Five Fun End Of Summer Activities And Events

44Earlier sunsets. Back-to-school store displays. Slightly cooler evenings. These are just a few of the subtle signs that we only have a few weeks of summer left. 

But let’s not rush things. There’s still plenty to do and enjoy while the temps are still high and the days are still filled with sunshine. 

If you’re looking for fun outdoor activities and events to enjoy before summer ends, we’ve picked a few of our favorites to share with you! 

The Moraine State Park Regatta

Looking for free fun that’s perfect for individuals, couples and families? You’ll find it at the 23rd Annual Moraine State Park Regatta!

Beginning Friday, August 5 and lasting until Sunday, August 7, on the shores of Lake Arthur,  Portersville, PA will host a series of exciting water- and land-based recreational activities, including kayaking, sailing, live music, vendors, food, fireworks and more! 

This all-ages event is free to the public. However, plan accordingly, as the Regatta typically draws thousands of attendees! 

Kettle Creek Music Festival 

If you’re a music fan, you’ll want to head to Cross Fork, PA for the Kettle Creek Music Festival

Taking place from Thursday, August 11 until Saturday, August 13, this fest hosts multiple local and touring musical acts from a variety of genres, including rock, pop, country, blues, folk and more. The fest has even presented some of the country’s most popular tribute band acts, too!

In addition to introducing the community to lots of great music, the Kettle Creek Music Festival also serves as a fundraising event for more than a dozen area nonprofits. Ticket holders help support an array of local medical and veterans’ organizations as well as youth programs. 

The fest also allows attendees to camp on the event grounds and shop from a variety of merchandise and food vendors. 

PA Ice Cream Trail 

One of the most popular end of summer activities showcases some of our state’s favorite things: outdoor activity, beautiful scenery and locally-made ice cream! 

Developed by the fine folks at VisitPA, the annual ice cream trail, mixes three separate trails in Eastern, South Central and Western Pennsylvania with some of those regions’ best local creameries and ice cream shops. 

Enjoy the last days of summer by becoming an ice cream trailblazer. Discover areas of the state you’ve never visited, treat your eyes to the beautiful scenic landscapes, befriend fellow residents and out-of-state visitors, and indulge in some of the state’s most delicious ice cream cones, shakes and sundaes! 

Ukrainian Folk Festival and Outdoor Summer Concert 

On Sunday, August 28, Pennsylvanians can experience the rich history of Ukraine via music, dance, food and fun at the Ukrainian Folk Festival and Outdoor Summer Concert. 

This year’s festival is being held at the Ukrainian-American Sport Center in Horsham, PA from 12:00 – 8:00 PM. Attendees are invited to indulge in authentic cuisine, marvel at the traditional dances, and enjoy a variety of music that ranges from Ukrainian folk songs to contemporary American pop and rock music. 

Best of all, a portion of the proceeds from each festival ticket benefits humanitarian aid efforts in the Ukraine. 

Heart of Lancaster Arts and Craft Show

While many PA residents head to shore points for the ceremonial end of summer, you can have a fun Labor Day Weekend closer to home! 

Located at Roots Country Market in Mannheim, PA the 34th Anniversary Heart of Lancaster Arts and Craft Show lasts from Saturday, September 3 and concludes on Sunday, September 4. 

During this free rain or shine event, 200 artists from all over PA and neighboring states gather to present the best of their wares to the attendees. 

In addition to amazing art and pieces, the fest also features an array of local food vendors and live music from the popular local jazz ensemble Over Easy

Stay Up To Date With The Latest Event News 

This is just a small sampling of the many great end-of-summer activities and events happening in PA this year.

Our state and its local parks and communities host a variety of wonderful and original events and activities throughout the year. To see what’s happening in your community, we recommend using our handy Explore PA Local Parks locator tool! 

If you want to be the first to learn about the many wonderful things happening in Pennsylvania, be sure to subscribe to the Good For PA newsletter

Enjoy The Beauty Of Migrating Monarch Butterflies In PA

Summertime has so many benefits. Your body soaks up plenty of vitamin D from the sun. The fresh air gives us the energy we lacked during the winter months. And we get to enjoy some of our favorite activities like picnicking, fishing, swimming in the community pool, outdoor concerts, parades, and so much more. 

One of the best parts of the summer is also one of the most fleeting: the chance to enjoy the sight of a beautiful Monarch butterfly fluttering in the gentle breeze. 

Each summer, Monarch butterflies visit our state to fill our skies and offer us the opportunity to see their beauty up close. 

But what draws these butterflies to our region? And how can we ensure that they’ll continue to make PA their home for the summer?

Keep reading to find out more about Monarch butterfly migration in Pennsylvania!

Monarch Butterfly Migration 101  

Each year, Monarch butterflies make a long journey from Mexico and select Southern states to the Northeast states. The purpose of this journey: to lay the eggs that will become the next generation of these beautiful butterflies. 

