Book and Calendar Purchases

2020 Pennsylvania Calendar and PA Amusement Parks Book Options

11.10.2019

A Bunch of Pennsylvania Gift Ideas

It is that time of the year again. If you are looking for some gifts for the holiday season, here are some ideas that should help you out!
Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh
1) Our 2020 Pennsylvania Calendar

We have created a 2020 Pennsylvania wall calendar that features many different sites from around the state. It is available for only $10.99, plus shipping, through this link, or through the dropdown menu at the top of the page. It also has a bulk discount for quantities of two or more.

2) Andy Vasquez Furniture:
Andy is a friend of mine from my high school days. He is in the custom furniture business, but also does great handiwork with different items such as planters and cutting boards. He does many projects from small to large, and is located in Philadelphia. He has online ordering through his page at www.andyvasquezfurniture.com


3) Pennsylvania Photo Prints: 
Prints of any of our photos are available through special request at greatpaparks@gmail.com

Fine Art America also has some of our prints available, with options such as throw pillows, phone cases, greeting cards, posters, and more. If there is a certain photo of ours that you really like that is not included, message us at contact@interestingpennsylvania.com and we can arrange for you to get what you would like. Below is a sampling of our photos that are available.
 4) Your local bookstore and local small businesses
Moravian Book Shop, Bethlehem
Pennsylvania is home to many great local bookstores that carry a wide assortment of gifts in addition to literary works. The first place that comes to mind is the Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, the nation's oldest continuously running bookstore, along with the many little shops in the downtown Bethlehem area. Other areas that come to mind for having an awesome selection of little shops are New Hope in Bucks County, Jim Thorpe in the Poconos, Wellsboro near the PA Grand Canyon, Gettysburg, and many others. Shop local and support the many awesome small businesses and shops that are located throughout the state.

5) Our Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip Book
We wrote this book about the ten different awesome and historic amusement parks throughout the state. Pennsylvania is home to more wooden roller coasters than any other state, and many rare or last of their kind rides. These parks have brought joy to Pennsylvanians for many generations and we cover these parks in our book, including Knoebels, Kennywood, Waldameer Park, Idlewild, Dutch Wonderland, Lakemont Park, Dorney Park, DelGrosso's, Conneaut Lake Park, and Hersheypark. Instrumental park visionaries, ride designers, and timeless memories of these parks are chronicled in this book, along with some cool regional places to check out in the areas of these different parks.

It is available through the dropdown menu at the top of the page, or through this link.

6) Holiday Gift Markets:
There are a wide variety of different seasonal gift markets throughout the state. Some of our favorites include Bethlehem's Christkindlmarkt and Christmas City Village Weihnachtsmarkt, and Pittsburgh's Holiday Market. Additionally, Philadelphia runs Christmas Village, Mifflinburg runs Christkindl Market, along with other holiday markets. Pennsylvania's old German roots go hand in hand with the German style holiday markets that are thrown all across the state. They are excellent places to go have a good time and to get your holiday shopping done. 

7) Farmers Markets: 
Pennsylvania has so many awesome Farmers and Artisinal Markets that are perfect for gift shopping. Philly's Reading Terminal Market has a wide array of vendors that offer all sorts of handmade and unique gifts. Other great places to check out include the Allentown Farmers Market, Quakertown Farmers Market, and the Meadville Market House. Additionally, a number of apple orchards and farms remain open through the holiday season, including Brown's Orchard in McDonald, PA, with its apples, apple butter, cider, sauce, and more. 

8) Zippo Lighters:
This historic company out of Bradford, PA has produced an American icon for more than 85 years. They even have a place in one of the most legendary Christmas movies, Die Hard


9) A new Martin Guitar
The Martin Family has produced guitars in Nazareth, PA since 1838. Their facilities and museum are open to tours and we highly recommend checking them out.
10) Crayola Crayons
The Crayola Experience in Easton offers a neat museum experience for the little ones. Their crayons are always a great go-to as a gift. 
11) BWP Bats
BWP Bats are custom made in Brookville, PA and are used by many Major Leaguers.

12) K'Nex
K'Nex were originally invented and produced in Hatfield, PA, and have relocated back there after moving production overseas. Their products make great gifts!

13) Pennsylvania Waterfalls Book by Scott Brown
Scott Brown's excellent Pennsylvania Waterfalls Book has some excellent insights into some of the Waterfalls throughout the state. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and it has inspired me to check out the listed falls.

