Pennsylvania's Best Family Fishing Vacations

Excellent fishing with great accommodations and history galore await vacationing families in the Keystone State. Start planning your trip planning around these great summertime destinations. (June 2007)

Photo by Robert H. Cleveland Jr.

It can be hard to plan a summer vacation to keep the family happy while also making an angler's leisure-time dreams come true. If you're headed to the Keystone State this summer, you needn't worry. There's definitely something for everyone here!

With 83,000 miles of wilderness streams and rivers, 160,000 acres of inland waters and the 470,000-acre Lake Erie, there's no shortage of vacation hotspots for you to consider.

In addition, your family has 17 million acres of forestland to explore. Pennsylvania also has museums and attractions dedicated its rich history of coal mining, transportation, flight, engineering and more.

Add to that the family-friendly campgrounds, the Old Order Amish countryside, kid-pleasing attractions and unique shopping experiences, and everyone is sure to find something to smile about this summer!

THE ALLEGHENIES

North of Maryland in central Pennsylvania, the Allegheny region offers plenty of prime fishing, with a wide variety of fun family activities nearby to please every member of the clan.

Raystown Lake, the state's largest inland lake, produced four of the state's top five striped bass in 2005. The largest tipped the scales at 37 pounds and measured 41 inches long!

For access, take Snyder's Run Road south from U.S. Route 22 in Huntingdon to reach a surfaced ramp, loading dock, shoreline fishing access and ample parking. Or take Seven Points Drive east at Hesston off Route 26, to another launch area with lots of parking and shoreline access.

To reach the Aitch access (and a fishing pier) from Huntingdon, follow Route 26 south to Marklesburg. Turn left onto Aitch Road and follow the signs. Access can also be had from Entriken by taking Route 994 east to James Creek Road.

Or go east on Route 994 from Entriken to reach the Tatman Run access area. The Shy Beaver access area can be reached from Cherrytown on Route 26. The Weavers Falls access is off Route 913 out of Saxton.

For family-friendly lodging, try the Lake Raystown Resort in Entriken. This 221-site campground offers water, electric and cable hookups. Other accommodations include a variety of cabins, cottages, bungalows, the main lodge -- and even houseboat rentals!

The resort has a full-service marina with boat rentals and access for shoreline fishing. Guests can charter Angry Muskie Outfitters for customized fishing packages that include overnight accommodations, Pennsylvania fishing licenses, a fully rigged charter boat, all equipment, lures and bait, assorted meals and admission to resort attractions. They also offer tours by the hour. Call (814) 280-1344 for details.

Other amenities include the Marina Café, the Bistro Express, beaches and volleyball. For additional fees, guests can visit the Wild River Waterpark and Caddy's Revenge, a 19-hole mini-golf. The park has two 380-foot twisting slides, a White Water Innertube Ride, an in-ground heated pool and children's splash-and-play area. Resort guests can also sign on for a scenic cruise aboard the Proud Mary, an old-fashioned showboat with turn-of-the-century charm. For more information, call (814) 658-3500, or visit LakeRaysTownResort.com.

The Lake Raystown Family Camping Resort has 250 campsites, cabins and bunkhouse accommodations. The Snyder's Run boat launch is just 1.5 miles down the hill, if guests use the private road out in back of the campground. The resort has a playground, volleyball court, soccer field and 40 acres of walking trails. Log on to RaysTownLakeCamping.com, or call (814) 643-3377.

Greenwood Furnace State Park features 51 forested tent and trailer campsites. A hike in the park provides clues about the community that flourished here from 1834 to 1904, when Greenwood Furnace was a busy industrial complex. The park includes covers 423 acres and a six-acre lake for fishing, surrounded by an 80,000-acre block of Rothrock State Forest.

Several other nearby state parks are day-use only, but offer excellent fishing opportunities, family hikes and unique features worth visiting.

Canoe Creek State Park, 12 miles east of Altoona, covers 958 acres and offers panoramic views when you crest the hill on Canoe Creek Road. Canoe Lake's 155 acres are stocked with walleye, muskies, bass, trout, chain pickerel, catfish, and crappies.

There's also a swim area at the lake, hiking trails and a picnic area. The 349-acre Warriors Path State Park lies near the path used by the Iroquois in raids and wars with the Cherokee and other tribes.

The park is bounded on three sides by the Raystown Branch Juniata River, which empties into Raystown Lake about a mile downstream. A boat ramp for canoes, rafts and small boats is available to float the river, which may be too shallow during summer's high heat. The Raystown Branch Juniata River offers excellent fishing for muskies, walleyes, catfish and smallmouth bass.

The 22-acre Whipple Lake and Laurel Run in Whipple Dam State Park are stocked with trout. The 256-acre park offers swimming, bird watching and lots of peace and quiet.

For information about any of Pennsylvania's state parks, call the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources at (717) 783-2658, or visit Dcnr.state.pa.us/stateParks.

For a memorable family vacation, go for a ride on the Johnstown Inclined Plane, an engineering marvel and the world's steepest vehicular inclined plane. Cable-pulled cars move visitors up the mountainside. For more information, log on to InclinedPlane.com, or call (814) 536-1816.

