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Say “Ciao” To Your Morning

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  • March 13, 2019
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CIAO! Bakery Cafe Harrisburg PA

Bricco’s answer to “What’s for Breakfast?”

Sweeten Your Day

Rosemarie Barbour’s typical workday begins around 5:00 a.m. when she arrives at work in downtown Harrisburg. Rosemarie is Bricco and Ciao Bakery’s executive pastry chef.

“Ciao” is Bricco’s answer to “What’s for breakfast?” and once the door opens at 6:30 a.m., the display case at the front of the cafe is filled with European-style pastries and bread, croissant breakfast sandwiches (with egg and locally sourced cheese) and the aroma screams “freshly brewed coffee.” Customers line up, one by one, to buy scrumptious baked goods and breakfast sandwiches with their favorite morning beverage.

When your morning calls for breakfast on-the-go or it’s your day to bring breakfast to your family or colleagues at your office, “Ciao,” has a selection of sweet and savory treats to please everyone. You can also order gluten-free and vegan cakes and cupcakes.

From the moment you peer into the case, you’ll notice the delicacies are artfully arranged and an up-close glance will further complicate your decision about what to order. Coconut Macaroons and signature Pignoli Cookies are so popular they might not be available but you can special order them or any other bakery item.

Ciao fruit tarts
Ciao fruit tarts are one of the uncompromising baked goods available to customers.

Bricco is Harrisburg’s only Distinguished Restaurant of North America (DiRoNA), Wine Spectator and Santé magazine award-winning restaurant.

If you live near downtown Harrisburg, PA, chances are Ciao, 304 Chestnut St, Harrisburg, PA, is already your weekday go-to bakery but if you haven’t already discovered this gem, you should make it a point to stop by when you’re downtown. You’ll find European-style croissants (some filled), danishes, scones, muffins, coffee cake, quiche, breakfast sandwiches, and sticky buns, made fresh daily on-site. Ask about the seasonal offerings, specialty cakes, and gluten-free selections.

Ciao Bakery Cafe
Ciao is downtown Harrisburg’s go-to bakery and cafe.

A MADE-TO-ORDER DELI SANDWICH?

Don’t Forget Lunch

Allow time in your day to stop by the cafe for a deli sandwich. Ciao Artisan bakers have taken bread making to a new level of perfection with a light, flaky crust that accentuates the cheeses and deli meats Ciao sources locally in Central Pennsylvania. Do you have a hearty appetite? Add soup and dessert to your repertoire.

CHEF SPOTLIGHT

Rosemarie Barbour
Rosemarie Barbour is the Bricco and Ciao executive pastry chef.

Rosemarie works alongside and shares her expertise with interns from the Olewine School of Culinary Art. The students bring their talents and ideas to Bricco’s kitchens and enhance their already blossoming careers alongside seasoned chefs. Rosemarie described how an internship directly benefits culinary students.


“The program benefits students because they not only get hands-on experience, but they get to work with people with different talents,” she said.

Rosemarie Barbour, Bricco executive pastry chef


Each season and holiday warrants a return of customers’ favorite and also a debut of most unexpected desserts using ingredients like summertime’s juicy berries; pumpkin, apples, and cranberries enhanced with culinary herbs.

What can you count on?

Ciao takes its customers on an evolving culinary journey that begins with extraordinary.

Rosemarie explained, “We do specialty and wedding cakes and a whole lot of French pastries. It varies what we put on the case. We try to keep brownies and the lemon bars stocked at all times but we also create more upscale confections using cream layers and crazy torts, for example. Our customers love them.”

Ask about specialty cakes and desserts.


While most of the cafe’s business is focused on the pastries and bread, Rosemarie and her staff also prepare desserts and bread for Bricco and the 1700 Degrees Steakhouse, the Harrisburg Hilton’s signature restaurant. Being in charge of customers’ dessert destiny is a role Rosemarie embraces with unwavering creativity.

“I love it because I can come up with new ideas flavor combinations, especially with savory desserts. You don’t see that a lot here in Central Pennsylvania,” she said. “I use lavender a lot and have added Jasmine and Rosemary. Herbs add a great flavor.”

Herbs elevate flavor combinations and add great flavor.


MORE ABOUT ROSEMARIE BARBOUR

Rosemarie joined Bricco’s team 13 years ago and returned to a full-time position in October 2016 but she discovered her love for baking many years ago. She received her Associate Degree in Culinary Arts from Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts, Pittsburgh, and her Bachelor’s Degree from the Restaurant School in Philadelphia.

