What’s On Your Agenda This Summer?

The unofficial start to summer has come and gone with Memorial Day this past Monday. First, let me say thank you to all the brave men and women that have made the greatest sacrifice for this great country we get to call home.

Every year, summer flies by in what feels like a blink of an eye. I think that’s just the nature of living in the Northeast. We endure (what feels like) long winters, only for summer to breeze by while we are enjoying ourselves. I always leave summer thinking I wish I had made more of it while it lasted. I think part of that is how busy summer is, but part of that is my own doing; spending too much time inside and not enough outside.

So this summer I’d like to make a point to get out and visit more places, especially locally. Some of my wife and I’s favorites are free or have minimal cost. Others don’t require a substantial cash outlay and we like to treat ourselves to these activities several times a year. This list could be quite lengthy, but I’m going to abbreviate it to share a couple of Colin’s family, and My wife and I’s, favorites. Maybe you get the chance to try one or two of them this year, or already have in the past, and can give them another try.

The Free Stuff (or mostly free)

These are some of the local places we like to visit on the weekends. Whether to stretch the legs or get the kids out of the house to enjoy the sunshine. They don’t cost anything at all or just a nominal amount.

Paulus Farm Market

  • This is my wife’s absolute favorite. She’s obsessed with all animals, but especially baby goats, and there is not a shortage of baby goats at Paulus Farm Market. There is no cost for admission, but the bag of food to feed the animals costs a few bucks. My niece and nephews also enjoy this place. If you have young kids it’s a great place to kill a few hours during a Saturday.
  • There are numerous other activities outside of feeding the animals to keep the kids occupied, and around holidays like Halloween they have activities tailored to the holiday. It’s also a fun place for a birthday party. So if you haven’t been before, or it has been awhile, Paulus farm is a spot you should check out.

Mt. Airy Orchards

  • A great spot to take the kids to pick berries. I was amazed last year how reasonable the cost was compared to buying blueberries/blackberries at the local supermarket.
  • There is also a kid’s play area with a ton of cool things to do that comes with a small fee.
  • There are also little farmer’s classes that teach kids about the different processes they use to grow the produce they sell there.

Fort Hunter

  • I may have a soft spot for this one because we had our engagement photos taken here, but it really is a great place to get some steps in on a weekend, or any day, and take in the beautiful scenery and history. There’s no business hours for the park so you can visit anytime from dusk to dawn, but the mansion does have select hours from May-December and is closed in the winter.
  • For being so close to Harrisburg it is usually pretty quiet. I enjoy the history, walking paths, and most of all being right on the Susquehanna river. Especially on hot humid summer days in south central PA, there is plenty of shade and the river breeze usually keeps it marginally cooler. And because it’s so close to Harrisburg, when I worked at my prior firm I would take my lunch down there and enjoy it while sitting on the porch swings overlooking the river.
  • There are grills and picnic tables. My wife’s law firm had a picnic here last summer and I enjoyed it. So if you’re in the Harrisburg area and want to kill an hour, or a few, check out Fort Hunter and get some steps in.

Some Cost, But Not Too Bad

These are some of the things we like to do at least once, but maybe a few times a year. There is a cost associated with them that can sometimes add up, whether that be admission, tickets, food & beverage, parking, etc. We always have a great time and most of all get to spend anywhere from several hours to all day outside.

Harrisburg Senators

  • Outside of golf, baseball games may be my favorite summer entertainment. Tickets for Senators games are fairly reasonable, about $15-20 a pop, and if you buy them in packages at the beginning of the year you can get an even better deal. And while it may not be the first division of American sports leagues, it’s still a high quality product, fun to watch, and very conveniently located.
  • The stadium is practically brand new and there are great views of the Susquehanna river and down Harrisburg. There is a lot to do inside the stadium, and outside, with a miniature golf course and other attractions on the island. Each Senators game usually features a promotion. We like the Friday games with fireworks after. We also plan on taking our puppy, Lyla, to a Wet-Nose Wednesday game this year, for her first experience attending a baseball game.
  • Sometimes we will switch things up and park in the city to enjoy an adult beverage and appetizer before the game. This is a good way to cut down on the costs of food and beverage inside the stadium, although the food and beverage prices in FNB Field are very reasonable compared to other sporting events i’ve been to recently. The walk back across Susquehanna after the game is a great way to end the day, with the bridge and the city both lit up.


  • I’m going to skip Hershey park because pretty much everyone has been there. Colin took his family to Knoebels last summer and it is a great alternative, especially with young kids. You can purchase a $20 ticket book at Weis Markets for $17 and you pay per ride.
  • Our kids still only last for a few hours in the heat, so if they don’t use all the tickets you can always just save them for the next visit. We also just packed lunches and ate in the public pavilions outside before we entered the park. This was a huge savings on the food side.

Long Weekend Trips and Driveable Vacations

With airline traffic and costs still near all-time highs, we also wanted to give some of our favorite alternatives for driveable trips. Everyone loves a good beach vacation, but sometimes a change of scenery and more mild weather can be a nice alternative to roasting in the sun for a week.

Niagara Falls

  • Ironically, my last trip here was on New Years Eve about 7 years ago and it was one of, if not the coldest, days I’ve experienced. It was so cold that day, the mist was freezing as it came off the falls. If you have not been to Niagara Falls before I really do recommend it. It is truly gorgeous, but also a fascinating marvel and a must see.
  • Another nice thing about Buffalo is that lodging and food are reasonably priced.  Not only are they reasonable, but the food is delicious. Hands down, the best Buffalo chicken sandwich I’ve ever had was from Buffalo. That’s a big statement considering I have eaten a lot of buffalo chicken sandwiches in my 32 years on this planet. Buffalo has a more laid back, small city feeling, which I enjoy.
  • My wife grew up just southeast of Buffalo and Niagara Falls and we usually visit there several times a year. One of my favorite things about western New York is how perfect the weather is in the summer. There isn’t much humidity and it still gets down into the 50’s most nights. Great weather and lots of parks in western New York make for ample hiking once you’ve visited the falls.

Deep Creek Lake

  • Colin’s wife’s family has been vacationing here for over 15 years. It’s a nice break from the heat, with the elevation change it’s usually about 10 degrees cooler with lower humidity than the surrounding areas.  You can get short term rentals through AirBnb/VRBO or longer weekly rentals through the two big local rental agencies, Taylor-Made or Railey Vacations.
  • Wisp resort is a short drive away where they have a white water rafting course and there are many beautiful hikes in the area in addition to water sports or fishing on the lake. There are several nice golf courses in the area, so be sure to pack your clubs. It’s a great family friendly vacation spot, and easy to access from several major cities. (DC, Pittsburgh, Baltimore).

Let us know some of your favorite local activities, weekend trips, or family vacation spots. We are always looking to visit new places and try new things. For our out of town friends, we are always welcoming visitors to the area!