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Best Free Places to Take Pictures in Pennsylvania

*Editor’s note: This year-long series about financial literacy is sponsored by PSECU.
July 27, 2022

Are you looking to get updated family photos? Planning the perfect spot for wedding portraits? Or looking for a unique location for senior photos? No matter the occasion, Pennsylvania has a wide range of visually stunning locations for those special photos.

And the best part is, you can snap photos for no cost at the locations on this list. Read on to see which ones are located near you.

Best Free Places to Take Pictures in Northeastern Pennsylvania

Northeastern Pennsylvania is an area known for industry. It contains parts of the Coal Region, Wyoming Valley, and Pocono Mountains. Here, you can find a range of scenic and historic areas to explore for pictures.

  • Steamtown National Historic Site. The park in downtown Scranton stopped charging admission fees in 2017 to encourage more visitors. Take your pictures next to steam engines for a unique background. If you’re planning an extravagant set up, you’ll want to check if you need a permit.
  • Wilkes University. This private university in Wilkes-Barre has a grand walkway with lampposts and a clock perfect for those seeking a “timeless” quality to their pictures.
  • Pocono Environmental Education Center. Located in Dingmans Ferry, this center features numerous hiking trails where you can get pictures near waterfalls and attractive foliage. If you choose this option, make sure you “take only pictures and leave only footprints.”
  • Starrucca Viaduct. Built to assist the Erie Railroad Company in crossing the Starrucca Creek, the bridge structure outside Lanesboro was built in the 19th century, and it remains in use today. The arches make an incredible backdrop to any photograph.

Best Free Places to Take Pictures in Northwestern Pennsylvania

Northwestern Pennsylvania features the heart of the commonwealth’s gas and oil economy. Erie is the cultural hub, and the Allegheny National Forest attracts many visitors. There are many options for interesting places to take pictures.

  • Cook Forest State Park. Head to Seneca Point Overlook, where you can see an awe-inspiring view of the Clarion River Valley behind any of your photography subjects.
  • Kinzua Bridge State Park. The Kinzua Bridge – also known as the Kinzua Viaduct – stands 301 feet high and once allowed trains to pass over the Kinzua Creek, until a 2003 hurricane wiped out part of the structure. Now, it’s a 600-foot pedestrian walkway that allows you to see the entire valley, an ideal place to snap photos.
  • Presque Isle Beaches. Many families flock to Presque Isle, located on Lake Erie, for year-round get-togethers. The two lighthouses on the island are beautiful places for photo shoots.
  • Marion Brooks Natural Area. Full of white birch trees, this natural area is located in Weedville.

Best Free Places to Take Pictures in Southeastern Pennsylvania

Philadelphia dominates the culture, discussions, and geography of Southeastern Pennsylvania, a busy urban area full of neat places to take pictures. You’ll want to check out these free, photo-worthy locations.

  • Boathouse Row. One of Philadelphia’s most famous locations, Boathouse Row sits on the Schuylkill River and houses the city’s historic rowing clubs.
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art. The front of this museum is arguably the city’s most iconic image. While you have to pay to go inside, it’s free to take photos outside on the steps where Rocky Balboa trained.
  • Carpenters’ Hall. The First Continental Congress met at this historic building to discuss breaking away from England. Entrance is free, but you may want to stay outside to take your photos since the scenery perfectly captures the 18th-century Philadelphia look.
  • Urey Overlook. See panoramic views of the Susquehanna River from the overlook at Susquehannock State Park.

Best Free Places to Take Pictures in Southwestern Pennsylvania

Southwestern Pennsylvania includes the counties of Butler, Beaver, and Washington, but the central point is, of course, the crown jewel of Allegheny County, Pittsburgh. Try snapping some photos in these locations.

  • Ohiopyle State Park. The Youghiogheny River Gorge on Laurel Ridge offers a natural setting for photos.
  • Point State Park. Take memorable shots where the three rivers in Pittsburgh meet at Point State Park, which includes monuments and plaques to serve as suitable backdrops.
  • Buttermilk Falls. This Beaver County natural area is just a few minutes off the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and you can enjoy a short hike to the actual falls.
  • Union Station. Pittsburgh’s train station includes a rotunda perfect for weddings or other occasions.
  • The Cathedral of Learning. It’s little wonder the University of Pittsburgh uses images of this tower in all its advertising — it’s magnificent inside and out.

Best Free Places to Take Pictures in Central Pennsylvania

Central Pennsylvania includes the city of Harrisburg and nearby towns like Lemoyne, Gettysburg, and York. Drop in on these sites for unbelievable photo opportunities.

  • Harrisburg State Capitol. The front steps of the building highlight one of the country’s most beautifully constructed capitols.
  • Harrisburg Riverfront Park. With beautiful trees, the Susquehanna River, and bridges in the background, Riverfront Park is a great place to take photos for free.
  • Negley Park. This park in Lemoyne provides an unfettered view of the Harrisburg skyline across the Susquehanna River.
  • Lincoln Square. Gettysburg retains some of the structures from the Civil War era, when the famous battle took place on the fields of Gettysburg.
  • Gifford Pinchot State Park. This park in York County has Pinchot Lake and numerous hiking trails to serve as photo backdrops.

Picture the Savings

With a state full of gorgeous locations, all available at no cost, you can save a lot by not needing to rent a location. You have your pick of picturesque backdrops to capture the special moments of your life.

Want another pro tip for saving? Skip the professional photographer and do it yourself! Phone photo technology keeps improving, and by spending a little time exploring your phone’s camera features, you’ll be snapping awesome images in no time.

For more ways to save, visit our blog.

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