10 Must-See Attractions in Franklin County

The best things to see and do in Franklin County Pennsylvania.

If you’re looking for the best things to see and do in Franklin County, you’re in the right place!

Location of Franklin County in Pennsylvania.
Location of Franklin County in Pennsylvania.

The county was formed in 1784 and named in honor of Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin County Pennsylvania in named in honor of Benjamin Franklin.
Franklin County Pennsylvania in named in honor of Benjamin Franklin.

The county seat is in Chambersburg, where more than 500 structures were burned by Confederate raiders in July, 1864.

The Franklin County courthouse in Chambersburg Pennsylvania.
The Franklin County courthouse in Chambersburg.

From covered bridges and historic sites to caverns and state parks, here are 10 of the best things to see and do in Franklin County, Pennsylvania (plotted as a blue-and-white stars on the map below).


Simply click on the blue text links in the descriptions below to read more in-depth information about each destination.

Martins Mill Bridge in Franklin County was built in 1849.
Martins Mill Bridge in Franklin County was built in 1849.

1. Buchanan’s Birthplace State Park

Buchanan’s Birthplace State Park in Franklin County preserves the birthplace of the James Buchanan, 15th President of the United States.

Buchanan’s Birthplace State Park in Franklin County preserves the birthplace of the James Buchanan, 15th President of the United States.
Buchanan’s Birthplace State Park entrance sign.

The focal point of the park is a large pyramid marking the spot where the cabin Buchanan was born in once stood.

The pyramid-shaped monument marking the birthplace of James Buchanan was constructed of local stone that was transported to the construction site by a temporary railroad.
The pyramid-shaped monument marking the birthplace of James Buchanan was constructed of local stone that was transported to the construction site by a temporary railroad.

Construction of the pyramid took 35 laborers two months to complete, and the project was finished on November 15, 1907.

The base of the pyramid marking the birthplace of James Buchanan is 38 feet square and the pyramid is 31 feet high.
The base of the pyramid marking the birthplace of James Buchanan is 38 feet square and the pyramid is 31 feet high.

Numerous informational displays at the park highlight the life and political career of James Buchanan.

Informational display at Buchanans Birthplace State Park in Franklin County Pennsylvania.
Informational display at Buchanans Birthplace State Park.

2. Buchanan’s Birthplace Cabin

The cabin James Buchanan was born in is now located on the campus of the Mercersburg Academy, roughly 3 miles east of where it originally stood.

The cabin James Buchanan was born in is now located on the campus of the Mercersburg Academy in Franklin County Pennsylvania.
The cabin James Buchanan was born in is now located on the campus of the Mercersburg Academy in Franklin County.

The Buchanan cabin was purchased and moved several times by various individuals, before being purchased by the Mercersburg Academy for $300 in 1953.

Future U.S. President James Buchanan was born in this simple cabin in 1791 in Franklin County Pennsylvania.
Future U.S. President James Buchanan was born in this simple cabin in 1791 in Franklin County.

Buchanan lived in this simple 2-story cabin until age 6, when the family moved into a larger home in Mercersburg.

Interior of the James Buchanan birthplace cabin.
Interior of the James Buchanan birthplace cabin.

If you visit the Buchanan Cabin on the Mercersburg Academy campus, be sure to take a few moments to admire the Irvine Chapel, whose spire rises high above the rest of the campus.

The Irvine Chapel on the campus of the Mercersburg Academy is known locally as the Academy Chapel.
The Irvine Chapel on the campus of the Mercersburg Academy is known locally as the Academy Chapel.

Dedicated in 1926, the Irvine Chapel spire in Mercersburg is a replica of the spire at University Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford, England.

The Irvine Chapel spire in Mercersburg is a replica of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford, England.
The Irvine Chapel spire in Mercersburg.

3. Historic Mercersburg

Mercersburg was the boyhood home of James Buchanan from ages 6-16.

Statue of James Buchanan on Main Street in Mercersburg Pennsylvania.
Statue of James Buchanan on Main Street in Mercersburg.

Today you can walk the historic downtown area and see many “footprints” of Buchanan’s past.

The current James Buchanan Hotel in Mercersburg was the home of the future president from ages 5-16.
The current James Buchanan Hotel in Mercersburg was the home of the future president from ages 6-16.