Or violate the laws of physics by letting your car roll uphill at Bedford County's natural oddity, Gravity Hill.

Be sure to visit Penn's Cave to tour the country's only all-water cavern and wildlife sanctuary. Log on to www.pennscave.com, or call them at (814) 364-1664.

For one of the most unique hikes in the nation, trek up Jacks Narrows National Heritage Trail, which was cut into Jacks Mountain in years long past by

miners on their way to the quarries.

A visit to Old Bedford Village, with its variety of special events and historical re-enactments, is sure to educate and entertain. Families with younger children will want to visit the Children's Museum in Bloomsburg, with 50 hands-on exhibits, a picnic area and a butterfly garden. Call (570) 389-9206 for details, or visit The-Childrens-Museum.org.

Be sure to check out the William E. Swigart Auto Museum outside of Huntingdon to see one of the country's largest collections of turn-of-the-century automobiles. For details, call (814) 643-0885 or log onto SwigArtMuseum.com.

For more information on the Alleghenies region, call 1-800-458-3433, or visit TheAlleghenies.com.

LACKAWANNA LAKE

Lackawanna Lake lies in the northeast corner of the Keystone State. This two-story lake is fed by the south branch of Tunkhannock Creek and by Kennedy Creek. The 2.5 mile-long lake is an excellent largemouth bass fishery and is also home to trout, muskies, walleyes, channel catfish, bullheads and pickerel.

Lackawanna Lake State Park is 10 miles north of Scranton. Take Exit 60 off Route 81. Travel three miles west on Route 524. Families coming via U.S. routes 6 and 11 should take Route 438 east about three miles to Route 407, then head south.

Within the state park, there are a variety of access sites for various-sized watercraft. Most also offer shoreline fishing access and a fishing pier. The campground lies within walking distance of the lake and its swimming area.

There are various types of tent and trailer sites including 61 with electric hookups. Lackawanna has children's play areas, small fishing ponds along Woodlands Ponds Trail and five miles of hiking trails through the day- use portion of the park with loop trails through the forest, fields and lakeshore areas.

Sunrise Lake Family Campground in Nicholson has sites for tents, campers and RVs. The campground has a swimming pool, playground, camp store, paddleboat rentals and bass fishing -- and no license is required! Call (570) 942-6421, or visit SunriseLakeFamily.com for details.

The Tunkhannock area abounds with other family-friendly campgrounds. Check out Slumber Valley Campground, also in Meshoppen. Slumber Valley has a stocked trout stream, scenic waterfalls, campsites, cabin rentals and an in-ground swimming pool. Call (570) 833-5208.

This region's day-use state parks offer more fishing opportunities and some unique geographic features.

Glens Natural Area is a National Natural Landmark in Rickets Glen State Park. Follow the Falls Trail to explore a series of cascading waterfalls, including the 94-foot Ganoga Falls, the highest of the 22 named falls here.

Nearby Archbald Pothole State Park features one pothole 38 feet deep formed by glaciers about 15,000 years ago. The largest pothole is 42 feet by 24 feet. This crater could hold about 140,000 gallons of water, equivalent to the loads of 35 fire truck tankers! Or visit Bushkill Falls, the "Niagara Falls" of Pennsylvania. Call (570) 588-6682 for details.

This region offers plenty of unusual family fun outings. Travel 300 feet down into the Lackawanna Coal Mine, where the hottest and longest-burning type of coal in the world was first discovered. To learn more, visit LackawannaCounty.com, or call 1-800-238-7245.

In 1887, Scranton was Pennsylvania's first city with a successful trolley line and was known as "Electric City." The Electric City Trolley Museum, listed as a National Historic Site, offers trolley rides, vintage trolley displays, a restored 19th century mill building and interactive displays where visitors get to generate electricity.

Electric City is a hands-on interactive exhibit that puts kids in the driver's seat of a re-created open-style trolley. Call (570) 963-6590, or visit Ectma.com for details.

While in Scranton, be sure to check out the Houdini Museum Tour and Magical Show. Call (570) 342-5555 for information.

The animal lover in your family is sure to love Claws 'N Paws Wild Animal Park, which lies four miles east of Hamlin. Animal shows, a petting zoo and the Dinosaur Outpost will be big hits with the kids, with the opportunity to feed a giraffe!

Call (570) 698-6154, or log on to ClawsnPaws.com.

For more information, you can log on to the Lackawanna County Convention and Visitor's Bureau at VisitNepa.org, or call 1-800-22-WELCOME.

LAKE ARTHUR

About halfway between the Pennsylvania-Virginia state line and the shores of Lake Erie in western Pennsylvania, 3,225-acre Lake Arthur is a Big Bass Program lake.

Largemouth bass are abundant here. Bluegills and crappies may be caught from shore. Try the Zion Church access. Fish the back, shallow end of Shannon Finger for largemouths. About midway up Muddy Creek Finger, the fishing is fine for largemouths, pike and panfish. Muskies and smallmouth bass can also be found in Lake Arthur.

