Cranberry Township, PA – the center of the universe?

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Cranberry, PA recently and I began to wonder why? Turns out, Cranberry is in the middle of everything and everywhere I’ve been exploring recently. Chances are you’ve been through here many times and never knew it. If that’s the case, you’re missing a great resource for either a lunch or a weekend.

So where is Cranberry?

Cranberry, PA is located at the intersection of I-76 and I-79, just less than 30 minutes north of Pittsburgh. If you’re going south from Erie, PA to Charleston, WV on I-79 or if you’re traveling east-west on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, you’re going to go right through it.

Take the exit and be prepared to be impressed.  What ever you are looking for in the way of highway services, you are going to find.  There’s an amazing list of retailers and eateries as well as hotels, motels, etc.  It’s also close to so many places I’ve written about recently.

It’s under two hours and less than 120 miles to all the following locations:

  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Cambridge, Ohio
  • Erie, PA
  • Bedford, PA
  • Du Bois, PA
  • Altoona, PA
  • Ohiopyle, PA
  • Morgantown, WV

How about some specifics?

I spent the weekend there a couple weekends ago while I was covering the Weihnachtsmarkt Christmas Market in Harmony, PA.  Gotta put that one on your calendar for next year. Still time to catch their Silvestri celebration on New Year’s Eve. Only 12 miles away.

Earlier I had gone biking and spent some time with Todd Wehr, one of the owners of the Bear Run Campgrounds at Lake Moraine. This is a beautiful area where you’d love to spend time in the warmer months.  Only 23 miles away.

Maridon-Museum

Maridon Museum

I also toured a fantastic museum hidden in a residential area of Butler, PA.  The Maridon Museum (322 N. McKean Street; Butler, PA 16001; phone 724.282.0123) consists of all types of art – from scrolls to jade to ivory and so much more.

Outside of Taiwan, I personally have never seen a better collection of Asian art anywhere. The collection includes pieces from the 3rd millennium BC right through modern times. The selections are stunning and you should watch for an upcoming article we’ll be doing on the collection. Only 20 miles away.

Where to eat?

If you read either of my articles about 5 restaurant favs or this one about eight foodie discoveries, you’re already aware of all the fantastic food destinations within just minutes of Cranberry.  On my last trip however, I added two more.

Natili Restaurant and Lounge (104 N. Wayne Street; Butler, PA 16001; phone 724.287.5033) has some of the most fantastic Italian fare you’ll ever want.  It’s nothing to look at outside, but the food is worth the drive.  20 minutes away.

Freedom-Square-Restaurant

Freedom Square

Right in Cranberry there’s a great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The Freedom Square Diner (1185 Freedom Road; Cranberry Township, PA 16066; phone 724.591.5080) serves a wide variety of American fare at reasonable prices.  We had breakfast there and were duly impressed with the menu selections, food quality and the superb friendly staff. 0 minutes away.

Where to stay?

Our base of operations on this last trip was a perennial favorite – Courtyard by Marriott.  The Courtyard Pittsburgh North/Cranberry Woods (150 Cranberry Woods Drive; Cranberry Township, PA 16066; phone 724.776.1900) is literally minutes from either I-79 or I-76 and is located in a garden-like setting far enough off the highway for a quiet night’s sleep, but close enough to hop on the freeway and start your journey.

My requirements for a motel are 1) reliable high-speed Internet (preferably free), 2) coffee service in room, and in case I get a chance to sleep, 3) a comfortable bed. Courtyard delivers on all three plus offers a number of bonuses that tip the scales for me.

Their lobby has a Bistro which is super handy for drinks and food. Breakfasts and dinners are served daily with an evening bar and specialty drinks. Game night is a real treat as people enjoy the game on a number of flat screen TV’s while sipping their favorite beverages. Quite a fun atmosphere.

The pool looked inviting and was underutilized while I was there. Only one family with the whole pool to themselves. The nicely equipped workout room kept calling me, but I managed to get out without putting in my time.

Can’t keep up with news, weather and sports? No problem, their “GoBoard” in the lobby is a handy multi-screen monitor that will get you up to date every time you walk by. Parking was also plentiful – something I always appreciate if I’m getting in late.

Give them a try next time you do the Cranberry connection. Whether you go to work or to play, by yourself or with your family,  it’s a great base of operations.


Also published on Medium.