Purchases of our 2024 PA Calendar and PA Amusement Parks Book

2024 PA Calendar and PA Amusement Parks Book Purchase Options


Buchanan's Birthplace State Park, Franklin County

Buchanan's Birthplace State Park is in a pretty remote location of south central PA. President Buchanan, the first of the two presidents to have been born in Pennsylvania, was born here on April 23, 1791. From here on he would go on to have an accomplished career in law, politics, and as ambassador to Russia. He went on to be catapulted to the office of the presidency in 1857 and would finish his term in 1861 and hand the baton on to Lincoln. Unfortunately he was unable to ease the tensions that led to the outbreak of the Civil War, but I cannot imagine that there would be anyone that could ease that fate at that time. He was and remains widely considered ineffective as a president and his moderate positions as president did not appease anyone and may have even hastened the breakout of the Civil War by emboldening southern positions. He was between a rock and a hard place as president and I do not think there were really any decisions that the office of the presidency could have made in that volatile time period.  
I would imagine that his steadfast stances in his moderation were built upon the rugged upbringing he would have had in this location. This spot is both peaceful and remote. This small state park is well worth stopping at for a picnic lunch. 

The memorial was built for him in 1907-1908 and dedicated in 1911. It uses local native stone and rubble and is a strange and unexpected contrast of a structure in a bucolic natural spot. 
The pups really enjoyed visiting this relaxing spot. The natural beauty of the spot definitely took my attention as the pups played. The history is cool, but living in the moment definitely took my attention here. 
These two had an absolute blast.

Buchanan's Birthplace State Park is definitely worth checking out if you are in the area. Beautiful Cowan's Gap State Park is not too far away and has more day and overnight facilities in a similarly beautiful natural setting. Historic Carrick Furnace is also pretty close. These roads themselves are a ton of fun to drive as well with tons of great rural scenery. 

Available is our book on Pennsylvania's historic amusement parks, Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip. It features Knoebels, Kennywood Park, Hersheypark, Dorney Park, Waldameer, DelGrosso's, Lakemont, Dutch Wonderland, Idlewild, and the sadly former, Conneaut Lake Park.

Thanks for your ongoing support over the years! 


Carrick Furnace Historic Site: Stunningly Preserved 1800s Furnace Complex, Franklin County

Carrick Furnace is something that is really special. This is probably the most well preserved of the unused historic furnaces that I have seen in the state. There is a fully intact steam powered blowing engines, which I have not seen before. The machinery that made this furnace work is fully intact, which is shocking. I would assume that scrappers have gotten the other similar equipment over the years, but this iron machinery with the furnace has lasted unused since the 1880s. 

The steam equipment with manufacturer markings "Weimer Brothers 1879, Lebanon, PA"

The original furnace was built in 1827, and in 1879 it was converted to a hot blast furnace. The historic society of the area has done a fantastic job of keeping this place up and it is an absolute treasure. 

It is within easy reach of other local natural landmarks, including Cowan's Gap State Park, Big Mountain Overlook, and Buchanan's Birthplace State Park. It is roadside so it is very easy to access. For more info on visiting, check out the website of the Path Valley Historical Society


RB Winter State Park Complex: RB Winter, Sand Bridge, and McCalls Dam State Parks, Bald Eagle State Forest in Central PA

There is something really special about the small state parks of the center part of the state. They are quiet places of respite that are not overcrowded since they do not serve huge metro areas. They are great places to go if you are really seeking out some quiet relaxation. The state parks are always beautifully wooded and the usually have a small lake that has an old mill dam or CCC/WPA era dam and a nice swimming area and picnic areas, usually with CCC built infrastructure buildings, cabins, and park facilities. 

The RB Winter State Park Complex fits the bill perfectly. If you are looking for a truly quiet place to get away, these places are awesome. 

Hemlock, Mountain Laurel, and Rhodendron are bountiful in this area. 

Halfway Lake at RB Winter State Park has the first of many cement and stone dam ever built by the CCC that serve as the centerpiece of public recreation areas all across the country. It is a cold water fishery year round, thanks to the constantly cold temperatures from fresh springs and the colder conditions of the area around the state park and Bald Eagle State Forest. 

RB Winter State Park is a giant 695 acre state park, though most of it can only be accessed through hiking. McCall's Dam State Park is located just a few miles away and is only eight acres in size. The picnic facilities built there date back to the CCC and the name refers to an old saw mill dam that is long gone. Sand Bridge State Park is only three acres in size and also boasts nice picnic areas. The name of that state park is a mystery because there is no sand bridge whatsoever. It is still a beautiful spot though that is worth checking out if you are in the area. RB Winter also has a full campground. 

This is a beautiful area to check out. 


