Enjoy the State’s Best Meteor Shower of the Year

The dog days of summer bring lots of heat and humidity to our great state. They also give us a terrific view of one of the best light shows you’ll ever experience: the Perseid Meteor Shower! 

No matter where you live in Pennsylvania, you’ll have a chance to see some of the finest meteor showers during the evening and early morning hours of August 11, 12 and 13. But if you want to have the full experience and the best views, you’ll need to plant your chair (and a telescope for the ultimate effect) in a wide-open space for a clear view of the northeastern sky. You’ll find such a space in PA’s local parks and recreation facilities!

Below are some of the best local parks and places for serious stargazing and meteor shower viewing (clear skies permitting) this August! 

Rose Tree Park

Media, PA, the Delaware County seat, is home to Rose Tree Park. Perhaps the county’s most beloved local park, it features lush, rolling hills that are ideal for watching their free summer concerts at the bandshell, sledding in the winter, and year-round stargazing. A great spot for viewing the Perseid meteor showers, Rose Tree Park also hosts a different kind of light show every year. Their “Festival of Light”, held annually during the holiday season, is one of the most popular local attractions in the surrounding area. 

Brightball Park

Located in Lower Paxton Township, Brightball Park offers 41 acres of gorgeous ground for fantastic views of August’s meteor shower spectacular! During the day, the park provides its community with a playground, an all-purpose field for playing and picnicking, softball fields, baseball fields, and a pavilion for special events and functions. In addition to stargazing at night, residents can enjoy games of pickle and basketball on their lighted courts. 

Marshall Square Park

The oldest park in West Chester, PA, Marshall Square Park is known for its popular summer music series and family movie nights in July and August. However, this August the park may be more of a draw due to its great location for meteor shower watching. Also known as one of Chester County’s best spots for geocaching, Marshall Square Park is favored by families with young children thanks to its colorful playground and tot-friendly swing set. 

Raystown Lake

Raystown Lake in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania is not only the largest lake located entirely within the state, it’s also one of the best places for sensational star gazing. This 8,000 acre lake is the perfect place for an unobstructed view of the upcoming Perseid meteor showers, it also adds the extra cool element of seeing the stars and meteor showers reflected in the shimmering water. In addition to camping accommodations, Raystown Lake features beaches, boat launches, and picnic areas. Best of all, you may be able to spot some of the eagles that are currently nesting in the community. 

Emerald View Park

Officially created on Earth Day 2007, Emerald View Park is not only the best place to experience Pittsburgh’s gorgeous skyline – it’s the area’s best spot to see the Perseid meteor showers in full splendor! Thanks to its wonderful view, the park draws approximately 1 million visitors each year. In addition to its fantastic views, the dog-friendly park is also a popular attraction for bicycle enthusiasts, runners, walkers, hikers, swimmers, bird watchers, and anyone who wants to unwind and experience the beauty around them. 

These are just five of the state’s many great parks and recreational settings for stargazing and meteor shower viewing. There are many more – some in your backyard – that are just waiting to welcome you. Although the five parks listed above are typically open to the public after dusk, it’s always a good idea to check with the parks and recreation department or local park managers to ensure that you’ll be able to access these attractions in the evening.

Road Tripping for Parks, Playgrounds and Ice Cream

We all know that summertime is the perfect time to enjoy the warm weather and hit the local parks for fun, play, fitness and general wellness. It’s also the best time to enjoy the cooling comforts of a delicious scoop of ice cream! 

To celebrate our state, small businesses, and everyone’s favorite treat, the fine folks at VisitPA have created a super ice cream trail. What’s an ice cream trail?  It’s actually three separate trails in Eastern, South Central and Western Pennsylvania that showcase 31 of the best local creameries and ice cream shops in their respective communities. Folks who set off on the trails not only enjoy a variety of wonderful flavors and treats, they see gorgeous scenery, meet new people, discover new places, and witness the many wonders found throughout the state.

Realizing what a wonderful idea the PA ice cream trail is, we thought we would lend our assistance and spotlight some of the best local parks located near some of the trail’s most popular attractions. Whether you’re working up an appetite from a day of play in the park or looking to walk off that triple-scoop on a nearby trail, these parks are the perfect places for extra ice cream trail fun. 

East PA 

Chester Springs Creamery at Milky Way Farm is a historic, multi-generational, family owned and operated working farm in beautiful Chester County, PA. In addition to providing the community with high-quality farm-fresh products, Chester Springs Creamery at Milky Way Farm boasts over 40 fantastic flavors. After one bite, you’ll understand why this popular creamery has garnered high praise from the locals. 

