It all started with a farmer's generosity. In 1924, a civic-minded citizen handed over 16 acres of lush farmland and a small group of critters to the Borough of Norristown. Today, the Elmwood Park Zoo and the Norristown Zoological Society welcomes guests in hopes of creating a future stock of wildlife lovers and conservation advocates. A menagerie of around 300 beasts indigenous to the Americas—including jaguars, howler monkeys, timberwolves, and bald and gold eagles—peer back at visitors. Even though they're from Africa, giraffes get in on the fun too during certain seasons, grazing on foliage and the toupees of particularly tall patrons. Guests can also spy on more than 15 species that are threatened or endangered. All the while, smaller animals mosey around at the petting barn, tots climb aboard gentle ponies, and winged beauties sail through the air at the butterfly preserve.
Taking in all of Philadelphia's history could take days, but the folks at Philly By Segway somehow manage to compress the city's sights into two-hour tours. Starting along the Delaware River, excursions pass landmarks like Penn's Landing, Independence Hall, and Elfreth's Alley, the nation's oldest residential street. Besides historical attractions, tours stop by other notable spots, like the art museum's "Rocky steps," which Sylvester Stallone famously climbed in his one-man adaptation of Rocky & Bullwinkle.
Accommodating up to six participants, every tour is led by one of Philly By Segway's Adventure Captains. Besides narrating the entire trip, captains snap pictures throughout, which are available for guests to take home afterward.
When Michael Manning made his first batch of home brew in 2001, he thought he had found his calling. Beer, however, turned out to be a stepping stone toward his ultimate beverage of choice?mead. In 2009, using a recipe the American Homebrewers Association published for Mead Day, he concocted his first batch of the honey-wine. Eventually, his personal recipe earned a Best of Show at 2011?s Valhalla mead competition. These days, he uses modern tools and his mastery of fermentation to craft The Colony Meadery?s many styles of mead, which range from strawberry- and kiwi-flavored versions to hoppy, IPA-style variations. The meads are available to sample at The Colony?s in-house tasting room, as well as various taverns throughout the state.
Blue Mountain Vineyards owners, Joe and Vickie, are pinot pioneers. Beginning with a 5-acre experiment in 1986, they discovered that the soil of the Lehigh Valley does a fine impression of French terrain, making it suitable for growing the grapes of cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, and other European varietals. Since then, they've expanded to a 50-acre plot, where they now produce wines that have won awards from the Fingerlake International Wine Competition and Appellation America.
Panoramic views of the Blue Mountains overlook scenic terraces at the vineyards, where grapes spring from soil that soldiers roamed during the Revolutionary War. Tastings, concerts, and other events fill the winery's glass-flanked deck, spilling onto an outdoor patio surrounded by ponds as tranquil as a silent lullaby. Visitors admire the vines during tours, and they can also adopt their favorites to preserve the vines' flavorful histories.
Staff Size: 2?10 people
Average Duration of Services: 2?4 hours
Brands Used: Ozone Paragliders, Flytec Varios
Pro Tip: Bring sunblock, comfortable clothing, hiking shoes or sneakers, and plenty of stuff to drink.
Parking: Parking lot
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: Tandems
Recommended Age Group: Adults
When and how did you first develop a passion for your work?
My husband and I started flying in 2001. We love to be in the air and fly from cloud to cloud. We decided to teach to bring this awesome experience to many more people.
What is the one feature of your business that you're most proud of?
Our awesome big field, which allows us to operate with any wind direction, making us the North East school that operates the [most] days during the year.
What?s your favorite part of your job?
Flying people and seeing their huge smile once we land.