A pickleball player taking to the tennis courts of a local PA park.

Alternative Activities for PA Parks

Local parks are great places for lots of outdoor activities and recreational fun. If you’re an energetic sports enthusiast there’s always baseball, basketball, soccer and tennis. Exercise enthusiasts know that parks are perfect for running, jogging and walking. And parks are ideal for more calm and serene activities and hobbies such as picnics, birdwatching, or simply relaxing on a bench and absorbing all of the wonderful sights and sounds. 

However, local parks are also very progressive places. Classic activities aren’t the only things happening at the local recreational spots. There’s lots of newer, alternative activities and hobbies taking place at many Pennsylvania parks. 

Below, we’ll highlight some of the most popular trends taking place in your local Pennsylvania parks!

Disc Golf  

You can’t play golf in a local park – but you can play disc golf! 

If you’re unfamiliar with this creative spin on traditional golf, allow us to summarize: While golfers try to sink a ball in a hole using a minimum of strokes, disc golfers attempt to land their flying disc in a standing basket in the least amount of throws possible. Played on a course that has 18 target baskets, disc golf is safer for local parks, fun for all ages and is a lot more economical than traditional golf. 

Although disc golfers do not have to lug around a bunch of heavy and cumbersome clubs, they do have to rely on multiple discs. Just like each golf club has a specific purpose (drive, wedge, putter, etc), there flying discs designed to perform certain actions. There are discs for short distances, long distances, curves, etc. Many are made from different materials and molded into different shapes to best perform these unique functions. 

Many local parks are now transforming some of their open spaces into disc golf courses. One of the most popular local disc golf courses in PA can be found at the Thornbury Township Park in Delaware County. To see if there’s a local disc golf course available in your area, consult the Good For PA Local Parks Finder! 

Pickleball

Do you find the tennis court too intimidating? Are you a champ when it comes to table tennis or backyard badminton? If you answered “Yes” to any or all of these questions, then you’ll want to hear all about pickleball! 

Typically played with two to four players, this racquet sport blends elements of tennis, table tennis and badminton into a unique sport that’s a great deal of fun. Invented during a lazy summer day in the mid-1960s, pickleball is the product of parents looking to entertain their bored children. Wanting to play badminton but unable to find the shuttlecock, the adults substituted a Wiffle ball. Realizing that traditional badminton racquets wouldn’t work, they made handheld paddles from leftover plywood. Then they lowered the net to tennis level and pickleball was born! 

Since then, pickleball’s popularity grew. Now it’s played in schools, at retirement homes and even professionally. Yes, there’s not one, but two championship tournaments: the U.S. Pickleball National Championships and U.S. Open Pickleball Championship.

Most local parks with tennis courts often accommodate pickleball players. Best of all, you can sign up for pickleball classes, events and tournaments at many of PA’s parks and recreation centers! 

Recumbent Biking 

If you’re looking for a unique alternative to traditional bicycling, give recumbent biking a try! Unlike traditional biking where a rider is seated in an upright position, recumbent biking lets the rider do their thing in a reclining position. This allows riders to benefit from the exercise and weight loss offered by traditional biking – while taking stress and weight off of knee  joints. 

If you had to give up bicycle riding due to knee issues, you may be able to get back in the saddle with a recumbent bike. Consult with your doctor or rheumatologist to see if recumbent biking is appropriate exercise for you! 

Caving or Spelunking 

Looking for a unique educational opportunity at the park? Inquire with your state or local PA park to see if they offer spelunking or cave exploring events and activities. Although some folks think these activities are one-in-the-same, there is a bit of a distinction: spelunking is entering a cave for recreational or touring purposes while caving is exploring for geological or scientific purposes. 

Whether you just enjoy being outdoors, exploring nature, exercising or have a geologist-in-training in the household, these two educational and entertaining activities are for you!

Next time you’re in the mood for something new to do at your local park, remember these great alternatives – and give them a try!