For travel lovers, it’s always a beautiful day in someone else’s neighborhood.
Western Pennsylvania was the neighborhood of Fred Rogers, the beloved host of the long-running children’s television program "Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood." And visitors to the region can now explore several sites with connections to Rogers along the new Fred Rogers Trail.
Rogers will be portrayed by Tom Hanks in the biopic "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood." Michael Chapaloney, the state’s executive director of tourism, expects the movie to spur visits to the new trail.
"Fred Rogers is more relevant than ever," Chapaloney said, and the trail "is a perfect way to explore his hometown and the place where he created his iconic television show."
Rogers was born and grew up in Latrobe, where several trail stops can be found.
Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College offers an interactive exhibit, including recorded interviews with Rogers, a display of memorabilia and a look at his life before he began his television show and donned his famous sweater.
Visitors to Latrobe also can take a selfie at the Fred Rogers statue in James H. Rogers Park (named for Fred’s father), stop by Rogers’ old high school and its display of Rogers memorabilia (during scheduled public events), and explore the Latrobe Area Historical Society, which has exhibits about Rogers and another favorite son of Latrobe, golfing legend Arnold Palmer.
Before leaving town, visitors can pay respects at Rogers’ grave in Unity Cemetery.
Kids and thrill-seekers might want to stop at Idlewild & SoakZone amusement park in nearby Ligonier. Visitors can take a trolley ride through "Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood," based on the kids’ PBS television show inspired by "Mr. Rogers."
In Pittsburgh, where Rogers filmed his show at WQED-TV, stops include the downtown Heinz History Center, featuring the world’s largest collection of original items from the show’s set, including King Friday XIII’s castle.
At the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the "Fred Rogers & Us" exhibit features original puppets from the show.
And travelers who would like to try their own "trolley" ride should check out the Duquesne Incline, a funicular railway that is a dead ringer for "Mr. Rogers’" trolley and which also offers spectacular views of the city.
Finally, the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, Pennsylvania, offers real trolley rides and a look at the place where the iconic "Mr. Rogers’" episode "Grandparents" was filmed.
Travelers can find a list of all the stops on the Fred Rogers Trail and a suggested three-day itinerary at visitpa.com/fredrogers.
"You can walk in the footsteps of a man whose message was timeless," Chapaloney said.
And if you do, be sure to take along a sweater.
Steve Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @SteveStephens.