Visit Ciao Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The bakery is closed Saturday and Sunday.

DISCLAIMER:

My media trip was sponsored by Visit Hershey & Harrisburg but my opinions are my own and based on my experience.

Check out happenings in Central Pennsylvania at https://www.visithersheyharrisburg.org.

PARTNER: Transcription of my interview was provided by Transcribe.

About us: Transcribe has been around for 8 years. We began as a simple do-it-yourself transcription tool but evolved as the overall speech recognition technology matured. We introduced a dictation (voice typing) feature a few years ago when it became reliable enough. Last year we introduced a state-of-the-art automatic machine transcription for pre-recorded audio and video. We support a wide set of languages.


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Harrisburg Dining Harrisburg Restaurants Lifestyle Where to eat in Harrisburg?

BRICCO BRUSSELS SPROUTS

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  • March 11, 2019
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Bricco Harrisburg

You’ll Savor the Flavor

The word on the street is Bricco Harrisburg prepares the best Brussels Sprouts.

“Try them,” I was told. I ordered them and it’s a fact.

What makes them extraordinary? Prepared with a Sriracha, honey & lime vinaigrette, the “Crispy Brussels Sprouts” appetizer is the perfect start to any meal you order at Bricco. The truth is you can satisfy your sweet tooth with one serving of Brussels Sprouts while adding a vitamin-packed vegetable to your diet.

Bricco Brussels Sprouts
Crispy Brussels Sprouts are the perfect beginning or start to your meal at Bricco, Harrisburg.

So why focus on an appetizer when the entree is equally as delicious? The sprouts set the stage for the food that followed. Chef Collier and his team prepared an organic chicken breast (made to order gluten and dairy-free) that was brimming with flavor. The variation, with mushrooms (of course from Pennsylvania – The Mushroom Capitol of the World) elevated the meal to a new level of perfection.

Chef Collier Culinary Team
Bricco customers can watch Chef Collier and his team create your meal within the open kitchen area.

If you’re wondering what night to dine at Bricco, keep in mind the menu changes weekly but the theme — inventive Mediterranean dishes, California-style stone-oven pizza, and homemade pasta does not vary. Guaranteed, whatever you order, will be a crowd-pleaser. Chef Collier and his team draw from favorite flavors from the South of France, Italy, Greece, and Spain and quality and flavor are consistent.

Bricco is Harrisburg’s only Distinguished Restaurant of North America (DiRoNA), Wine Spectator and Santé magazine award-winning restaurant,

Expect Joseph Benkovic, Bricco restaurant manager, to stop by your table and answer any questions you might have about the restaurant, food or wine menu, or ingredients. He can also give you a historical overview and more information about The Olewine School of Culinary Arts.

Bricco is a collaboration between The Olewine School of Culinary Arts and the Harrisburg Hotel Corporation. Up-and-coming chefs bring their ideas and skills to the kitchen. The program was founded and funded by the Benjamin Olewine III family. Bread and delectable desserts are among the creations the apprentice chefs create for Bricco clients.

Bricco Harrisburg
Bricco is conveniently located in downtown Harrisburg, PA, and within walking distance to many historic attractions.

Bricco is open for lunch and dinner daily. You can view a menu or make reservations here.

My trip was comped by Visit Hershey & Harrisburg but my opinions are my own and based on my experience.

Learn more about Hershey and Harrisburg at https://www.visithersheyharrisburg.org.

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Harrisburg Dining Harrisburg Restaurants Harrisburg Vegan Vegetarian Restaurants Lifestyle Where to eat in Harrisburg

Plant-Based Food & Brew

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  • February 2, 2019
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The Vegetable Hunter Vegan Vegetarian Restaurant logo

Whole Foods and Boutique Brewery Meet on Harrisburg Restaurant Row

Years ago, if someone suggested I limit my meals to include only vegetables, I would have said, NO WAY.

But incorporating plant-based food options into my daily regimen is nothing new. My diet has always been centered on vegetables with meat, poultry, and fish as side-dishes unless of course my mother’s homemade meatballs and other comfort foods I’ve grown up enjoying are on the menu.

The Vegetable Hunter vegan vegetarian restaurant
The Vegetable Hunter is owned by Kristin Messner-Baker and conveniently located on Harrisburg’s restaurant row. Shown is the “Superfood Protein Bowl” packed with energy-rich ingredients.

