Happy Travelers appreciate Mother Nature year-round, but Earth Day is a particularly special time to get out, breathe deep, and soak up the beauty of Pennsylvania’s greater-than-great outdoors. If you’re in the mood for a festival or on the hunt for a great state park, we’ve found 15 ways for you to celebrate the epic beauty of Penn’s Woods this Earth Day.
Know before you go: We recommend contacting your destination before your visit for their latest rules and regulations. Find up-to-date COVID-19 traveler resources on visitPA.com.
1. PARTY FOR THE PLANET
Get ready to get down and Party for the Planet on April 24 and April 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown. There will be plenty of kid-centric activities that emphasize the importance of conservation and the environment. Enjoy a demonstration or education station about recycling and sustainability and of course there will be plenty of animals.
2. NATUREPALOOZA: A FAMILY EARTH DAY CELEBRATION
What better way to celebrate Earth Day than with family and friends at Naturepalooza: a Family Earth Day Celebration from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 24 at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education in Philadelphia. There will be various activity tables, wildlife-friendly crafts to take home, and trails and ponds to explore along the way.
3. HAWK MOUNTAIN SANCTUARY
Earth Day happens to fall right in the middle of the spring migration of hawks, vultures, and other magnificent raptors through eastern Pennsylvania. Watch these beautiful birds soar across mountaintops in one of America’s greatest airshows, enjoy some awe-inspiring views, and learn about all things raptor at the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary’s Earth Day Celebration on April 22 from 2p.m. to 4 p.m. in Kempton.
4. NATURE INN AT BALD EAGLE
Every day is Earth Day in Pennsylvania’s state parks. Here’s just a sampling of the natural wonders that await you at any one of the 121 parks across the state. Love the outdoors but not into camping? The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle offers the ideal solution. Spend your days exploring Pennsylvania’s natural beauty found in the lake, forests, fields, wetlands, and streams of Bald Eagle State Park, then retire to the Inn for all the creature comforts of a hotel stay. Perfect for an Earth Day escape!
5. TOM RIDGE ENVIRONMENTAL CENTER
Ready for a workout this Earth Day? Climb the 131 steps to the top of the viewing tower at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center at Presque Isle State Park in Erie for a spectacular bird’s eye view of Lake Erie, then learn about the park’s ever-changing, diverse ecosystems in the 65,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility. The most impressive feature of the center is a large-format theater. The first of its kind in the Pennsylvania state park system.
6. CHERRY SPRINGS STATE PARK
Hike some of the 85 miles of trails in the 262,000-acre Susquehannock State Forest on Earth Day. Then, as night descends, celebrate earth’s place in the celestial realm at Cherry Springs State Park, certified by the International Dark-Sky Association. Free from light pollution, your eyes and spirit will be in for an amazing view of the night sky filled with the light from thousands of twinkling stars.
7. KINZUA BRIDGE STATE PARK
Take a walk on the wild side of nature this Earth Day with a trip to Kinzua Bridge State Park in Mt. Jewett, where you’ll take in the breathtaking views of the Kinzua Gorge and Viaduct suspended 624 feet in the air atop the Kinzua Sky Walk. You’ll feel connected with nature in a whole new way as you walk along these “Tracks Across the Sky” and try to touch the sky above and gaze down through the glass floor to the forest below.
8. ELK COUNTRY VISITORS CENTER
See and celebrate some of the world’s magnificent animals this Earth Day with a trip to Pennsylvania’s “Elk Country.” Learn the amazing story of the elks’ reintroduction and survival in Pennsylvania at the Elk Country Visitors Center in Benezette, where you won’t want to miss the Story Theater’s immersive 4-D, multimedia presentation showcasing the region’s elk during all four seasons of the year.
9. RICKETTS GLEN STATE PARK
What better place to appreciate and celebrate Mother Earth than by the cascading waterfalls of the Glens Natural Area in Ricketts Glen State Park, one of only 599 National Natural Landmarks in the entire U.S. and its territories. A hike along the 7.2-mile Falls Trail or the shorter 3.2-mile loop takes you past all but one of the park’s 22 wild, free-flowing waterfalls, including the 94-foot Ganoga Falls.
10. OHIOPYLE STATE PARK
Immerse yourself in the splendor of nature this Earth Day with a Spring Wildflower Hike along the Great Gorge Trail in Ohiopyle State Park. Afterwards, explore the park by bike or book a wild whitewater rafting ride down the Youghiogheny River for a full appreciation of earth’s power and beauty.
11. PINE CREEK GORGE
Take in some spectacular views this Earth Day by hiking, biking, or even driving along the west rim of Pine Creek Gorge in the Tioga State Forest. This is truly a nature-lover’s paradise and a grand place to celebrate Earth Day.
12. JOHN JAMES AUDUBON CENTER
Named after one of the first people to utilize bird banding in North America, The John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove is one of Montgomery County’s best places to get outdoors and make the most of Earth Day. The center is open to the public from Thursday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4p.m. Visitors can partake in bird watching, enjoy leisurely hikes on the miles of trails, and brush up on their knowledge of North America’s birds at the outdoor aviary.
13. GIFFORD PINCHOT STATE PARK
Gifford Pinchot was the 28th Governor of Pennsylvania and the first Chief of the United States Forest Service, so the perfect way to spend Earth Day would be visiting the PA state park named in his honor. The 2,338-acre Gifford Pinchot State Park in Lewisberry has endless outdoor recreational opportunities including biking, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, and disc golf.
Looking to learn more about Gifford Pinchot himself? Happy Travelers could also take a self-guided tour of the grounds of his home at Grey Towers National Historic Site in Milford. Built in 1886, the iconic mansion is a beautiful three-story chateau that is a sight to behold!
14. WHITAKER CENTER
Check out the endless entertainment offered at the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg. Catch a movie on the giant screen or explore the sciences at the Harsco Science Center. Perform an experiment and be amazed as you discover the world around you.
15. COLEBROOKDALE RAILROAD’S MUDBALL EXPRESS
All aboard this Earth Day! Take a two-hour historic journey through the Secret Valley on Colebrookdale Railroad’s Mudball Express on April 24. You’ll learn about environmental restoration firsthand as you toss “ecologically correct mudballs” — yes, real mudballs — laden with native wildflower seeds from the train.
For other green experiences in PA, visit the visitPA website. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up-to-date on even more great ideas and places to visit around our state. Don’t forget to sign up for our monthly Happy Thoughts e-newsletter so you never miss an update.