Get Back to Nature
Winter is a special time to get outside! The Oil Region has more than 65 miles of paved bike trails, the longest continuous segment of the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail, along with tons of great gravel roads, and single track mountain biking that can still be enjoyed in the colder weather. If you’d rather stay on foot, there are miles of hiking trails to explore, including the 30+ mile Gerard Trail within Oil Creek State Park. The park also has 11 miles of cross-country ski trails.
Two Mile Run County Park has five miles of cross-country ski trails. And the park’s Justus Lake is a great place for ice fishing. Pioneer flats is a great place for sledding for all ages. There are plenty of places to stargaze and camp, too, including the park’s two rental cottages, which are open year-round.
Go Back in Time
Venango County and portions of neighboring Crawford County make up the Oil Region National Heritage Area, a congressionally designated historic site similar to a National Park, because this is the birthplace of the modern oil industry. This means even a casual visitor will encounter relics from the oil boom and architecture commissioned by some of the wealthiest people of the time. Those who want to take a deep dive into history can visit Drake Well Museum and Park for hands-on activities and exhibits indoors and out, depicting what life was like in the late 1800s and how the birth of the petroleum industry changed everything moving forward. Visitor Centers and self-guided tours in Titusville, Oil City, Franklin, and Emlenton reflect each community’s contribution. Boomtowns like Pithole and Petroleum Centre give off a somewhat spooky vibe as you reflect on the lawlessness of oil speculators out to get rich quick by any means necessary. Ride the Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad through Oil Creek State Park and imagine the tumult of the burgeoning billion dollar industry.
With such a storied past and literally rich history, the Oil Region is brimming with breathtaking architecture, like one of only six complete sets of Tiffany Windows remaining in the nation, just a couple of blocks from the second oldest Civil War monument in PA.
Shop downtown Franklin’s Liberty Street, do a little dining at Benjamin’s or Bella Cucina. Catch a live show at the Barrow-Civic Theatre. Then find a new favorite brew at Trails to Ales II by sampling The Beer Wall, a wide selection of self-serve taps. At the southern end of the Oil Region you can indulge in German-style fare and beer at the Emlenton Brew Haus or enjoy dinner on the water at the Allegheny Grille, named #1 in PA for waterfront restaurants.
Celebrations, concerts, art exhibits, and festivals bring flavor to our communities, but our collection of independent restaurants and shops have all the tastes you crave, from Fancy Friday pizzas at Bud’s to unusual flavors of kombucha on tap at Core Goods, to specialty oils and vinegars at The Olive Vault, and coffee whiskey at Grumpy Goat Distillery.
Get into Special Events
The holidays are full of concerts, celebrations, and opportunities to shop local. But the fun continues in the new year with special events.
Franklin on Ice is a display of carved ice sculptures and demonstrations taking place in Fountain Park in February. It’s free to view and photograph the ice art. Some you can even sit on or pose with. Downtown shops participate in the fun with specials sales and activities — the perfect excuse to pop in and warm up!
The Nature Art Showcase takes place at the same time as Franklin on Ice, just across the park, in the Barrow Civic Theatre lobby. Local artists exhibit and sell their work in multiple media, all on the theme of the Oil Region outdoors.
The Oil Region Alliance, managing entity of the Oil Region National Heritage Area, will host a Monte Carlo Night Saturday, February 25 at Wildcat Mansion. Check in with the ORA or follow the Facebook page for details and ticket information.
Come out, explore, and find your new favorite things in the Oil Region!
Introducing the Oil Region Alliance Visitor Guide
Welcome to the Oil Region National Heritage Area in northwestern Pennsylvania. Plan the perfect stay, whether it’s for an afternoon or an entire week, and learn about the characters and innovations that altered the course of history. Enjoy a variety of activities for outdoor recreation, arts and culture, as well as special events in the community.