Other than exploring Philadelphia, most of my experience with Pennsylvania consisted of driving the very long, flat turnpike. Little did I know that just off the interstate lay an area with a vast lake full of possibilities to explore and many exciting transportation museums resulting from the local production of iron.
I was invited to the area as part of a writer’s retreat from the Huntingdon County Visitor Beaurea. They spoilt a group of writers with time at the lake, a progressive dinner in Huntingdon, and visits to three museums.
Things to Do around Huntingdon
Enjoy downtown Huntingdon.
Downtown Huntingdon is a great place to walk, grab a bite or coffee, and catch a movie in the classic theater. We enjoyed a lot of delicious food while we were in Huntingdon County. A few highlights were scones at The Garden Harvest, a dessert apple caramel scone at Wildflower Cafe (it’s super cute too!), wings at the newly renovated Muddy Run Tavern, anything offRebelz Mobile Cusine food truck, and the Greek Salad at Lil New York. I would love to come back in the winter for a Winter Fireplace Getaway to learn more about coffee from Standing Stone Coffee Company. I especially loved the Sumatra blend.
Visit the oldest antique automobile museum in the United States.
Swigart Museum has an extensive, ever-changing collection of cars, including two real Herbies, a Tucker with a helicopter motor (Tucker is a great movie too) and an automobile with a dirigible motor. I was also intrigued by the collection of model cars made from Jack Daniel’s bottles. However, the best thing about the museum is the people who work in it. The staff is connected to the history and excited to share stories. That was true about all the museums we visited.
Learn about the area’s trolley line.
Iron deposits and coal in the hills lured many of the area’s early settlers. Trolleys were used to bring workers to mine and extract the ore in Rockhill Furnace. The Rock Hill Trolley Museum is Pennsylvania’s first operating trolley museum. Not only are there many historic trolleys to see, but you can also take a beautiful ride through the woods and see remnants of the iron processing plant. They also have seasonal activities, such a pumpkin picking, and Christmas in Coal Country.
Visit the last surviving narrow gauge railroad east of the Rockies.
If you are a railroad fan, like all of my family, this is an exciting stop. East Broad Top Railroad is a unique railroad museum in that many of the engines originated here. Even things that were brought in later still have been on-property for over a hundred years. And their engines are beauties. They also have a huge machine shop, as much was repaired or even built in-house! After your tour, you can head over to the Orbisonia Station and head out for a romantic 45-minute ride to Colgate Grove.
Just about half an hour from Huntingdon is the largest lake within Pennsylvania.
Things to Do at Raystown Lake
At somewhere around 26-miles long and surrounded by undeveloped land, there are many things to do at Raystown Lake. Being an outdoor lover, it was hard for me to decide how to spend my day on the lake. My family would love to return to rent a houseboat from Seven Points Marina.
Kayak on the lakes glassy waters.
One of my favorite things to do is kayak, especially on calm water and with birds around. Rothrock Outfitters Raystown Rentals provided a kayak for me to use. I headed straight for the cove surrounding Marty’s Island. It was an easy, 15-minute glide. I hear the area is bustling in the summer with kids jumping off the rocks, but it was very peaceful in early fall. The red shale barrens at the water’s edge are pretty exciting, and I saw a blue heron and bald eagle.
Take a high-speed pontoon boat ride.
After getting some exercise and relaxation, I was ready to see more of the lake, so I took part in a guided tour of the lake on a 200-horse power pontoon boat. It was interesting to learn about the lake’s history and that it had been dammed to prevent flooding. We went by Sheep Rock Ledge, a cave that held sheep but is now 100-feet underwater.
Speed down a mountain.
Although I prefer to bike on flat surfaces, this place is famous for the Allegrippis Mountain Biking Trails. They even have a skills park!
Take in the view at the Raystown Lake Visitor Center.
Take a walk.
The next thing on my list would have been taking the 2-mile paved Greenside Pathway if I had more time. The last two things I didn’t have time for were…
Tour a fish hatchery.
When I was a child, I remember touring one in California, and it being an exciting experience. It is cool that volunteers staff the Pennsylvania Striped Bass Association Fish Hatchery.
Tour the Lincoln Caverns.
I am kind of obsessed with bats and caves and visit them everywhere I go, but it wasn’t built into this weekend’s itinerary. Just one of many reasons that it would be nice to return to this area.
I had a great time enjoying nature in the area of Pennsylvania. Have you been to the area? What are your favorite parts? I would love to hear in the comment section.