Happy Valley Kids Summer Bucket List—What’s on Yours?
By Jodie Dello Stritto, Editor
Ah, summer… around here, it doesn’t last long, but for parents, it can be daunting to think about filling those long, steamy days with worthwhile activities.
As the parent of a grade schooler, I read something recently that stuck with me: “kids won’t remember their best day of TV.” Summer in Happy Valley is the perfect time to make memories with kids. What’s on your summer bucket list this year? Please share in the comments below so we can help our readers make the most of these precious three months. Here’s my list. Let me know what you think!
You’ve skied, you’ve snowboarded, you’ve eaten wings and drunk craft beer. Load up the kids because Happy Valley’s favorite mountain hang-out has fun for kids, in fact it’s called The Fun Centre and it’s open every day. Take your pick from mini-golf, batting cages and the skate park. The zipline is open by reservation only, so call ahead. Don’t forget Friday night movies on the mountain; showing this summer: Field on Dreams on June 12 and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Bring your blankets and chairs, food and beverages are available for purchase.
If you go: Pack a cooler and your fishing pole and head down to the fishing pond for lunch.
My favorite thing about Del Grosso’s is its size—it’s perfect for families with kids in various age ranges. Spend as little as three hours and cover the whole park, or take it slow and wrap up the day on a lounge chair by the pool. There are rides for every age, including Kids’ Kingdom, games, and of course, thewaterpark, which has a wading pool for the littles and fun slides for bigger kids. A lazy river and wave pool will be opening in 2016. Free parking and free admission? Yes please. All-day ride passes are affordable at $19.95 (including the water park) and individual tickets are perfect for Grandma. Vying for parent of the year? Surprise your kid with a spontaneous weeknight trip—the Sundowner Pass is available for $12.95 Monday through Friday after 5 PM. Del Grosso’s is a super easy daytrip, just 30 miles south of State College on I-99 I Tipton.
Parent perk: the food, OH, THE FOOD. No wilted fries and flat Coke here. Del Grosso’s, after all, is known for its locally-made tomato sauces, and you can enjoy it in the park on freshly-made pizza, sold by the slice or by the pie. (Sometimes we drive over just for dinner, it’s THAT good.) Every Wednesday, all summer long, it’s “Spaghetti Wednesday,” featuring NOT merely spaghetti, but homemade Italian specialties like gnocchi, stuffed shells, lasagna, sweet sausage over bow ties, meatballs, eggplant parm, and a crazy-long list of Italian feasts that are so good, it’s actually kind of weird to be eating them off a disposable plate at an amusement park. But you’ll do it anyway. And you’ll love it.
Hey, that stalactite looks like bacon. No, seriously. Take a boat tour of Penn’s Cave and you’ll see George Washington, the Statue of Liberty and other uncannily familiar rock formations. It’s America’s only water cavern—meaning it’s one of a kind, and it’s right here in Happy Valley, 5 miles past Centre Hall on Route 192. You’ll marvel at the constant 52-degree temperature in the cave, and the legend of star-crossed lovers Princess Nitanee and a French fur trader will give you goose bumps on your goose bumps. Penn’s Cave is nestled among 1,600 carefully preserved acres of forest and field and you can see it up-close (from the comfort of an open-air bus) on the 90-minute Farm, Nature and Wildlife Tour. Guides offer interesting history and facts, and the wildlife are out in full display.
Special treat: Kids will love panning for semi-precious gemstones, fossils and arrowheads from around the world at Prospector Pete’s Sluice. You can grab lunch or snacks in the Cave Café, or pack a picnic and eat in the pavilion.
You’ve undoubtedly dropped the kids at Northland Bowl for birthday parties or class outings, but when that inevitable rainy day arrives, lace up some shoes for the whole family. No matter your skill level, bowling is a blast, and usually involves lots of silliness and laughter. Before you go, have the kids fill their change bags with quarters for the arcade. Kid-friendly food is plentiful, and the Arena Bar & Grill next door serves grown-up food, too. Check the website for daily specials and coupons.
Fun with friends: Make a date with another family for fun and a little friendly bowling competition. It’s become an annual summer tradition for us.
If you live in Happy Valley and you’ve never been to Raystown, don’t miss out on another season of summer fun in this outdoor recreation paradise. The WildRiver Waterpark is located in Lake Raystown Resort and is open to the public. Featuring two, 380-foot twisting slides, the White Water Innertube Ride, the Atomic Blaster, a heated swimming pool and the Children’s Splash and Play Pool, WildRiver has cool fun for kids of all ages. The All-Day Ultimate Blast Pass is just $14.95, and Mondays offer carload pricing at $55 for up to six people, and $9.95 for each additional person.
More family fun: Lake Raystown Resort is ideal for a family getaway that will get the kids off their screens and into the great outdoors. Hiking, biking, boating, fishing, swimming, picnicking, the list goes on. Accommodations range from rustic to all-the-comforts-of-home and are available for weeklong or long-weekend rental. Up for a cool experience? Rent a yurt or a houseboat.
Don’t forget to share your Happy Valley kids’ summer buck