Welcome to PAonPause!

Exploring Ohiopyle State Park in southwest Pennsylvania

My name is Samantha, but most people call me Sam. I got a late start in the world of “travel,” compared to a lot of you out there. I grew up in rural Western Pennsylvania (part one of PA on Pause) and didn’t go on many “big vacations” as a kid. Trips to Europe or spending time on an exotic beach in the Caribbean? Nope, didn’t happen.

While some may view this as a negative, it allowed me to discover the beauty and the hidden gems much closer to me. There are so many spots in the Great Lakes region that are always overlooked!

However, as I grew up, I learned more and more about other wonderful places the world has to experience. So, as a high school graduation gift to myself, with a lot of hard work and fundraising, I was first bit by the travel bug.

I traveled to Italy and Greece with a small group of students and teachers from my school. I had hardly been out of the region I grew up in before, let alone to another country. I had definitely never been on an airplane! Go big or go home, right?!

What followed was a 15-day whirlwind. I was hooked.

Fast-forward over a decade to life today. Settled in Northwest Pennsylvania along Lake Erie, I now work by day as a Physician Assistant (the other half of the PA on Pause).

Since I don’t have 100+ vacation days per year or the opportunity to work remotely, I’ve had to be creative in planning. I have traveled extensively throughout the Great Lakes region.

Often, we opt for long weekend adventures throughout our region over a longer vacation to a more exotic destination further away. We love to get outdoors since we spend most of the week cooped up inside.

This means that I have so many more things to share with you! That little state park tucked away in the corner of Pennsylvania, New York, or Michigan? A cool roadside attraction in Ohio? Ways to get off the beaten path or spend some time by the water?

You’ve come to the right place!

I’ve traveled in groups and solo in the past. For almost a decade, though, I’ve had a great travel partner, Mike, who is up for just about any activity.

We really enjoy adventures and are always looking for ways to get outdoors.

Adrenaline-pumping activities, hiking, and backpacking are our favorites. Our favorite backpacking trips to date? It’s so hard to choose, but we’ve absolutely loved our backcountry trips to Glacier National Park, Cumberland Island National Seashore, and Isle Royale National Park.

Many of our city adventures are done with a purpose and center around catching a sporting event (usually baseball- Let’s Go Bucs! or college football- WE ARE!). We make a point to check out the best local craft breweries and find hidden food gems along the way.

We’ve planned and enjoyed countless long weekends away and hope to inspire you to get as much enjoyment as possible out of your PTO, while still being able to pursue professional passions. Even if you can’t take a 2-week vacation, we have some fantastic itineraries and spots for you to explore for a few days or a weekend.

Our areas of expertise include National Parks sites throughout the United States and travel in the Great Lakes region of the US. There are so many hidden gems and lesser-explored areas to discover, and we’re here to help!

Here’s to a lifetime of adventures!

Mike & I in Central Park, NYC

Little by little, one travels far.

JRR Tolkien

Where We’ve Been

We’ve spent our entire lives exploring the Great Lakes region, both being lifetime residents. We’ve both always been lovers of the outdoors, so exploring the national parks, state parks, lakes, and rivers around the country (and beyond) has always been a priority for us.

We certainly agree that Glacier, Zion, and Yosemite, among others, are absolutely stunning landscapes. We’ll share these parks with you all day if you want. But we’ve also found some hidden gem spots that we have fallen in love with, too.

We’re always exploring to bring you more great destinations and hidden gems. We’ve shared our expertise so far in these locations:

πŸ“New York:






  • Cities & Towns (Chicago)



  • Voyageurs National Park
  • State Parks (Tettegouche, Split Rock Lighthouse, Gooseberry Falls)
  • Cities & Towns (Duluth, International Falls, Minneapolis, St. Paul)

πŸ“National Parks Sites:

Pre PAonPause Travels

While there’s no doubt we love our region, we do get out and explore beyond from time to time.

We absolutely loved our time in the Azores and would also recommend St. Lucia to anyone. While outside of our region and area of expertise, these islands certainly fit our travel style. There are plenty of adventures and outdoor activities!

  • Azores (Sao Miguel)
  • Bahamas
  • Canada (Toronto)
  • Costa Rica (Cartago, Manuel Antonio, Puerto Viejo, San Jose)
  • Dominican Republic (Puerto Plata)
  • Greece (Athens, Delphi, Kalamata, Meteora)
  • Guatemala (San Lucas TolimΓ‘n, Lake Atitlan)
  • Haiti (Port-au-Prince)
  • Italy (Florence, Milan, Pompeii, Rome, Sorrento, Venice, Verona)
  • Jamaica (Montego Bay, Ocho Rios)
  • South Korea
  • St. Lucia (Castries, Soufriere)
  • United States (Boston, Charleston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Worth, Key West, Lexington, Louisville, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Savannah, San Diego, Sedona, Tampa, Tucson, Washington DC)

Check Out These Great Articles We’ve Been Featured In!

  • US News & World Report: “Best Backpacking Backpacks of 2024”
  • Elite Daily: “The Most Popular Spring Break 2024 Hot Spots (& Where to Go Instead)
  • Campspot: “The Best Hiking in New York: 10 Epic Trails”
  • Explorer Chick: “Best National Parks in the Midwest”
  • KOA Blog: “10 Tips for Camping with Friends
  • Cheapism Travel: “Where to Vacation if You Hate Bugs (and Where to Avoid)”
  • BestLife Online: “The 9 Best U.S. National Parks to Visit in August, Experts Say”
  • Cool of the Wild: “12 Hiking and Backpacking Magazines to Get Lost In”
  • Improve Summer: “15 Best National Parks For Stargazing (USA & Canada)”
  • Wander Era: “16 Things to Do in Pennsylvania for Couples (from a Local)”
  • Seasonal Cravings: “Fun Things to do in Pennsylvania for Families”
  • Planner at Heart: “Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Guide: 10 Stunning Places You Need to See”
  • Brainy Backpackers: “13 Best hikes on the East Coast to add to your bucket list”
  • Jessie on a Journey: “29 Best Places to Travel Alone in the United States”
  • Two Scots Abroad: “Best National Parks to Visit in October & Fall Colors”
  • Stuck on the Go: “25 Best East Coast Hikes to Add to Your Bucket List”
  • Chickery’s Travels: “28 Must-See State Park Campgrounds You Can’t Miss”