When I was growing up, the New Jersey shore was synonymous with family vacation.
Atlantic City. Ocean City. Seaside Heights. Wildwood. We made the rounds.
We stayed with relatives in South Jersey for a week almost every summer. And at least one day of that week was always reserved for a drive “down the shore,” as the natives say. My parents, brother and I made so many memories walking the boards, hunting for seashells, building sand castles and splashing in the ocean.
But there’s one childhood family vacation that stands out in my mind as different: the year of the staycation.
We missed seeing our New Jersey family and going to the beach that summer, but we also had fun making new memories here in the Abingtons. We pitched a tent for a night at Lackawanna State Park. We ate ice cream at Manning Farm Dairy. We spent time on the playground at the Waverly Community House. And we played games at home.
At first, we were all a little disappointed over not being able to go away for a week, but we made the most of it and soon forgot about what we were missing.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been planning a staycation for later this summer with adventures both within and outside the Abingtons. I made a list of day trip destinations two hours away or closer, and I decided to share it here and see what readers have to add. What staycation destinations would you recommend within a two-hour radius of the Abingtons? Email your favorites to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 570-348-9100, ext. 3492.
Here are a few of mine:
Ithaca, New York – I have two favorite spots in this area: the Ithaca Farmers Market and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The farmers market features local farmers, chefs and artisans (and sometimes musicians) from within 30 miles of the city. It’s a gem for those of us who like to shop for natural foods and unique treasures and gift items. Learn more online at ithacamarket.com.
The Cornell lab, with its 230-acre sanctuary and four miles of trails through Sapsucker Woods, is one of my favorite places to go when seeking solitude. It’s also great for families with younger children or people who enjoy hiking but are unable to traverse rough trails. The paths are wide, level and soft. Inside the air-conditioned and handicapped accessible visitor center, you’ll find science and art exhibits, an auditorium with visual presentations, a gift shop and more. Chairs are set up with spotting scopes in front of large glass windows overlooking a bird feeding station and a swamp.
There is no admission charge.
For hours and more information, visit birds.cornell.edu/home.
Miles from Clarks Summit: 102.
Hickory Run State Park – There is so much to do and explore at Hickory Run State Park, that to get the full experience, you need to stay there or return at least two or three days -- which isn’t out of the question for Abington-area residents. The park is in Carbon County, only a 40-minute drive south from Clarks Summit.
With the boulder field, more than 40 miles of trails, trout streams, a lake with a sandy swimming area, a waterfall, camping, picnic areas, disc golf and more, if you get bored at Hickory Run, it’s your own fault.
Word to the wise: if you don’t know the way, look up the directions ahead of time and don’t rely on your GPS for this one; Google Maps will steer you astray.
Miles from Clarks Summit: 40.
Knoebels Amusement Resort– I confess, I’m not a fan of rollercoasters. When I travel to this family park near Elysburg, I stay as far away from the rickety Phoenix as I can and gladly hold my friends’ backpacks and purses while they seek the thrills and upset stomachs offered by such rides.
I do, however, enjoy a round or two on the Flume, with its shorter drops and big splash into a pool of water. And I love one of the newer rides at the park, the Flying Turns. This smooth wooden bobsled roller coaster is more my speed.
One of the best aspects of the amusement park, to me, is the free admission which allows guests to spend as little or as much on ride tickets as they desire.
Find more information about Knoebles (including detailed descriptions of all the rides) at knoebels.com.
Miles from Clarks Summit: 92.
These are all great staycation destinations, and there are many more, even closer to and within the Abingtons.
But I’ve found more important than where you go is with whom you go. Because, like home, vacation is where the heart is.
Contact the writer:
email@example.com; 570-348-9185, ext. 3492