Though Pittsburgh’s once-booming steel industry has vanished, the Iron City has reinvented itself as a science and technology capital. Carnegie-Mellon University has one of the top computer science programs in the country, and high-tech companies like Google and Intel have labs there. Part of Pittsburgh’s technological renaissance, the Carnegie Science Center has entertained and educated visitors with lively exhibitions since 1991.
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The Allegheny Mountains run through Central Pennsylvania, offering skiing in the winter and camping and hiking in the summer. The 500,000-acre Allegheny National Forest has more than 200 miles of hiking trails and views of the Allegheny River. The area home to many species of birds, including bald eagles.
For star-gazers, Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania’s first dark sky preserve, offers a chance to see the night sky as it was before light pollution in cities, towns and suburbs obscured the heavens. In North-Central Pennsylvania, the parks’ isolation allows skies that really are black as night, with only limited electrical lighting allowed.
On the shores of Lake Erie in Pennsylvania’s northwest corner, Presque Isle State Park, a National Natural Landmark, has seven miles of sandy beaches, along with hiking, biking and cross-country skiing trails. With eco-systems ranging from marshes to sane dunes, the park offers excellent bird-watching and is home to several threatened and endangered species.