We're doing our annual Patriot's Day weekend trip to Central PA this weekend (for the folks in the 48 states that don't celebrate it - it's the celebration of the start of the Revolutionary War), and I'm looking to get some last minute tips.
We've explored Allentown, Bethlehem, Jim Thorpe, Stroudsburg, the Delaware Water Gap. I was thinking of going into Reading, at least to see the Pagoda. I've been to Lancaster in the past, as well. I do have a few other ideas, mostly involving back roads exploration and places to bicycle.
I recommend Gettysburg, which is more south-central than central PA. The day we were there last year the weather was terrible, so the driving audio tour (purchase a CD and follow along) was perfect. I'm sure I have the CD somewhere. I can look for it if you'd like to borrow it.
I agree that Gettysburg is great and you do have to do it sometime on one of your jaunts to "central PA". Be sure to take the time to walk over some of the battlefield. I found sitting in Devil's Den on Little Round Top, or walking across the fields from Seminary to Cemetary Ridge as Pickett's men did to be particularly chilling.
Closer to Reading, I'd recommend Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site and the surrounding French Creek State Park. Hopewell is a "living history" park that demonstrates life, and particularly iron making, in the early 19th century, while French Creek offers good biking and camping.
I used to do road rallies in that area and there are tons of back roads that are suitable to both cars and bikes, and drivers tend to be a bit more cautious than usual due to the Amish and the liklihood of cresting a hill to encounter a horse and buggy.
Also, If you like such things, there are a lot of outlet malls in Reading.
I recently reviewed an audio book by James McPherson that I highly recommend either while you are at the Gettysburg site, or as prep prior to your arrival -- it will flesh out your knowledge of the battle and battlefield and help with orientation -- wish I'd had it when I last visited there. Here's a link to the review.
Also, how about Valley Forge? That's on my list of Revolutionary War shrines to visit.
A new one!
How unique -- I have never heard of this event. What is the other state that celebrates this?
Originally Posted by TimboTA
Maine, which was originally part of Massachusetts.
Originally Posted by Editor
Evacuation Day (March 17) is a holiday in Boston. The holiday commemorates the day in 1776 when the British ended their occupation of Boston.
Maine is the other state, possibly hanging on to that old connection as part of Massachusetts. There are usually re-enactments in Lexington and Concord, MA.
I should have mentioned Gettysburg in my 'explored' list, though I agree it is a great choice and a great suggestion. In fact, our first Patriot's Day weekend trip we went there. The weather was bad the first day, very rainy but warm (It was almost 70 there, and 45 here). Then, on Sunday morning, the fog cast an eerie glow over the battlefield for just a short while, making the trip all the better. After the fog dissipated, the weather was perfect for walking the battlefield, and we spent several hours doing just that.
One year we visited after spending a day at the Carlisle Spring swap meet, just on a whim (though I was itching to go to Shenandoah Valley). We concentrated on the center of town during that visit.
AZBuck - whenever I'm on a Civil War battlefield, I envision it as though the event is happening around me. For some reason, I don't get as lively a picture when I try this at sites from the Revolutionary War. It IS chilling! I'm not much of an outlet mall person (and amazingly enough, neither is she). I need fresh air after this winter.
Bob - it's funny you should mention that. Two years ago, it was my intent to go to Valley Forge and that was a deciding factor in our base camp selection. Having said that...I have yet to go!
Thanks for the suggestions! Perhaps I'll make a Sunday morning trip down there!