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Susquehanna Life

5 Family Outings to Put on Your Calendar Now

Nov 18, 2014 04:48PM ● By Suzanne Ellis

by Suzanne Ellis

Ride the rails, color your world, go on safari, partake in a Guinness World Record event and start the holiday season in a whole new way. Let my family traditions become yours.

Day Trips on Amtrak

All aboard! The southern Amtrak Keystone Service route passes through Harrisburg, Middletown, Lancaster and Ardmore, offering day trips. From the list below choose your excursions: shopping, eating, discovering, creating and playing. All are within walking distance, unless noted. Using the three-letter station codes, look up the Amtrak schedules at amtrack.com/home. Purchase your tickets online, with your smart phone or at a ticket window to save money.

Harrisburg (HAR) - Recommended Attractions:

Whitaker Center for the Science and the Arts: WhitakerCenter.org

Strawberry Square (shopping, food): StrawberrySquare.com

Tour the State Capitol: PaCapital.com/tours.html

Parking is expensive ($20+). Hint: In Middletown, 13 miles east, parking is free.

Middletown (MID) - Recommended Attractions:

Let’s Pretend (Hands on House): LetsPretend123.com

Alfred's Victorian Restaurant: AlfredsVictorian.com

Brownstone Café: BrownstoneCafe.tripod.com  

Free parking. No restroom or ticket window.

Lancaster (LNC) – Recommended Attractions:

The Bead & Pottery Works: ThePotteryWorks.com

The Lancaster Dispensing Company (an alley pub): DispensingCo.com

Central Market (farmer’s market): CentralMarketLancaster.com

Parking is $5 per day. Hire a taxi ($8) to center square (King and Queen streets) or ride the Red Rose Trolley, RedRoseTransit.com/historic-downtown-trolley-schedule.html.

Ardmore (ARD) - Recommended Attractions:

Suburban Square (shopping, dining, and farmer’s market): SuburbanSquare.com

Free parking, space is limited. No restrooms.

TIP:  For more Pennsylvania trips by train subscribe to the newsletter:

PATripsByTrain.com

Crayola Experience

Crayola skillfully combines its brand, color and art with the latest technology at its Easton facility. Upon entering, you are given a large bag for the variety of projects you will make at some of the 21 stations—everything from hand-crafted puzzles, colorful boxes, sculpted and spin art to wax cars, crayons, markers and coloring pages, where you are the star. Get creative on the drawing tablets and watch your creations come to life as they cover the walls and move around the room. Children will love pushing their crayon boats through the canal and lock system at Crayonopolis. Purchase your ticket online to save on ticket prices. CrayolaExperience.com  

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park

Ride over the rolling hills and through the forest weaving through herds of animals on an open-air safari bus. Hundreds of beastly but adorable creatures such as Asian Water Buffalo, North American Bison, European Fallow Deer, Eland’s and nine-foot ostriches will eat crackers right out of your hand. Your combination ticket will also include the zoo and petting zoo. Crackers for the safari are sold at the concession stand. Allow for two packs per person. The animals are hungriest in the morning. A wonderful time to go is late spring when newborns of every kind are running around. This fun day trip is located four miles north of Halifax. LakeTobias.com  

Long’s Park Chicken BBQ

The Sertoma Club of Lancaster grills and sells over 25,000 chicken halves, making this the largest one-day chicken BBQ in the world, entitling the club to hold the Guinness World Record. The third Saturday in May, grills are lit before dawn and the air fills with the aroma of BBQ. Barrels of a secret sauce stand ready at the foot of the grills. Food donations from Susquehanna Valley companies are packaged together for a delicious meal. The well-organized event—2015 is the 62nd year!—takes place at Long’s Park and proceeds are used to support the petting zoo, playgrounds, concerts and maintenance. This storybook park with an enchanting lake is located on the opposite side of Rt. 30 from the Park City Center. Park at the mall (near Boscov’s) and walk the paved trail under the bridge into the park, or use the park entrance on Harrisburg Pike. Buy tickets in advance to save. LancasterSertomabbq.com/sponsors.asp or ParkCityCenter.com 

National Christmas Center

Feel the magic of the season when you visit Santa in his workshop filled with elves and toys. Walk through the wonderland of twinkling lights, animated scenes, enchanted forests and chugging trains before switching to a cobblestone path leading from Nazareth to Bethlehem, telling the story of Mary and Joseph’s journey. You’ll be energized and ready to tackle all those holiday errands. NationalChristmasCenter.com

Win Tickets to Long Park Chicken BBQ!

Send a 3 x 5 card with the words Sertoma Club BBQ, your name, address, email and phone number, along with your favorite thing about Susquehanna Life magazine, to be entered. Send entries to Susquehanna Life Magazine, P.O. Box 421, Lewisburg, PA 17837. Entries must be received by April 1, 2015. Drawing will be held on or about April 15, 2015.

Suzanne Ellis is a freelance writer and photographer who works out of Perry County.

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