3 last-minute getaways before school starts
It's only a few weeks before the school is back in session.
Now is the time to plan those last-minute getaways — whether it be a day trip or an overnight stay — before the homework, sports and after-school activities begin anew.
Here are some ideas of places to go:
Address: Solomons (aka Solomons Island), Calvert County, Md.
Travel distance: 135 miles (about 2.5 hours from York)
If you're looking to get away for a long weekend, consider heading to Solomons on the western side of the Chesapeake Bay. Children will enjoy hunting for prehistoric fossils — sharks teeth, Chesapectens (extinct scallop), and seabirds — on the beach at Calvert Cliffs State Park or nearby Flag Ponds Nature Park (the latter offers a shorter walk to the cliffs). Visit the Calvert Marine Museum to learn more about those prehistoric fossils, marine life, and the history of the area. While you are at the museum, tour a lighthouse, and take a boat ride on the Patuxent River. Head to the Annemarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center, where children can enjoy fairy houses as well as learn to be creative with throw away items, such as plastic bottles. Enjoy the river walk at night. "There's all kinds of things you can see," said Joyce Baki, tourism specialist with the Calvert County Department of Economic Development. Three hotels, three bed-and-breakfast inns as well as vacation rentals are available for overnight stays.
Address: 296 Viaduct Road, Kane, PA 16735
Travel distance: About 224 miles from York (4 hours and 13 minutes)
This park features a skywalk — created from a historic railroad viaduct — that allows you to look out over the Kinzua Creek Valley. You'll be standing 225-feet above the gorge and can look straight down to the bottom through a section of glass floor, said Holly Dzemyan, environmental education specialist. Visitors can walk the easy, one-mile General Kane Trail on top or hike the more difficult Kinzua Creek Trail down into the valley. Families can capture a 3-D-looking photograph with the railroad towers in the background. The park opened its new visitors center this summer. Visitors can learn more about the history of the railroad bridge, which was considered to be the tallest and longest in the world when it was completed in 1882. It was rebuilt in early 1900s with steel. A tornado knocked down 11 of the 20 towers in 2003. Exhibits also cover the variety of habitat at the park and Big Foot — he reportedly has been seen in the area.
Address: 222 Penns Cave Road, Centre Hall, Pa.
Travel distance: About 109 miles from York (about 2 hours)
Phone: (814) 364-1664
Cost: Varies, combo packages are available to help save money
When it's hot outside, head into Penn's Cave. It's a cool 52 degrees. The cave — not far from State College, Pa. — has been open since 1885, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors tour the limestone cavern by boat and see a variety of stalactites and stalagmites. One formation looks like "The Statue of Liberty." Another reminds visitors of the Nittany Lion. It's an active, living cave, meaning that the formations continue to grow. The cave has a broad appeal to all ages. "It's just a very special place," said Terri Schleiden, marketing director for the cave. In addition to the cave, visitors can take the Farm, Nature and Wildlife Tour. They can see a variety of animals, such as the mountain lion, timber wolves, elk, black bears, bison and more. More activities also are available, and visitors can eat at the Cave Cafe or bring a lunch to eat in the picnic area. "It's a great day trip," Schleiden said.