In Pennsylvania, Monarch butterflies begin to appear in spring. Depending on the respective climate and temperatures, some PA regions may spot their first Monarch in May while others will see their first Monarchs in June.

So why do these butterflies make a 3,000-mile journey from the South to Pennsylvania each year to lay their eggs? They’re looking for a particular plant that’s native to our state.

Monarch butterflies lay their eggs in areas that are rich with Milkweed. A few days later, those eggs will hatch hungry Monarch caterpillars who love to eat Milkweed plants. They’ll need plenty of tasty Milkweed to help them grow and start the next phase in their life cycle. 

After about two weeks of feasting on Milkweed, the fully-grown caterpillar will find a nice place to attach itself and begin the pupa stage of its life cycle. In this stage, the caterpillar forms a shell called a chrysalis that protects them as they metamorphosize into their final stage of life. 

In a few weeks, the metamorphosis is complete, the chrysalis hatches and out flies a beautiful orange and black Monarch Butterfly. 

Throughout July and August, you’ll see these gorgeous butterflies filling the skies in areas that are filled with Milkweed.

As the summer ends and fall begins, these butterflies begin their journey back to the Southern states and Mexico to start their life cycle all over again. 

By the time they return to Pennsylvania in the following spring, those Monarch butterflies will be the great grandchildren of the butterflies that left our state during the previous fall. 

So where can you find Monarch butterflies in your area? The answer may be closer than you think! 

Create Your Own Monarch Butterfly Habitat 

So we know that Monarch butterflies lay their eggs in locations where Milkweed plants are plentiful. 

Since Milkweed is native to Pennsylvania and grows in the wild, many local parks and agencies are developing habitats lush with this plant to attract Monarch butterflies and ensure a successful migration season. 

In addition to creating habitats in public places, local and state agencies are also encouraging PA residents to create their own Monarch butterfly habitats in their backyards and gardens. 

In the past few years, winter weather in Southern states (such as the devastating winter storm that hit Texas in 2021) has negatively impacted the growth of Milkweed. Since butterflies need this food source for repopulation, the numbers of butterflies that migrated to Pennsylvania over the past couple of years has decreased. 

To help boost the Monarch butterfly population, you can plant Milkweed seeds and flowers that attract these pollinators. Many local schools, agencies and businesses offer Monarch butterfly kits filled with Milkweed and pollinator seeds to plant in your home garden to create your own Monarch butterfly habitat. 

Or you can always visit your local gardening center, farmer’s market or nursery to pick up packets of Milkweed, purple coneflower, California poppy, sunflower and lupin seeds for a homegrown habitat. 

Stay Informed 

Now you know why PA is a popular summertime spot for Monarch butterflies, when and where to watch them, and how you can create your own habitat to ensure their visit next spring!

We hope you found this article informative! If you enjoyed this look at Monarch butterfly migration and would like to learn more about all of the great things happening in our local parks and throughout our great state, please subscribe to the Good For PA newsletter

 

History and Evolution of Local Parks and Park Professionals

Every day, our local PA parks and recreation centers support our communities via the various services, programs, activities and events they offer. 

To highlight the many benefits of our local parks and recreational resources, we celebrate National Park and Recreation Month each July!

In honor of this annual celebration, we invite you to enjoy this brief overview of our local parks and the professionals – and to learn how you can help celebrate this annual event in your community! 

The Early Days of Local Parks 

Modeled after the local parks found throughout Europe,  the first local parks in the U.S. actually predate the formation of our nation. Often considered the first park in the New World, Boston Commons was established in the mid-17th Century.

While local parks existed in the early days of our nation’s history, their popularity didn’t grow until the mid 19th Century. As our cities grew and became more industrialized, local communities wished to maintain some semblance of nature. 

Instead of further developing land for housing and industry, communities reserved open spaces for multiple uses. Not only did these park areas serve as a natural oasis from the factories and crowded streets, they also encouraged residents to enjoy the outdoors, replenish their lungs with fresh air, learn about nature and exercise. 

Each park allowed communities to enjoy a bit of the countryside among their more urban surroundings. 

Over time, more and more parks were established throughout our growing country. And with these parks came the need for community members who would manage these spaces. 

The Evolution of Park Professionals 

Once communities began to reserve outdoor spaces for recreational use, they soon realized that they needed community members to maintain these areas. 

Originally, these individuals were simple caretakers. Yet, as parks evolved so did their role. 

Over time, communities established parks and recreation departments. In their present form, these local teams’ responsibilities go beyond strictly maintaining multiple park grounds. 

Each day, park professionals seek to achieve their goal of improving the quality of their communities’ life via local park resources. 

Parks and recreations departments develop and introduce new activities and programs, organize special events, repair and replace damaged equipment, install new facility features,  secure funding, perform community outreach and build partnerships. They do each of these things and more to enhance  the park experience to further benefit their neighborhoods. 

An infographic explaining how many parks and park professionals there are in Pennsylvania

Thanks to these dedicated professionals, local parks have evolved to meet the various wants and needs of our communities. 

