July 03--On the first weekend of July, and a holiday-extended one at that, its seems fitting to contemplate the joys of summer and our good fortune to experience the season from Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Sorry, sweltering Arizona. Your glamorous resorts and golf courses have, for the next 10 weeks or so, lost all allure.
Even you, sultry Florida, barely woo us with your beaches and bodacious theme parks.
Bold Texas doesn't tempt us.
Broiling Vegas? For now, we'll fold.
We hold a winning hand right here in Luzerne County, where individuals like you can find enjoyable activities, local destinations and day-trip opportunities in spades.
Admittedly, certain people will try to convince you this place lacks vacation appeal and worthy attractions like they have in (fill in the blank with some far-off spot that he, or she, insists is so much "better"). We suggest you leave those mopes to stare at their TV screens while you go explore.
Here's a resource that you, whether an area native or a newcomer, shouldn't overlook: www.tournepa.com.
This website of the Luzerne County Convention and Visitors Bureau spotlights upcoming regional events and showcases things to do in categories ranging from "historical attractions and sightseeing," to "outdoor parks," to "wineries." A nod of appreciation goes to the visitors bureau for this updated site; in prior years, our editorials had been critical of the bureau's online promotional efforts for failing to accentuate this area and instead mostly highlighting sites well beyond the county's borders.
It's time more of us recognize, and appreciate, everything that our communities offer.
Consider, for starters, all the locally organized church and firefighters bazaars, festivals and fairs. This area boasts the usual assortment of fruit festivals (strawberry and peach) as well as Pittston's Tomato Festival and Plymouth's meatier event, the Kielbasa Festival. The themes, however, go far beyond food. For instance, the Briggs Farm Blues Festival, near Nescopeck, is set for next weekend. And in late August, in nearby Scranton, Steamtown National Historic Site plans to conduct for train enthusiasts its annual "Railfest."
Visit Eckley Miners' Village in August for its Civil War encampment, or anytime for a better understanding of this region's anthracite mining heritage.
Don't overlook other prime, local historical sites, such as the Forty Fort Meeting House, the Denison House, also in Forty Fort, and the Swetland Homestead in Wyoming. (Check with site administrators for summer tour times and special events.) Likewise, the Luzerne County Historical Society's museum, in Wilkes-Barre, provides a glimpse into the area's past with a mix of permanent and temporary exhibits; other municipalities support history museums, too.
For hiking and outdoor fun, get to one of the area's state parks (such as the lesser used Nescopeck) or a Luzerne County-owned facility such as Moon Lake Park, in Plymouth Township, or the Seven Tubs Natural Area, Plains Township. Ricketts Glen State Park, which boasts the popular Falls Trail, formerly was recognized by "Backpacker Magazine" for its stunning series of waterfalls.
Most state parks, aside from issuing camping permits, also deliver an assortment of interesting educational activities, especially on weekends. (For specifics, visit www.dcnr.state.pa.us.)
You can rent a canoe or kayak at Frances Slocum State Park. Ditto from an outfitter along the Susquehanna River.
Whitewater rafts will whisk the daring downriver near White Haven, and rock climbing formations beckon outside Mocanaqua. There's no shortage of area lakes for boating and trails for biking. Links for golfing. Plus, mini-golf courses, swimming pools and water parks with outrageous slides.
For more leisurely pursuits, local venues promote outdoor concerts and weekly farmers markets. Take a stroll through Wilkes-Barre during its next Third Friday Art Walk on July 18. (For details, see www.thirdfridaywb.com). Spend time observing alpacas and assorted other animals at The Lands at Hillside Farms near Shavertown. Cool off during a skate at The Ice Rink at Coal Street, Wilkes-Barre. Attend a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders baseball game.
Dash off for a day trip -- to Delaware Water Gap, Jim Thorpe, Eagles Mere, Claws 'N' Paws Wild Animal Park or Knoebels Amusement Resort -- but come back soon.
There's so much more to do here, and so little summer.
(c)2014 The Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)
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