Chester Springs residents not only have this wonderful creamery in their community, they also have one of the best local parks, too! Hickory Park showcases a variety of age-spanning offerings in a clean, quiet and serene setting. Smaller children can let their imaginations run wild on the playground, while older children and teens will enjoy access to ball fields, basketball courts and sand volleyball courts. If a stroll in the park sounds perfect, the paved walking trails are ready for you. For more rigorous activity, the hiking trails will do the trick. 

South Central PA 

Fox Meadows Creamery in Ephrata, PA not only serves up thousands of cones, shakes and treats each year – they also let visitors get a peek behind the scenes! Step into the creamery, place your order and then take a look in the nearby window to see how their ice cream is made! Owned and operated by the Fox family since the 1950s, this popular ice cream destination features this signature “Baked Fox” treat: customer choice of a hot-pressed chocolate chip cookie or brownie outer shell with a cold scoop of their favorite ice cream inside!

Just down the road from Fox Meadows, you’ll find the Ephrata Township Community Park. Located on US-322, this 50-acre park features paved and stoned hiking trails throughout, baseball and soccer fields, and a pavillon that is able to rent for special events. Best of all, the park’s beautiful lake and pond are open to the public for fishing (subject to rules and regulations of the PA Fish & Boat Commission). 

Another great option in Ephrata is the Thomas P. Grater Community Park. This 19-acre park includes favorite features such as a playground, multiple ball fields, a community pool and walking trails, along with some uncommon additions like a skate park and wetlands area. 

West PA 

One of Mt. Lebanon’s local gems, Betsy’s Ice Cream has been pleasing taste buds from 1 to 100 with delicious handcrafted, homemade ice cream. Along with their topnotch ice cream, visitors can enjoy frozen yogurt, thick frosty shakes and other assorted frozen treats. Betsy’s has become so popular that they even offer catering services and online ordering! 

If you’re looking for a wonderful local park, you’ll be happy to hear that there’s one just down the road from Besty’s. Bird Park is a quick three minute drive from the area’s popular ice cream spot. A great place for a picnic, this popular park offers a grilling area, picnic tables, a pavilion, multiple athletic fields and is also dog friendly. Best of all, it features some of the area’s best nature trails. 

If you’re looking for one of the best playgrounds in the neighborhood, you’ll find it at Church Place Park! Located just 2 minutes away from Betsy’s doorstep, this gem of park also features a picnic area and game tables, too.  

This is just a quick glimpse at the many wonderful creameries, shops and parks you’ll discover on this year’s ice cream trail! No matter which part of the trail you choose, we’re sure you’ll have a fun (and delicious) time!

Parks and Recreation Supports Human Development

In previous blogs, we’ve demonstrated the many ways parks and recreation programs help promote health and wellness and fosters social cohesiveness. But there are so many meaningful ways these programs enrich the lives of community members. In the following article, we’ll explore a few of the significant ways parks and recreation support human development for people of all ages and abilities.

Learn and Strengthen Social Skills

You may not think of them as centers for learning, but playgrounds, hiking trails, and even park benches provide lots of opportunities for children and adults to learn social skills.
More than just a place for children to run, jump and climb, playgrounds also provide a safe space for children to interact with each other and learn interpersonal skills. Unlike sports which are grounded in rules and can be competitive, free play on playgrounds allows outgoing and shy children of all abilities to interact without having to worry about winning or losing. Playground features such as merry-go-rounds and see-saws encourage cooperation and team building.

Adults of all ages and abilities can strengthen their social skills when walking trails or taking a break on a bench. These spots encourage adults to greet neighbors with a simple “Hello” or strike up a friendly conversation. Though these opportunities seem small on the surface, they lead to a growing sense of community and human connection.

Learn and Strengthen Physical Skills

Adults and children alike need dedicated time for physical activity each day for optimal health and wellness. Unfortunately, most recess and lunch breaks do not provide ample time for such activity. After-school activities and programs at local parks provide children and youth of all ages with opportunities to stay active each day and develop necessary physical and motor skills. Whereas a leisurely walk, hike, or jog before or after work, gives adults the chance to exercise, clear their minds, feel less exhausted and shake off stress which in turn helps them maintain their physical, mental, and emotional wellness.

