Summer in the Laurel Highlands is synonymous with family fun. Outdoor opportunities abound, of course, with eight state parks, two state forests and miles upon miles of hiking and biking trails, but there’s so much more to do in our wonderful region as the temperatures rise. Let’s take a look at 10 terrific summer spots in the Laurel Highlands:
Most fun in the sun
Idlewild & SoakZone in Ligonier is the ultimate family fun park, but you don’t need to take our word for it. Amusement Today has named Idlewild the “Best Kids’ Park in the World” and National Amusement Park Historical Association honored it as the “Best Park for Families.” Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Raccoon Lagoon Kiddieland make it a hit with youngsters while teens love to make a splash at SoakZone.
Finest family art museum
The Westmoreland Museum of American Art is a regional museum with a national presence. But it’s more than a museum. Located in Greensburg, The Westmoreland helps families experience art together with hands-on programs ranging from in-gallery sketching to scheduled classes and even take-home art kids. Admission is free, but online reservations are recommended.
Perfect place to putter around
With two miniature golf courses and a driving range, Caddie Shak in Donegal offers golfing fun for the whole family. But don’t worry if golf’s not your thing; they also have short- and long-track go-kart racing as well as bumper boats, batting cages plus kiddie rides.
Ultimate underground outing
Whether you’re looking for a way to beat the summer heat or a great option for a rainy day, you can find it at Laurel Caverns in Farmington, the largest cave in the Northeastern U.S. with more than four miles of natural passages. The temperature is a constant 52 degrees inside the cave.
Hottest display of horsepower
Saturday nights in Somerset County mean one thing: Stock car racing at Jennerstown Speedway! One of the oldest short-track facilities in the United States, the half-mile asphalt oval has hosted some of the biggest names in racing history, including Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip. The NASCAR-sanctioned speedway regularly features six divisions of racing with family-friendly ticket prices and free parking.
Coolest locations to stay and play
The Laurel Highlands is blessed with a pair of resorts offering so many activities that you won’t need to leave your home away from home.
Enjoy the summer side of the ski slopes at Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Champion with activities that are open to the public, including alpine slides and scenic chairlift rides. Escape on horseback via Seven Springs Stables, relax in a hot tub or stay inside to enjoy ax throwing, mini golf or bowling.
Whether you’re looking to lounge by the pool, relax on a wellness journey or go off-roading in a Jeep, you can choose your own adventure at Nemacolin. You can even try your hand at sporting clays, fly fishing, making pasta or painting a masterpiece at the Farmington resort.
Wildest animal adventure
Find your wild side at Living Treasures Animal Park in Donegal, which offers up-close, interactive, and educational experiences. In many cases, feeding and contact with animals is not only allowed but encouraged at Living Treasures. Leave your binoculars at home but don't forget your camera for those once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities.
Top spot to let it fly
Whether you’re into throwing axes, smashing stuff, or hopping in the fastest go-karts around, Full Throttle Adrenaline Park is the place to go. Located just outside the Laurel Highlands in Monroeville, it’s a short drive for an adrenaline spike.
Best off-road destination
Speaking of adrenaline … bring your ATV, UTV or dirt bike to Mountain Ridge ATV Park in Central City. Featuring more than 150 miles of trails on 3,000 acres, it will soon be the largest ATV and motocross park on the East Coast. Mountain Ridge features 40 miles of single track plus a kids’ track, hill climbs, mud bogs and more!