Spend the Weekend: BUTLER COUNTY
Western Pennsylvania's Butler County has something for everyone who visits. Though the quaint towns that make up the county have a distinctly small town feel, the county is just 25 miles north of Pittsburgh. In this installment of Spend The Weekend, I'll focus on two of my favorite Butler County offerings, rich history and the outdoors.
As a history buff, I am drawn to any place that has seen the likes of George Washington. Though he didn't spend a lot of time in Butler County, his passage through the county occurred during a very tumultuous and influential time in young Washington's life, the start of the French and Indian War.
Towns like Harmony and Saxonburg gained their identities from their earliest residents. German Lutheran Separatists seeking religious freedom founded Harmony in 1804. Saxonburg still retains the architectural features of a German village.
Outdoor enthusiasts love Butler County for the many opportunities it presents for visitors to get out and enjoy nature during any time of year. Moraine State Park and its 3,225-acre Lake Arthur make the area a popular destination for active families.
Apple Butter Inn
666 Centreville Pike, Slippery Rock, PA 16057
724-794-1844 • www.applebutterinnpa.com
There are many exceptional lodging choices in Butler County, and the Apple Butter Inn is one of the best. Michael Christley built the original six-room farmhouse in 1844. The structure was built with bricks that were formed and fired on the property. The inn maintains many of the original details, such as the poplar and chestnut floors.
In addition to lovely rooms and scrumptious food, the inn is located close to theater, golf, restaurants and outdoor activities.
Slippery Rock University Fine & Performing Arts
1 Morrow Way, Slippery Rock, PA 16057
If you like theater, you may want to plan your visit around one of the shows at Slippery Rock University. The Flying Karamazov Brothers are coming to the Miller Auditorium on Friday, Sept. 9.
Red Rock Falls Restaurant
664 Route 173, Slippery Rock, PA 16057
724-406-0806 • www.redrockfallsrestaurant.com
You won't have to go far for dinner, since the Red Falls is located next to the Apple Butter Inn. This former one-room schoolhouse serves a diverse selection of delicious entrees, appetizers, salads and desserts. You can't go wrong with the filet mignon, although Paula at the Butler County Visitors Bureau says the parmesan-crusted grouper is her favorite. Red Rock Falls is open six days a week, closed on Mondays.
After a comfortable night in one of Apple Butter's delightful rooms, a delicious country-style breakfast awaits. The hearty breakfast will fuel your body for the active day ahead. So put on your hiking shoes and head out.
Jennings Environmental Education Center
2951 Prospect Road, Slippery Rock, PA 16057
724-794-6011 • www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/jennings.aspx
Jennings Environmental Education Center is a state park specifically dedicated to educating the community about the importance of our natural resources. By exploring Jennings through its trail network or one of the center's programs, we are reminded not only of nature's beauty, but also how we can take better care of it. In addition to forest, Jennings has a 20-acre prairie ecosystem, which is the only public and protected prairie in the state.
Ginger Hill Tavern Restaurant & Pub
278 S. Main St., Slippery Rock, PA 16057
724-794-3504 • www.gingerhilltavern.com
If the weather's nice, have your lunch on Ginger Hill's patio. If you prefer lunch on the lighter side, the Portabella Salad is perfect, but if you've worked up an appetite try the Beef & Reef Burger. The juicy burger is topped with a crab cake, lettuce, tomato and a side of Creole tarter sauce.
Moraine State Park
225 Pleasant Valley Road, Portersville, PA 16051
724-368-8811 • www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/moraine.aspx
No matter what the season, Moraine State Park is Butler County's jewel. Fall is especially ideal for sight seeing, hiking, biking and boating in the 16,725-acre park. Swimming, boating, windsurfing and fishing are popular activities on Lake Arthur. Two family-friendly beaches with showers, changing facilities and concession stands are open from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
With more than 30 miles of marked hiking and biking trails and many picnic areas throughout Moraine, you'll want to spend an entire day enjoying the outdoors. Bike and boat rentals are available at locations inside the park.
North Country Brewing Company
141 S. Main St., Slippery Rock, PA 16057
724-794-2337 • www.northcountrybrewing.com
The Slippery Rock microbrewery applies the same standards to their menu as they do to their whole grain handcrafted brews. North Country Brewing supports local farmers by purchasing fresh local in-season produce. Even their signature Cowboy Steak is farm-to-fork. You'll enjoy the casual and laid back atmosphere after a day outdoors.
After another delicious breakfast, take your coffee out on the deck and enjoy your last morning at the Apple Butter Inn. A more laid back day is in store as you visit the hamlet of Harmony just 20 miles south of Slippery Rock.
218 Mercer St., Harmony, PA 16037
724-452-7341 • www.harmonymuseum.org
The Harmony Museum's eight buildings hold 250 years of Harmony history, from its beginning as the new home for German Separatists seeking religious freedom to the many German traditions that immigrated with them. Some of the presentations highlight George Washington's 1753 mission and a rare collection of outstanding sporting rifles by 19th-century Harmony gunsmith Charles Flowers.
Historic Harmony hosts several events throughout the year, including the WeihnachtsMarkt German Christmas Market, which is held on the second weekend of each November. Guests are treated to German music and dancing as well as traditional German food. Skilled craftsman will demonstrate their old-fashioned trades. The event also features high-quality antiques, dozens of artisans displaying their fine crafts and children's activities.
The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.
The Log Cabin Inn
430 Perry Highway, Harmony, PA 16037
724-452-4155 • www.springfields.com/lci_files/logcabininn.html
If you want to grab a bite to eat before hitting the road, the Log Cabin Inn has a tempting menu and a great deck.
No matter what time of year you choose to visit the area, you won't leave without wanting to come back. Whether it's the abundance of outdoor experiences, the quaint towns, great theater or rich history, you're sure to be taken in by the charm of Butler County.
Plan Your Visit Around These Area Events
Sept. 10. Villagefest, Slippery Rock. www.slipperyrockpa.org
Sept. 17. Butler Fall Fest, Butler. www.butlerfallfestival.com
Oct. 1-2. Portersville Steam Show Fall Apple Festival, Portersville. http://portersvillesteamshow.homestead.com
Oct. 8-9. Zelienople/Harmony Country Fall Festival, Zelienople and Harmony. www.zelienopleharmonyfallfestival.com
Nov. 12-13. WeihnachtsMarkt, Harmony. www.harmonymuseum.org
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