Family Favorites in Happy Valley
Summer is here once again. The sun is shining, birds are singing and children are home from school creating the perfect environment to have fun outside and spend time with family. However, while being home is fun for children initially, parents will soon be hearing the most dreaded phrase from their little ones: “I’m bored.”
Thankfully, Happy Valley holds many cures for summer boredom that suit both children and their parents. People of all ages can use their newfound spare time to fulfill their summer bucket lists and have fun outdoors in Happy Valley — all while learning something, too! Here are some of the top places for your next family adventure.
The Discovery Space
If you have a child who enjoys hands-on learning, this is the perfect place to visit. The Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania holds more than 45 exhibits that are designed to make learning about STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) more fun, encouraging children to be creative and curious about everyday phenomena.
The Discovery Space also offers various fun, science-themed camps throughout the summer. Open day camps include “The Notion of Motion” and “All About Energy” for children ages 11-14, June 25-29. For a complete list of open camps, their dates and descriptions, visit https://mydiscoveryspace.org/programs-events/summer-2018-science-camps/#readThinkDo, and don’t wait to sign up — the camp fills up quickly!
Parent perk: reasonable prices. Regular admission is $7 per person, and children under two years old get in free! Groups of more than 10 people can get in for $5 per person if the reservation is made at least 48 hours in advance. The Discovery Space proves that learning about science can be both fun and affordable.
Penn’s Cave and Wildlife Park
Presidents, monuments and water, oh my! Penn’s Cave is America’s only water cavern and is right in Penn State’s backyard. This park offers a boat tour of the limestone cavern, which maintains a constant 52-degree temperature and features rock formations that look like the Statue of Liberty, George Washington and other strikingly familiar objects.
The limestone water cavern is not the park’s only feature. It’s only one part of the park’s 1,600 acres of forests and fields. Open-air bus tours of the park give visitors an up-close view of the animals and plants on the 90-minute Farm, Nature and Wildlife Tour. Additionally, visitors can reserve a ride on the Cave Rock Mountain Tour to travel from the cave rock to the mountaintop.
Hungry after your tour? No problem! The Cave Café offers bison and longhorn burgers, or visitors can pack a lunch and picnic in the pavilion. Visit Penn’s Cave and Wildlife Park, five miles past Centre Hall on Route 192 to appreciate nature’s beauty and spend time with family.
DelGrosso’s Amusement Park
Summer’s heat can make the days drag by, but it doesn’t have to be this way! DelGrosso’s Amusement Park can fulfill any child’s (or parent’s) wildest dreams. Only 30 miles south of State College on I-99 Tipton, DelGrosso’s is the perfect destination for a family day trip. The amusement resort expanded its Italian-themed Laguna Splash water park in 2016. Now, guests can drift past a replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the lazy river, have a blast in the massive, 300,000-gallon wave pool or ride waterslides such as Twin Twisters, Midnight Express and Gravity Groove. Even the names sound thrilling! If you have small children, never fear! Laguna Splash also has a calm wading pool.
Parents rejoice, for you won’t have to worry about packing lunches for everyone. DelGrosso’s offers amazing food. The park’s freshly-made pizza features locally-made tomato sauce and can be bought by the slice or by the pie. Every Wednesday is “Spaghetti Wednesday,” but spaghetti isn’t the only feature. Guests can enjoy other homemade Italian foods, such as lasagna, meatballs, gnocchi, stuffed shells and many more amazing dishes. You’ll forget you’re at DelGrosso’s and think you’re at an Italian restaurant — that’s how good these dishes are.
DelGrosso’s Park makes it easy to have fun on a budget with free parking and free admission to the ride park for all guests during the normal operating season. Purchase an all-day ride pass for $29.95 to enter to the water park and to ride the park rides, and get a discount if you ordered online! DelGrosso’s also offers over 15 pavilions for all-day rentals on the park picnic grounds and offers catering to your gathering.
Central PA Festival of the Arts
This is the place to be for art lovers. The 52nd Festival of the Arts will be held July 12–15 in downtown State College. The Sidewalk Sale and Exhibition will hold over 300 artists selling their work, making it the perfect place to look for gifts or decorations. Watch painters and sculptors at work at the Italian Street Painting Festival on Heister Street or check out the Images 2018 fine art gallery.
Happy Valley Classics
While the child-centered activities in Happy Valley are great, there are many other fun places to visit! Take a hike on Mount Nittany or head downtown to the Corner Room to try a grilled sticky. Those who just want to take a nice stroll can explore the Penn State University Park campus and all it has to offer: the Palmer Museum of Art, the Arboretum, the Nittany Lion Shrine and so much more. Visit the Hintz Family Alumni Center — which this author considers an underrated gem — if you want to see a beautiful garden and a pond where the ducks like to hang out. End your stay with a scoop of your favorite flavor of ice cream at Berkey Creamery. Let Happy Valley be the place you make your next favorite memory with family and friends.
Places to Stay
With all that Happy Valley has to offer, families will need a few days to have all the fun and see all the sights. Luckily, there are many hotels in the area where you can book your stay for your family trip. Just a few in State College include Fairfield Inn and Suites on North Atherton Street, Hampton Inn and Suites on East College Avenue and SpringHill Suites State College on Waddle Road. All are fully loaded with amenities and are located in just the right spots to help you see and do everything on your Happy Valley summer bucket list.