I fell in love with this adorable town east of Pittsburgh from the minute I stepped foot in it. Ligonier, PA, set in the beautiful Laurel Highlands, has long been known as a getaway destination for those of us in the Pittsburgh area. The historic roots, town center and welcoming feel make this charing Pennsylvania town worth the visit regardless of where you’re traveling from.
Between the local shops and restaurants, the amazing farmer’s market and easy access to outdoor adventures, there’s something for everyone in Ligonier. It’s also the home of Idlewild & Soak Zone, making this Western PA destination a perfect weekend getaway in Pennsylvania for families.
Sponsored Post: We were hosted in Ligonier, PA by the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau. As always, all opinions are our own.
How to Get to Ligonier
By car, Ligonier is typically 1 1/2 hours or less from the center of Pittsburgh. It’s also easily accessible within a few hours from other major cities including Cleveland, Baltimore, DC and Philadelphia. While we came from Pittsburgh, we had family join us from Lebanon, PA.
If you’re flying into the area, Latrobe Airport is just over 10 miles from Ligonier. Pittsburgh International Airport is the closest international airport to Ligonier, and it’s 70 miles away. When we were there, several families in the cottages next to us were in town for a family reunion in Ligonier, PA. They were coming from all over the US, including the Carolinas, Florida and California. (Which just goes to show you that a family vacation in Ligonier is worth flying across the country for!)
Where to Stay in Ligonier, Pennsylvania
The best way to experience this small town is in one of many quaint cottages and cabinet in Ligonier, PA. Sunset Cottages is the perfect place for a family or group visiting the area. The two bedroom cottages are spacious, with an open concept living room. With many Laurel Highlands cabins to choose from, these cottages set themselves apart with how updated they are. The check-in and check-out process is also super easy, with a key code and a manager who is easily accessible.
The Sunset Cottages are perfectly located right off Route 30. They’re only a 2 minute drive from town and a little over a 5 minute drive to Idlewild. The cottages are two bedrooms with a shared bathroom. There’s a spacious living room and connected kitchen that’s appointed with everything you need for a home away from home. Between the provided linens, the well equipped kitchen, coffee and toiletries, they have you covered. There’s also a large porch out front, making it a great place to unwind after a busy day. If you’re looking for a smaller room, Sunset Cottages also has motel style rooms next door.
To book the Sunset Cottages in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, call 724-261-9040 or book online here on Booking.com.
Things to Do in Ligonier, PA with Kids
One of our favorite things about Ligonier is how family-friendly it is. Almost every experience offers something for kids, and even the museums we visited could be easily tailored for visitors of all ages. Plus, you can’t go wrong with a town that boasts the “Best Children’s Park” in the world.
Ligonier, PA is a great weekend getaway in Pennsylvania all year-round. While our recent visit to Ligonier was during the summer, Laurel Highlands, PA has some of the most beautiful Fall foliage as well. Fort Ligonier Days is one of the most popular Ligonier, PA events that takes place in October of each year. While we didn’t have a chance to visit Fort Ligonier on this visit, it’s definitely on our list for the future!
Lincoln Highway Experience
Looking for things to do near Ligonier, PA? The Lincoln Highway Experience museum is a great stop just outside of Ligonier on Route 30. Route 30 is the original Lincoln Highway and one of the first transcontinental highways running across the US. The main museum is located in an original carriage house from the late 1800s. It’s packed with images, artifacts and interactive displays from the highway’s prime in the early 1900s.
There’s also a new building with the museum that was recently completed in 2018. It houses several large artifacts from the Lincoln Highway route, including fuel pumps, an antique car, a historic summer cottage. The focal point is a real, antique diner where guests are served locally made pie and coffee.
Keep in mind your ticket into the museum includes more than just an entrance fee. It also includes a post card stamped and mailed. (My son loved getting to fill out a post card for his Dad, who couldn’t join us.) Pie and coffee, as well as other snack options for kids, is also included with your entrance fee.
Visiting the Lincoln Highway Experience with kids?
In addition to the snacks and postcard, kids are also given a bag of pennies for their museum visit. Those pennies are used at the “Penny for your Tots” room and serve as tolls for each activity they complete. Below are some of the highlights of the kids room at the Lincoln Highway Experience.
- Toy cars for kids to ride around in, including a convertible, firetruck and tractor. All of which are complete with matching accessories.
- A station to etch a license plate replica with crayons.
- A mini stationary bike for kids to peddle their way through the Lincoln Highway. (There’s a display with a real bike for adults and bigger kids to do this too.)
- A race track to race cars on a hilly path.
- An old train game for kids to trace the path of the Lincoln Highway across the US.
- Children’s books as well as fun facts painted on the wall.
The staff at the Lincoln Highway Experience were also great with my 2-year old son and tailored the experience perfectly for his age.