Learn and Strengthen Emotional and Intellectual Development

Interacting with nature and spending time in green spaces is beneficial for children and adults in multiple ways. The brain just like the body needs exercise and stimulation in order to develop and stay healthy. Parks and recreation programs give children and adults contact with nature and let them explore and experience a multitude of sights, sounds, and textures which help them develop and strengthen their emotional and intellectual connections to their environments and may spur creativity, too.

Parks and recreation do more than provide the perfect spot for a picnic or a pick-up game of Wiffle ball. These invaluable agencies also provide the programs, activities, and environments that lead to positive physical, emotional and mental development for children and adults of all ages and abilities.

Parks and Recreation Supports The Economic Vitality of Communities

Building a strong sense of community and boosting health and wellness through the many outdoor activities, events, and programs they offer are just two of your local parks and recreation agency’s biggest accomplishments. Through their hard work and expertise, you and your neighbors can hike trails, play tennis, fish, kayak, enjoy various concerts, festivals, and fairs, and enroll your children in recreational camps. Yet, there is another significant accomplishment of local parks and recreation departments that often goes unnoticed: their considerable contribution to their community’s economic vitality.

A recent National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) report conducted by the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University found that parks and recreation services supported 1.1 million jobs while spending at local parks and recreation agencies contributed over $166 in economic activity. Those are some incredibly impressive numbers!

Below are just a few of the noteworthy ways parks and recreation programs support their communities’ economic vitality.

Create New Jobs & Business Opportunities

In addition to offering diverse job opportunities that range from high-level directorships to administrative assistants to out-in-the-field park operators and program instructors, thriving parks and recreation program also attracts more businesses to the community which increases local spending. When parks host festivals, concerts, parades, marathons, and other community-driven events, residents, and visitors spend money at surrounding businesses such as food trucks, ice cream parlors, restaurants, boutique shops, bed and breakfasts, and other local services and shops.

Provide Affordable Childcare Alternatives

Every spring, working parents are faced with a challenge: What do the kids do when school is out for summer? While enlisting the help of daycare and childcare services is an option, many of these services may not accommodate every community member’s budget. Parks and recreation services offer affordable childcare alternatives for working families. Their summer camps and programs are cost-effective alternatives that allow children to learn new skills, enjoy fun activities, stay active and make new friends – and give parents peace of mind knowing that their children are in good hands while they’re working. Plus, these programs help the summer months fly by for both kids and their parents.

Revitalize the Community

When neighbors are engaged and active in their parks and recreation programs and events, they evolve into advocates for their community. This newfound advocacy acts as a magnet that not only attracts visitors but new interested homebuyers as well. This positive word of mouth leads to a prosperous and welcoming community that will continue to thrive.

Clearly, parks and recreation agencies now only provide ample opportunities for communities to enjoy open spaces, stay active and connect with their neighbors, they also create jobs, attract new businesses, generate local spending, and improve its overall economic vitality. Through parks and recreation programs, communities can truly thrive and meet their economic needs.

Parks and Recreation Fosters Social Cohesiveness

You may be familiar with the term “social cohesion” but you may not know exactly what it means. Social cohesion essentially refers to the connectedness and solidarity among groups in a community. This concept stems from the desire to create greater societal balance in such areas as health, education, income, and housing.

Parks and recreation agencies strive to foster social cohesiveness in our communities by providing equal access to its facilities, events, and programs to all people regardless of age, gender, background, ethnicity, or ability.

Here are just a few of the many ways your parks and recreation agencies are connecting our communities!

Strengthening Community & Advocacy

Parks and recreation spaces and programs have positive impacts on physical, emotional, and mental health and wellness by encouraging people to actively participate in activities that help them stay fit, shake off stress and clear their minds. In addition to these individual benefits, parks and recreation programs also help promote healthy communities. P&R events and activities help bring families, friends, and neighbors together and encourage them to not only become more involved in their community but also be more aware of its various needs. As once passive residents become active advocates for their community then the neighborhood will thrive. As positive word of mouth spreads, more people will want to join the community. When this happens, the result is a safer, cleaner, financially stable, and more inviting environment.

Celebrating Diversity & Inclusion

Parks and recreation programs foster positive interactions and communications between children and adults in different groups. These activities and events help erase the feelings of anxiety and fear that may be experienced when unfamiliar groups of different backgrounds encounter each other in day-to-day life. When groups of people are participating in recreational activities, they are focused less on each other’s differences and more on the fun they’re enjoying. The more people from different groups and backgrounds enjoy parks and recreation activities and events together, the more likely they are to learn from each other and share their cultural experiences. By fostering diversity in its programs, P&R strives to break down barriers that separate various groups and promote unity.

