Destination Montco: Valley Forge National Park
Labor day celebrates the working person. It’s an opportunity for hard workers to rest, relax, and enjoy time with friends and family.
The typical American will enjoy a barbeque, a final dip in the pool, or three days of relaxation before the fall madness begins. Others will go away for the weekend, possibly to a beach or mountain resort.
I, on the other hand, avoid Labor Day travel and traffic altogether and instead look for local activities and events to enjoy.
My favorite weekend destination in the Montgomery and Chester county areas is Valley Forge Park. While most locals assume the park simply offers a place for walking, biking, and picnicking, according to Ranger Toppman, there are a number of other activities that make this park a local gem.
History buffs can experience living history events like the Historic Weapons Program’s black powder program, which educates visitors on “Baron Von Stueben’s successful training methods at Valley Forge which brought the soldiers to a skill level equal to their professional opponents and enabled the Continental Army to go on to win the Revolutionary War.”
These demonstrations take place at the Muhlenberg Brigade.
The park also offers ranger-led walking tours, ranger talks, bake oven demonstrations, artillery demonstrations, and an opportunity to experience a day in the life of a soldier at the Valley Forge encampment. To learn more about ranger programs, click here.
Stargazers are invited to monthly Public Star Parties in the model airplane field on Saturday evenings. This free evening activity offers hobby astronomers a chance to view the evening sky through telescopes and binoculars provided by the Delaware Valley Amateur Astronomers club. The next official event is on September 10th, but feel free to visit the park this weekend with your own equipment.
Art-lovers and photography enthusiasts can express their creativity by joining the park’s official Family Art in the Park programs, or venture out on their own with friends, or as part of a local MeetUp group, like the Digital Photography MeetUp. My favorite time to visit the park is at sunset near the Valley Forge Memorial Arch.
As expected, there are lots of activities for bikers, hikers, and horseback riders, but it may surprise visitors to learn that bike rentals are available near the visitor’s center. So, if you are like me and don’t own a bike, but enjoy a once-in-a-while riding experience, you can rent a bike for $10-$15 an hour, or up to $25 per day.
The park also hosts a monthly bird walk, where bird watchers have a chance to spot one of the 227 species of birds living among the park. Each walk lasts approximately two hours, covers 1.5 miles of trail, and is intended for birders of all levels.
So before you brush off the park as just another place to walk off those Labor Day party calories, visit the park site to learn more about what they have to offer.
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