- Address: 3435 State Route 30 East, Latrobe, Pennsylvania
- Website: http://www.lhhc.org
Idlewild & Soak Zone
Idlewild is one of the biggest draws to visiting Ligonier with Kids, and I’m not surprised after just one visit to this gem. In fact, it received the Golden Ticket Award for the “Best Children’s Park” in the world for several years in a row.
Since the Story Book Forest in Idlewild typically opens first, it’s usually the first stop for a visit to Idlewild. Between the live characters, the charming photo opportunities and the nursery rhymes woven throughout, it really is a magical place. We were visiting with my 2 year old son and 4 year old niece, and they were the perfect age to really get the most out of Story Book Forest.
After Story Book Forest, we took the train to Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. This interactive trolley ride engages the audience throughout, while cheerfully singing along the way. If you’re visiting Idlewild with toddlers, the Kiddie Ride area in Raccoon Lagoon has several rides for their height and age. My niece, at 38″ tall, could ride most of the rides with me, and she loved the Ferris Wheel and basically anything that spun around.
We admittedly did not have time for SoakZone during our day in Idlewild since we took a break in the day for naps. If I went to Ligonier again with family, I would consider 2 days at the parks to allow enough time to experience Soak Zone and all the amazing rides in Idlewild.
Related Post: 8 Reasons to Visit Idlewild with a Toddler
Note: Idlewild reopening in 2020 will be delayed due to coronavirus. Be sure to check their website below for the most up to date hours and information.
- Address: 2574 U.S. 30, Ligonier, PA
- Website: https://www.idlewild.com
Ligonier Valley Rail Museum
This train museum is located right by Idlewild, and it’s housed in Ligonier Valley’s original rail road station. The museum is filled with several pictures and memorabilia from trains in the area, including actual train parts. One of the best things about the Ligonier Valley Rail Museum is how well they cater to the interests of each visitor. With my son being two, we weren’t necessarily looking for a full history lesson. The docents there did a great job of sharing the history while also weaving in things to keep my son entertained. Some things for kids at the Ligoner Valley Rail Road Museum include:
- Listen to the old train bell being run.
- Look at the multitude of pictures throughout the museum.
- Play with the model train track and getting it to speed up, slow down and reverse.
- Walk outside to the rail road signal and watch it light up.
- Climb through the real red caboose from 1905. Learn the operators lived and how the train ties work.
There’s also a great gift shop in the Ligonier Valley Rail Road Museum. It includes a number of train themed toys, shirts and other accessories for the big and little train lovers in your life. Keep in mind that the Ligonier Valley Rail Road Museum is only open on Saturdays from 11am-3pm. Be sure to plan your trip accordingly.
- Address: 3032 Idlewild Hill Ln, Ligonier, PA
- Website: http://www.lvrra.org
Ligonier Country Market
When the Ligonier Country Market was recommended to us as a great place for kids, I just assumed it was like any other farmer’s market I’ve been to. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. The Ligonier farmer’s market has one of the best selections of vendors I’ve seen. It includes so many different foods, drinks, produce and specialty gifts from near and far. It was my 2 year old son’s first time at a farmer’s market, and he absolutely loved the sampling available at pretty much every food vendor. (I’m pretty sure I walked away with way more stuff than I needed, because he convinced me we had to buy everything he tried.)
The best part about visiting the Ligonier Country Market with kids is the Market Sprouts section. This “kids club” area of the Ligonier Market has kid-sized picnic tables and is full of activities for them to do. Each week, there’s a different craft for kids to keep them entertained. My son also loved the huge Jenga style blocks, and we found a shaded area to stay and play for a while. Additionally, the Ligonier Country Market has a Children’s Community Garden. Here, kids can learn how to plant seeds and maintain a garden throughout the summer.
Note: The Ligonier Country Market is scheduled to open on May 16, 2020 at 8am. There is also a Night Market that is being newly added in 2020. See website below for more information.
- Address: 110 Andi Lane, Ligonier, PA
- Website: http://ligoniercountrymarket.com
Friendship Park in Ligonier
We stopped at Friendship Park on the drive into town from Pittsburgh. It was the perfect place for the kids to stretch their legs after being in the car for a while. The playground itself is huge, and there are a number of different areas for the kids of various ages to climb and play on. There are also tons of swings and other fun things for kids to ride on.
There are restrooms available at Friendship Park, as well as a covered area with picnic tables. Plus, the entire playground is mostly closed in by a fence, which makes it much easier to watch the kiddos while they’re playing.
Address: 203 Boquet St, Ligonier, PA
If you’re looking for more time outdoors, Linn Run State Park in Ligonier offers hundreds of acres for hiking and picnicking. It’s only about 15 minutes outside of the center of Ligonier.
