Each week in my Day Tripper column, I take you to places I think you would like to visit.
This time around, I'm telling you about some of the resources I use to help plan my trips — and that could help you find your own great destinations to explore. Hopefully, you'll share your great ideas with me for future Day Tripper columns.
To start, check out local visitors bureaus, also known as convention and visitors bureaus. I get great information for many local trips from my friends at Visit Pittsburgh, Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau and the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau.
“One of the benefits tourism bureaus offer visitors is assistance in trip planning to the bureau’s region," said Patti Jo Lambert from the Butler bureau. "For example, in Butler County we have developed more than a dozen themed itineraries that include recommendations for what to do, things to see and places to eat.
"We’re happy to talk with potential visitors and offer tips and ideas to make their trip to Butler County fun and memorable. Our input and carefully thought-out itineraries make trip-planning so much easier, so there’s more time to come here and have a great getaway.”
There are great websites where you can find calendars listing events and festivals, maps, suggestions for lodging, places to eat and more. Visitors bureaus also will provide you with booklets and hard copies of maps if you like having the “real” copies to plan your trips and to serve as reference items.
I have found the websites are great places to start planning my trips. The hard copies of the maps and visitors guides also are good to take along on the road.
Like Butler County, many bureaus have suggested itineraries so you can plan your own antiquing, family-friendly tours or stops at wineries. The bureau staff members want you to visit, so they love to talk about their areas. Stop in a visitors center while you're visiting an area for more helpful suggestions.
Other local resources include Visit MercerCountyPa, the Oil Region Alliance for information on tourism in the Oil City area, www.SharonPa.com, www.VisitGroveCityPa.com, the Washington County Tourism Promotion Agency, and Warren County Visitors Bureau. Use this list as a springboard to check out other visitors bureau websites.
There are numerous state and regional publications that are excellent resources for trip ideas and itineraries.
I picked up a copy at a rest area and then went to www.visitpa.com to get a subscription. The copy on my lap as I write this column has articles about Presque Isle State Park, , the Poconos (that would be a long Day Tripper but fun nonetheless) and Kennywood.
The Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association has a publication about campsites throughout the state and information for campers.
As you already know if you read Day Tripper on a regular basis, I love to be outdoors. The new Pennsylvania Wilds Outdoor Discovery Map is a great tool for planning more adventures for 2012. I have a copy in my resource file, one in my car and one in my husband’s car.
Our state parks are a great place for day trips. Get a free booklet about the state parks and forests from visitpa.com or by calling 1-800-VISIT-PA. You also can get a wealth of information at www.dcnr.state.pa.us.
The National Park Service has information about the Gettysburg Battlefield, the and other national sites. Call 1-215-597-0060 for more information.
Visit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website for details about many recreational lake areas in our state, or call 412-395-7500.
If you have a fourth- or fifth-grade student at home and ski, go to skipa.com to learn more about how your child can ski free with a paying adult in Pennsylvania all season long.
Don’t forget to tell me of your favorite day trips in the area. Happy travels in 2012!
What is your favorite Day Trip? Tell us in the comments.