My Town Destination: Ligonier, PA Westmoreland County
Trip Type: Weeked Trip
Date of Visit: 2/15/19-2/18/19
Town Ambassador/Contact: Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau Phone: (724) 238-5661 ext.101, email@example.com
Entering into the Laurel Highlands, you are drawn to the striking beauty of the mountains. The incredible natural beauty of cascading waterfalls coming down the rocks as you travel upwards catches your attention immediately. Nestled in this beautiful setting is the charming, small town of Ligonier.
Diamond in the Rough
The mountainous region of the Laurel Highlands (part of the Allegheny) is known for picturesque and rugged beauty, and Ligonier is its shining diamond. A town that only has 1,500 residents in the borough, and 10,000 in its surrounding township, it truly is a small town gem.
The centerpiece of the town, appropriately named “The Diamond” is the center of town and business activity, and has been since 1857. The center of the Diamond is crowned with Ligonier’s beloved bandstand. The bandstand was installed four years after the Diamond was declared a park in 1894, and is now the center of many important Ligionier past times such as: concerts, festivals, and Christmas tree lighting! Read more about The Diamond and Ligonier history here.
Lovely Living for Residents and Visitors
I was told before visiting Ligonier that it is truly the real life Stars Hollow! For those of you that have not watched Gilmore Girls, Stars Hollow is walkable, picturesque, adorable, and also set in a small town. Being a fan of the show, after visiting Ligonier, I would have to say that the statement is true. Ligonier has unique shops, great dining, and fun activities that all stem from its Diamond center. The shops that are actually on the Diamond, called the “Diamond Shops” are all retail oriented. As you walk down Main or Market Streets you will find everything from ice cream to bowling! Here are some local favorites:
Ligonier Outfitters– known as “The News Stand, The Kitchen on Main, G Squared, Diamond Cafe, Ligonier Sweet Shop, Main Exhibit Gallery, American Indian Jewelry, Ligonier Creamery, The Finishing Touch, Abigail’s Coffeehouse, The Ligonier Library (is on the diamond, and has beautiful locally made wood pieces of artwork and tables made from trees taken down in Diamond Park), and The Wicked Googly ( I had a super fun time here having dinner and bowling with my family)!
The Mountains are Calling
Even if you are not an outdoor enthusiast you can appreciate the beauty that the Laurel Highlands brings. There are several recreational activities to partake in if skiing or other snow sports are not your thing. But if you do love snow sports, staying in Ligonier provides a fantastic opportunity to have a small town experience, in a relaxed environment.
Laurel Mountain is a great place for beginners and more experienced skiers, and offers a very laid back feel from its beautiful lodge setting (20 Slopes and trails and is famous for Lower Wild Cat Slope). Make sure to try the Wild Cat Stew! Originally owned by the Mellon Family, it is now part of Laurel Mountain State Park. Read history here. While Hidden Valley is a great place for families of all ages on its gentle slopes, and offers tubing as well (26 slopes and trails, 2 terrain parks).
Mystic Mountain and Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is a luxury resort ranked by Condé Nast Traveler readers as one of the top 20 resorts in the Northeast (read highlights here). Seven Springs is the largest (33 slopes and trails), and offers a variety of activities inside the resort in addition to its number of slopes, tubing, and top notch ski school! While inside you can go bowling, roller skating, play mini golf, go swimming, or even rent an outdoor hot tub!
There are also great dining options ranging from casual to fine dining. Just in case your fun in the snow makes you too hungry to make it back Ligonier for dinner. However, I would highly recommend making reservations at The Road Toad in Ligonier sometime during your visit. Small town fine dining at its best!
Parks and Rec:
There are no shortage of great parks and recreation in the Laurel Highlands, connecting you with great hiking, biking, camping, hunting fishing and kayaking to name a few of the fun activities you can plan for! A few in particular near Ligonier, are Linn Run State Park and Forbes State Forest. Within minutes from Ligonier off Highway 711 or US 30 you can be experiencing nature at its best no matter the time of year. While exploring Linn Run make sure to look for the hidden ruins, beautiful waterfalls, and local springs to fill up your water bottles!
Where can you see one of the most authentic fortifications from the French and Indian war? Only at Fort Ligonier. Again, within walking distance from the diamond, you can see one of the greatest authentic recreations of an 18th century fort. A fort that you can actually walk through! Complete with a beautiful history gallery including the Washington-Lafayette Pistols which you cannot miss! The interactive nature of Fort Ligonier sets it apart from simple history museums. I was fortunate to Have my children’s perspective on this trip. I can tell you my very active 9 and 12 year-olds had a blast! Make sure to look into Fort Ligonier Days- where the battle of Fort Ligonier is reenacted with literally hundreds of re-enactors!
Continuing the history adventure, you cannot miss The Compass Inn Museum. Only 3 miles east of Ligonier the compass Inn is a 1799 Stagecoach stop. A tour entails an authentic walk through life in the early 1800’s, but not just through the preserved home. You also get to see the blacksmiths shop and the barn that houses the stagecoach! So much more than expected, and again well worth the time.
Inns and Institutions
Institutions are a common site in small towns. Businesses that have been around so long they become part of the town’s identity. It is also common to see unique lodging in historic or important locations. Here are a few of Ligonier’s top Inns and Institutions: Thistledown at Segar House, Colonial House, Ligonier Tavern, Martin’s Specialty Shop.
One of the biggest takeaways from this trip to Ligonier was not the beauty, the unique shops, and the wonderful recreation-It was actually the walkability! In Ligonier you can stay in a wonderful inn right off Main Street, and walk to dinner, a movie, go bowling, or go shopping. This is something that is so important for a traveler on a short trip. The fact that Ligonier can offer this type of walkability to so many wonderful places, made this one of the most memorable small town trips to date.
MTT Antique and Market Finds
Great Antique Shops and Farmers Markets are familiar sights in small towns. This can also include Thrift Shops, Local Eats, and the like! Here are some great MTT Antique and Market Finds from Ligonier:
My Town Today has started a referral section of each article. It’s based on the fun of visiting a town, and finding out what town the majority of its citizens would recommend for My Town to visit next.
The referral for this entry is: Latrobe and Ohiopyle, PA, with stops to see the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright! There are too many great places to see in the Laurel Highlands for one article. Stay tuned for My Town Today to pop up there soon.
Ligonier Photo Gallery Click Here: