• Reese Morgan

Summer Group Outings!

Group Outings for Summer

by Reese Morgan

The heat is on! Spring has given way to summer and with the change in seasons many groups are looking to take advantage of the warm weather. Some crave outdoor adventure while others seek to escape the heat by staying indoors or enjoying fun in the water.

Summer is a great time to explore opportunities for some fun in the sun and to visit nearby activities and attractions. Excursions to regional destinations are great this time of year, too. There’s something for just about everyone in practically any group to do - from sand and surf to urban tours to hiking trails to indoor and outdoor waterparks to ropes courses, zip lines and more.

Corporate, SMERF and motorcoach groups alike will find a variety of options available to them as they seek creative ways to enjoy the fun and fellowship tied into these summer group experiences.

Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown, PA welcomes groups in the summer, as well as all throughout the year. And while many of these groups come from schools and camps, the venue also has hosted many corporate outings, business meetings, and team building exercises.

According to Shaun Rogers, marketing director for Elmwood Park Zoo, “We have seen an increase in the number of businesses looking for new and interesting destinations, especially those specifically looking for team building exercises - and of course the zoo fits that bill. In addition to our unique animal experiences, we also have a full-fledged zip line park that is perfect for groups to tackle together.”

The most popular group activities for the zoo are its animal feeding experiences. Guests can hand feed giraffes, bison and tropical birds in their respective exhibits. Not to be outdone, Treetop Adventures zip line park offers dozens of games, obstacles and zip lines high in the trees - and all of this happens above the zoo! Guests even zip line over some of the zoo's animals at different points.

For those seeking for a more “relaxed” visit, the Zoo Brew Beer Garden serves cold beverages in a beautiful tree-lined area of the zoo that overlooks the zip line park and Stony Creek.

Elmwood Park Zoo has multiple indoor and outdoor spaces that can accommodate groups of all sizes and for any occasion.

“We offer on-site catering and can create special packages for your trip,” notes Rogers, “from a formal sit-down meal to a traditional barbecue picnic and everything in between. Plus, we have a dedicated events staff that will help you plan your excursion and ensure that all your needs are met.”

Constantly adding new attractions and services in order to improve their guests’ experience, Elmwood Park Zoo recently became the world's first zoo to be designated a Certified Autism Center by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). “That means that our staff members are highly trained in serving individuals with autism, and we have amenities and programs tailored for those individuals and their families,” explains Rogers.

Biking enthusiasts can enjoy urban excursions on the streets of Philadelphia, PA as they pedal their way from historic site to historic site, restaurant to restaurant, pub to pub and more.

Big Red Pedal Tours is a locally-owned and operated company that boasts five pedicycles available for accommodating group outings of up to 75 people, as each bike consists of 10 pedaling and 5 non-pedaling seats. A back-up motor helps to limit exertion necessary and helps to keep the experience fun and festive without becoming too tiring.

Big Red Pedal Tours include pub crawls, historic tours, food and dessert tours. Both private and public tours are available to locals, tourists and corporate groups.

The Historic Square Mile Tour stops at Elfreth’s Alley, Christ Church and Carpenters’ Hall. Beer and History includes stops at Christ Church and Carpenters’ Hall, as well. For the Ben Franklin Tour, a Franklin impersonator joins the fun and - in addition to the aforementioned stops - a visit to Franklin’s grave also is included.

Food Tours feature three stops including Reading Terminal Market, while Dessert Tours also feature three stops in the city.

Most of the Pub Crawls start and stop at Silence DoGood’s Tavern and include two additional pubs. Pub crawls of several neighborhoods are offered, including Midtown Village, South Street and Old City, as well as the newest addition - Fishtown, one of Philadelphia's hottest neighborhoods.

The hip, new Fishtown pub crawl starts and ends at Fishtown Hops, which is the new beer garden at Sugarhouse Casino. Here, riders can enjoy beer and cocktail specials while taking in views of the Delaware River and Ben Franklin Bridge. Next, riders casually pedal to Fishtown Brewpub, a gastropub and microbrewery that makes classic English and German-style beers on premise.

There also are stops at Evil Genius Tasting Room, an industrial chic space in one of the city's best microbreweries, followed by Kosta's, an authentic Greek restaurant, bar and pool hall with a new outdoor patio. Drink specials are offered at every stop, and each bike has a "bar buddy" who steers while keeping the tunes flowing and the party going.

"Everyone is talking about the nightlife in Fishtown," notes Jessica Nartey, general manager of Big Red Pedal Tours. "We think riders will be really pumped about checking out the neighborhood by pedicycle. It's perfect for bachelorette parties... birthday parties or any celebration, team building, conventioneers, reunions or for anyone who loves to have fun."

There’s lots to do this summer (and all year round) in Hershey, PA - “The Sweetest Place on Earth.”

According to the resorts sales team for Hershey Entertainment and Resorts, a diverse selection of groups converge here during the summer season, including: corporate, incentive trips, staff retreats, pharmaceutical, continuing education, mid-year business reviews, technology shows, dance groups, employee outings, state associations, national associations, social groups, one-day events, family/friendship celebrations (including anniversaries and birthdays), as well as sports teams - especially soccer, lacrosse and baseball.

Hershey Entertainment and Resorts adds that they have seen an uptick in requests for team building and outdoor/nature adventure experiences provided by the Hershey Destination Services team, as well as “after hour” networking events.

Groups coming to Hershey often are looking for something unique to the area, such as: Hersheypark, Historic Trolley Tours that include information about the Milton Hershey School, or chocolate tastings at Hershey’s Chocolate World. In addition, the sales team has seen requests for opportunities and experiences for families and guests as a way to make memories during their time in Hershey.

Among the most popular summertime activities groups seek out when holding their team building activities on site at The Hotel Hershey or at Hershey Lodge is the Chocolate Challenge, where teams build free-standing structures made out of Hershey’s candy products.

Other big hits among groups during the summer have been: Hersheypark (including picnics); a behind-the-scenes tour at ZooAmerica; concerts and shows at Hersheypark Stadium, Giant Center and Hershey Theatre; various attractions at Hershey’s Chocolate World; golf; two spas; Hershey Gardens (including dining events); The Hershey Story Museum (including dining events); Hershey’s Water Works at Hershey Lodge indoor pool complex; outdoor pool complex at The Hotel Hershey (cabana rentals are popular; groups often reserve one or two as a “hospitality area”); summer-themed events on property, such as a Margaritaville Party or Hawaiian Luau; Hershey Outfitters offers a ropes course and Segway tours at The Hotel Hershey; plus, Trap Shooting can be arranged at a local sportsmen’s club, as can kayaking down the Swatara Creek and Archery Tag. There’s also an outdoor dry sports complex.

In addition, guests of The Hotel Hershey and Hershey Lodge are offered many benefits, such as: complimentary shuttle service to and from Hersheypark; one-hour early access to Hersheypark during the summer season; discounted admission to Hersheypark; complimentary admission to Hershey Gardens; complimentary admission to The Hershey Story Museum; no resort fees; indoor and outdoor swimming pools and fitness centers at both properties; complimentary valet parking at The Hotel Hershey (a Forbes Four Star and AAA Four Diamond property); two spa experiences - The Spa At The Hotel Hershey resort spa and the new MeltSpa by Hershey day spa, which offers exclusive Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Treatments; there is 36 holes of championship golf at Hershey Country Club; plus on-site catering options, as well.

One of the newest offerings of Hershey Entertainment and Resorts is Fire & Grain, a contemporary American restaurant that opened at Hershey Lodge in May of 2017, serving breakfast, dinner and a drinks/bar menu. MeltSpa by Hershey day spa opened last September in downtown Hershey.

Additional upgrades at the resort include renovated guest rooms in the main building at The Hotel Hershey in early 2018, and the refurbishment of the Cocoa Suite function rooms at Hershey Lodge in spring 2018.

What’s more, Hersheypark has opened two new attractions at The Boardwalk At Hersheypark in late May of 2018 - Breakers Edge Water Coaster and Whitecap Racer - the longest mat racer in the world.

Skytop Resort in Skytop, PA has been an oasis of adventure in the Pocono Mountains since 1928. This majestic 5,500-acre destination has long been a place of both time-honored traditions and for making new memories. The Lodge at Skytop is the centerpiece of the resort and is home to many restaurants and shops, along with 124 recently-refreshed guest rooms and suites in three signature themes within the Main Lodge (Water, Garden or Mountain designs).

Groups come to Skytop during the summer - as well as all throughout the year - to enjoy a wide variety of activities and recreational opportunities. The resort’s Treetop Adventure Course is open year-round and spans 3,000-feet in its entirety with varying obstacles that include elevated bridgeways from one tree platform to the next, logs hanging from ropes to walk across, ladders, a cargo net, and a total of 16 different zip lines.

Set atop the peak of a high plateau, Skytop’s award winning golf course is rated 4 out of 5 by Golf Advisor and partners with Preferred Golf Club, a division of Preferred Hotels and Resorts. Its unique mountain-style track plays over rolling terrain and boasts wide, tree-lined fairways and small greens that challenge players of all levels.

Summer on the beach is a pastime many enjoy, and Skytop Lake beach offers breathtaking scenery, the opportunity to enjoy a refreshing dip, plus exciting water activities like fishing, paddle boarding and boating. Biking and the resort’s outdoor heated swimming pool both serve as popular diversions during the warmer months, too, while the indoor pool is open year-round.

Additional activities as Skytop encompass a range of options, from paintball to rock climbing to tennis to Archery Tag®. Available spring through fall, the resort is the only place in Northeastern Pennsylvania that offers Archery Tag, an outdoor game with similar rules to dodgeball, but played with bows and foam-tipped arrows.

Yet another unique offering at the resort, Skytop Outfitters Shooting Range hosts a 12-station sporting clays course along with 5-stand and wobble trap. From the most seasoned shooter to the novice, everyone in the group can enjoy an exciting clay bird shooting experience at Skytop.

Offering many options when it comes to group activities, the region is filled with destinations that are packed with exciting things to see and do for summer sojourns. As the weather continues to heat up, planners of group outings will find an array of opportunities in a wide variety of settings that can satisfy the goals and needs of their participants.

The remaining weeks of the season will provide plenty of opportunities and occasions to get out and have fun as a group. Enjoying the carefree days of summer provides a chance to unwind, recharge and gear up for the fall and winter months still ahead.

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