Collage of old photos of various park professionals from local Pennsylvania parks and recreation agencies throughout the years

How Local Parks Have Changed Over The Years 

In their earliest forms, parks were fairly rudimentary. They offered lots of open fields for picnicking and playing and beautiful scenery that juxtaposed with the backdrop of the cities. 

However, thanks to park professionals, various equipment, programs and activities were introduced over the years to improve local parks:

Playgrounds

When community streets became congested with vehicles (horse drive and later motorized), they became unsafe for children yearning to play outdoors. The solution: adding playgrounds to local parks. 

With the addition of playgrounds, community children had designated places where they could safely play away from the dangerous streets, develop and strengthen their socialization skills, and meet new friends. 

Just like the parks themselves, playgrounds have evolved over the years. While the earliest playgrounds included such features as swing sets and slides that remain popular fixtures to this day, they also were not easily accessible for all children. 

Now, our modern park playgrounds are more inclusive and adaptive for children of all ages and abilities. In addition to the slides and swings, children also enjoy an array of auditory, musical and sensory-rich elements, panels and spinners, and ramped structures for greater accessibility. 

Trails

Originally, park trails were often simple dirt paths folks followed to get from one part of the park to the other. 

As the need for additional recreational activities increased, park professionals began to add trails so visitors could better observe the nature and wildlife found throughout the parks. 

When society began to understand the need for increased exercise among city dwellers and urban communities, park professionals introduced paved walking, running and biking trails. 

The popularity of trails in local parks has led to such innovative concepts as repurposing abandoned train tracks for use as “Rails to Trails” multi-used shared paths for walking, running, biking, horseback riding and even cross-country skiing. 

Programs 

In addition to providing open spaces for communities for recreation, parks were also established to connect residents with nature. In parks, residents could see wildlife, trees, flowers and plants not found in the cities. In this way, parks also served as an educational resource for communities. 

Realizing the educational potential of parks, many park professionals began to develop programs to teach children and adults new skills and introduce them to new hobbies and activities. 

Parks along waterfronts began to offer swimming lessons for children and adults. When parks began to incorporate spaces for playing baseball, tennis and soccer, park professionals understood that not every child was familiar with these sports and activities. So these parks soon offered lessons and camps for children interested in these activities. 

Presently, the educational opportunities of local parks and recreational centers are as diverse and eclectic as the communities they serve. Many local parks and recreation centers are community resources for yoga, archery, water aerobics, arts and crafts, acting, singing, dance, fitness, weight training and so much more! 

Collage of old photos from local Pennsylvania parks and recreation agencies throughout the years

Celebrate Our Local Parks and Park Professionals 

While it’s important to celebrate all of the wonderful benefits that our local parks and recreational centers provide, it’s equally important to honor the tireless contributions of our communities’ park professionals. 

Observed on July 15 during National Park and Recreation Month, Park and Recreation Professionals Day spotlight everyone who dedicates their lives to operating our area’s invaluable resources. 

Park and Recreation Professionals Day 2022 Logo

While local recreation and park agencies throughout the state are hosting special Park and Recreation Professionals Day events on this date, some extra special spotlight celebrations will take place at the following locations:

  • Lancaster Recreation in Lancaster City – Pool Party on July 15 from 6:00 – 8:00 P.M. Lancaster Recreation welcomes other professionals from surrounding areas including Lititz, Hempfield, Ephrata, County Parks, YWCA’s and YMCA’s. Call for more details: 717-392-2115
  • Upper St. Clair Township Recreation & Leisure On July 15 beginning at 9:30 am and open to the public, there will be opening remarks and then a tour of their camp, pool, and guest relations and end with refreshments. Along the tour, the different professional/staff positions will be highlighted. Call for more details: (412) 831-9000 or (412) 831-9882

Whether you’re a longtime local park enthusiast or a new member of the community looking to learn more about your local parks and rec agencies, National Park and Recreation Month and Park and Recreation Professionals Day provide the perfect opportunity! 

Not sure where the nearest local park is located? No worries! Use our convenient and user-friendly Explore PA Local Parks tool to find the park closest to your home! 

If you enjoyed reading this article and want to stay up to date with the latest information about your local PA parks and special events like National Park and Recreation Month and Park and Recreation Professionals Day, please subscribe to the Good For PA newsletter

 

Making PA Parks More Accessible For Everyone

Spending time outdoors is something we Pennsylvanians really enjoy. That’s why our state boasts over 6,000 local parks in our communities. 

Unfortunately, some of our family, friends and neighbors are unable to fully enjoy these outdoor resources. 

According to recent surveys, one in seven Pennsylvanians has at least one disability. That means approximately 13.7% of our state’s population can’t enjoy the benefits of our local parks.  

Why?

Many of our existing local parks lack handicap-accessible facilities and features. These inadequacies make it difficult for disabled Pennsylvanians to visit and enjoy our local parks. 

