20 Must-See Places to Reconnect for Earth Day
Happy Travelers appreciate Mother Nature year-round, but Earth Day is a particularly special time to get out, breathe deep, and soak up the beauty of Pennsylvania’s greater-than-great outdoors. If you’re in the mood for a festival or on the hunt for a great state park, we’ve found 20 ways for you to celebrate the epic beauty of Penn’s Woods this Earth Day.
1. Party For the Planet
Get ready to get down and Party for the Planet on April 27 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown. There will be plenty of kid-centric activities, an Earth Expo, raffles for goodies to take home, a “21+1 Good Deeds Challenge” from the book Super Heroes of Service, and, of course, plenty of animals!
2. Naturepalooza: a Family Earth Day Celebration
What better way to celebrate Earth Day than with family and friends at Naturepalooza: a Family Earth Day Celebration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 27 at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education in Philadelphia. There will be science and environmental art activities, hikes, crafts, food trucks, dances, and even a fort-building competition.
3. Jim Thorpe Earth Day Festival
Start your Earth Day by helping to clean up the Lehigh River while earning a free food voucher at the Jim Thorpe Earth Day Festival on April 27 (rain date April 28) from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Jim Thorpe. Afterward, enjoy the live music, a variety show, crafts, workshops, train rides, basket raffles, and some great food. The little naturalists in your life are sure to have a fun time at the castle bounce house, kids craft area, hooping, and face painting, and enjoy a visit from Woodsy Owl and Smokey Bear.
4. Pittsburgh Earth Day
Are you or someone you know an Earth-loving fashionista? See the latest fashion trends featuring recycled and reused materials at Pittsburgh’s Ecolution Fashion Show on April 18 from 6 to 10 p.m. — the kick-off event for the Pittsburgh Earth Day celebration. Trek to Market Square for special “Paint the Square Green” activities with live music and a variety of vendors specializing in Earth-friendly products on April 19-20. Beer lovers, you can do your part for the environment with the Great Lakes Brewing Sustainable Sips Pub Crawl, which plants a tree for every five participating businesses you visit.
5. Mechanicsburg Earth Day Festival
You’ll find a fun and educational way to celebrate our wonderful planet at the Mechanicsburg Earth Day Festival April 20 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in downtown Mechanicsburg. There will be live music, a chicken barbecue, a bike ride, and craft-making from recycled materials, as well as the opportunity to recycle those old electronics and bicycles, bid on some beautifully painted rain barrels, and pick up a free white pine seedling and Veggie Lover’s Herb Chart.
6. Lawrence County’s Earth Day
Enjoy a day of fun at Lawrence County’s Earth Day in Ellwood City on April 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The day is chock-full of special Earth Day activities including entertainment by area performers, educational exhibits, horse-drawn carriage rides, a special presentation by Wild World of Animals, and the not-to-be missed From Trash to Fashion “Trashion Show.”
7. Monroe County Earth Day
Monroe County is celebrating Earth Day in a big way with Monroe County Earth Day on April 27 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Monroe Campus of Northampton Community College in Tannersville. There will be live music, family activities, guest speakers, and a green campus tour in this celebration of conservation.
8. Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
Earth Day happens to fall right in the middle of the spring migration of hawks, vultures, and other magnificent raptors through eastern Pennsylvania. Watch these beautiful birds soar across mountaintops in one of America’s greatest airshows, enjoy some awe-inspiring views, and learn about all things raptor in the visitor center at the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton.
9. Nature Inn at Bald Eagle
Every day is Earth Day in Pennsylvania’s state parks. Here’s just a sampling of the natural wonders that await you at any one of the 121 parks across the state. Love the outdoors but not into camping? The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle offers the ideal solution. Spend your days exploring Pennsylvania’s natural beauty found in the lake, forests, fields, wetlands, and streams of Bald Eagle State Park, then retire to the Inn for all the creature comforts of a hotel stay. Perfect for an Earth Day escape!
10. Tom Ridge Environmental Center
Ready for a workout this Earth Day? Climb the 131 steps to the top of the viewing tower at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center at Presque Isle State Park in Erie for a spectacular bird’s eye view of Lake Erie, then learn about the park’s ever-changing, diverse ecosystems in the 65,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility. Kids can enjoy some fun Earth Day craft activities on April 20, or you can all pitch in for the Presque Isle’s 63rd Spring Clean-Up from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Free lunch is provided!
