Sailing Moraine State Park © Courtesy of Butler County
Butler County, located 32 kilometres north of Pittsburgh, embodies Americana in the best way possible—its residents, shop owners, and officials understand its history and embrace and celebrate it joyfully while inviting visitors to take in and enjoy all it has to offer.
By definition, a moraine is any accumulation of debris that occurs in glaciated regions and has been carried along by a glacier or ice sheet.
That is exactly what happened long ago in what is now Portersville, PA., and is where nearly two million people annually visit the beautiful 16,725-acre Moraine State Park. As a “Must-See Pennsylvania State Park,” visitors are drawn to the park’s 3,254-acre Lake Arthur for swimming, fishing, sailing, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
But there’s much more, including a world-class disc golf course, an 11-kilometre paved bike trail and more than 60 kilometres of hiking trails with options for all skill levels. Add Moraine State Park’s abundant picnic groves, and there are countless ways to create endless memories.
Young British Major George Washington was dispatched in 1753 to Ft. LeBoeuf, Erie, to demand the French evacuate the region. During his trip, the future first president passed through what would become Butler County. This historic journey is documented through “Washington’s Trail 1753,” a Butler County driving tour that not only details the mission—including an attempt on Washington’s life, which would have altered the course of the country—but passes through several quaint towns which developed afterward and preserve their history.
Founded in 1804 by the Harmony Society of German Lutheran Separatists, Harmony’s Landmark District retains the old-world architectural character of a German Village and includes more than 50 buildings. Specialty shops occupy older structures and make for a charming stop. Make time for Neff Haus Ice Cream, Wunderbar Coffee and Crepes (located in a historic opera hall), and finish with dinner and craft beer at the Harmony Inn.
This can’t-miss stop was founded in 1832 by German immigrant brothers F. Carl and John A. Roebling. Saxonburg is small in size but big on charm. John Roebling, who invented wire rope and designed the Brooklyn Bridge, envisioned a blend of agriculture and light manufacturing.
Visit the Saxonburg Museum, shop at Red Door Antiques, pick up locally sourced gourmet jams at Batch, and have dinner at the Saxonburg Hotel, which once hosted President Woodrow Wilson.
German aristocrat Detmar Basse founded Zelienople in 1802, and today, Zelie, as the locals call it, thrives. Shops such as Curio, Eva Bryn Shoetique, Boutique 16063, and restaurants like ShuBrew, Della Terra, and Burgh’ers Brewing bring a mix of new and old.
Don’t miss the 1808 Passavant House, a museum that tells Zelienople’s story.
Today, Butler County is home to many businesses in the technology sector but still hosts popular fairs and festivals like The Butler Farm Show and Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival—in which thousands of Jeeps arrive for a three-day event in the Birthplace of the Jeep, Butler County.
Butler County is loaded with quaint shops and restaurants, which are somehow even more welcoming than their outward charm. In the end, Americana may not define Butler County, but Butler County defines Americana.
Explore VisitButlerCounty.com to start planning your adventure.
Located in Western Pennsylvania, Butler County offers a glimpse of small-town life, yet is close to major cities. We are only 25 miles from Pittsburgh, 325 miles from Philadelphia, and 380 miles from New York City.