With the sun starting to set on the summer season, we thought it might be a good idea to put together a list of options to help you make the most of what’s left standing between you and the fall foliage.
Become one with nature
Nature rolled out the welcome mat back in May, so if at this point you feel like if you’ve seen one tree, you’ve seen them all — that’s understandable.
Still, here’s hoping that the splendor of the great outdoors hasn’t lost its novelty just yet.
Swim with the fishes: Who knew that Centre County had its fair share of beaches? Well it does — at least through Labor Day. After a refreshing dip in Poe Lake at Poe Valley State Park, snacks are available just across the sand at the nearby concession stand. Swimming hours stretch from 8 a.m. through sunset.
Not a strong swimmer?: Then by all means, bring a boat. Or better yet, rent one. At Poe Valley State Park, it’s a short walk from the swimming beach to a fleet of paddleboats, kayaks and canoes that will keep the fish on one side of the water and you on the other. Motorboats are also welcomed on the lake at Bald Eagle State Park, where the speed limit is a reasonable 45 mph.
Go fish: “We do have some of the best fishing in the country,” Betsey Howell, executive director of the Central PA Convention and Visitors Bureau, said. Poe Lake is a hotspot for trout, catfish, pickerel, sunfish and of course, perch, all awaiting — or more likely, actively avoiding — the line of a faithful fisherman. The selection over at Bald Eagle State Park’s 1,730-acre Sayers Reservoir is equally bountiful. Yellow perch, tiger muskellunge and channel catfish are all common catches.
If dry land is more your style: Bald Eagle State Park boasts 14.5 miles worth of trails that local hikers are welcomed to share with the assortment of butterflies, insects and woodpeckers that call them home.
Follow the Central Pa. Tasting Trail
Hire a babysitter: Howell said that bureau typically recommend this little excursion through Centre County’s local breweries and wineries to adults traveling sans children — for obvious reasons. “It’s not about drinking. It’s about promoting local businesses,” Howell said.
Pace yourself: One of the most appealing aspects of the trail is that 12 different venues are just a few too many to fit into a single Saturday or even a long weekend. Howell said that it’s not uncommon for folks to spread the challenge out over the course of a month — which should take some of the pressure off whoever organizes your social calendar.
Bring a map: The tour stretches all over Centre County.
“The only area that it doesn’t really hit is Philipsburg,” Howell said. That still leaves a wide variety of options, from Robin Hood Brewing Co. in Bellefonte to Seven Mountains Wine Cellars in Spring Mills.
Everybody loves Garlic: In case the 17th century oil paintings or the antique Admiral’s desk that belonged to Christopher Columbus don’t do it for you, Columbus Chapel and the Boal Mansion Museum are hosting a Herb and Garlic Festival from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 27. Garlic milkshake, anyone?
Iron has its charms too: How would you feel about heading back to school just a little bit early? On Aug. 28, the Centre Furnace Mansion will open up the door to the property’s 19th century school house — a treat that comes but once a year.
“People can get a glimpse at what being a 19th century school student would be like,” Mary Sorensen, executive director of CFM, said. Tours of the museum are available on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
But never underestimate the value of a very old theater: Try catching your next summer blockbuster at the Rowland Theatre in Philipsburg. The movie place will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2017, so if the previews are lousy, consider it an opportunity to soak in the cavernously ornate tastes of circa 1917. Or go for popcorn.
Embrace your inner child
Par for the course: Family appeal has helped mini-golf retain a spot as a timeless summer staple for both local and visiting broods alike.
“We get a lot more families during the summer time,” Howell said.
Choices abound – there’s Spring Run Mini Golf of Pleasant Gap, Mountain Mini-Golf in Tussey Mountain and Happy Valley MiniGolf in State College, to name a few.
Penn’s Cave: It’s never too early to take your child down into a deep dark abyss. The tour of the limestone encrusted cavern, which Howell believes to be the only one in the United States that you can take entirely by boat, is just the cherry on top.
“They have deer and elk and bears and lions,” Howell said.