However, times have changed. PA parks and recreation agencies are now committed to making  local parks more accessible and inclusive for individuals of all abilities

In the following article, we’ll explore some of the ways these agencies are updating local PA parks to improve the lives of all! 

Making Parks More Inclusive  

There was a time when society believed that adding handicap parking spots and restroom facilities equated an accessible space.

While those details are incredibly important, modern efforts to make local parks more accessible goes beyond those necessities. 

To make our local parks more accessible for those with mobility issues, agencies are updating existing trails and adding new ones. Not only are they widening trails to better accommodate wheelchairs and mobility aids, they’re also paving surfaces, including ramps and bridges with guardrails to make them usable for individuals and caretakers. 

Since fishing from riverbanks was a challenge for those with limited mobility, parks are investing in wheelchair access points such as piers and platforms. 

These changes allow those with minimal mobility to hike, explore nature, observe wildlife, fish and more easily travel to areas of the parks that were previously inaccessible. 

Enhancements to our local parks are not purely focused on community members with limited mobility. Those with vision and hearing impairments are also benefiting from new upgrades to our local parks, recreational facilities and museums. 

Many agencies are  offering assisted listening devices and/or sign language interpreters to assist with guided tours and educational programs. In addition, directional signage has been updated with braille and tactile supports like guide ropes have been introduced to make exploring our parks more attainable for visually impaired visitors. 

Playgrounds are being redesigned and upgraded so they can be enjoyed by children of all abilities. Many now feature accessible swing seats, more ground-level activities for children with limited mobility, and lots of sensory stimulating play panels for children with autism and sensory processing disorders. 

In addition to these and other enhancements, local agencies are also updating assets outside the park itself to improve accessibility. 

Improving Access To Park Information

Before disabled individuals or their caretakers visit a local park, they need to know if the location is equipped with resources that meet their needs. 

To better convey this information, agencies are improving the accessibility of their websites. 

Along with adding details about park accessibility, many park websites have been upgraded to meet American with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. 

To engage vision impaired individuals and those with learning disabilities, agencies are employing text-to-speech technology to assist these users when navigating the website. This technology helps these disabled visitors understand all guidelines, news, event info, maps, and pictures/graphics found throughout the site. 

These are just a few of the many ways PA parks and recreation agencies are ensuring that our outdoor spaces are truly accessible for all. 

Looking for more information about accessible parks in your area. Our Explore PA Local Parks locator tool is a great place to start your search!

And if you’re interested in learning more about accessibility efforts and other park-related news, we invite you to subscribe to the Good For PA newsletter

How Local Dog Parks Benefit Your Community

There are a lot of things to consider when moving to a new neighborhood. Finding a nice home or apartment that’s comfortable is key. Yet, folks also want to ensure that their  potential new home is conveniently close to their workplace, is located in a highly rated school district, and provides easy access to shopping, dining and entertainment options. 

However, many people are also considering another factor when researching new places to live: proximity to dog parks. 

Why?

According to recent statistics from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), over 38% of U.S. households own a dog. When dog owners are looking for a new area to live, they want a place that not only appeals to their needs but their canine companion’s needs too. That’s good news for communities who are eager to welcome new residents into the area. 

However, attracting new residents to the neighborhood is not the only way dog parks benefit  communities. 

Here are a few of the key benefits local dog parks bring to their communities. 

Dog Parks Provide Lots of Open Space 

Dogs differ in so many ways. Some are big while others are small. Certain breeds have ears that are pointed while others have floppy ears. Even fur types differ between breeds. Yet, despite all their differences, most dog breeds share one common trait: they love being outdoors. 

Sure, they love spending time with their humans indoors (especially if they’re allowed on the furniture). But nothing beats spending some time outdoors in the wide open spaces. 

Having access to a local dog park allows households to treat their pooch to some prime outdoor time. Here, they can stretch all their legs, breathe some fresh air and sharpen their senses of smell, hearing and sight. 

Having access to a local dog park is especially beneficial for community members who live in apartments. Although many apartment buildings have pet policies that welcome dogs, they often do not have a dedicated outdoor space for these furry tenants. A local dog park solves this problem for apartment owners and residents alike. 

Even households that have a yard can benefit from a nearby dog park. Yards are great for quick outdoor activities, but they don’t give dogs a golden opportunity to play, jump and run like they really want to. 

This leads us to the next benefit…

Dog Parks Promote Physical Activity 

Dogs love to run, jump and play catch. Then they love to do it again and again! 

Community dog parks let dogs be dogs and enjoy lots of physical activity. Getting ample amounts of exercise time is essential for domesticated dogs. They spend most of their time indoors sleeping while their owners are at work or school. Too much inactivity can be detrimental to a dog’s health. Without a good amount of exercise, dog’s can develop such health conditions as obesity, arthritis, and heart disease. 