Fast forward to 2018 when “The Vegetable Hunter” quickly became one of my favorite restaurants. During a recent media trip to Harrisburg, arranged by Rick Dunlap, Visit Hershey-Harrisburg, I had an opportunity to sample a variety of menu items Harrisburg restaurant owner Kristin Messner-Baker and her staff brought to the table. The menu caters to vegans and vegetarians with generous portions of quality plant-based whole foods made to order.

“The Vegetable Hunter” is where Kristin’s hunger for travel, culture, and different types of cuisine met with recipes rich in made-from-scratch healthy ingredients she created and tested. After experimenting for several years, while raising her family and practicing law, she decided to open The Vegetable Hunter in 2014.

“I had a dream of opening a restaurant,” Kristin said. “I worked in restaurants with many different types of cuisine before, during, and after attending college and law school.”

Kristin Messner-Baker
The Vegetable Hunter Restaurant Harrisburg
Eat in or take out one of Kristin Messner-Baker’s vegan and vegetarian selections. The menu includes Appetizers, Large Plates, Bowls and Tacos, Sides, Desserts, Handcrafted Small-Batch Beer, Cocktails, Smoothies, and an assortment of cold drinks.

What makes The Vegetable Hunter’s menu so appealing?

Kristin has compassion for her patrons who are not accustomed to a vegan or vegetarian diet and she recognizes and caters to them in the same way she feeds her customers who pass on animal-derived ingredients. Her goal is to offer “creative vegetable-driven quick dishes, magical elixirs, complimented by small-batch beer made with unique and fresh ingredients.” The menu offers such a variety of tastes and textures with the sweet or savory selections that will suit everyone’s hankerings.

From left, Raw Brussels Sprout Salad; Kale and Quinoa; Chick Pea Salad, and Asian Noodle Bowl.

She developed her restaurant model with help from her husband, John Baker, a graphic designer, illustrator, and high school history teacher. John helps at the restaurant when he’s not teaching and their love for music and traveling are a few of the elements that give the restaurant a unique spin.

Kristin Messner-Baker, “The Vegetable Hunter” owner, offers a selection of made-to-order vegan and vegetarian fare and thirst-quencher options. She incorporated a boutique brewery, featuring handcrafted small-batch beer selections and created a relaxing atmosphere.
The Vegetable Hunter vegan vegetarian restaurant Harrisburg Restaurant Row
When a contractor’s estimate to renovate the former barbershop decor exceeded her budget, Kristin said she, “Came in with a sledgehammer and ripped out the walls and floors.” The exposed brick is an ideal backdrop for memorabilia and images of some of her favorite musicians. Her family and a contractor helped to put the interior back together.

Recommendations (based on the plates we shared)

Asian Noodle Bowl: Rice Noodle Broth Bowl with bok choy, carrots, broccoli, chili sauce, and boiled egg (Vegans can request no egg).

Superfood Protein Bowl: kale salad, chickpea salad, thyme roasted sweet potatoes, quinoa, spicy raw beet salad, boiled egg, and homemade hummus (Vegans can request no egg)

Chick Pea Salad: garlic, cumin, shallots, and parsley

Spicy Raw Beet Salad: lime juice, cayenne, and jalapenos

Raw Brussels Sprout Salad: with balsamic vinaigrette

Curried Egg Salad: Mixed greens, tomato and onion in pita

You can view a full menu here.

Location

614 N. 2nd St., Harrisburg, PA.

Telephone Number:

717-695-6229

Disclaimer:

My trip was comped by Visit Hershey-Harrisburg but my opinions are my own and based on my experience. Don’t miss a beat! Check out upcoming events in Hershey and Harrisburg.

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Bass Fishing Catfish Fishing Crappie Fishing Fishing Fishing Guide Services Lifestyle Susquehanna River Fishing

KOINONIA GUIDED BY FELLOWSHIP AND CONSERVATION

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  • January 29, 2019
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Dave Neuman Koinonia Guide Service

On the Water

with Dave Neuman, Fishing Guide

Dave Neuman, is one of four fishing guides available through Koinonia Guide Service.

What is Koinonia? Dave Neuman, Lewisberry, PA, pondered that question when he accepted a position as a fishing guide for Koinonia Guide Service based in Carlisle, PA.

Watch this video of Dave Neuman to hear his answer and his thoughts about fishing, Koinonia, and spirituality. Be sure to subscribe to my new YouTube channel.

Whether you’re floating down the Susquehanna River in one of Dave Neuman’s shallow running aluminum bass boats or foraging for fish side-by-side with Dave on his private stretch of land, your fishing experience will be packed with individualized lessons, patience, and laughs – a lot of laughs. Dave’s sense of humor will put you at ease from the moment you meet him.

He’s one of four highly-skilled pro-staff guides available through Koinonia Guide Service, a seasoned business owned by Rod Bates. Koinonia’s fishing adventures are rooted in Rod’s commitment to promoting fellowship and conservation while offering his clients a safe, educational, productive and memorable experience.

Dave Neuman Koinonia Guide Service
Dave Neuman spends his free time outdoors guiding anglers on the Susquehanna River or on his private stretch of heaven on earth. “Holy,” his canine fishing companion, often assistance with scouting for fish.

I met Dave on Oct. 17, 2018, while I was on assignment for Visit Hershey-Harrisburg. If you live in Northcentral and Northeastern Pennsylvania, you know 2018 brought record rainfall to the state, which resulted in unusually high water levels in all rivers and streams and sporadic fishing throughout the summer and fall months. Rick Dunlap, Visit Hershey-Harrisburg, graciously arranged a mid-afternoon guided fishing trip for me with Dave as my guide, but on that particular day, the river was not fish-able due
to high wind.

That’s when Dave invited me to fish in a rural stocked pond that’s home to a variety of fish species from Smallmouth Bass to Crappie and surrounded by acres of extraordinary scenery. My visit was as much an afternoon retreat as it was a fishing event. The beautiful fish I’m holding below was my first catch of the day, thanks to Dave’s instruction. I’ve fished since I was a child but the last six years I’ve devoted to learning to fly fish. Quickly, I realized how casting a spin rod requires an entirely different skill set than launching a fly onto the water.

Fishing with Dave Neuman
With assistance from Dave Neuman and his canine companion, “Holy,” shown along the water’s edge, I managed to reel in a Black Crappie. After an hour of “warm-up” casting in a well-stocked pond, we headed to a nearby stream in search of bass.

As I prepared to drive back to the Hilton downtown Harrisburg on Wednesday evening, Dave offered me a guided trip on the nearby Susquehanna River. We made plans to meet at a boat launch on Friday afternoon. While the temperature was typical of a Pennsylvania fall day – chilly, the boat rides back and forth to the channel where Catfish often hide, was exhilarating and so was the moment I felt a hefty tug on the line. Out of the water came a TROPHY-SIZE 28-inch Catfish. Watch this brief clip from my YouTube channel.

While listening to Dave’s instruction and seriously doubting my ability to reel in a large Catfish, out of the water came this gorgeous fish. Catfish are FIGHTERS and fortunately, Dave was closeby to help as needed.


Yes, Dave is a perfect example of Koinonia’s commitment to extraordinary service. The beginner to the advanced angler can count on a guided trip that best suits their needs. Canoe and wading trips are available during warmer weather for anglers who prefer a more active approach but individuals who find wading physically demanding can opt for a float trip. Be sure to let Rod know your preferences when you book your date

You can learn more about Dave in this video also available on my YouTube channel. Share his story with your fishing friends.


Rod Bates describes Dave Neuman as a “Die Hard” angler, who “Spends more time on the water than anyone we know of.”

What should you bring on your guiding fishing trip?

Don’t leave home without a valid fishing license, clothing appropriate for current weather conditions, rubber-soled or wading shoes or boots, rain gear, sunglasses, lunch or snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, and of course, your camera to record your fishing trip.

What should you leave at home?

I remember years ago, during my first guided trip, I worried about whether my casting was up to par. It wasn’t and by no means do I have a perfect cast today. That’s when instruction through Koinonia’s guided service is exactly what you need.

My Advice

Be sure to leave your worries or pre-conceived notions about your perceived skill level behind you when you meet Dave Neuman. If you’re in the Harrisburg area Feb. 2 to 10, you can meet Rod and learn more about Koinonia at the Great American Outdoor Show, Booth # 2408, in the fishing hall at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center. Stop by their booth or schedule your trip by calling Rod Bates at 717-805-7082.

The Great American Outdoor Show and the PA Farm Show are two of many events held throughout the year at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center. You’ll find a full schedule here.

My guided trip was comped by Visit Hershey-Harrisburg but my thoughts and opinions are my own. To learn more about Pennsylvania’s state capital, its businesses, and activities available, click here.

Treat your family and yourself to a day fishing on the mighty Susquehanna River, known for its trophy-sized fish.
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Central Pennsylvania dining Harrisburg Italian Restaurants Lifestyle places to eat in Harrisburg restaurant reviews and information

Mangia Qui

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  • December 19, 2018
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Mouthwatering Risotto Mangia Qui Harrisburg

RISOTTO at it’s finest

Primi (first course): Risotto Quattro Formaggio Aquarella rice, sautéed greens, taleggio, parmigiano, romana and leonora cheeses, fried baby artichoke

Want to try the most uncomplicated, melt-in-your-mouth risotto you’ll find anywhere on our planet?

MANGIA QUI – CAN THERE BE ONLY ONE PERFECT RISOTTO?
All photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted. 

I’m certain there’s only one perfect risotto and I found it at Mangia Qui, an immensely popular Harrisburg Italian restaurant across the street from the Pennsylvania State Capitol. Don’t be alarmed by the green tint. The sauteed greens were harmoniously balanced with perfectly cooked (al dente) arborio rice, artichokes, and a medley of cheese and garnished with pansies and flower foliage from co-owner Staci Basore’s garden. 

Before I tell you more about my experience at Mangia Qui, you should know I was raised in a predominately Italian family. My father was of mostly German lineage but he couldn’t have cared less about German food. My maternal grandmother’s meals (i.e. homemade pasta and meatballs, roast chicken, and pork butt layered between a crusty cornmeal “sandwich”) set the tone for most gatherings. She labeled many of her native Southern Italian dishes as “peasant food.” What exactly is peasant food? Simply stated, they’re dishes that are specific to a particular culture or region and made from accessible and inexpensive ingredients. Sadly, Risotto was not in her repertoire but years later after she died, I tried my hand at preparing Arborio with a variety of seasonings and aged cheeses. The result was a gooey and lumpy blob and probably the reason my youngest son turns his nose up when I mention “Risotto.”

When Rick Dunlap, Visit Hershey-Harrisburg, and I set up my travel itinerary, he asked if I’d like to dine at Mangia Qui on day two of my three-day solo media trip. I said, “Of course.” I arrived at the restaurant around 5 p.m. after a jam-packed day filled with outdoor activities. Throughout the afternoon, my stomach growled non stop and perhaps because
(as many Italians do) immediately after one meal (lunch, for example) my thoughts shift to dinner. By 1 p.m., I had already begun to contemplate what I’d find on the menu

Not long after I arrived, I was in the process of unpacking my gear when my server brought to my table a small stainless steel bowl brimming with olives, a bottle of water, a water goblet, and the menu.

Mangia Qui Olives Appetizer
The server brought a stainless steel bowl brimming with olives to nibble on while I was settling in at my table.

He discussed the daily specials as I perused the menu a second time. Half-way down the page, the words Risotto Quattro Formaggio popped out. I would have been satisfied with my appetizers and Risotto but my server asked what I’d like for my entree. Do you mean there’s more (food), I thought. The Branzino Seared a la plancha, olive oil poached sweet onion, Kentucky flats, Yukons and squash, and lemon caper brown butter was one of the “Secondi” that appealed to me so I ordered it. Sadly, I had no room or need for dessert afterward. 

Branzino with a delightful citrus flavor. 

Basore is part of the team that owns and operates Mangia Qui and two sister restaurants, Rubicon and Suba.  Mangia Qui offers a fresh, locally sourced, and artisanal approach to dining that’s as much about meeting friends and family for a relaxed dining experience as it “the food,” which was superb. Without hesitation, I recommend Mangia Qui to anyone who is seeking a first-rate Italian restaurant for a date night, family gathering, friends’ night-out, special occasion, or business-related dinner. 

Deep-fried squash blossom appetizer
Mid-way through my meal, Staci Basore, co-owner, stopped by my table to say hello. She came to my table bearing another appetizer – a squash blossom (she picked from her garden) that was deep-fried and crispy. 
Mangia Qui - Stacy Basore, co-owner and chef, prepared the best risotto I've ever tasted.

Mangia Qui: Casual dining and
phenomenal Italian cuisine. 

272 North Street
Harrisburg, PA — 17102
717.233.7358

Complimentary valet parking on Friday and Saturday evenings, 5 -11 p,m. 

Join the staff for a New Year’s Eve celebration

For more information about Hershey and Harrisburg lodging and attractions, visit www.VisitHersheyHarrisburg.org.

My trip was hosted and comped by Visit Hershey & Harrisburg but my opinions are my own and are based on my personal experiences. 

This father and son duo prepare to cast a fishing line into the Susquehanna River. Plan a Harrisburg family fishing trip or water activity and enjoy the outdoors TOGETHER.    

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Central Pennsylvania Arts and Entertainment Countryside Exhibits Family Destinations Family Travel kids and adult activities Lifestyle outdoor fun Outdoor Recreation Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Outdoor Activities Safari Tours Things to do near Harrisburg Hershey PA Travel and Leisure Travel News trip planning Uncategorized wildlife programs Zoo Exhibits

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park

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  • October 12, 2018
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Lake Tobias Safari Cruiser Tour Bus

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park

MEET THE RESIDENTS

Laugh and Learn With Your Family

Visit Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park residents take every opportunity to entertain visitors. Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted.

Prepare to fall in love with the animals at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. You’ll never see the same scene if you visit the wildlife park one or 50 times . A personalized performance and warm greeting from the staff and residents, educational programs for all ages, and a picnic lunch together in the concession area adjacent to Lake Tobias can all be woven seamlessly into your visit.

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Safari
Board the Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Safari Tour to meet the animals who roam on 165 acres.

If you’re a parent, you already know children grow up in a heartbeat. Savor those moments with your kids and reserve a day to visit Lake Tobias Wildlife Park, Halifax, Pennsylvania. If your children are grown and you miss those carefree afternoons at the zoo, you too should plan a visit. The wildlife park  is reminiscent of an old-fashioned zoo I came to know in Northeastern Pennsylvania as a child growing up in the 1960s and 1970s. Although the former Nay Aug Park Zoo operated on a much smaller scale, weekly visits to the petting zoo and main park building cultivated a love and respect for animals that has grown stronger over the years.

I’m so pleased the Tobias family chose to carry on the tradition of Lake Tobias Wildlife Park with affordable family engagement and hands-on learning. You can thank J.R. Tobias for his vision and diligence that has spanned more than 50 years. Although this wildlife park dates back to 1965 on a tract of land where J.R. Tobias was born and raised, numerous expansion and renovations have enabled the Tobias family to continue their father’s dream by enhancing the park’s offerings and highlighting a variety of wild and exotic animals. The most notable improvements have occurred in the last 15 years with several new additions: custom-designed, expanded habitats for the tigers and black bears, African lion and baboon facility,  custom-designed Reptile and Exotics’ facility, food service areas, relocated and expanded Safari Station, J.R. Tobias Museum and Education Center, and the opening of a giraffe exhibit. Plans for additional exhibits are also in the works.

J.R. Tobias Family owners
Jan Tobias-Kieffer is one of J.R. Tobias’ seven children who have chosen to carry on the Lake Tobias Wildlife Park tradition. Jan is shown inside the J.R. Tobias Museum and Education Center. 

J.R.’s daughter, Jan Tobias-Kieffer, said the wildlife park was a hobby her father could fall back on in his retirement. J.R. Tobias died in 1996 but his wife, Pauline, still lives in the homestead and six of the couple’s seven children and a grandson own and manage the wildlife park. Immediately, upon your entry into the park, you’ll notice the special care given to all the animals. They’re highly-socialized creatures that are genuinely happy to mingle with park guests. 

“My father always had a fascination with animals.” ~Jan Tobias-Kieffer

 

 

 

Meet the animals in person as I did on Thurs., Sept. 27, 2018, during my tour of the park. The park was at the top of my list of Harrisburg-Hershey attractions. I brought my life-long friend, Pennye Rosenfeld-Weinstein along to share in the fun. 

After dashing from my car to pick up our tickets at the Safari Station, we bought a large bag of popcorn to take with us to feed the animals we met on the safari. We made our way to the front of the line (yes, we cut in front of other visitors) so I could photograph Lenny, the Emu, classified as second-largest living bird by height and native to Australia.  Lenny was a mooch, to say the least. 

Exotic Animals Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
Lenny, the Emu, didn’t waste any time when he knew popcorn was awaiting him at the gate. Photo by Pennye Weinstein.

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
Be prepared to greet the animals up close and personal at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. Photo by Pennye Weinstein.

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Animals
Thousands of children each year meet and greet the animals at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. Their interaction allows them to learn more about an animal’s lifestyle and feeding habits. Lenny the Emu is an example of the pleasure children derive from a visit to the wildlife park.