14) Hiking Pennsylvania: A Guide to the State's Greatest Hikes
I received this as a gift a few years ago and it has some excellent examples of hikes throughout the state. We highly recommend it.


15) Backpacking Pennsylvania: 37 Great Hikes book by Jeff Mitchell



Groupon always has excellent deals and certificates make excellent gifts. Some of the deals they have going right now include a sightseeing cruise on Pittsburgh's Three Rivers on the Gateway Clipper, a a dinner cruise in Philadelphia, a catch an Eagles game, or a Sixers game, an Erie BayHawks NBA Development League Game, visiting Allentown's America On Wheels car and truck museum, and a sightseeing pass that gives you admission to a number of Philly's great museums.

17) Pennsylvania Cutting Boards


18) An overnight stay somewhere.....
I do not know about you, but my favorite gifts involve some sort of a getaway. If you are thinking about different ideas on places to go, check out our destinations map. Some of our recommendations for places to stay are included at this link. We highly recommend booking through booking.com

So here you go! These suggestions should help you out with your holiday shopping!

11.03.2019

PA Holiday Bucket List: 17 Must-See Holiday Destinations in Pennsylvania

The brightest time of the winter season is coming up, the holiday season. I hope that all of you have done some or all of the activities on this list, but if you have not, try to plan some time to enjoy them in the future. Christmas would just not be the same without them for us. While we do not get to all of these places each year due to time constraints, we try to do as many as possible. This is the list of our favorite things to do and places to experience during the holidays.

1) Koziar's Christmas Village in Bernville, PA:
Article and Koziar's Website
Bar none, one of the quirkiest and most awesome places to visit in the country is Koziar's Christmas Village in Bernville, PA, just south of Interstate 78 in Berks County. This is a special place where family memories are made as brightly as the 500,000 old style, large bulb, Christmas lights that Koziar's uses. Some of my earliest memories were made here. There is nothing like sipping a cup of hot chocolate and walking around this attraction that has been family run and owned since 1948.

2) Roadside America: Shartlesville, PA
Our Article
Website
Make your visit to Koziar's a day trip or an afternoon and evening out, with a visit to Roadside America, just off of Interstate 78 in Shartlesville, PA, Berks County. It is one of the most stunning miniature train exhibits in existence. Operating for over 80 years, this famed William Penn Highway mainstay has captured the imagination of many generations of visitors. Roadside America's miniature train village is 8000 square feet of awesome, and open year round.
3) Bethlehem: The entire city that goes all out for the holidays.
First Moravian Church and the Holiday Craft Market
While we live in Pittsburgh, I (Dave) am originally from the Lehigh Valley. I consider Bethlehem to be my home city. No other city in the entire state decks itself out as great as Bethlehem, the Christmas City. The city was founded on Christmas Eve in 1741 by a group of the pacifist Moravians, led by David Nitschmann and Count Zinzendorf. Every year we go back to the Lehigh Valley and spend Christmas Eve with my family in Allentown. We drive through Bethlehem after spending the evening with my family, and it is always so special. 
Bethlehem's Advent Candle sculptures
Bethlehem's Advent Candles and the Star of Bethlehem out in the distance. 
Throughout the holiday season, lights are wrapped around many trees, actual Christmas trees are placed upon every light pole and every streetlight post, giant steel advent wreathes are placed around the city, christmas trees are decorated, and so much more. The Star of Bethlehem, visible for up to twenty miles away, shines as it always does on top of South Mountain looking over the city. The former Bethlehem Steel Blast Furnaces, known as SteelStacks and the Hoover-Mason Trestle, are especially neat to see with holiday lighting. 
Bethlehem's festivities include two German style Christmas craft marts, including Christkindlmarkt and Christmas City Village Weihnachtsmarkt. Other things to do include horse drawn carriage rides, staying overnight or dining at the historic Hotel Bethlehem, browsing at the famous Moravian Book Shop, and so much more. Bethlehem is a place to spend a weekend at if you have the opportunity, especially during the Christmas season.
4) Pittsburgh Light Up Night and Holiday Market. Pittsburgh kicks off the holiday season in the way it knows best, by running a huge fireworks display. Always done the Friday before Thanksgiving, the fireworks, musical performances, demonstrations, and other festivities kick off the holiday season in Pittsburgh. During the festival, many displays set up around the city are lit up for the holiday season, ice skating starts at PPG Place, and so much more. It is always a treat taking in Pittsburgh's Light Up Night Festival and taking in the many holiday displays throughout the season.
5) Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens Winter Flower Show: Pittsburgh, PA.
Article and Website
Phipps Conservatory is a world class horticultural display garden that really comes alive in the holiday season. Lights and displays are set up throughout the sprawling indoor gardens complex, and outside on the grounds of the facility. This facility is stunning and constantly growing and improving, and dates back to 1893 when it was built by steel and real estate magnate, Henry Phipps. Any time of the year is awesome to visit this place, but one of the best times is during the Winter Flower Show.
6) Longwood Gardens: A Longwood Christmas: Kennett Square, PA
Article and Website
Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA, is another one of the world's premier horticultural display places. Similar to Phipps, this stunning facility was created by a gilded age industrialist. Pierre DuPont founded the facility, of which many of the buildings within the campus were a part of his mansion. The tract of property dates back to William Penn in 1700 who sold it to the Peirce family. In 1798 they started an arboretum and opened the land for public viewing. Pierre DuPont purchased the land in 1906 to prevent it from getting logged, and he made it his private mansion, of which he kept open for tours of the old arboretum and the new plant specimens that he added to the gardens. In 1946 he founded the Longwood Foundation, an organization that has kept the facility open in his honor ever since. The complex gets intricately decorated for the holiday season each year, with many displays, the thousands of plant and tree specimens throughout the complex, the famous fountains, and the sound of the famous 10,010 pipe organ still entertains visitors as it has since 1929. Longwood is an awesome place to visit any time of the year, but especially during Christmas. If you are going to visit, be sure to contact the gardens to reserve a time to visit.

