Valley Forge and Montgomery County Offer Plenty of Activities,
Even When Vernal Weather Turns Infernal
KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. - Punxsutawney Phil may have been a little off on his early spring prediction this year, but there's no denying that the hours of sunlight are increasing, so milder temps can't be too far behind. Which means it's the perfect opportunity to make the most of your leisure time and get out and about, enjoying Valley Forge and Montgomery County.
Consider the smattering of options that follow, both inside (remember: no flowers without showers) and out:
Valley Forge National Historical Park awakens from her winter slumber and begins to dress in springtime best, perfect for an informative tour or strolling, biking or horseback riding on 28 miles of designated trails. April features National Park Week, a cause for celebration at Valley Forge, opening with the challenging Revolutionary 5-Mile Run on April 21 and ending with honorifics going to National Junior Rangers on April 27.
The John James Audubon Center celebrates the namesake artist John James Audubon, preserving his first home in America and highlighting its role in his development as a naturalist. From April 13-28, hundreds of original works will be on display as part of the center's 8th annual juried art show; the 2013 theme is "Drawn from Nature." Pieces are available for purchase, and a portion of the proceeds go to support the center.
Eighteenth Century agrarian homesteads spring to life at Peter Wentz Farmstead, Pottsgrove Manor, the Mennonite Heritage Center and Pennypacker Mills, where a steady rotation of demos, lectures and programs recreate the agrarian roots so integral to our history. April 13 at Peter Wentz Farmstead is sheep-shearing day; Pottsgrove Manor demonstrates iron-forging on April 20; at Pennypacker Mills, you can serenade a sycamore and sing "Happy Birchday" on Arbor Day, April 20; and the Mennonite Heritage Center is holding a paper-cutting workshop April 27.
Outdoor plans fizzled by drizzle? Give your abs a worthy workout, flexing them while laughing at the iconic trio of funnymen at The Stoogeum. This impressive collection of 3,000 Three Stooges memorabilia (out of 10,000 in total) covers three floors and traces the knuckleheads' roots from vaudeville to feature films. See it once, and you'll definitely be coming back for Moe.
The Wharton Esherick Studio Museum nestles in the woods like a storybook cottage, an apt setting for a craftsman-artist who combined whimsy and practicality. Best of all, the tours here are very hands-on, as visitors are encouraged to feel for themselves the different textures and characters of Esherick's natural medium. Currently exhibited are drawings and carvings inspired by Esherick's long-standing friendship with American author Sherwood Anderson (Winesburg, Ohio).
For art inside or alfresco, check out Abington Art Center. Here, the halls of Alverthorpe Mansion, an 1800s country estate, are alive with displays of sculpture, paintings, sketches and even printmaking. Beyond enjoying others' interpretations, you can express yourself through the center's class offerings. Outside, a 27-acre sculpture park invites you to wander its pathway, encountering art that changes with each dapple of sunlight and gentle breeze. Toast the arrival of spring on April 12 at the presentation "The World of Italian Wine."
The Historic District of Bryn Athyn is a time-machine, whisking visitors back to turn-of-the-century opulence and, upon closer inspection, even further to the art of the Middle Ages. Glencairn Museum displays religious-themed frescoes, tapestries and stained glass. If the weather is clear, catch the views from the nine-story-high tower, with northeastern Montgomery County at your feet and the Philadelphia skyline on the horizon. On April 12-14 and 20-21, witness the step-by-step creation of a traditional Mandala, Tibetan Buddhist art depicting the world in its divine form, rendered in colored sand.
Spring awakening's more than a cliché at Elmwood Park Zoo: The animals emerge from their winter hibernations, and you should, too. Bison, bobcats and bighorn sheep beckon, but so do the parrots and macaws, back from their cold-weather hiatus to show off their colorful seasonal plumage. On April 21, the zoo hosts international conservation biologist, Dr. Shaya Honarvar, speaking about her work in Equatorial Guinea.
It's time to banish the boots, mothball the mittens and cancel the coat. As the weather moderates, put some spring in your step and discover what Valley Forge and Montgomery County have to offer. For more information, visit www.valleyforge.org.
The Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau, Ltd. is a nonprofit, membership-based sales and marketing organization that actively promotes the Valley Forge area and Montgomery County as a convention site and leisure visitor destination by encouraging patronage of its 300-plus member hotels, restaurants, attractions and services. The Bureau's website, at www.valleyforge.org, serves visitors, meeting planners, tour operators and residents.
# # #