Purchases of our 2024 PA Calendar and PA Amusement Parks Book

2024 PA Calendar and PA Amusement Parks Book Purchase Options


Churchill Valley Greenway Park: Former Golf Club Turned into Public Park Meadow in Churchill and Penn Hills, Allegheny County

A former golf club on the edge of Churchill and Penn Hills in Allegheny County has reverted into a beautiful meadow, and thanks to a great grassroots effort and the Allegheny Land Grant, it has been transformed into a public park. We get to see the results of what happens to a golf course after ten years of nature reclaiming the greens. 5 miles of trails exist through the property, mostly on the old paved golf cart paths and some community-forged trails. 

The property consists of rolling hills, and it is creekside, with nature reclaiming the greens into meadows with birds, animals, and wildflowers. If not for the few hints of man made architecture, one would not know that this was a golf course. Now the land is open to the public for all to visit and enjoy, instead of sitting as blight, or as a country club where only a few could visit.

Trail Map: Courtesy of the Allegheny Land Trust

Late summer and early autumn is an incredible time to visit any of the meadows in Pennsylvania, as the flowers really pop. I even argue that this time of year with wildflowers is often more vibrant than autumn leaf change. This is a cool spot to visit at any time though, and it is wildly popular right now. It is great to have such great access to a natural spot like this within this area and in close proximity to Pittsburgh. This property is unique, unlike any other public access point within the immediate area. Definitely worth checking out if you are in the Pittsburgh area, or even on a road trip through the area just to stretch your legs. It is on Beulah Road in close proximity to the Churchill exit of 376/Parkway East. 

 For more information on visiting, check out the website at https://alleghenylandtrust.org/green-space/churchill-valley-greenway/ 


"Hello Erie" Mobile App and Self Guided Tours of Erie's Cultural Attractions

One of the best ways to really get to know a city is to see its art and culture. VisitErie has created the "Hello Erie" mobile app, which includes a series of self guided tours to outline these cultural highlights across the city. They even have navigation set up within their mobile phone app. The categories for tours include:
-African American Heritage Trail
-Erie's Lighthouses Tour
-Pennsylvania Historical Markers of Erie County
-Murals of Erie County Self Guided Tour
-Downtown Erie Sculpture Walk
-Home Port Erie Driving Tour
-Underground Railroad Biking Route
-Gems of the City
-West Bayfront Walking Tour
-10 Energizing Outdoor Adventures and Trails
-Get Your Grape on in Lake Erie Wine Country
The "Let the Children Sing" mural celebrates the legendary Erie native Harry T. Burleigh who was a pioneer in American classical music. Having been born in 1866, he was the second generation of his family to be born free from enslavement, with his grandfather achieving manumission from Maryland in 1835. He went on to be a pioneer in American classical music and mentored and coached the next generation of singers, including civil rights icon and legendary singer Marian Anderson, and Paul Robeson. It is wonderful that a tribute has been created for him. Art celebrating the heritage of the region is located all over the city and a tour has been created by VisitErie to see them.

Additionally, they also have different filters to see all of the attractions of the city in a pin map with navigation and filters, including for things such as dining, and dog friendly activities. 
The app is a wonderful guide to what the city has to offer. We have visited Erie countless times, but with the app, we saw things on this last trip that we had never seen before. 

We are big fans of aimlessly driving and seeing new things, and that always happens when we visit Erie, but we were guided a little bit more to find more of the gems that the city has to offer through the awesome "Hello Erie" mobile app. More info can be found at https://www.visiterie.com


Foodie Heaven in Erie: Food Scene, Breweries, Distilleries, & Wineries

Visiting Erie is a delight for anyone who likes great food and libations. From fantastic restaurants and dining experiences, to chocolatiers, ice cream places, to breweries, distilleries, and wineries, Erie has just about everything delicious needed to have a great time. On our last long weekend, I am not exaggerating in saying that this was one of the best weekends we ever had in the sheer amount of fantastic food we had. The best thing about it all is that every place we are highlighting here is dog friendly! 

We will start off with the classic burger and ice cream joint, Sara's Restaurant at the entrance to Presque Isle State Park. This wonderful place is a tradition to visit when you go to Erie, Presque Isle State Park, and Waldameer. No visit is complete without stopping. 
Doggie Ice Cream at Sara's Restaurant
Erie also has several seasonal markets where local food vendors, farmers, crafts people, and more come to showcase what they offer. On this visit we checked out the LEAF Open Market. Our favorite thing there was ice cream from Erie's own Sundae.

