Broad Street Market
Harrisburg’s nonprofit 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 and high-quality organic products as well as ready meals from the kitchen from Jamaica to Poland. It’s also an ideal place to enjoy a snack (especially one of the local ice creams) or a local wine to take away.
The passenger coffee is just halfway through this trip. Located in Lancaster, they are a certified B Corp slinging complex, often limited edition, coffee and snacks. They emphasize employee wellbeing, ethical sourcing, and the environment, resulting in a sip (whether coffee or tea) that is both properly and thoughtfully prepared – with the belief that strong, transparent sourcing relationships are better for the entire industry . The passenger operates two locations in his hometown and his original stationary operation (at 7 W King St) is our favorite. There they offer a selection of coffee and baked goods from their sister shop Commissary Kitchen and Bakery.
Omoi Zakka Shop
If you left Pittsburgh in the morning, you will likely arrive just before check-in at your Philadelphia hotel. There are plenty of places to visit while waiting. The Omoi Zakka store in the old town has existed since 2006 (in various forms) and has since been 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 we like, use and believe in”. From stationery and desk items to trinkets and bags, there’s a lot to discover in the four walls – and it’s almost impossible to leave without at least one item.
CH Favorit YOWIE is within walking distance of Omoi Zakka – 15 minutes on foot. The stylish design store offers apparel and housewares, but through its own unique lens. The owner Shannon Maldonado supplies the shelves with colorful, playful kitchen items, printed matter, zines, toys and much more. “We’re many things, but mostly a creative platform, a business and a design studio,” Maldonado explains on Instagram. There are many black-owned brands here that are tagged both online and in person.
The New Philadelphia Hotel Archway Fishtown works similarly to Atelier Ace’s newest NYYC upstart, Sister City. Check-in takes place on a tablet. They emphasize a no-service-knowledge policy (aka no staff on-site), and the rooms, of which there are 11, are spacious and welcoming. Not only are the rooms functional and suitable for extended stays, they’re also incredibly stylish, thanks to Philadelphia designer Katherine Lundberg’s unique eye for interiors. Arches abound (hence the name) and sunlight adorns every room in an artful way. It’s also within walking distance of many of our favorite Fishtown bars and restaurants.
Long-time favorite, owned by Steven Cook and Head Chef Michael Solomonov, is an Israeli restaurant in Old City Philadelphia. (Independence Hall and Liberty Bell are just blocks away. Also, the stops we recommended earlier should be followed in reverse order.) The indoor meal menu and the outdoor Yurt Village menu (cardholder only.) American Express) are both prix-fixed, but offer space for changes and additional drink pairings. Zahav fills up quickly and reservations are valued rarities. If you don’t have one, Cook and Solomonov’s CookNSolo dining group has several other attractions: Abe Fisher, Dizen Goff, Goldie, K’Far, Merkaz, and Laser Wolf.
Images courtesy of the respective venues, hero image courtesy of Omoi Zakka