Lenny, the Emu
Lenny spends his days hanging around by the Safari Station while waiting for guests to share their snacks.

(Recommendation: Don’t tempt Lenny or any other animal with food other than what is sold at the Safari Station and intended for the animals. Inquire at the Safari Station Snack Shop.)

Watch this documentary and learn the history of Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. The film was produced by Rutan Productions company and provided courtesy of Chip Rutan.

 

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
The fleet of safari cruisers are ready for the crowds that visit Lake Tobias every year. Adventure-seekers can opt in for the 45-minute safari tour by purchasing tickets at the welcome center.

Our personal tour guide stopped numerous times along the Safari trail to allow visitors an opportunity to snap photos and greet and feed the animals. A fleet of “chop-top” safari cruisers are available to accommodate visitors who arrive at the park each year. You’ll find the hours of operation and directions to the park here.

Allow ample time to visit each of the exhibits at the park. The African Lion, American Alligator, American Black Bear, Asian Water Buffalo, Bengal Tiger, Burmese Python, Capybara, De Brazza, Monkey, Dromedary Camel, East African Crowned Crane, Eland, European Fallow Deer, Gemsbok, Grant’s Zebra, Green Tree Python, Marmoset, North American Bison, Ostrich, Peacock, Red Kangaroo, Rhea, Suri Alpaca, Tamarins, Two-Toed Tree Sloth, and the Watusi are among the animals you’ll find throughout the park. Each tour guide is well-trained and educated with an abundance of knowledge about the animals roaming the 150-acre countryside. Ask questions and expand your knowledge.

Lake Tobias Wildlife Safari
Ah, they were waiting to greet us as the tour guide navigated the safari bus along the straight and narrow trail.

Llamas and Alpacas Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
Don’t worry, “I won’t spit on you. I’m looking for attention.”

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Bison Buffalo
“We’re relaxing and not inclined to get up to greet you but thanks for stopping by today.”

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Animals
“I wait for the corn treats. They’re my favorite.”

The Reptiles and Exotics Facility

Are you skittish about reptiles? The Reptiles and Exotics Facility is where you can work on your fear. If not, move on to the lizards, tortoises, tropical birds, lemurs, tamarins, and the sloth who was particularly active during my visit. Check the schedule for an educational demonstration that will round out a perfect day at the park.

CHECK OUT SOME OF THE FRIENDS I MADE AT THE PARK.

where to see a sloth?
When the sloth is active, you’ll see him make his way up and down the branches.

Two Toed Tree Sloth
“Thanks for hanging around today. It’s a pleasure to meet and entertain you.”

Giant Tortoise
The crowd had time to study the GIANT Tortoise.

American Alligator Photo Information
Professional handlers and educators run the educational demonstrations held throughout the day.

(RECOMMENDATION: Take a break and enjoy a picnic lunch at one of the tables along the lake. You can purchase food at The Hub Refreshment Stand, the Grille & Grub and the Chill Zone in the center of the park or the new Safari Station snack shop or bring your own lunch.)

As the self-sustaining, family-owned Lake Tobias Wildlife Park continues to grow and attract more than 170,000 visitors each season, my readers should also be aware that this enduring and charming entity relies strictly on park revenue to feed the animals and support its educational and building programs. I know you’ll also feel the love and respect that emanates from each exhibit. As for J.R. Tobias’ children, who’ve never known a life without their animals, Jan told me she is grateful to be a part of her father’s calling.

She noted, “We always thought it (growing up in a park) was normal for us – peacocks yelling in your bedroom window, whereas our friends thought this was really cool. For us, it was an everyday thing,” Jan said.

 

 

 

 

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park is located at 760 Tobias Road, Halifax, Pa. For updated hours or other information, call 717-362-9126 Mon., to Fri., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or email info@laketobias.com.

For more information about Hershey and Harrisburg attractions, visit www.VisitHersheyHarrisburg.org.

DISCLAIMER:

My trip was hosted and comped by Visit Hershey & Harrisburg but my opinions are my own and are based on my personal experiences. 

 

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Harrisburg Lodging Harrisburg/Hershey Lodging Hotel Indigo IHG hospitality Lodging near Pennsylvania State Capitol Modern Hotels Violet Oakley Art Where to stay in Harrisburg

Hotel Indigo Harrisburg-Hershey

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  • September 25, 2018
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Hotel Indigo Harrisburg-Hershey

Hotel Indigo Harrisburg-Hershey
Hip, contemporary, and friendly are words to describe the Hotel Indigo Harrisburg-Hershey. Whether you’re visiting for business or pleasure, the hotel partners with many local businesses and attractions in both the Harrisburg and Hershey areas.