Including Individuals

Parks and recreation agencies are also dedicated to ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to participate in their community activities and events. Although parks and recreation activities are enjoyed by many children and adults, many seniors and persons with disabilities are often unable to participate in most physical activities. This lack of participation can sometimes leave them feeling dejected as well as put them at greater risk of physical, emotional, and mental health conditions. By adapting existing activities and introducing new programs that are age-appropriate and modified for individuals with disabilities, P&R agencies ensure that no one feels diminished or left out of their communities. These programs not only allow seniors and adults and children with disabilities to socialize and exercise, they also promote inclusivity, diversity, tolerance, and acceptance.

As you can see, parks and recreation programs are not only beneficial for individual health and wellness, they’re also vital for promoting a healthy, flourishing community that’s more diverse, and inclusive. Through parks and recreation programs, communities can focus less on their differences and embrace the common interests they share.

Parks and Recreation Promotes Health and Wellness

Summer is here and you’re ready to get outside and get active. Probably more so this year than any other year before. Fourteen months of increased indoor inactivity due to the necessary public health restrictions has done more than made many of us bored and restless – it’s also affected our physical, emotional, and mental health and wellness.

Now that restrictions are being lifted, the weather is getting warmer and daylight is lasting longer, it’s time to go outside, get active, and put our health and wellness back on track. And you can accomplish all of those goals at your local parks and recreation resources.

From organized activities to unstructured playtime to leisurely special events, Parks and Recreation facilities help children and adults boost their physical, emotional, and mental health and wellness!

Get Active!

It’s common knowledge that outdoor activities are a proven way to stay fit and increase your physical well-being. While our minds mostly focus on such things as running, biking, and hiking, your local parks and recreation facilities offer so much more.

Besides the everyday amenities like playgrounds and trails, many local parks and recreation facilities offer a variety of summer programs that promote physical health and wellness for children and adults. From baseball and tennis camps to archery and swimming lessons to fitness and yoga classes, you’re sure to find a local park and recreation program that suits your physical activity tastes.

Looking for something different? Many parks and recreation agencies are introducing new activities to get you out of the house and back on the road to physical wellness! Staying physical is more fun with friends and family, so take part in team-based activities like mud runs, obstacle courses, or costume races. Join a local Pickleball or innertube water polo team and meet new friends. On days when organized activities are not scheduled, stay active with an hour or two of unstructured playtime. From spontaneous games of tag to random bursts of running around, some of the best physical activities are the ones that do not require any set instructions or rules.

No matter which physical activity or program you participate in at your local P&R facility, you’ll benefit from reduced blood pressure levels, lower cholesterol and better weight management. Plus, you’ll feel more energized during the day and you’ll sleep better at night.

Get In A Good Mood

Besides offering a myriad of ways to stay active and promote physical health, parks and recreation agencies provide multiple opportunities that benefit emotional health and wellness.
Listening to music is a great way to boost your mood and reduce stress. Parks in the summertime offer an abundance of ways to enjoy music. From scheduled performances in the bandstand to large-scale music festivals to the sounds of nature in the surrounding fields and trees, your emotional well-being will experience true bliss.

If you’re looking for more active and less passive ways to boost your emotional wellness, many parks and recreation services also offer various arts and crafts activities along with chess camps that help exercise your mind and emotions.

Clear Your Mind!

Studies have shown that more time spent in parks and other green spaces can help us better manage stress, depression, and anxiety. Just by frequently visiting your local park and communing with nature, you set your body free from the constant confines of closed spaces and your mind free from the everyday stress that could be detrimental to your health. The best part about spending a few quiet moments in the park is that it requires no schedule, no special attire, and no special equipment. Plus, it’s free – and freeing!

Parks and recreation agencies also help promote physical, emotional, and mental health and wellness by welcoming people of all ages, abilities, ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds. If you’re looking to reconnect with the outdoors, meet up with friends and family, and improve your physical, emotional, and mental health and wellness, then the programs and activities at your local parks and recreation facilities will help you achieve those goals.

Favorite Local Parks And Recreation Spots for Spring

Springtime is the perfect time to get outside and shake off those winter blahs! This winter has seemed longer than usual due to various public health restrictions and ordinances that went into effect last year. Now that some restrictions have been lifted and our community is taking steps toward positive progress, it’s time to get your springtime fun plans in order. To help you on your way, we’d like to recommend a couple of well-known local parks and a few hidden recreational gems that you can enjoy during the warmer months.