Ice cream and a dog sundae from Sundae

All kinds of vendors brought their delicious foods and more to the LEAF Open Market.

Erie is home to several distilleries, offering terrific spirits. We opted to go to Altered State Distilling, which is very dog friendly.

Altered State is a fantastic craft distillery that offers fantastic cocktails in a wide array of styles. They have a lovely outdoor space and an intimate indoor bar area. They even have bands play on many evenings. Its location is perfect to walk to after visiting the Lake Erie Arboretum (LEAF), especially on a day when they run the LEAF Open Market. 

Underdog Barbecue operates a food truck out of an old firetruck. It was setup as part of a challenge during a show called Undercover Billionaire where Stearns from Bear Stearns was challenged to start a business from scratch, or something like that, and then sold the business to an employee of his to grow. I was unaware of this backstory until after we visited, and I have to say that the food is great. 

The meats are smoked perfectly and make for a fantastic lunch. 

The Brewerie at Union Station is both a craft brewery and a restaurant, in a beautifully restored old train station waiting hall. The station still operates, but does not use this space anymore. Likely thanks to this restoration effort, the station building was saved from the wrecking ball and is not only preserved, but restored to how it looked in its glory days. Many larger cities have completely lost their classic train stations, and even more mid sized cities like Erie have lost theirs entirely as well, making the effort they pulled off here truly remarkable.

When we visited this time, there was an art gallery display going on in the main waiting room area, and regular brewery and restaurant operations being run in an adjacent space. They also have an outdoor patio area that you can eat and watch the train traffic from. The outdoor patio area is dog friendly

Black Monk Brewing, just west of Erie, has a terrific lineup of decent beers and a great place to hang out and relax. They are very dog friendly, allowing dogs both indoors and in the giant beer garden. 

The Cork 1794 is relatively new and completely fantastic. I had a salmon dish from there and it was easily one of the best meals I have ever had in my life. Ridiculously great food. Their outdoor patio area is also dog friendly and very elegant.

The dining room area is very chic and beautiful. The Salmon dish that I had is EASILY one of the best meals I have ever eaten. It was seriously that good. You NEED to check out this place. 

On this trip we did not head up to the beautiful borough of North East, PA on this trip, but we highly recommend it. This is where the wine trail begins and leads all the way up into New York and the Niagara region. We adore so many wineries up there and highly recommend checking them out, especially the dog friendly spaces of Penn Shore Winery, and Johnson Estate Winery, a short ride past the border into New York. We have a few articles about the amazing Lake Erie Wine Trail that you can check out here and here. We also highly recommend the ride up into this area from now and well into fall, as the grape harvest happens and the smell of grapes is so strong that you can actually smell it in your car as you drive through. 

VisitErie has wonderful comprehensive guides on the wineries, breweries (Ale Trail), and distilleries of the region, in addition to the many great dining opportunities the area has to offer. Additionally, VisitErie has come up with a great guide on dog friendly places to visit in Erie, which really came in handy for our two pups. 


Asbury Woods: Tranquil & ADA Accessible Nature Education Area, Erie County

Asbury Woods is a tremendous nature preserve, just west of Erie. The origin of the property into its current iteration is from the Behrend family wanting to have a country retreat from their thriving paper mill in Erie, Hammermill Paper Company. The property was their estate and they deeded the land to the local school district for environmental education and public access. The park now covers 216 acres of publicly accessible land which is absolutely fantastic. Woodlands, wetlands, and more can be found within the park, in addition to historic structures and a pristine natural education center. What impressed me most about this property is the attention that they put towards accessibility for all to the property. They have created a giant boardwalk that takes a big loop through the woods that is fully ADA accessible, which is a consideration that is unfortunately often not considered or barely considered. 
The historic barn

The homestead and interpretive center. This spot is perfectly landscaped and designed as a public gathering place for education and events. The facilities are perfect
This is the best facility I have ever seen for accessibility, allowing all to be able to have the chance to explore through the woods, empowering all members of our community through access to the natural world. Between this and the newly built accessible beach at Presque Isle, the focus on accessibility for all to nature in Erie is something that is just awesome. 
CeCe and Buddy absolutely loved the nature walk and hike.

A meadow in late summer/early autumn bloom

The keyword for Asbury Woods is pleasant. This place is so pleasant and wonderful. A perfect place for exploring the outdoors and relaxing. 

We highly recommend checking out Asbury Woods. In addition to its phenomenal scenery and ADA accessibility, it is a wonderful place for birding, spring maple syrup production, wildflowers, and environmental education. It is well worth going out of your way to check out. For more information on visiting, check out their website at https://www.asburywoods.org 

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