11. Cherry Springs State Park
Hike some of the 85 miles of trails in the 262,000-acre Susquehannock State Forest on Earth Day. Then, as night descends, celebrate earth’s place in the celestial realm at Cherry Springs State Park, certified by the Internation Dark-Sky Association. Free from light pollution, your eyes and spirit will be in for an amazing view of the night sky filled with the light from thousands of twinkling stars.
12. Kinzua Bridge State Park
Take a walk on the wild side of nature this Earth Day with a trip to Kinzua Bridge State Park in Mt. Jewett, where you’ll take in the breathtaking views of the Kinzua Gorge and Viaduct suspended 624 feet in the air atop the Kinzua Sky Walk. You’ll feel connected with nature in a whole new way as you walk along these “Tracks Across the Sky” and try to touch the sky above and gaze down through the glass floor to the forest below.
13. Elk Country Visitors Center
See and celebrate some of the world’s magnificent animals this Earth Day with a trip to Pennsylvania’s “Elk Country.” Learn the amazing story of the elks’ reintroduction and survival in Pennsylvania at the Elk Country Visitors Center in Benezette, where you won’t want to miss the Story Theater’s immersive 4-D, multimedia presentation showcasing the region’s elk during all four seasons of the year.
14. Ricketts Glen State Park
What better place to appreciate and celebrate Mother Earth than by the cascading waterfalls of the Glens Natural Area in Ricketts Glen State Park, one of only 599 National Natural Landmarks in the entire U.S. and its territories. A hike along the 7.2-mile Falls Trail or the shorter 3.2-mile loop takes you past all but one of the park’s 22 wild, free-flowing waterfalls, including the 94-foot Ganoga Falls.
15. Ohiopyle State Park
Immerse yourself in the splendor of nature this Earth Day with a Spring Wildflower Hike along the Great Gorge Trail in Ohiopyle State Park from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on April 20. Afterwards, explore the park by bike or book a wild whitewater rafting ride down the Youghiogheny River for a full appreciation of earth’s power and beauty.
16. Pine Creek Gorge
Take in some spectacular views this Earth Day by hiking, biking, or even driving along the west rim of Pine Creek Gorge in the Tioga State Forest. This is truly a nature-lover’s paradise and a grand place to celebrate Earth Day.
17. John James Audubon Center
Named after one of the first people to utilize bird banding in North America, The John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove is one of Montgomery County’s best places to get outdoors and make the most of Earth Day. The center, which recently completed an extensive series of renovations, is open to the public from dusk to dawn. Visitors can partake in bird watching, enjoy leisurely hikes on the miles of trails, and brush up on their knowledge of North America’s birds at the outdoor aviary.
18. Gifford Pinchot State Park
Gifford Pinchot was the 28th Governor of Pennsylvania and the first Chief of the United States Forest Service, so the perfect way to spend Earth Day would be visiting the PA state park named in his honor. The 2,338-acre Gifford Pinchot State Park in Lewisberry has endless outdoor recreational opportunities including biking, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, and disc golf.
Looking to learn more about Gifford Pinchot himself? Happy Travelers could also take a self-guided tour of the grounds of his home at Grey Towers National Historic Site in Milford. Built in 1886, the iconic mansion is a beautiful three-story chateau that is a sight to behold!
19. Whitaker Center
Check out a beekeeper’s suit and a miniature hive, see a spectacular Upcycled Pollinator Art Exhibit, have fun with the PA Department of Environmental Protection’s Water Wheel and bean-bag toss to learn how you can contribute to keep our water clean, and meet Rascal, the Senators Baseball Team Mascot, at the Earth Day Celebration, Apr. 27 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
20. Colebrookdale Railroad’s Mudball Express
All aboard this Earth Day! Take a two-hour historic journey through the Secret Valley on Colebrookdale Railroad’s Mudball Express on May 18-19. You’ll learn about environmental restoration first hand as you toss “ecologically correct mudballs” — yes, real mudballs — laden with native wildflower seeds from the train.
Bonus Tip: On the May 19 train at 2:30 p.m. First Class Parlor Passengers can enjoy a wine tasting by Setter Ridge Vineyards.
For other green experiences in PA, visit the visitPA website. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to stay up-to-date on even more great ideas and places to visit around our state. Don’t forget to never miss an update and sign up for our monthly Happy Thoughts e-newsletter.