Valley Forge National Historical Park, along with the other National Park Service sites, remains unfortunately closed, the result of the government shutdown. While its temporary absence is felt deeply among the hundreds of history, nature and outdoor lovers who flock to its landmarks and open spaces, especially with October weather being so beautiful, there are alternatives available:
- For you history lovers: No argument that Valley Forge was the site of an important encampment of the Continental Army. But it was not the only one. To view the location of another local haven for General Washington and his men, visit Skippack Village, less than 15 miles away from Valley Forge, to the northwest. Records show Washington staying along Skippack Pike seven times during his troop movements, including an October 1777 encampment near the Towamencin Mennonite Meetinghouse on Forty Foot Road.
- For photographers interested in capturing local natural beauty coming into its prime: The John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove is a mere five miles west of Valley Forge. Its topography near the Audubon house itself enables views to the southwest, perfect for shots of the setting sun. The center also offers a five-mile paved loop through foliage that is coming afire with fall colors.
- For exercise addicts missing their daily runs/jogs/bike rides: The Perkiomen Trail can take you north-westward, away from the closed park, for 20 miles of open air challenge, with numerous trailheads for easy entry and exit. At its northernmost point is Green Lane Park, where you can end your run or bike ride by canoeing across Deep Creek Lake, biathlon-style.
- For parents looking for children's activities: Oaks is only eight miles west of Valley Forge. Numerous options exist there to keep young ones engaged: BounceU, Sky Zone and Arnolds Family Fun Center. Dave and Buster's, Plymouth Meeting, is just nine miles away. If you'd rather opt for something outdoorsy, in neighboring Norristown (a three-mile hop to the north) is the Elmwood Park Zoo. The zoo is currently running a Harvest Fest every Sunday, featuring live music, food, crafts and a hay bale maze.
In pursuit of more? Here are five further recommendations. They are all for Saturday, October 5:
Pennypacker Mills and Mars Chocolate North America is holding a free event about the history of the nation through the engaging story of one of the most beloved foods: chocolate. A team of Mars Chocolate History Ambassadors will bring chocolate history to life through an interactive demonstration of the historical bean-to-beverage story using authentic tools including live cocoa pods, cocoa beans and nibs, a hot stone metate, winnowing baskets, chocolate drink pots and stirrers. You'll be able to touch, taste, smell and experience the chocolate drink as it was enjoyed by the Founding Fathers.
The 40th Annual Apple Butter Frolic will be churning at the Mennonite Heritage Center. The fun kicks off with a pancake and apple sausage breakfast and, once fortified, you'll be prepared to take part in the folk craft demonstrations, children's activities, horse and wagon rides, farming demonstrations, sheep herding and silent auction. By then you may have worked off that hearty breakfast, and there will be plenty of opportunity to refuel at the apple foods tent, gramma's kitchen dinner and the results of the apple baking contest. The goal of the frolic - and the center itself - is to preserve and educate the public about how Mennonites and their neighbors lived 100 or more years ago. And to provide the setting for a good time down to the "core."
Montgomery County Community College hosts its 20th Annual Community Day. This free celebration features an array of activities and entertainment for all ages and interests. Children's attractions include a moon bounce, pony rides, face painting, sandbox activities and arts and crafts. Teens and adults can learn more about the College's programs at an admissions presentation. A farmer's market will feature local produce available for purchase; and you can tap your toes to live music that includes a special performance from New York City singer/songwriter Ronnie Gent and MCCC Music Instructor/bassist Michael Kelly.
Tap into the largest outdoor beer festival in suburban Philadelphia at the King of Prussia Beerfest Royale. Two sessions are available, complete with nonstop food, fun and of course plenty of the centerpiece beverage. Sample more than 100 different beers from more than 50 craft and international brewers in two grand tents. Let the delicious aromas from KOP dining favorites - California Pizza Kitchen, Maggiano's, Michael's Deli, Tony Luke's and more - lure you into our Central Beer Garden, sponsored by the Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau. Live music on two stages will keep each tent rocking all day. And be sure to capture the fun at one of the many photo-ops.
Take some positive steps to end hunger by participating in the Manna on Main Street 5k, stepping off at Knapp Elementary School, Lansdale. Challenges are available for all levels: runners, walkers and even strollers. Stick around for the Shopping Cart Challenge immediately following; you might pick up a tip or two on how to deal with that wobbly wheel that always seems to send you crashing in the produce section.
For yet more suggestions on how to fill your weekend, see our website. You can also check out our list of accommodations, should you want to turn your active Saturday into a full weekend getaway.