The Thought Lot

Looking to think outside the box?  Check out the The Thought Lot.  The Thought Lot is a non profit contemporary arts center in downtown Shippensburg, that hosts a variety of artistic and cultural events.  At first glance it purports itself as a stark warehouse, but this rawness is just a backdrop for the art exhibits hosted there.  Unpretentiously furnished with old couches as seating for music events, the focus really is on the art.

The venue is a gathering site for creative types to show their artwork in a gallery setting.  Exhibits run for a few weeks at a time.  On the weekends, the venue brings modern bands of various genres.  In the past, The Thought Lot has hosted avant-garde theater and audio/visual installations.  Ongoing classes for Studio Z Zumba and yoga are held on a weekly basis.  Visit their calendar page to find out the times.  Various workshops take place as well, and in the past have included glassblowing demonstrations.  Open mic night is every Wednesday from 7-11pm.  The Thought Lot has a BYOB policy.

Anything creative goes at The Thought Lot.  If you are an artist looking to exhibit your own works, contact them for arrangements.  Studio spaces are also available to rent.  For a calendar of music shows, visit their Facebook page.

37 E. Garfield St., Shippensburg, PA  17257

Little Buffalo State Park

Spend a day learning about the history of Perry County at Little Buffalo State Park.

Little Buffalo State Park is well known for it’s history of pioneers settling the area.  Most famous is Shoaffs Mill, a grist mill that is still in operation since 1840.  The Blue Ball Tavern was a popular eating and drinking establishment, and served as sleeping quarters for travelers during the war of 1812.  Today you can visit the museum and library that stands on the spot, and learn about this interesting time period.  You can also visit Clays Covered Bridge, one of the first types of bridges built to gap long distances, an architectural innovation for the time, and Newport and Sherman’s Valley Railroad, a historical railroad built in 1890 to haul timber.

Little Buffalo State Park offers many things to do when you are looking to get out in nature as well.  From swimming, boating, and fishing to nine trails of hiking in the warmer seasons, there are many ways to enjoy the park.  Even in winter, the park is available for cross country skiing, iceskating, and ice fishing.

1579 State Park Road, Newport, PA  17074:  717.567.9255

Hershey Gardens

Spring comes to bloom spectacularly at Hershey Gardens with 100 varieties of over 30,000 tulips!

The small Hershey Gardens that was started in 1937 has grown to 23 acres, and includes seasonal plantings that range from spring tulips to fall chrysanthemums.  The rose garden boasts 275 varieties.  There are many theme gardens, including the fun and mystical children’s garden, and the secluded Japanese garden where a reflective pond is surrounded by Japanese maples and rare giant sequoias.  The culinary and medicinal herb garden will give an education of everyday plant uses, and the arboretum is a great chance to view rare trees.

The butterfly house is a popular exhibit housing between 350 to 400 butterflies of 25 North American varieties.  Volunteers head educational talks about the lifecycle of butterflies and their impact on the environment.  Hershey Gardens has a plethora of children’s programs to choose from, as well as changing art exhibits.  The Garden Gate Cafe is open seasonally for lunch hours, and a gift shop is available to purchase any souvenirs.  The Hershey Gardens are open from April until December with varying hours depending on the time of year.

170 Hotel Road, Hershey, PA  17033:  717.534.3492

Image Credit:  Alex Harden

 

Hauser Estate WInery

Bask on the sunlit patio of Hauser Estate Winery with a crisp glass of chardonnay, and you may begin to feel that you are in the rolling hills of California — but you are actually in Biglerville, Pennsylvania!

Hauser winery refer to themselves as “an alternative agri-tourism venture”, which manifests itself as a hip place to chill.  The tasting room features a 360 degree view of the surrounding farmland, with the wine production taking place just below your feet.  The grapes are grown locally before they alchemize into wine.  Hauser specializes in many varieties of white wines, some reds, and apple wines.  The hard apple cider is especially popular.

Tastings occur every day at the winery from 11-4pm, and on Sunday from 12-4pm.  Generally, the tasting room closes around 5 pm in the winter, but there are plenty of special events that continue into the evening.  “Hauser After Hours” is the weekend party which alway includes fresh acoustic artists.  The winery also has yoga events, dance lessons, zumba classes, and Thirsty Thursdays.  Every Friday is “Yappy Hour” from 5-6pm, where you can enjoy a drink with your dog.  Downtown Gettysburg and Dillsburg retail locations bring Hauser’s products closer to home.

410 Cashtown Road, Biglerville, PA  17307:  717.334.4888

Image credit:  fauxto_digit

Totem Pole Playhouse

Tucked away in Caledonia State Park is quaint Totem Pole Playhouse, one of the areas few classic summer theaters.

Totem Pole Playhouse hosts plays and musicals throughout the summer, and most years, has a special Christmas show for the holiday season.  The theater has been in business for over sixty years, keeping its own company of actors and also showcasing famous actors and actresses, including John Ritter, Patsy Cline and Sally Struthers.  Totem Pole Playhouse aims to bring nationally acclaimed, off-Broadway hits to its lovely and especially intimate venue.

The Playhouse is one the few theaters to maintain its longevity, providing classic theater for the central Pennsylvania area, despite being a nonprofit organization.  Snacks and beverages are available for purchase.  Subscriptions are available, offering a 10% discount to those who renew their memberships.

