9 Things That Only True PA Natives Understand

I was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and I'm proud to say that I still live here to this day. It's not that I don't love other places, and I'm definitely not saying that I wouldn't consider leaving one day. But to me, Pennsylvania is home. People who didn't grow up here may wonder, what's there to do in Pennsylvania? Which is understandable, since many of our state's finer attributes and little quirks tend to slip through the cracks.

For example, when most people think of Pennsylvania they think of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, with Amish farms in between. There's a lot more to PA (as the natives call it) than that, though. I live in the Poconos, which is in the northeastern part of the state. I'm close to Philadelphia and Scranton, as well as New York City and the Jersey Shore — so if I ever get tired of open fields I can easily spend a day in the city or at the beach. It's truly the perfect place to live thanks to beautiful scenery, tons of outdoor spaces to explore, and plenty of delicious food.

As much as I enjoy the occasional escape to New York (which is conveniently nearby), it's always good to come home to PA and inhale the fresh air while looking up at the stars. If you're from PA too, then you know exactly what I mean. Here are nine other things that you'll only understand if you grew up in Pennsylvania.

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1. Our Fall Foliage Is The Best

Sure, PA isn't the only state with beautiful autumn foliage — but we're a little biased about ours being the best. For about three months out of the year, the hilltops and mountainsides explode with color. There's really no better place to be in the fall than Pennsylvania. One of my favorite things to do here is hike Mount Tammany in the Delaware Water Gap on a crisp October day, and take in the stunning scenery at the top.

2. Yes, Mars Is An Actual Town Name

Some of the town names in Pennsylvania are bananas. There's Mars, Jersey Shore, Pringle, Paint, Throop, and Scalp Level, to name a few. I'm sure there's a perfectly reasonable explanation for the weird names of these places, but I have no idea what they are, because those of us who grew up here just kind of accept them at face-value. OK, we do giggle a bit when we drive past Scalp Level.

3. You've Experienced Getting Stuck Behind A Horse And Buggy

The largest Amish population is in Lancaster, PA, where I've only been twice. Yet, I've still managed to get stuck behind a slow-moving Amish horse and buggy while driving a handful of times in my life, somehow always when I'm in a rush. Only in PA can you show up late for work with the excuse that you got held up by horse and buggy traffic.

4. Your Wardrobe Focuses On Function Over Fashion

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In Pennsylvania, we dress for the weather. Snowy winters mean that snow boots are our best friend, and we're experts when it comes to layering techniques. The good news? We can blame our prized collection of winter coats on the weather.

5. You're Loyal To A Certain Grocery Store

It really depends on where in PA you live, but chances are if you grew up here you have a fierce loyalty to either Sheetz or Wawa. Convenience stores are a way of life in Pennsylvania. And now I really want a hoagie from Wawa.

6. We're Known For Our Snacks And Sandwiches

Speaking of sandwiches... Pennsylvanian food is a special beast. We have plenty of high-end delicacies with cult followings, such as hoagies, cheesesteaks, potato chips, and soft pretzels. If you're from PA, and you know what shoofly pie and scrapple are made of, to boot. Oh, and you've definitely ordered pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day for good luck.

7. Everyone's Always Dressed For An Outdoor Adventure — Sometimes For No Reason

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If you're happiest when you're living in denim and plaid, then PA is definitely the place for you. People around here tend to wear comfortable boots, sneakers and, yes, camouflage even when they're not going hiking or hunting. When the great outdoors are right there in your backyard, you want to be ready for anything from apple picking to rock climbing.

8. Yielding To Deer Is Second Nature

Part of the charm of PA is the abundance of wildlife, and that can mean anything from spotting a bald eagle to having a black bear wander into your backyard. You have to watch out for deer crossing the road, and opossums breaking into your house (yes, that actually happened to me and yes I'm still emotionally scarred), but that's all part of the fun. Life in Pennsylvania is always full of surprises.

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