Nottingham Park

The very first park in Chester County, Nottingham Park has lots of familiar features like multiple playgrounds, a large fitness trail, and nine pavilions for picnicking and parties, but its standout feature – and the main reason to visit – is its incredibly rare and beautiful serpentine barrens. Found in three small areas of North America, serpentine is a light-green stone that’s so low in nutrients – yet high in metals – that most plants won’t grow near it. Due to this fact, Nottingham Park’s serpentine barrens are home to a variety of rare plants and wildflowers. The serpentine barrens are so breathtaking that Nottingham Park was recently recognized as a National Natural Landmark full of unique wonders.

Core Creek Park

Located in Middletown Township, Bucks County, PA, Core Creek Park is your destination for lots of great springtime activities. If you’re looking for some vigorous exercise, Core Creek Park showcases multiple ball fields along with regulation and child-size tennis courts. For more leisurely activities, you can enjoy designated nature areas, plenty of great fishing spots filled with bass and catfish, and boat rentals and activities. Be sure to check out their website for more information about any special events scheduled for spring and summer.

Negley Park

Located high on a hilltop in Cumberland Valley, Negley Park showcases one of the most spectacular sights in all of PA: a panoramic view of the Harrisburg skyline and the mighty Susquehanna River. A favorite spot for photographers and fireworks viewing, Negley Park has plenty of park amenities to make new memories, including picnic tables, grills, basketball, tennis and pickleball courts, playgrounds, and plenty of benches for sitting and soaking up those serene sights.

Two Mile Run County Park

If you’re eager for more than an afternoon trip to the park, Two Mile Run County Park is calling you. A beautiful 2,695-acre park with a 144-acre lake and 38 miles of trails, this gem of Venango County offers everything fans of the great outdoors adore: camping, boating, fishing, swimming, horseback riding, mountain biking, and more. An ideal springtime destination, Two Mile Run County Park is open year-round so you can experience its natural beauty every season.

These are just a few of the many great local parks and recreational spots in Pennsylvania – and there are over 600 more just waiting for you to discover them this spring. Before you head out to these favorites or any local Pennsylvania Parks for your springtime fun, be sure to visit their websites first to familiarize yourself with any public health protocols that are currently in place.

Uncommon Springtime Fun In Your Local Park!

The trees are budding, flowers are blooming, and the temps are climbing: All the signs that tell us that springtime is here! You’ve been cooped up all winter long and now you want to get outside and make the most of this special season by doing something different. Local PA parks are just the place to partake in outdoor springtime activities that go beyond picnics, kite flying, and games of catch. Whether you’re in the mood for some outdoor fun that gets you moving or an outdoor activity that’s a bit more relaxed, let us help you find the uncommon springtime fun that’s best for you!

Kayaking

The kayaking craze went into overdrive last year – so much so that there were waitlists for kayak purchases due to the demand. When social distancing regulations went into effect, the interest in solitary activities (beyond jogging and biking) increased rapidly. Kayaking quickly reached the top of that activities list – and it’s easy to see why. Kayaking gets you outdoors, doubles as a low-impact exercise, and treats you to the sights and sounds of nature. Now that kayaks are back in stock, this spring is the perfect time to enjoy this popular outdoor activity in your local Pennsylvania parks!

Slacklining

A combination of balancing exercise, moving mediation, and outdoor fun, slacklining is fast becoming a favorite warm-weather activity for many. If you are unfamiliar with slacklining, it’s similar to the concert of tightrope walking except that it involves stringing a nylon rope between two trees at a much lower height. Originally created by mountain climbers looking to strengthen their leg muscles and improve their balance, slacklining is also popular with yoga enthusiasts, cross trainers, and anyone looking for something different to do in their free time. Many local parks are allowing slacklining with specific regulations to protect the property and not cause any disruptions to bystanders. Be sure to check with your local officials to make sure slacklining is allowed in your favorite PA park.

Outdoor Elliptical Biking

Are you a fan of hitting the bike trails in local parks but want more of a challenge? Then you may want to take your bike game to the next level with an outdoor elliptical bike. Pairing the style of a traditional bike with the exercise elements of an elliptical machine, these stand-up outdoor bikes are perfect for adding an aerobic workout component to your bike trail expeditions! Full disclosure – you’ll probably turn heads in your local because not everyone has seen an outdoor elliptical bike in action!

