Western Pennsylvania may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about premier standup paddleboarding spots. But for SurfSUP Adventures founder Ian Smith, it was a no-brainer. After exploring the area's rivers, lakes, and whitewater rafting locales, Smith established SurfSUP Adventures to introduce adventurers to the region-friendly sport. Ian and his staff lead eco tours aboard paddleboards, weaving through waterways to discover local flora, fauna, and fossilized surfboards. They also host SUP excursions on Pittsburgh's riverfront and teach SUP yoga classes to sculpt core muscles.
Evelyn and Neill Andritz grew up near the banks of the Kiskiminetas River and quickly became enamored with its wildlife and natural beauty. Wanting to share this passion with others, they founded The River’s Edge, where fleets of kayaks, canoes, and tubes send groups on aquatic journeys into nature.
As watercraft meander down the river, they pass the habitats of local wildlife including deer, bald eagles, geese, and feral former child stars. Alternatively, rental bicycles facilitate on-land adventures, and two primitive campsites let visitors sleep along the river's bank.
Inside The River’s Edge's shop, friendly staff members help customers to purchase kayaks and aquatic gear, or choose the best bait and tackle to catch schools of fish crackers. They also add a touch of nature to homes at a garden center.
South Pike Cinemas showers moviegoers with celluloid visions of first-run films and sweet and salty snacks. Treats such as slushies, Starbucks Frappuccinos, and cheesy nachos join classic popcorn, candy, and sodas at the festive concession stand. At birthday parties, youngsters take a behind-the-scenes journey into the world of cinema as they’re offered a tour of the projection booth, a souvenir strip of film, and the opportunity to try out every seat in the theater to see which is the bounciest.
At Deer Lakes Bowl and Lounge, balls rumble down the lane before they send pins a-clatter. Between frames, bowlers munch on delicious food from the lounge. Whether they just want to snack on breaded banana peppers or zucchini fries, share a pizza, or wipe their hands on a hoagie, the food makes for better fuel than just drinking a whole bunch of cola. For those interested in rolling with a crowd, but who don't want to join a league, Deer Lakes also offers group rates that can support up to 40 people.
Named for the sunny yellow birdsfoot trefoil flowers strewn throughout the course—sprouted from seeds that fell off hay wagons rumbling through years ago on the fields of the former Buffalo Creek Farms—the championship golf course at Birdsfoot Golf Club enchants golfers with rolling hills and country charm. The links-style front nine give way to a back nine whose fairways open over hills, inviting golfers to pull out their drivers and whack dimpled orbs with the club-swinging gusto usually reserved for cracking eggs into an omelet pan. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette highlights the course’s 465-yard third hole as one of the 18 best public holes in western Pennsylvania, citing its mounded fairway, which doglegs left and challenges putts with a downhill, sloped green. As carts zoom from one hole to the next, they traverse a path where bogeyman faces carved by a local artist peer from tree trunks. When players finish their rounds, they can unwind in a clubhouse where ghosts from its former life as a farmhouse offer advice on covertly changing scorecard results.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par 72 course
Length of 7,034 yards
Course rating of 74.4
Slope rating of 137
See an interactive course tour