These issues can be avoided when households take their dogs to the local dog park for exercise every day. Not only are trips to the park beneficial for canine health, they’re ideal for human health, too! Dog owners can soak up the sun (a good source of vitamin D), stretch their musicals by throwing balls or toys for their furry friends to catch, and burn off calories by walking, running or playing with their pooches.

Not only do dog parks help keep canine and human community members more active and healthy, they also help create a stronger sense of community. 

Dog Parks Help With Socialization 

Physical activity isn’t the only way pet owners help keep their dog’s healthy and happy. Properly socializing dogs is also important for their wellness. As we mentioned, all of that alone time a dog experiences every day can affect their physical health. It can also affect their mental health as well.

Spending time at the park allows dogs to spend time socializing and building strong bonds with their owners by playing and exercising. It also allows them to socialize with other dogs. As much as dogs love their owners, many of them also enjoy spending time with other canines. 

Trips to the park not only build bonds between dogs and their owners. They also provide residents the opportunity to meet their neighbors. Taking their dogs to the park is a wonderful way for neighbors to connect with each other. This in turn leads to new friendships which helps build a better sense of community that spreads throughout the entire neighborhood. 

Clearly, local parks offer lots of benefits to dogs and their owners. Yet, they benefit everyone in the community by encouraging members to spend more time outdoors, stay active, and connect with their neighbors. 

Not sure where the nearest dog park is located in your neighborhood? You can locate local dog parks in seconds with our Explore PA Local Parks tool

If you enjoyed reading this article and want to stay up to date with the latest information about your local PA parks, please subscribe to the Good For PA newsletter

Outdoor Aquatics At Your Local Park

There’s nothing quite like taking a dip in a cool outdoor pool during a sweltering summer day. Pennsylvanians can attest to that fact. Our summers are known to be especially humid so having access to a community pool is much appreciated. 

While community pools provide us with a wonderful way to stay cool and socialize with our neighbors, they’re also incredibly beneficial in other ways, too. And a lot of those benefits are due in large part to the outdoor aquatics courses and activities offered by our local parks and recreation teams! 

Below, we’ll highlight some of the best outdoor aquatics courses and activities that can be found at many local PA parks! 

Swimming Lessons

Perhaps the most valuable resource offered by our local parks’ outdoor aquatics programs is swimming lessons. Covering all levels from beginner to advanced, these lessons help reduce risks at our local pools by teaching children, teens and adults how to swim. 

In addition to instructing child and adult students on proper swim skills, breathing and stroke techniques, swim lessons also cover many basic water safety concerns. Since a trip to the community pool is a new experience for many community members (especially children), it’s important to ensure that they are well-versed in pool etiquette and safety, too. 

With these lessons, community members not only learn an essential life skill, they’re also better prepared to enjoy their outdoor community pools to the fullest all summer long! 

Lap Swimming 

Swimming is not only a great way to cool off on hot days and have fun with friends. It’s also a great workout, too! By swimming laps in a pool, adults can participate in a low-impact cardiovascular workout that  improves heart and lung functions, burns calories, and strengthens muscles. 

During the summer, many outdoor aquatics programs include lap time in their daily schedules. These especially reserved times allow community members the opportunity to get a great workout without the distractions of the other aquatic activities that happen throughout the day. 

Doggie Dips 

Humans aren’t the only ones who need relief from high temperatures during. Dogs could use a dip in the pool, too!

One of the newer aquatics programs being offered by select parks, doggie dips are special events that allow dog owners to bring their pooches to the pool. For a small fee, well-behaved and vaccinated canines can doggie paddle their tails off and socialize with their pals. 

Open Swim

It’s no surprise that most folks favorite outdoor aquatics program is the one that’s most relaxing: open swim. These are the specially designated times of day when adults and children can use the pool purely for recreation. It’s the perfect opportunity to take a leisurely swim, play a game with friends, practice your breaststroke and backfloat, or simply sit poolside and chat with neighbors.   

Outdoor aquatics programs are just one of the many benefits of your local parks and recreation facilities. Though they differ from park to park, we’re sure you’ll find a course or activity that suits you this summer. 

Want to find the nearest park with an outdoor pool and aquatics program? Then use our handy and helpful Explore PA Local Parks tool

After you sign-up for your next outdoor aquatics activity, be sure to subscribe to the Good For PA newsletter. That way you’ll always be up to date with the latest PA parks news, programs and events in your area! 

PA Wildflowers In Bloom

You may have noticed that your daily commute, weekend bike ride or early evening stroll have become much more colorful. That’s because wildflowers are in bloom across our lawns, fields, parks, hills, and roadsides. 

If you’re wondering which of these wonderful wildflowers you can spot and enjoy this spring, keep reading as we highlight some of our favorites!

Harbinger of Spring

Any discussion of PA wildflowers that grow in the spring has to include this aptly-named beauty! The harbinger of spring earned its name because it is one of the first wildflowers to bloom each spring. 

Distinguished by its dark red stems, bright white petals and the tiny cluster of flowers that sprout from its center, this unique wildflower is a great source of nectar for pollinators such as bees. While this wildflower (which is a member of the carrot family) was once common across the state, it is now largely found in Western and East-Central PA. 