7) Allentown PA and Lights in the Parkway
Every year, Allentown closes its Little Lehigh Parkway and creates a drive through holiday display.  
Lights in the Parkway is awesome!
8) Lancaster: The Strasburg Railroad
Strasburg Railroad Website


Similar to Bethlehem, Lancaster is another awesome area to visit over the holidays.

While perennial favorite, the National Christmas Center, recently closed, it will be reopening in a few years with a newly rebuilt building.

The Strasburg Railroad is an absolutely awesome place to visit. Cited by many as the best preserved steam train attraction, Strasburg is a must-see attraction for anyone that loves trains and beautiful Amish farm scenery. In addition to the scenic ride you get on their classic trains, the trains and route are elegantly decorated for Christmas, and they even run themed holiday train rides.

9) Indiana, PA: Jimmy Stewart Museum,  It's a Wonderful Life Festival, and the Christmas Tree Capital of the World.

If you were unaware, one of the best actors of all time, Jimmy Stewart, grew up in Indiana, PA. The city is home to the Jimmy Stewart Museum in his honor, which celebrates the career of the legend that brought us one of the best Christmas movies of all time, It's a Wonderful Life. Indiana also celebrates a festival in his honor, with the It's a Wonderful Life Festival, which will be celebrated each weekend from the weekend of November 18th-Christmas. Be sure to come and visit the museum anyways and maybe even cut down a Christmas tree in the area nicknamed the "Christmas Tree Capital of the World."
Photo from It's a Wonderful Life
10) Lakemont Park: Altoona, PA: Holiday Lights on the Lake
Website
With the park's legendary coasters, the winter hibernation of the world's oldest operating roller coaster, Leap the Dips, and the Skyliner, Altoona, PA's Lakemont Park has a delightful drive-through holiday display. If you are in the area, definitely spend an evening at Lakemont Park.
11) Overly's Country Christmas: Mt. Pleasant, PA, Westmoreland County
Overly's has a great drive through display, along with a village with displays, food, hot chocolate, wagon rides, and even a bonfire to warm you up! Overly's is a great place to enjoy during the holidays.

12) Kennywood Park Holiday Lights: West Mifflin, PA
Kennywood Park's Holiday Lights consists of beautiful light and holiday displays, centering around the park's beautiful Dentzel carousel. Some of the park's rides operate and it is a fun time for all. 

Going to Wanamaker's (now known as Macy's) has been a Christmas shopping destination for Philadelphians over a century. The store is decked out with the focal point being the Wanamaker's organ, the world's largest playable musical instrument, which is played and followed with a coordinated holiday light show. It is not hard to find this beautiful place when you are in Center City, for it is located right across the street from the city's stunning City Hall and Dilworth Park, where they have another light show and an ice skating rink. 

