If you saw my column last month, you know that I am on a mission to help local parents survive summer break by offering some ideas for weekly outings to break up the routine and give the family a change of scenery and a chance to have fun while making some lasting memories.
This month, I have four more suggestions. Two of them involve some beloved local landmarks that have each added new attractions this summer.
• Tussey Mountain in Harris Township is one of our favorite venues for family fun. Always an active place in the winter, it has truly become an essential summer destination as well. At Tussey, you’ll find regular “Movies on the Mountain” and “WingFest” challenges in the amphitheater; free fishing in the pond; and a Fun Centre including go-karts, a skate park, batting cages, a driving range, a par-3 golf course and miniature golf.
This summer, it has added a zip line to the list of warm-weather activities. The zip line is open on Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m., and also during special events. It’s a twin line, which means two people can ride down side-by-side, and it’s $10 for two rides.
• Another local tourist attraction that is always fun to visit with kids is Penn’s Cave near Centre Hall. The Cave itself — the only all-water cavern in America — is obviously the main attraction, as seen by a one-hour guided motorboat tour. But the grounds also also host a wildlife park featuring elk, deer, bears, wolves, cougars, bison and more. The park can be enjoyed via a 90-minute bus tour.
New this year to the Penn’s Cave experience is Prospector Pete’s Miners Maze, which is kind of like a corn maze without the corn. It’s a 4,800 square foot maze with four checkpoints and an observation deck for spectators to watch the maze-goers as they fumble their way through the twists and turns. The maze is $5.95 for teens and older, and $2.95 for kids.
• One of my family’s all-time favorite local day trips is to Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center in Petersburg. Shaver’s Creek offers really great summer day camps for kids, but it is also fun to visit independently. There are many easy hiking trails around the center. There is also a Raptor Center, featuring many birds of prey that have been injured and are being rehabilitated. Inside the center’s building, you’ll find interactive displays and tanks of live reptiles and amphibians.
• If those reptiles and amphibians whet your child’s appetite for more, jump on Interstate 80 and head toward Williamsport to Route 15, where you’ll find Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland in Allenwood.
This accredited zoo is not for anyone who is “ophidiophobic,” i.e. severely afraid of snakes. But my kids always found it to be extremely cool. Not only will you find snakes of every color, shape and size, you’ll get up close and personal with alligators, komodo dragons, lizards, turtles and frogs.
During the summer, Reptiland features an animatronic dinosaurs show and a butterfly garden. Visit reptiland.com for more information.
We are so fortunate here in central Pennsylvania to have such a wide variety of experiences so close by. Hopefully you’ll find a few of these ideas appealing enough that you won’t have to hear those two forbidden words of summer: “I’m bored.”
Karen Walker is managing partner of www.4KidsinPA.com. She lives in State College with her husband and two sons. She can be reached at Karen@4KidsinPA.com.