9555 Golf Course Road, Fayetteville, PA  17222:  717.352.2164

Crystal Cave Park

Geology enthusiasts are missing out if they haven’t visited Crystal Cave, an old and famous cave site in Pennsylvania.  Crystal Cave was discovered in 1871 by William Merkel and John Gehret while they were looking for limestone.  What they found instead was an underground cave full of beautiful sparkling crystals and rock formations.

Take a tour with a knowledgeable and informative guide, which lasts just under an hour.  You will be given an in-depth history of the cave while your are guided through it.  At the end, see if you can remember the difference between a stalactite and a stalagmite.  The tour also includes a brief movie.  After the tour visit the museum or the rock and mineral shop, where many beautiful crystals and geodes can be purchased.  In the summer months, the cafe and ice cream parlor is open for business.

Crystal Cave’s “panning for gemstones” activity is fun for all ages.  Purchase a bag of dirt and, just like panning for gold, see what treasures you can find!  A miniature golf course is also located on the premises.  Crystal Cave is open from March until November.  The hours are 9am-5pm, with extended summer hours.

963 Crystal Cave Road, Kutztown, PA  19530:  610.683.6765

Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach

As the days start getting warm, retreat to Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach, which harbors beautiful Lake Conewago, nestled amidst cool, shady woods.

Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach has eight acres of sandy beach, as well as a cool grassy lawn area.  Swimming is the key feature here, including a diving board on the wooden docks, a separate high dive, and a water swing.  The swimming area is lifeguard-protected.  Water tubes, canoes, and kayaks are available for rental, as well as beach chairs.

Occupying the grounds are a sand volleyball court and a children’s playground.  Plenty of patrons take advantage of the large shaded picnic areas, or visit the snack bar which offers many favorite items.  Planning a birthday party or other group event?  Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach provides catering packages which are hosted under a large tented pavilion.

Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach is open from May 24 until Sep 1.  The hours are 11:30am-6:30pm.

130 Lakeview Drive, Lebanon, PA  17042:  717.964.3130

Image credit:  andrewmoreton

Chameleon Club

In central Pennsylvania, there are few places where a person can see a really good national band in an intimate venue.  Chameleon Club is the one place you can, despite your age.

The club has been a rare gem in central Pennsylvania, hosting live national acts for the past twenty-five years.  It has been recognized since the early nineties as a hotspot for live bands which otherwise may not travel through a less urban area.  Hosting over 200 concerts a year, the venue is an oasis for music cravers of all ages.

Chameleon Club is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5pm until 2am and features national touring artists.  The Lizard Lounge, located just below Chameleon Club, features local talent and weekly djs.  Tickets are available on the website, at the box office, or at the local record store, CI Records.

223 North Water Street, Lancaster, PA  17603:  717.299.9684

Image credit:  Ted Van Pelt

Carlisle Sports Emporium

Rain or shine there is always fun to be had at the Carlisle Sports Emporium which hosts a myriad of exciting indoor and outdoor games!

The Sports Emporium has one of the largest arcades in the area – 20,000 square feet - with over 100 games including video, racing, dancing, and simulation games.  The rock climbing wall is almost like the real thing, as it moves in three dimensions to simulate a true to life experience.  Pay as you go with reload-able play cards.  The more you play, the more discounts you can receive.

Lasertron is the ultimate 3D gaming experience.  With two floors of futuristic visuals and sound effects, this is laser tag at it’s best.  Go-kart racing is a hit with kids and adults alike, with three go cart tracks:  one indoor track, one outdoor “Grand Prix” track for adults, and one “Rookie” track for ages 16 and under.  Get a discount by buying a 6 or 10 pack.  

The Skate Zone Roller Rink is a hardwood-floor rink featuring ambient lighting and music.  Saturday and Sunday matinees are from 1-3:45pm, and Saturday’s evening skate is from 7-9:30pm.  The Sports Emporium also has two large outdoor miniature golf courses for those nice weather days, featuring extensive landscaping.

The Victory Lane Cafe will keep your hunger at bay offering pizza, chicken, fries, snacks, desserts and more.  Think of having a party at the Emporium for adults or kids.  Weekly specials and combination packages can save you a bit more money.  The Sports Emporium is open year round, but the hours change seasonally.  Check the website for more details.

29 South Middlesex Road, Carlisle, PA  17015:  717.258.4741

Image credit:  Thomas Ricker

Twin Ponds

If the winter weather is inspiring you, but it’s not quite cold enough to freeze your local pond, don your hat and scarf and try ice skating at Twin Ponds.

Twin Ponds East and West offers public ice skating Friday evenings 7:15-8:45pm, Saturday evenings 7:30-9pm, and Saturday and Sunday afternoons 2-4pm.  Twin Ponds East in the Mechanicsburg location offers Cheap-Skate days on Monday and Friday afternoons from 1-3pm.

For fans of ice hockey, Twin Ponds East offers open ice hockey Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from noon-1pm, and Saturday evenings 9:15-10:45pm.  If you’ve found your niche in ice skating, you can take “Learn to Skate” classes which last about six weeks long.  Twin Ponds has a cafe for purchase of snack foods, open from September until March, and free Wifi.

Twin Ponds East:  3904 Corey Road, Harrisburg, PA  17109:  717.558.7663

Twin Ponds West:  200 Lambs Gap Road, Mechanicsburg, PA  17050:  717.795.7663