Dandelion

There’s no denying that dandelions are the bane of most lawn enthusiasts’ existence. Dismissed as an annoying weed, these wildflowers do have their positive traits. 

Not only do they add a pop of much needed vibrant color to our communities after cold, gray winters, dandelions are also given as gifts by our state’s tiniest residents. Many dandelions have been plucked with pride by young children and presented to their parents and grandparents as a gift of affection. Take a close look at your neighbors’ window sills and desks this spring, and you’ll probably see some dandelions lovingly displayed in a small vase. 

Blue Violets

If you love seeing butterflies fluttering through the air on a warm, sunny day, then you can thank these wildflowers. Another PA wildflower you’ll spot this spring, the blue violet is a favorite food of caterpillars who soon become beautiful butterflies. 

Commonly found in fields and lawns across the state, blue violets are not only a favorite food for wildlife, they can also be safely eaten by humans, too. In fact, many Native Americans, including the Lenapes once used the blue violet for medicinal purposes. 

Spring-Beauty

Introducing another appropriately named wildflower – the spring-beauty!

Featuring lovely pink-and-white-striped petals, this PA wildflower is commonly found in shady, moist areas of our local woods and forests. Also known as the fairy spud or meadow beauty, the spring-beauty is found throughout the Northeast but seems to be particularly fond of life in Western Pennsylvania counties. 

Yellow Trout Lily

One of the most distinctly shaped and colored wildflowers, the yellow trout lily features banana peel-shaped petals that are bright yellow on one side and slightly brown on the opposite side. That brown tinge resembles a trout’s skin, hence this wildflower’s name. 

Another wildflower that attracts pollinators, the yellow trout lily is also a favorite of ants. In fact, this smart wildflower encourages ants to carry its seeds underground. Then, after the ants discard the seeds, they grow into new flowers the following spring!  

If you’re looking for these beautiful wildflowers, you can typically find them near streams and along hillsides throughout the state. 

White Trillium

One of the largest spring wildflowers, white trillium is also one of the most beautiful!

A member of the lily family, white trillium (which means “tri-lily”) is identifiable by its three large white petals, three green sepals below the petals, three pistils, and six yellow stamens. A completely scentless wildflower, it’s another effective attractor of pollinators. Areas of Pennsylvania that are rich with white trillium typically have a high population of white-tailed deer as this wildflower is one of their favorite foods. 

These are just a few of the many unique and eye-catching wildflowers you’ll see in our state this spring. Some of the best places to see a wonderful assortment of wildflowers and wildlife are your local PA parks. 

If you would like to spend a day spotting wildflowers and observing wildlife in their natural environments, plan a trip to your local PA park!

 Not sure which parks are closest to your doorstep? That’s ok! You can access our user-friendly  Explore PA Local Parks locator to discover the many wonderful resources in your area. 

And if you want to be the first to know about the great events happening in your local parks and recreational facilities, be sure to subscribe to the Good For PA newsletter!

Celebrate “Bike To Work Day” In PA

May is a popular month for many reasons. It’s not only the last full month of spring, it’s also host to special occasions (Mother’s Day) and holidays (Memorial Day). It’s also the time we observe National Bike Month, an annual celebration of the bicycle’s many benefits that doubles as an opportunity to encourage everyone to bike more often. 

Composed of multiple bicycle-related events, National Bike Month allows individuals and groups to experience the benefits of biking first-hand in an effort to promote activity, wellness, safety and community in our neighborhoods. One of these events is one you may not be familiar with: National Bike to Work Day. 

In the following article, we’ll tell you about National Bike to Work Day, explain some of the great benefits of biking to work, discuss how to share the road with cyclists, and tell you about some of the great ways you can encourage your community to participate in this special day! 

What is National Bike to Work Day? 

Established in 1955 by the League of American Bicyclists, National Bike to Work Day is observed on the third Friday of May to promote cycling to work as a safe and healthy alternative for commuting to workplaces. It accomplishes these goals by highlighting the many benefits of cycling and by raising awareness of the need for increased road safety for commuting cyclists. 

Thanks to this annual event, many individuals have discovered the benefits of biking to work and are now enjoying this activity every day. In addition, drivers have learned how they can safely share the road with commuting cyclists. 

What are the Benefits of Biking to Work?

To promote biking to work as an alternative to driving, Bike to Work Day focuses public attention on the many benefits of this worthwhile option.

Biking to work 

  • Helps individuals and families reduce their expenses due to rising gas prices and auto repair disruptions and price increases resulting from supply chain shortages. 
  • Reduces carbon footprints by limiting carbon emissions from vehicles.
  • Prolongs the lifespan of vehicles by reducing mileage and everyday wear-and-tear. 
  • Promotes a healthy lifestyle by keeping commuters active and introducing a regular exercise routine to their day. This benefit is so significant that the American Medical Association (AMA) chose to endorse Bike to Work Day. 

