If you’re looking for a summer family-fun road trip experience, look no further. This trip combines two outdoor favorites in one fantastic vacation – water parks and wildlife parks.
Your road trip begins in Jones Mills, where you’ll find Living Treasures Wild Animal Park. More than 300 animals and 50 species, ranging from bearded dragons to big cats, live at the park. Guests can get a close-up look at the tigers who are just on the other side of the one-inch-thick glass. Although temporarily suspended due to COVID-19, the 30-minute sloth interaction is a sought-after activity at Living Treasures. Check ltanimalpark.com for updates on when this opportunity will return.
Conveniently located on the property, visitors may stay at Log Cabin Lodge and Suites. Each room has a rustic, log cabin feel with a fireplace and modern amenities.
The suites range from 1 to 6 bedrooms. Lodging guests receive 50% off admission to Living Treasures Wild Animal Park.
Jones Mills, PA 15646
Just 20 minutes northeast of Jones Mills, you’ll find Idlewild and SoakZone in Ligonier. Idlewild and SoakZone has been named “Best Children’s Park” by Amusement Today and “Best Park for Families” by the National Amusement Park Historical Association. With this type of recognition, your family is sure to enjoy the entire park.
There is a water feature for every age, from the relaxing Float Away Bay Lazy River to the Hydro Racers slides. The smallest guests will enjoy Captain Kidd’s Adventure Galley, with six slides and dozens of interactive water fun. In addition to the hydro racers and the serpentine slides, the Pipeline Plunge features a thrilling 50-foot drop on a two-person raft before breaking through a curtain of water.
The 280,600-gallon Wowabunga family wave pool is a SoakZone favorite! Following a period of calm waters, anticipation builds as the signal sounds, alerting swimmers that a wave is coming. Can you ride the tide?
Check idlewild.com for ticket prices and schedules.
2574 U.S. 30
Ligonier, PA 15658
Approximately one hour west of Ligonier, in West Homestead, you’ll find your next destination, Sandcastle Water Park. Situated along a boardwalk overlooking the Monongahela River near Pittsburgh, the park boasts 15 water slides, a wave pool, a lazy river, and two children’s splash and slide areas.
With each twist, turn, and splash, Sandcastle delivers on all cylinders. Adrenaline seekers will love the Lightning Express, where a 60-foot free-fall awaits them. Sandcastle’s newest slide, Dragon’s Den, adds the element of mystery as riders fly through darkness and mist. For ticket prices and schedules, visit sandcastlewaterpark.com.
1000 Sandcastle Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15120
The next stop is New Castle, Lawrence County, where we’ll visit Living Treasures Animal Park’s second location. The New Castle location is more extensive than Jones Mills, with 400 animals and 70 species.
The pleasant, wooded setting makes visiting during the hot days of summer a comfortable experience. Living Treasure Moraine allows guests to get close to animals with activities which can include holding a baby kangaroo, taking a camel ride, and playing with the goats. Throughout the park, you will find signs indicating whether you may feed the animals in that area. The animals are so close that you won’t need binoculars to see tigers, monkeys, kangaroos, and so much more.
For more information, visit ltzoo.com.
268 Fox Road
New Castle, PA 16101
Hop in the car and drive roughly 30 minutes northeast to Grove City, Mercer County. The 144-acre interactive adventure park, Keystone Safari, is the newest in Pennsylvania. Visitors can walk through or drive through the animal park. In addition to the park, general admission provides access to the giraffe barn, the reindeer barn, and the butterfly garden. Visitors to Keystone Safari are encouraged to feed many of the animals with park-approved food. Though the animals are free to be out in their exhibit, the big cats and giraffe are moved inside during inclement weather.
When you choose the drive-thru safari option, you’re likely to see Guanacos, Bison, Zebras, Bison, Yak, Waterbuck, Highlander Cattle, and much more.
The animals are not the only adventure offered at Keyston Safari; the park features two zipline adventure courses – a beginner course for younger children and a more challenging course for adults and older children.
For details on park regulations and ticket prices, visit keystonesafari.com.
2284 Mercer Butler Pike,
Grove City, PA 16127
Our last stop on the Wildlife and Water Park Road trip is Waldameer Water World in Erie. This park boasts more than 100 attractions, including five rollercoasters, but we’re here for the water!
Thirty-one slides, a giant wave pool, a heated relaxing pool for up to 120 people, and an endless river for a leisurely float make this a great way to end our trip!
The Battle of Lake Erie is one of the newer additions to the park, with more than 100 water features, including seven slides and a 400-gallon tipping bucket.
For a thrill ride, guests will enjoy Raging River, an open slide that features a wild ride for one or two. For fans of enclosed slides, the Liquid Lightning is sure to please as riders twist and turn in near-complete darkness.
For more information, check out waldameer.com
3100 West Lake Road
Erie, PA 16505
You could easily spend a week on this road trip. I gave you five destinations, but there is plenty to see and do along the way. From great museums and shopping to the incredible Presque Isle State Park in Erie, log on to whereandwhen.com for more adventures in western Pennsylvania.