Geocaching

If you’re looking for a less vigorous, more tech-savvy outdoor activity this spring, geocaching may be more your speed. A new spin on a classic scavenger hunt, geocaching is an outdoor game that involves the use of a GPS-enabled device like a smartphone to navigate a specific set of coordinates to successfully discover a hidden container (geocache) that holds a prize. Although primarily played in cities, geocaching has caught on in local parks due to the many unique hiding places they offer. Grab your phone and get ready for a modern-day treasure hunt!

These are just a few of the many uncommon springtime activities that you can enjoy in your favorite PA parks. Be sure to read all park guidelines before you perform any of these activities, just to be sure that they do not violate any park rules and regulations. Springtime will be over before you know it, so don’t delay – get outside and enjoy your warm-weather activities today!

The importance of Conserving Our Parks

It’s likely that if you’ve ever visited a local or state park, you’ve been aware that there is a common “pack in, pack out” rule. That means, anything, including waste, that you bring into a park, you must also remove from the park when you leave. Smaller community parks often offer trash bins and recycling containers for your waste. Conserving the natural habitat through personal responsibility in and outside parks is crucial. You can practice park conservation from your home, as well as while you’re visiting the pristine landscape of a national, state, or local park. Here are some ways you can help to do your part in conserving our parks.

Leave No Trace

When you visit a park, make sure you take anything you’ve brought with you when you leave. Trash and litter left behind can harm wildlife and the natural environment of the parks, so picking up after yourself is critical to conservation. Additionally, if you see debris and trash during your next visit, do your part and pick it up.

Donate or Fundraise

Fundraising and donations can help sustain and promote the conservation of parks all across the country. Donations fund projects and sustainability initiatives at local, state, and national levels. Funding can help facilitate programs in the community, rehab or add playgrounds to parks, and simply help to maintain the grounds.

Reduce Your Footprint

The idea of “saving the environment” can be overwhelming. People often think they need to do all or nothing in their commitment to helping the environment, but then get frustrated by the challenge. However, simple, small changes can also make a big difference in your environmental footprint. Some easy changes that help our parks are:

  • Invest in some reusable items like bottles, bags, and utensils.
  • Use fewer straws or invest in a reusable straw that you can carry with you.
  • Use the air dryer in a restroom instead of paper towels.
  • Compost and recycle.
  • Switch to bar toiletries like soap and shampoo instead of options that come in plastic containers.

Conserving our parks goes beyond simply visiting and promoting these essential natural environments. You can do your part in and outside the parks all year round!

The Most Common Animals at PA Parks

Pennsylvania is home to a diverse landscape with a variety of wildlife nestled into it. The state’s beautiful parks offer perfect places to experience the assorted wildlife that reside here. From 435 bird species to weasels and otters to even elk, the Keystone State is brimming with creatures for you to discover nearly right outside your door – or wherever your closest local park is. Let’s take a look at some of the wildlife a sharp eye is apt to find at PA parks.

River Otters

Though elusive, these water-loving creatures are a staple in Pennsylvania’s waterways. In fact, they exist in every major river system in the state. Otters sometimes live near cities, but typically prefer the wilder terrain of Pennsylvania, so you may need to head to a park that’s farther away depending on where you live. These playful pups (and adults) love to slide down muddy banks or ice and have fun with sticks, stones, food, and more. However, you may have trouble finding them in the wild but if you do, you’ll never forget it! If you can’t spot one in the wild, you might see one riding around on a license plate as Pennsylvania made the river otter a star of some of its custom options starting in 1999.

Elk

Did you know that Pennsylvania is home to Elk Country? That’s right! In almost the very middle of the state, you’ll find Elk Country in Benezette, PA. During the 1800s, this native species was entirely wiped out but in 1913 the Pennsylvania Game Commission imported elk from the West to reintroduce them to the state. Today roughly 1,200 elk roam across 10 PA counties. In Benezette, you can enjoy exploring the Elk Country Visitor Center where you can learn about the history of the animals and maybe even spot one in the wild!

Birds

Of the 435 species of birds in Pennsylvania, you’re most likely to see a Northern Cardinal or American Robin at your local parks or even in your backyard! These common birds love to visit just outside your window or your birdfeeder for a delicious bite. You also have a high chance of seeing an American Crow, Blue Jay, or Mourning Dove near your home or at your favorite park as these are common birds in the state. Break out the binoculars to try and find other less-populous gems like the Gray Catbird or White-Throated Sparrow.

There are many more kinds of wildlife to enjoy in and around the lush parks of Pennsylvania. No matter the season, you’re sure to discover something special at your local park!