Highlighting the benefits of biking to work is just part of the purpose of this annual event. The other goal of Bike to Work Month is to educate everyone about the importance of road safety for bicyclists and motorists. 

How to Stay Safe When Biking to Work

As more and more professionals choose to bike to work and enjoy its benefits, this influx of bicyclists has been cause for concern. Since many residential streets and major roadways were designed for automotive travel, cyclists and drivers may be at risk of accident or injury if the proper measures to share the road are not observed by all parties. 

To raise awareness of these issues, National Bike to Work Day goes to great lengths to educate communities across the country about safely sharing the road. 

First and foremost, all cyclists and motorists should be familiar with traffic laws and follow them at all times. Avoidable accidents have occurred because cyclists believe that certain rules (such as stop signs and traffic patterns) only apply to drivers. Other times, drivers try to quickly pass cyclists only to cause the cyclist to lose control of their bike or run off the side of the road. These scenarios can be avoided if all commuters understand and obey the rules of the road. 

Communities can help protect cyclists and drivers by adding bike lanes to their streets and roadways. Incorporating these dedicated spaces in road designs increase cyclist safety and reduce the chances of them being run off of the road and/or veering into oncoming traffic.  

As more and more individuals choose to bike to work, rules, regulations and alterations will evolve in our communities. National Bike to Work Day events will help inform communities of these updates and encourage everyone to stay informed of ongoing changes all year long. 

How to Involve Others in National Bike to Work Day

While Bike to Work Day sounds great to you, others in your workplace or community may be skeptical. To help encourage participation in your community, here are some fun suggestions to generate greater interest:

  • Highlight the Benefits – Using the list above, discuss the financial and health benefits of biking to work. 
  • Highlight the Convenience – Is parking limited at your workplace? Is a quick car commute impossible due to daily traffic jams? Let your coworkers know that they can avoid these inconveniences by biking to work.
  • Incentivize Your Employees – If you’re a business owner, you can encourage employees to participate in Bike to Work Day by offering an incentive. Offer them a free lunch. Present them with a gift card to a local cycle shop. Or, allow them to leave a little early that Friday to enjoy a scenic commute – and avoid traffic! 

Are you ready to celebrate Bike to Work Day? We are too! Actually, we celebrate bicycling every day at our local PA parks! 

If your commute is too far for a bike ride or this event has made you want to cycle more, you can always enjoy the many bike trails found in your local park. To find the bike trail that’s closest to your community, simply use our helpful Explore PA Local Parks tool

And if you want to stay informed about great community events like National Bike to Work Day, subscribe to the Good For PA newsletter!

Get Hooked On Fly Fishing in PA

April is a month that Pennsylvania anglers eagerly await each year. Why? That’s when trout season begins! 

Why do so many PA residents enjoy fishing? Some love the thrill of catching their own dinner. Others thrive on bragging about the record-breaker fish that got away. And even more love the subtle moments such as listening to the sounds of the flowing water. All in all, fishing in PA is a great way to relax, enjoy the spring weather and spend time outdoors. 

While spin fishing (also known as bait fishing and regular fishing) is the most commonly recognized form of fishing, there’s another option that many find even more appealing: fly fishing. 

If you’re new to fishing and don’t know where to begin (or you’re an avid angler who’s up for a new challenge), keep reading to learn more about fly fishing, its appropriate gear and the best places to enjoy this activity in PA.  

How is Fly Fishing Different from Spin Fishing? 

Although there are many differences between spin fishing and fly fishing, we’ll look at their contrasting characteristics from a technical standpoint.

Spin fishing uses a spin rod to cast a weighless line with a hook attached at its end. On that hook rests a weighted object such as a piece of live bait or an artificial lure that resembles. The fish takes the bait, the angler sets the hook, and then reels the prize in. 

Fly fishing uses the same concept as spin fishing – but puts its own unique spin on it (pardon the pun). The fly fisherman casts a weighted fishing line (called a fly line) and uses a lure that is weightless – just like a fly. 

Instead of casting the line once and allowing the hook and bait to sink below the water line to attract fish, fly fishing requires frequent casting with the lure and hook briefly resting on the surface for brief periods of time. This method is performed to imitate the actions of a fly or insect landing on the water.     

What You’ll Need for Fly Fishing 

While there are lots of spin fishing gear options, you can always get by on the three most basic components: a spin rod, monofilament fishing line and your preferred bait or lure. 