Lakemont Park Holiday Lights on the Lake in Altoona

Last season was our first revisit to Lakemont's Holiday Lights on the Lake in a few years and it was as awesome as ever. 

Lakemont Park is a place that has gone through a lot of upheaval and reimagination over the last five years or so. Shifting from a general seasonal amusement park into more of a public gathering place with some amusement rides and coasters, and adding physically focused community gathering spots, like a set of top tier basketball courts for local basketball leagues, batting cages, mini golf, and more, Lakemont has reinvented itself into viability. While I wish they had kept a few more of their old rides, the changes have definitely helped the park continue to survive in the midst of regional economic upheaval over the last forty years. 

We would get to the park more during the summer season if they allowed dogs, but since dogs are allowed on the drive through, and the stars aligned for us to come and visit it, we were able to get to Lights on the Lake. This is a tremendously beautiful display. Since the park has a relatively small area to work with for the drive through, the sheer volume of lights that they continually add to over the years ensures a really high concentration of lights. 

The park's train, Skyliner Roller Coaster, and the world's oldest roller coaster, Leap the Dips, figure heavily into the light displays. What they accomplish with this lighting display is special, to the point that I even recommend it specifically for going out of your way on a trip, especially if you are coming from the Pittsburgh area or anywhere else within a 2 to 3 hour radius. Lakemont's Holiday Lights on the Lake is well worth the effort to visit. 

Our 2023 Pennsylvania Calendar is available now through the drop down menu at the top of the page! The proceeds help to keep the lights on here.

Our 2023 Pennsylvania Wall Calendar features scenes from across the state, including views of:
-The Schuylkill River, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Fairmount Water Works 
-Knoebels Amusement Resort 
-Buckhorn Covered Bridge in Lycoming County 
-Campus of the University of Pittsburgh and Cathedral of Learning 
-PA's Elk Herd 
-Strasburg Railroad 
-Twin Covered Bridges in Columbia County 
-Seven Tubs Natural Area Waterfall near Wilkes Barre 
-Bilger's Rocks in Clearfield County 
-Rimrock above the Allegheny Reservoir 
-Fireworks in Downtown Pittsburgh 
-Lakemont Park in Altoona 
The calendars open up to be 17 inches tall by 11 inches wide (8.5 by 11 pages) and all photos have been taken by us, and the calendars are produced in the USA. The proceeds help us to continue what we do to highlight and bring attention to the many great adventures that this state has to offer. 

It makes for a great gift for someone or for yourself. It is available for purchase through the PayPal dropdown menus at the top of the page and the bottom of this article.

Also available is our book on Pennsylvania's historic amusement parks, Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip. It features Knoebels, Kennywood Park, Hersheypark, Dorney Park, Waldameer, DelGrosso's, Lakemont, Dutch Wonderland, Idlewild, and the sadly former, Conneaut Lake Park.

Thanks for your ongoing support over the years! 

2023 PA Calendar and PA Amusement Parks Book Purchase Options


Knoebels Amusement Resort's Joy Through the Grove Holiday Drive-Thru Event

Joy Through the Grove at Knoebels Amusement Resort was in its second year in 2021 and it is an absolute winner. The drive through begins near the park's Impulse Roller Coaster and rides down the main boulevard area of the park, through the historic Knoebel Covered Bridge, which serves as a classic take on a light tunnel, and through the entire campground. The course is about 1.5 miles and takes 20-30 minutes to complete. 

Snacks and souvenirs are available at the start of the tour, a custom radio station, spinning holiday classics and witty messages from the park plays on a custom radio station. Most of the holiday scenes have a specific theme, such as a ski area, airport, toy soldiers, and more. The rides in the park area are beautifully illuminated, though they are not running for the event. The Nickle Plate Bar and Grill and Golf Club House just down the road have been transformed into Santa's Village, with displays, food, and more. Y

You would never know this was an all new effort from the park. 2021 was the first year we were able to get to the event, but as soon as they announced it, we added it to our must-see holiday events list, breaking our general rule on not writing about something unless we have visited it, because everything Knoebels does is fantastic. We are glad to report that with our first visit, we were thoroughly impressed. For more info on visiting, check out their website at www.knoebels.com


Pennsylvania Holiday 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 2023 Pennsylvania Calendar
Our annual 2023 Pennsylvania Calendar is a great gift that features sights from many different sites across the state. It is available for only $12.49, plus shipping, through this link, or through the dropdown menu at the top of the page. We also have 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 greatpaparks@gmail.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, especially when it comes to tourism within city areas. We use their "Go City" deals whenever we travel all across the country, which give access to a number of area attractions for one reasonable rate. This is especially helpful for big city travel, and they have them for the Philadelphia attractions. 

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!
Blogger Widget