The home he lived in from ages 6-16 is now a hotel, pub, and restaurant named in his honor.

The building which now houses the James Buchanan Pub and Restaurant was buily by the future president's father.
The building which now houses the James Buchanan Pub and Restaurant was buily by the future president’s father.

Another historic building on the town square is Stoner’s Mansion House, currently a boutique hotel and tavern.

Stoner’s Mansion House on the square in historic Mercersburg Pennsylvania.
Stoner’s Mansion House on the square in historic Mercersburg.

The hotel has a colorful history, including being the site of a confrontation between Union and Confederate troops on the final day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Historical plaque attached to the former Colonel Murphy's Hotel in Mercersburg Pennsylvania.
Historical plaque attached to the former Colonel Murphy’s Hotel in Mercersburg.

4. Black-Coffey Caverns

Black-Coffey Caverns is the only cavern system in Pennsylvania accessed through the basement of a private home!

Exploring Black-Coffey Caverns in Franklin County Pennsylvania.
Black-Coffey Caverns in Franklin County.

Black-Coffey Caverns operated as a “show cave” known as Baker Caverns from 1932 until 1954, then closed, went through a series of owners, and was off limits until recently.

A sign from the original Baker Cavers "show cave" era, now on display on the Black-Coffey Caverns visitor center.
A sign from the original Baker Cavers “show cave” era, now on display on the Black-Coffey Caverns visitor center.

The current owners have generously reopened the caverns to visitors on a donation-based basis, and have renamed the caverns Black (last name of current owner) Coffey (last name of farmer who discover the caverns) Caverns.

The Black-Coffey Caverns logo emblazoned on a t-shirt for sale in the visitor center.
The Black-Coffey Caverns logo emblazoned on a t-shirt for sale in the visitor center.

One of the things that separates Black-Coffey Caverns from other caves you may have visited in PA is that the entire tour is conducted using only flashlights!

There is no set fee to tour Black-Coffey Caverns, but donations are accepted.
Tours of Black-Coffey Caverns are conducted using only flashlights!

5. Caledonia State Park

The 1,125-acre Caledonia State Park spans parts of Franklin and Admas counties, between Chambersburg and Gettysburg.

The 1,125-acre Caledonia State Park spans parts of Adams and Franklin counties between Chambersburg and Gettysburg.
The 1,125-acre Caledonia State Park spans parts of Franklin and Admas counties between Chambersburg and Gettysburg.

The park occupies land once owned by lawyer, politician, and iron industry investor Thaddeus Stevens, who opened the Caledonia Iron Works here in 1837.

In 1927 the Pennsylvania Alpine Club reconstructed the Caledonia iron furnace stack as a smaller-scale tribute to the iron works destroyed by Confederates in 1863.
In 1927 the Pennsylvania Alpine Club reconstructed the Caledonia iron furnace stack as a smaller-scale tribute to the iron works destroyed by Confederates in 1863.

Because of his strong aboloitionist views, Stevens’ Franklin County iron works were burned by Confederate forces on their march to Gettysburg in June, 1863.

Historical plaque affixed to the replica of the Caledonia iron furnace stateck at Caledonia State Park in Franklin County Pennsylvania.
Historical plaque affixed to the replica of the Caledonia iron furnace stateck at Caledonia State Park.

Today a historic trail at the state park is named in his honor.

The Thaddeus Stevens Historic Trail at Caledonia State Park in Franklin County Pennsylvania.
The Thaddeus Stevens Historic Trail at Caledonia State Park.

The park is also home to a swimming pool, which costs $7.00/day for admission as of 2023.

The pool at Caledonia State Park in Franklin County Pennsylvania.
The pool at Caledonia State Park in Franklin County.

6. Mont Alto State Park

Mont Alto State Park is a 24-acre “picnic park” and the oldest park still in the Pennsylvania state park system.

Mont Alto State Park in Franklin County is the oldest park still in the Pennsylvania state park system.
Mont Alto State Park in Franklin County is the oldest park still in the Pennsylvania state park system.

The park originated in 1875 as a summer resort and ceased operation in 1893, when it was subsequently obtained by the state.

Picnic pavillion at the 24-acre Mont Alto State Park.
Picnic pavillion at the 24-acre Mont Alto State Park.