For the best walleye fishing, troll a direct line between Crescent Bay on the south shore and Lake View Beach on the north shore.

The Zion Church access, a surfaced ramp, is one mile east of the intersection of Interstate Route 79 and U.S. Route 422 off Route 422 in Moraine State Park.

Also in Moraine are the Porte's Cove, McDanels, Watts Bay, Nealys Point, Davis Hollow, Bear Run and Old Route 422 access areas. And there are a dozen others.

Log onto Dcnr.state.pa.us for information on Moraine and other Keystone State parks.

Kozy Rest Kampground in Harrisville has tent and RV sites, a swimming pool, playground, basketball and hiking trails. Log on to KozyRestKampGround.com, or call (724) 735-2417.

Rose Point Park Campground in New Castle has tent, RV and pull-through sites, a heated swimming pool, two playgrounds, hiking trails, and on-site stream fishing. Call 1-800-459-1561 for details, or log onto RosePointPark.com.

Also check out Camper's Paradise, also in New Castle, at (724) 368-3766.

The Jennings Environmenta

l Education Center in Slippery Rock offers some unique prairie habitat. Blazing star, the spectacular prairie flower, and other species are in full bloom during the summer months. This state park is dedicated to nature education, with interpretive hiking trails and ongoing programs open to the public.

For details, call (724) 794-6011 or VisitPaParks.com.

In the New Castle area, there's plenty to do from morning into the night. Animal lovers will want to pet, feed and learn more about the critters at Living Treasures Animal Park.

Some new grizzly bear cubs and lion cubs were born last spring. Other new additions included Tanzy, the spotted hyena and Thor, the African spotted leopard; plus ring-tailed lemurs, a two-toed sloth and wolf pups Hunter and Sable.

For details, call (724) 924-9571, or visit LtAnimalPark.com.

Art lovers will want to browse The Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts, a museum housed in two 1917 mansions. Details are available at (724) 652-2882, and online at HoytArtCenter.org.

With 83,000 miles of wilderness streams and rivers, 160,000 acres of inland waters and the 470,000-acre Lake Erie, there's no shortage of vacation hotspots for you to consider.

Or wander through the Scottish Rite Cathedral, a gorgeous stone structure overlooking the city. This monolith was built in 1925 at a cost of $1.7 million. The building was first occupied in 1926 as a meeting place for Masonic groups and was originally the largest such facility between New York and Chicago.

At the front of the cathedral rise six 32-foot stone columns, each weighing 32,000 pounds!

These days, the building is used for weddings, weekly bingo and tours for visitors. Call (724) 654-6683 for details.

The Harlansburg Station Transportation Museum exhibits a wide array of transportation memorabilia. Its gift shop offers one-of-a-kind souvenirs. Call them at (724) 652-9002.

For a change of pace, visit the Castle Hills Golf Course, or just hit the driving range. Call (724) 652-8122 for information.

Your family will enjoy a visit to McConnell's Mill State Park, where rock climbing and whitewater rafting provide plenty of thrills for the adventuresome. Details are available at (724) 368-8811.

For a more sedate commune with nature, head to the West Park Environmental Center, a 108-acre park full of blooming flowers, mature trees and a small stream. Details are available at (724) 652-4512.

For evening entertainment, check to see what's showing at the New Castle Playhouse at (724) 657-9369, or visit Clik.to/ncp.

Each July, New Castle becomes "The Fireworks Capital of the World," with breathtaking displays, children's activities, a Ducky Derby and a Fireworks Idol contest. Call (724) 645-5593 for details.

While in the New Castle area, don't miss the chance to explore the Old Order Amish villages of Volant and New Wilmington. To learn more, go to VisitLawrenceCounty.com, or call 1-888-284-7599.

In Volant, north of New Castle, check out the 30 unique Volant Shops, a historic mill and a winery. Offerings include Tole 'N Trinkets, The Kitchen Shoppe, 1906 Mercantile and Doll Company, Rumors Café, the Bulk Food and Candy Company, the Dumplin' Haus Restaurant and Gifts, plus a number of shops featuring local crafts. To learn more, go to VolantShops, or call (724) 533-3272.

Head south to Beaver Falls and take a flight of fancy at the Air Heritage Museum, whose exhibits track the history of flight. Several WW II-era planes are being restored on-site. Aircraft either undergoing restoration or now in operation include an L-9, an A-20 HAVOC, an L-21 Super Cub, a T-28 Trojan and an OV-1D Mohawk.

For more information, you can visit AirHeritage.org, or call (724) 843-2820.

To learn more about the Lake Arthur region, visit the Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau at VisitButlerCounty.com, or call them at 1-866-856-8444.

For more information on fishing opportunities in the Keystone State, call the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission at (814) 359-5100, or visit State.pa.us.

For additional help in planning a Keystone State vacation, go to VisitPa.com and click on the region of interest. You'll find links to destinations for lodging, dining and fishing.

Find more about Pennsylvania fishing and hunting at: PAgameandfish.com

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