Fly fishing, even in its most basic form, requires a great deal of specialized gear:

  • Fly Fishing Rod – While fly fishing rods are available in various sizes and weights (and ranges in price from under $100 to over $100), we recommend using a graphite rod that runs in the $50-$100 range until you perfect your fly fishing technique.  
  • Fly Fishing Reel – Similar to rod, fly fishing reels are available in various materials and at various prices. Although plastic fishing reels are inexpensive, they’re not very reliable. We suggest using a metal reel in the $100 range. 
  • Fly Backing – This is the line you’ll need to fill up most of your reel. It’s often brightly colored so it’s easier to see on the surface of the water.
  • Fly Line – This thick, heavy line provides the weight you need to cast. This is also brightly colored so it’s easier to see on the water. 
  • Leader & Tippet – The leader is used to connect the thick, heavy fly line to the tippet which is a thin, transparent line that holds the fly. 
  • Flies – Extremely lightweight lures that are designed to resemble insects and rest on the water’s surface.

Ok. Now that you have all of the necessary information and gear, it’s time to find the best places to fly fish in PA. 

Where To Go For Fly Fishing in PA 

While spin fishing is ideal for still waters, fly fishing works best with moving waters such as rivers. Why? Faster moving water gives the trout less time to figure out that the fly they spotted is a phony. While it is still possible to fly fish in still waters, the trout are more likely to figure out that the fly is not what it seems. 

Since we don’t have the space to list all of the great local parks that are perfect for fly fishing, we can do the next best thing: provide you with our local park finder. This handy and helpful resource allows you to locate the best local parks for first-rate fishing in your community (or neighboring communities). 

If you enjoyed learning about fly fishing and would love to know more about the many great things that are happening at PA parks, be sure to sign up for the Good For PA newsletter! 

PA Rails To Trails For Hiking, Biking and More!

There was a time when trains were the main form of continental transportation. Railroad tracks crossed the country from north to south and east to west. For years, this means of transportation thrived. Over time, other advances in transportation such as airplanes and motor vehicles replaced the once mighty locomotives as the preferred way to travel and transport goods and materials. 

When the trains ceased running, their abandoned railroad tracks littered the landscape. For years, these unused tracks cluttered up communities until a movement to repurpose these abandoned areas was founded. 

Instead of allowing these tracks to continually deteriorate, the rails to trails movement converts former railways systems into scenic trails that are ideal for hiking, biking, walking, running, horseback riding and, in some cases, cross country skiing.  

Pennsylvania is one of the leading rails to trails developers in the country with almost 200 completed and functional trails. 

Here are a few of the many outstanding rails to trails options you’ll find in the Keystone State. 

PA Rails to Trails That Are Under Five Miles Long 

If your preference is for trails that you can complete in a morning or afternoon, then there are lots of options that are under five miles long. Here are two wonderful choices that are ideal for leisurely strolls, quick workouts or to build stamina for longer trails in the future:

  • Bartram’s Mile Trail – A newer addition to the popular (and much larger) Schuylkill River Trail, this 1.1 mile asphalt trail is designed for walking, jogging and biking. To enjoy Bartram’s Mile Trail, visitors access it from the 56th Street Plaza continue their journey to Bartram’s Garden (a historical landmark and public garden in Southwest Philadelphia), and head north to conclude their trip at the Grays Ferry Bridge. Along the way, visitors can enjoy gorgeous views of the Schuylkill River and the Philadelphia skyline. If visitors wish to extend their journey, they can easily connect to the Grays Ferry Crescent Trail (another segment of the Schuylkill River Trail) via an operational swing bridge.  
  • J. Manley Robbins Trail – Larger than Bartram’s Mile Trail, yet still under five miles, this combination grass and gravel trail is believed to be one of the oldest in the country. Located in Montour County along the old Reading Railroad line, this three-mile trail is ideally suited for walking, running, hiking, biking and horseback riding. During the winter months, many PA residents take advantage of significant snowfalls by cross country skiing along this trail. No matter what time of year visitors hit this trail, they’ll be rewarded with beautiful views of the Mahoning Creek.   

A PA Rails to Trails That Is Rich In State History 

Looking for a trail that offers more than an opportunity for a great workout and scenic views. Then you’ll want to set your compass for the option that was once named “Trail of the Month” by the Rails to Trails Conservancy: 

  • Ghost Town Trail – Spanning 46 miles between Cambria and Indiana Counties, the Ghost Town Trail incorporates elements of PA history throughout its 36 miles, including grist mills, coal hoppers from the old C&I Railroad, and the Eliza Furnace. Named after the area’s abandoned mining towns, this crushed stone hiking/biking/walking trail is part of the Trans Allegheny Trails Network

The Ultimate PA Rail Trail

No article about PA’s rails to trails is complete without mentioning the ultimate trail of all:

  • Great Allegheny Passage – This 335-mile, multi-state crushed-limestone trail begins in Pittsburgh, extends to Maryland and ends in Washington D.C. Along the way, trailblazers can stop at the Allegheny Museum, camp at Cedar Creek, visit the historic Pump House (which supplied water from the Monongahela River to the Carnegie Steel Company) and enjoy the many natural wonders of the great outdoors. 

Ready to hit the rails to trails this year? Eager to enjoy all the great parks, events and recreational facilities Pennsylvania has to offer? Then be sure to stay up to date on all of the latest PA parks news and announcements by subscribing to the Good For PA newsletter!