Road Trip: Explore picturesque Central Pennsylvania
Fall in Central Pennsylvania is both picturesque and full of fun things to experience.
From beautiful landscapes to the cheers of football fans at Beaver Stadium, Centre County offers everything from a college-campus experience to cave explorations to wine tastings to an historic railroad to snakes and alligators.
“The outdoors and its close proximity to campus, attractions or an evening out on the town are some of State College's best features,” says Christie Black, Central Pennsylvania Convention & Visitors Bureau director of marketing. “Fall offers many leaf-peeping opportunities, too.
“Visit the area during a game weekend or during one of our fall-foliage festival weekends for a spectacular view. Come back when the snow flies and book one of our winter packages, see a show, hit the slopes or trails.”
Details: 814-231-1401 or www.visitpennstate.org
The Penn State experience
There are five home games remaining for the Penn State football team at Beaver Stadium (right) under the direction of first-year head coach Bill O'Brien, including Homecoming on Oct. 6 when the Nittany Lions host Northwestern. Other home opponents include Temple, Ohio State, Indiana and Wisconsin.
While on campus, don't forget the ice cream. Make time to stop at the Berkey Creamery (below), the largest university creamery in the nation. The Creamery features seating for 80 people inside, 60 outside under the canopy and 72 under the umbrella tables. Each year, about 4.5 million pounds of milk pass through the Creamery's stainless-steel holding tanks. There are more than 100 flavors of ice cream, sherbet and frozen yogurt.
After you've gotten your sweet treat, stroll through the new gardens at the nearby Arboretum (right). Staff there is at work adding a children's garden.
Penn's Cave is a wildlife park and cave about 20 miles east of State College. Activities include guided boat rides through the cave, wildlife tours to see the numerous wild animals on the premises and a gift shop to pick up some souvenirs.
Lincoln Caverns and Whisper Rocks sponsors a haunted cave tour through the month of October. Ghosts and Goblins 2012 will begin Oct. 5 and run Fridays through Oct. 27. See Penn's Cave by boat, it is the only all-water commercial cavern in the United States. The cave also offers a wildlife tour by safari bus.
Details: 814-364-1664 or www.pennscave.com
814-643-0268 or www.lincolncaverns.com
Heading toward Brookmere Winery & Vineyard Inn is another beautiful fall-foliage drive along Route 322 past Poe Paddy State Park. The inn is in a 19th-century stone-and-wood bank barn. You'll also want to stop off at Seven Mountains Wine Cellars. Tucked in the woods, Seven Mountains is an award-winning wine cellar that just expanded its patio to host Friday-night campfires. Brookmere Winery offers tours of the winery by appointment and tastings daily.
Meet the animals
Clyde Peelings Reptiland is a specialized zoo, home to a wide variety of reptiles, including alligators, tortoises, and, of course, snakes. You might also see rare birds, mammals, tortoises, lizards and frogs throughout the zoo. Reptiland is open year-round.
Zoo visitors can get an up-close look at snakes and alligators in a re-created, natural environment that is safe and educational. Exhibits are self-guided.
Details: 570-538-1869 or www.reptiland.com
On the rails
Bellefonte Historic Railroad will sponsor its annual Fall Foliage excursions Oct. 20 and 21. This year, there will be four trips. All rides are round trip departing from the Bellefonte Station.
Details: 814-355-1053 or www.bellefontetrain.org
Off to nature
The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle is perfect for the traveler who wants a taste of the outdoors, but wants the comfort of a bed-and-breakfast. Located lakeside, it is the first inn of its kind in a Pennsylvania state park. Hiking, biking and birding trails lead off from the front door. Details: 814-625-2879 or www.natureinnatbaldeagle.com