Located in the heart of the Pennsylvania Wilds region of the Keystone State, it’s likely that you’ve heard the name St. Marys, Pennsylvania, in the context of beer. German beer, specifically.
St. Marys was founded in 1842 when a group of Bavarian Catholics came to the area to escape persecution in East Coast cities. Straub Brewery has been handcrafting brews in its original location in St. Marys since 1872, making it the third-oldest brewery in the country. Visitors can take a brewery tour and sip from “The Eternal Tap.”
Straub is part of the Wine, Beer & Shine Trail by the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau. The trail features 18 wineries, six breweries, and six distilleries — all just a short drive away from St. Marys.
“With plenty of affordable lodging and dining options, St. Marys makes the perfect destination for travelers to stay as they explore Pennsylvania’s Great Outdoors region,” said John Straitiff of the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau. “It is a very friendly and welcoming town. The iconic Straub Brewery is located there, and both Pennsylvania’s Wild elk country and Ridgway’s Lily of the Valley Historic Homes are just a short drive.”
The lively downtown, known as “The Diamond” and the “Million Dollar Highway,” offers travelers the perfect place to spend time browsing the unique shops and restaurants.
One of the must-stop spots during a weekend getaway to St. Marys includes one of the smallest churches in the U.S., Measuring 12 feet by 18 feet, Decker Chapel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was built by Michael Decker in 1856.
If you’re craving time in nature, St. Marys is a perfect spot to stay in while you explore. The West Creek Trail, a 19-mile rail-trail, runs from St. Marys to Emporium for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. The trail is open year-round.
Just about 30 minutes away, visit the Elk Country Visitors Center for a true Pennsylvania experience: Elk viewing. Elk County is home to the largest wild elk herd in the northeastern United States, found in the elk country landscape. As part of a major conservation effort, the Pennsylvania Game Commission released 177 Rocky Mountain elk into Pennsylvania between 1913 and 1926. Today, this wild herd has over 1,000 elk, according to PAWilds.com.
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Pro tip: Southern Airlines begins service from Bradford (BFD) to Washington IAD in spring 2021. A car ride from the airport to St. Marys is just under an hour.