7. Martins Mill Covered Bridge

Martins Mill Covered Bridge is the second-longest covered bridge in Pennsylvania.

Martins Mill Covered Bridge in Franklin County is the second-longest covered bridge in Pennsylvania.
Martins Mill Covered Bridge is the second-longest covered bridge in Pennsylvania.

Martins Mill Covered Bridge spans Conococheague Creek in Antrim Township.

Martins Mill Covered Bridge spans Conococheague Creek in Franklin County Pennsylvania.
Martins Mill Covered Bridge spans Conococheague Creek.

The bridge was built using the Town Lattice Truss method, a design patented by architect Ithiel Town.

Martins Mill Covered Bridge was constructed using the Town Lattice Truss method, a design patented by architect Ithiel Town.
Martins Mill Covered Bridge was constructed using the Town Lattice Truss method, a design patented by architect Ithiel Town.

8. Witherspoon Covered Bridge

Witherspoon Covered Bridge in Franklin County is 87 feet long and spans Licking Creek.

Witherspoon Covered Bridge in Franklin County is 87 feet long and spans Licking Creek.
Witherspoon Covered Bridge in Franklin County is 87 feet long and spans Licking Creek.

The bridge was built in 1883, uses a Burr arch truss construction system, and is still open to vehicular traffic.

Witherspoon Covered Bridge in Franklin County was built in 1883 and uses a Burr arch truss construction system.
Witherspoon Covered Bridge in Franklin County was built in 1883 and uses a Burr arch truss construction system.

9. Fort Loudoun

The original Fort Loudoun was built in 1756 to protect local settlers from raids by Native Americans during the French and Indian War.

View of the historic Fort Loudoun in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, featuring a wooden palisade, log buildings, a central flagpole, and a gravel path leading towards the entrance, with overcast skies above and lush greenery in the distance.
Fort Loudoun in the summer of 2021.

The fort site and 207 acres surrounding acres were purchased the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1967, and the curent replica of the original fort was dedicated in 1993.

Guard dressed in historical colonial attire, with a green coat and tricorn hat, holding a long musket, standing at the entrance to Fort Loudoun in Franklin County, Pennsylvania
Guard at the entrance to the fort.

The grounds of the historic site are open daily from dawn until dusk; the interior of the fort and Visitor Center are open during special events held throughout the year.

Reenactor in period attire firing a cannon at Fort Loudoun, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, with fellow reenactors and smoke in the background.
Reenactor in period attire firing a cannon at Fort Loudoun.

10. Black Rose Antiques

Black Rose Antiques and Collectibles is an antique store featuring more than 85 vendors in Chambersburg, PA.

Exploring Black Rose Antiques at the Chambersburg Mall in Chambersburg PA
Black Rose Antiques at the Chambersburg Mall.

It may also be the ONLY antique store in PA that serves as an anchor store at a “zombie mall”!

Center court at the Chambersburg Mall in Chambersburg Pennsylvania.
Center court at the Chambersburg Mall in November 2022.

So there you have it – 10 of the best things to see and do in Franklin County, Pennsylvania!

Witherspoon Covered Bridge in Franklin County is sometimes referred to as "Red Bridge" and is still open to vehicular traffic.
Witherspoon Covered Bridge in Franklin County is sometimes referred to as “Red Bridge” and is still open to vehicular traffic.

Nearby Attractions

Located just east of Franklin County, Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium features a dizzying array of elephant figurines, circus souvenirs, toys, statues, gardens, and artwork, as well as over a thousand kinds of candy!

An elephant-themed water garden in front of Mister Ed's Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium.
Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium along Route 30 in Adams County.

The historic Round Barn near Gettysburg is truly one of the most interesting and beautiful barns in Pennsylvania!

Exploring the Historic Round Barn near Gettysburg Pennsylvania
Scenes from the Round Barn in Adams County.

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Some of the best things to see and do in Gettysburg Pennsylvania.
Some of the best things to see and do in Gettysburg.

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The best things to see and do in Fulton County Pennsylvania.
Scenes from Fulton County.

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Rusty Glessner
Rusty Glessner is a professional photographer, lifelong Pennsylvanian, and a frequently-cited authority on PA's best travel destinations.