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 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, gray wolves, and bald and golden eagles?peer back at visitors. Guests can also spy on more than 15 species that are threatened or endangered.
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.
The idyllic surroundings of The Vineyard at Hershey include acres of rolling vineyards and a natural, spring-fed pond. Inside a rustic farmhouse, guided tours take an in-depth look into the winemaking process, and end with tastings of small-batch Pennsylvania wines. Walk across the lawn to find the brewery, where brewmasters pour nearly 20 beers ranging from crisp hefeweizens to hop-heavy IPAs, with different brews crafted at different times of the year. Throughout the year, the Vineyard hosts events such as wine and beer release parties and concerts, including the summertime Decked-Out Live! Entertainment Series.
Though it looks old-timey, The Pride of the Susquehanna Riverboat is actually a late 20th-century creation, built and launched in 1988. Yet it still harks back to simpler times such as the 1800s or last Thursday, with mahogany woodwork lining the interior, punctuated by stained-glass ceilings and a front bar covered in copper and brass tacks. As guests enjoy cruising the Susquehanna River, they might enjoy a tasty dinner or just see the sights along the shore. On the boat, Susquehanna River School teaches students of all ages about the history and natural wonders of the mighty river, and what's being done to preserve them.
Harrisburg by Segway takes guests gliding past the city's historical venues and scenic sites on the smooth ride of a segway. The 2-hour tours— family friendly and and an alternative to the classic date night— snake along the Susquehanna River, past Riverfront Park, and under the Harvey Taylor Bridge. Tourists take in breathtaking views of downtown Harrisburg, including a stop at the Capitol Building, and some secret spots that will even surprise the locals.
Spirit Expeditions specializes in haunted walking and shuttle tours of historic cities throughout America. On the two-hour tour, guides narrate spooky tales of serial killers, Freemasons, and the strange occurrences at the spookiest locations in each city. Along the way, guests conduct their own ghost hunts.