14) Easton's Peace Candle

The 106 foot stature of this structure is pretty amazing. Since 1951, the city of Easton has built this landmark One of the neatest aspects of this landmark that it was created with a vision of peace, something that is the true meaning of the holiday season. This tradition was started in the midst of the Korean War and the idea behind the creation of this landmark is something that I have not seen with any other holiday decoration. It is a special tradition that you should definitely check out if you find yourself in the Lehigh Valley. Several of Easton's cool attractions are located near this landmark, including the Crayola Experience, celebrating how Easton brought us Crayola Crayons, and Weyerbacher Brewing, one of the finest craft breweries that we have ever experienced. 

15) Gettysburg:

Between the cute shops, decorations, and more, Gettysburg is a beautiful place to visit over the holidays.

16) While you are driving around the state, be sure to keep your eye out for some beautifully decked out houses, including Leechburg Lights, perhaps the most decked out house in the history of human civilization. 

Epic holiday decorations at a house in Ambridge, PA. 
17) Go out and cut down a Christmas Tree! Quakertown, PA's Wata Christmas Tree Farm and Bobwhite Acres Orchard, is our Christmas Tree farm of choice in the eastern part of the state, but there are many awesome places to choose from across the state. This photo was taken a few years ago, so I assume that the trees in this photo are probably ready for this year!
Another great Christmas Tree Farm is E-Mar Acres in Indiana County. 

For a list of the many Christmas Tree Farms in Pennsylvania, check out this website

Get started planning! If you are looking for a gift for anyone, our book about Pennsylvania Amusement Parks "Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip," is available through the drop down menu at the top of the page, or through this link, along with our 2019 Interesting Pennsylvania Calendar.

10.20.2019

Brown's Orchard and Cider, McDonald, Washington County

This time of the year is fantastic for one of Pennsylvania's apple growers. Brown's Orchard and Cider in McDonald, PA. It is is one of our favorite places because their apple quality and cider are always on point. They focus only upon apples, and grow fifty different varieties. Their ciders and apple sauces are absolutely top notch. 
Dating back five generations, Brown's Orchard is a local institution. Since 1856, this land has served as an agricultural center. Around the turn of the 20th century, they began growing fruit. In 1933 they purchased a commercial cider press and have since been turning out fantastic cider. As a cider connoisseur, I can vouch that their stuff is the best I have ever had. Brown's Orchard is well worth going out of your way to visit.
For more information, check out their website at https://www.brownsorchardandcider.com

10.13.2019

Brady's Bend Overlook in Autumn: Allegheny River View in Clarion County

The Brady's Bend Overlook, high above the a bend of Allegheny River in Clarion County, is one of our favorite places for a quick afternoon drive from Pittsburgh. The view is just stunning, no matter the season, but especially in autumn. For some more seasonal views and background on this spot, check out this previous article of ours.
I love the way the hills look gently rounded out on the other side of the river. 
Caught behind a cloud for a minute.
Here comes the sun!
Looking out the other direction.
"You haven't lived until you have looked down upon a hawk." I agree! While hang gliding is no longer allowed in this location, you can still look down upon the hawks from this location. Unfortunately, the man who was quoted in this plaque died while hang gliding in this location. 

As always, we highly recommend checking out Brady's Bend, especially in the fall!

When you get down to the banks of the river, you will run into the Armstrong Trail, which runs thirty miles down the old Allegheny Railroad right-of-way in the area. Lots of old rail infrastructure remains, including the remnants of an old turntable, an old and closed tunnel across this horseshoe curve in the river, and more. The overlook also has benches and picnic tables, making it an excellent place to bring a picnic lunch to. It is located near many other great attractions in the PA Great Outdoors Region, including some really good eateries, and accommodations. Clarion River Brewing Company is located nearby, along with the Inn at Deer Creek Winery

10.06.2019

Kennerdell Overlook in Autumn: A View Over the Allegheny River in Venango County

The Kennerdell Overlook, along the Allegheny River in Venango County, is just stunning in the fall. We visited towards the end of October last year and there was just this stunning glow of gold. 
We just wanted to take it in and never leave. This is one of our favorite scenic overlooks in Western Pennsylvania. The drive to it from Pittsburgh is just gorgeous. It is perfect for a quiet and aimless afternoon drive.
The curvy Allegheny River, making aggressive cuts through the plateau geology of the region is so neat to see.
For more information on how to get to the overlook, and a historical background on it, check out our other article on it at this link.

For more awesome scenic overlooks, check out this article.


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