As foodies and travel-addicts, there was more to our GAP Trail bike journey than just putting in the miles on the bike every day. In addition to all those lovely scenic views and cool historical locations, there were restaurants and bed & breakfasts and coffeeshops to be enjoyed all along the trail, and it was a great part of the adventure. Without further ado, here are the places we enjoyed along the trip!
On day 1, which covered Pittsburgh to Connellsville, there are a handful of great places to stop for lunch outside of the city itself. (There are a TON of great places to stop in the city, although you have to abandon the trail slightly for most of them, but we won’t be featuring those at this time.)
One of the first places to stop for a quick bite or a round of refreshing mid-ride drinks is Rich’s Parkside Den in Boston. They’ve got great bar food, and both their food and drink are quite reasonably-priced. While we didn’t stop here on our long trip, this is a favorite spot to grab a quick lunch of chicken fingers on our day-trip rides.
And when you’re in the mood for a more substantial meal, the stretch between Boston and West Newton is your best bet.
Up first is Driscoll & Sons Cafe in Sutersville (about ten miles past Boston). They’re a relatively new spot, opening in the spring of 2013, so they don’t have a liquor license yet, but they have delicious food and great atmosphere, including an outside deck if you don’t feel like sitting indoors mid-ride.
And they’ve also got a great selection of deli sandwiches and homemade soups. Service here is super-prompt, and there’s covered bike parking just outside. (We did not stop here on our long trip, but we still wanted to point them out!)
Where we *did* stop on this trip was The Trailside in West Newton.
This is one of your last *true* trail towns until Connellsville (there’s another camper-area a few miles before you hit Connellsville, but that’s about it), so stop, have a glass of wine, enjoy some lunch, and relax.
The service can be a little slower at times when it gets crowded. In the warmer months, there is outdoor seating on the patio overlooking the trail, and they’ve got a full bar, so you can enjoy a beer or chardonnay to recharge mid-ride.
There are bike racks between the trail and the restaurant (visible from the patio seating), and if you need any kind of quick tune-up, the West Newton Bicycle Shop is directly underneath the Trailside, and you can have your minor fixes repaired while having lunch.
When you arrive in Connellsville, perhaps the most obvious place to stay is the Connellsville Bed & Breakfast, and it’s also really nice.
Each room has the theme of a different country. We stayed in the Slovak room, which was huge. They also provide shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in the showers, which we *really* appreciated after such a long, hot ride.
Connellsville is a truly small town, and from the bed & breakfast, dinner is a little bit of a walk. But it was definitely worth it because…
We got to go to the Italian Oven!!!!
If you didn’t have a Yinzer childhood, you may not understand the implications of this great news. Just trust me, it was amazing. We used to go to the Italian Oven in Station Square in middle school when we would attend math conferences (otherwise known as ‘nerd conventions’) in the upper floors of the station shops. Sure, math contests were great, but Italian Oven lunches were the BEST.
While they no longer have straws made of macaroni, they *do* still have butcher paper and crayons at each table. You know I was hard at work drawing a fox before I even thought about what I would order.
Pro-tip: it’s not an Italian Oven meal without some of their delicious wedding soup. Our waiter Tim (who was really great) also recommended their famous fried zucchini, and we could see why it’s so famous. It’s crispy and yummy and comes with this awesome horseradish dip! (And if you like wine, be sure to ask what they’ve got to share!)
I got the mushroom penne pasta with garlic and olive oil. SO GOOD. SO MUCH GARLIC (which was great to keep out all those Connellsville vampires). You also get a side salad and a huge helping of warm Italian bread with your food. I took about half of this meal home and ate it in the middle of the night to carb-load before our next day of riding.
And then, to fuel us up for our ride, a perfect blend of carbs and protein: locally-sourced Canadian bacon, fresh eggs, and pumpkin pancakes! Lucy served the pancakes with this incredible homemade cream cheese, cinnamon, and honey-infused butter on top. We also had some great company at breakfast with one of the other guests (something I do love about staying at B&Bs).
While you pass next through Ohiopyle, our next stop on the trail was the little town of Confluence, which requires a short departure from the trail to visit. Ohiopyle is very much a seasonal stop, so in the fall, only a handful of shops are open, and we were passing through early enough that none had opened yet for the day. So, onward another 10 miles to Confluence (27 miles on the day from Connellsville).
I had to have my broken spoke fixed at the Confluence Cyclery, and while it was in the shop, we walked down the street to Sisters Cafe.
And giant Pittsburgh-style salads with wonderful, buttery garlic toast! Their salads were like chicken soup and chicken salad all at once, with carrots and celery mixed in. This was a perfect fuel-up before the final 20 (uphill) miles of our day’s journey.
When we arrived in Rockwood, we got settled in right away to our bed & breakfast for the evening, the Gingerbread House B&B.
This place is a little unlike any B&B I’ve stayed in before: the innkeeper resides nearby, but not in the same house, and she makes a policy of not interfering with her guests, so until breakfast the next morning, we only talked to her over the phone and never actually met her in person.
Also, this was the only stop on our trip that had a shared bathroom. There was only one other couple staying, so it was just four of us sharing a bathroom, but if they fill up in busier months, it looked like there could be as many as 8 people sharing, so just emotionally prepare yourself for that if need be!
We stayed in Carson’s room. The rooms are simple (no desks, sadly) but comfortable. No A/C in the summer, but it was nice and cool in the fall. And although there is no cell phone service ANYWHERE in Rockwood, there’s a great WiFi connection at the B&B, so we were able to keep up with friends and family that way.
There are a handful of restaurants in town, but on Mondays, the only one open is in the old Opera House building at the Rockwood Mill Shoppes.
They have a number of pizzas with railroad and train names. This is the ghost train pizza, which is a white pizza with lots of garlic and oil and yummy fresh tomatoes. It was just the right size for a solid dinner (and of course, I got ranch on the side for dipping).
Back in the day, my dad’s side of the family would go up ‘to the mountains’ every weekend where they had property around Somerset. In the evenings, the happening spot to be was Rockwood, PA. There is a legendary story in our family about my Uncle Joe’s pool prowess, and how he would go to the pool hall in Rockwood (which he believes was in the basement of the Rockwood Mill Shoppes, although we aren’t quite certain) and everyone would say, ‘Here come those boys from Pittsburgh!’ and my dad and uncle would leave triumphantly every night, knowing they were the greatest pool players to ever grace the streets of Rockwood.
So of course, we *had* to find a pool table, play a couple of games, and send pictures to my dad and uncle of us carrying on the Tkocs Boy Legacy. Tin’s Tavern was just the spot to do it. (LOVED the bartender here, she was so kind and welcoming to us out-of-towners!)
We were back to our room and in bed early to rest up and begin our next leg of the journey the following morning!