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Susquehanna Life

Explore - Something Fun for Everyone

Aug 29, 2015 05:45PM ● By Suzanne Ellis

Play outdoors 

Arboretum at Penn State University, State College

The H. O. Smith Botanic Gardens will delight all ages with vibrant blooms and textured greens spread across several acres. Walkways lead to surprises around every corner. Pick up a copy of the seasonal display plant list upon your arrival and mark your favorite varieties so you can add them to your garden at home.

Geared toward play, discovery and learning, Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden is the newest addition to the botanical area. The entrance is garnished with fish ponds and a rainbow of water lilies. Pick a path and wind through plots of flowers, fruits and vegetables. Play clothes are suggested to get wet, sandy or chalky from the hands-on activities in the man-made cave. Past the glass atrium used for crafts and other events lies Mushroom Hollow where you can investigate the inside of a tree, play musical bells and climb on the giant caterpillar.

The gardens cover just a portion of the 395-acre arboretum. There are walking docks in Marsh Meadows and trails in Hartley Woods. Part of the four-mile Bellefonte Central Rail Trail runs through the arboretum for biking. Admission is free and it is open seven days a week, year round from dawn to dusk. For downloadable maps, directions and other information see;

Corn Maze Golf

Challenge yourself to nine holes of corn maze golf at Foxchase Golf Club, Stevens, situated on the farm beside the club. Fairways are between 40 and 125 yards long and cups are 21inches across to accommodate soccer as well as golf balls. No need to worry about losing a ball in the cornfield; buckets of balls are placed all along the course. Clubs are free of charge but a there is a small fee to play.

Discover indoors

Children’s Museum, Bloomsburg

Give the pneumatics board a try, venture in a coal mine, peer into an Egyptian tomb or crawl through an underground tunnel. From toddlers to young teens this fun museum offers several floors of numerous activities that will keep you entertained for hours.                      

Pennsylvania National Fire Museum, Harrisburg

Housed in the original 1899 Reily firehouse, the history of fire fighting in the region is well preserved and represented in this collection. From the beginning years of horse drawn carts (complete with replicas of the horses that once pulled them) to stovetop parade hats, a working Gamewell Alarm room and antique fire trucks this museum covers it all in an outstanding display. 

Doll Museum, Harrisburg

Take a walk down memory lane in a life-size dollhouse on the edge of town. Each of the 10 rooms exhibits a different pageantry of dolls that includes every era, brand and size imaginable. Boys will enjoy the bonus room at the end of the tour with three working miniature trains and an enormous Hot Wheels collection. Relive a piece of your past, I guarantee you’ll find it here. 

Self-Guided Auto Tour

Michaux State Forest

Want to escape to the wilds and have it all to yourself? You can do just that on this auto tour. One of the highlights of this road trip is peaceful Long Pine Reservoir, a beautiful lake in the middle of nowhere. Plan your trip so you can spend some time here for a picnic.

Tuscarora State Forest

Wildlife, scenic overlooks and cemeteries of by-gone eras make a day in this forest one you’ll remember. The 26-mile, self-guided tour offers several areas to stretch your legs such as short hikes to vistas or a picnic along Paddington Run. This auto tour map is not yet available online but you can pick up a copy from the outdoor rack at the Tuscarora State Forest Headquarters off Route 274 near Big Springs State Park in Perry County.

Please remember to check hunting schedules before you venture out in a state forest and wear bright orange, if needed. Take plenty of water and snacks. Have a full tank of gas and a spare tire. Cell service is spotty in these woodlands but it is improving all the time. Hike up to a ridge for a better connection. State forest gravel roads do not have winter maintenance. 

Suzanne Ellis is a freelance writer in Perry County. 

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