Walk Around the Town of Ligonier
The town of Ligonier is perfect for taking a stroll around the shops, whether you’re with kids or without. The town of Ligonier is shaped like a diamond, that surrounds a gazebo in the center. Some family-friendly shopping in Ligonier, PA includes:
- The Treehouse for gifts and clothing for children and moms
- Unique gifts and books for kids and people of all ages at Second Chapter Books
- Post and Rail to see Tye the dog and purchase menswear
- Fun toys and games at the Toy Solider Gallery
- Christmas ornaments all year round at the Holiday Home Store (If you collect ornaments on your travels like us, they have one for the town of Ligonier!)
For a complete listing of Ligonier shops, see here.
The Ligonier Valley Library is also located right in town and is seriously amazing. Not only is the Ligonier library beautiful, but the children’s section is huge with a number of fun toys and activities younger visitors.
Travel with kids tip: We love checking out libraries when we’re traveling to a new area. They usually have play areas for the kids, and it’s a great way to meet local parents and get a feel for the area.
Family-Friendly Restaurants in Ligonier, PA
Ligonier has no shortage of adorable shops and restaurants. One of the best things about this small town is that only locally owned establishments are allowed around the Ligonier Diamond. Below are some of the awesome restaurants in Ligonier, PA that we visited.
Ligonier Creamery was our first introduction to the amazing food in Ligonier. The ice cream at the Ligonier Creamery is homemade, and you can’t go wrong with any of the flavors. I had the gobs in vanilla ice cream and it was SO good. There’s ample seating inside at the Ligonier creamery, or you can grab a bench to enjoy your ice cream outside.
- Address: 105 E Main St, Ligonier, PA 15658
- Website: https://www.facebook.com/ligoniercreamery
Abigail’s is a local institution in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. And you can tell from the minute you walk through the door that they’re an integral part of the community. Abigail’s serves a number of yummy espresso drinks, as well as a variety of freshly brewed coffees. There’s also a handful of baked goods, and the kids loved the chocolate chip scone we got. In addition to coffee, Abigail’s Coffeehouse has a full service menu, offering a variety of sandwiches for breakfast and lunch. They also serve ice cream if you’re looking for a sweet treat later in the day.
- Address: 104 W Main St, Ligonier, PA
- Website: https://abigails-coffeehouse.business.site
The Kitchen on Main
The Kitchen on Main was recommended to us as one of the best places for breakfast in Ligonier. It certainly didn’t disappoint! We split the kitchen tacos made with chorizo sausage and fresh avocado, along with the banana bread french toast. (I highly recommend both breakfast entrees!) If you order any breakfast entree with toast, it’s also served with homemade jams and butter. Additionally, there’s a kids menu at The Kitchen on Main with a variety of options and a coloring page for kids.
The Kitchen on Main is a BYOB restaurant. Reservations are only accepted for dinner.
- Address: 136 East Main Street, Ligonier, PA
- Website: https://www.thekitchenonmain.com
Carol & Dave’s Roadhouse
Carol and Dave’s Roadhouse is one of the most popular Ligonier, PA restaurants. It’s located right in the town of Ligonier and offers an extensive menu with a large variety. We were craving something healthy and ordered entree salads with grilled chicken, while the kids got a pizza that they loved. There are also nightly dinner specials at Carol and Dave’s Roadhouse, and the ribs and bbq chicken that night smelled amazing. There’s ample seating indoors, but we opted to enjoy the nice night on the second floor balcony.
If you’re visiting Carol & Dave’s Roadhouse with kids, be sure to check out the bookshelves by the hostess stand. They’re filled with crayons, coloring books and a variety of toys to keep kids entertained during dinner.
- Address: 122 N. Market St, 2nd Floor, Ligonier, PA
- Website: https://www.carolanddavesroadhouse.com
The Road Toad
The Road Toad is one of the most popular restaurants in Laurel Highlands, PA. We stopped here on our way out of town, and it’s conveniently located near Idlewild, right off Route 30. The menu is varied, with a number of lighter options and entrees for any appetite. We were there for lunch and I ordered the blackened salmon sandwich, which was perfectly cooked and seasoned. If you’re visiting in the warmer months, the Road Toad also has ample outdoor dining with beautiful views in the back of the restaurant.
Be sure to check the website before visiting. The Road Toad is currently closed on Tuesdays and only open for lunch on the weekends.
- Address: 2726 Route 30 W., Ligonier, PA
- Website: https://www.facebook.com/TheRoadToad
If you’re looking for a fun weekend trip from Pittsburgh or the surrounding areas, I can’t say enough good things about Ligonier, Pennsylvania.
Have you been to Ligonier? Please share if you have any favorite places to eat or fun things to do in Ligonier, PA that we haven’t mentioned here!