A STORY TO TELL

Hotel Indigo Harrisburg-Hershey

Each IHG Hotel Indigo location tells a story, said Austin Meyer Whitlock, Hotel Indigo Harrisburg-Hershey sales manager. Much of Harrisburg’s rich history is reflected in the art and decor of Harrisburg’s newest lodging option, a signature Hotel Indigo, 765 Eisenhower Blvd.,  Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Hotel Indigo Harrisburg - Hershey
Austin Meyer Whitlock is the sales manager at Hotel Indigo Harrisburg -Hershey, a contemporary, hip hotel.

Hotel Indigo Harrisburg -Hershey is part of the IHG® family of brands and is best described as a contemporary, hip hotel that’s ideal for guests of all ages, but particularly those who are looking for their not-so-typical, stylish boutique lodging experience. The first Hotel Indigo opened its door to the public in 2004 across from midtown Atlanta’s Fabulous Fox Theatre. Since the brand’s debut, each of its locations has been strategically placed in neighborhoods that support its commitment to the arts and entertainment. The local influence is profound and without a doubt, what sets Hotel Indigo apart from other accommodations nearby the Harrisburg – Hershey site. You’re greeted with fusion and hot jazz music playing in the background, which inevitably sets the stage for an unforgettable stay. You’ll be dazzled by the locally-sourced ART, food, and a rich décor with a color palette and blend of texture that reaches from the lobby to each of the guestrooms.

Violet Oakley artist
Violet Oakley was an American artist and trailblazer for women’s rights.  Hotel Indigo Harrisburg-Hershey honors her work with an interpretive image on display near the lobby.

Whitlock said his favorite decor item is an interpretive image of Violet Oakley, a turn-of-the-century artist, and trailblazer for women’s rights.  The mural is located at the beginning of the hallway close to the hotel’s meeting rooms.

He explained, “Ms. Violet Oakley was the first woman to receive a large commission for the Capitol Building and although she completed many (pieces of art) she did not receive much acclaim for them until later in her life.”

Whitlock shared his thoughts about Hotel Indigo in an EXCLUSIVE email and in-person interview that culminated on Fri., Sept. 28. 

How does the Hotel Indigo Harrisburg-Hershey compare with IHG’s other properties?

I will enunciate upon this a little bit later – but the cool thing about Hotel Indigo as a brand under the IHG umbrella is that it can’t be compared to a Holiday Inn or a Candlewood. Those brands are of course well known and established, but they are built on the idea that you can have the same expectation for them no matter which one you go to. Hotel Indigo is different, each and every one is unique.

How would you describe the hotel and its overall atmosphere?

I would describe our hotel as being modern, crisp, clean and open. Here you will find shiny surfaces, angled lines (reflecting the Harrisburg bridges and architecture) comfortable furnishing, and lots of natural light.

What do you believe is Hotel Indigo’s role in the Harrisburg/Hershey communities? How do the surrounding communities benefit from Hotel Indigo?

One fun fact about the Hotel Indigo Harrisburg-Hershey is that we are the first Hotel Indigo not to be built directly in a downtown or metropolitan area. That, of course, makes us unique and gives us a distinct advantage; we are smack in the middle of two great central Pennsylvania hubs – Harrisburg and Hershey. As mentioned previously our design and inspiration come from Harrisburg, but we love Hershey here as well. You’ll see this right away when taking a look at our Grab and Go food section. We also partner with and are located near a variety of Hershey attractions. We have a great shopping center directly across the street with tons of shopping and other food and beverage options as well – and we love to give suggestions on our favorite local spots.

What is the single most interesting fact about Hotel Indigo?

As mentioned prior – the single most interesting thing about Hotel Indigo is that no two are alike – each one is built to tell its own unique neighborhood story. There is no other Hotel Indigo like our Hotel Indigo, and we work to embrace that here. From our one of a kind shades featuring a topographical map of the Susquehanna River and the Harrisburg Area to our Riverrun restaurant and bar – you won’t find another hotel like us.

What is your background and how did your position as Hotel Indigo sales manager evolve?

I joined the staff at the beautiful Hotel Indigo Harrisburg Hershey as sales manager in July 2018 and first received my Bachelors in Communications in 2015. Directly out of college I worked for a company that did B2B training programs for hotels and restaurants. There I was a production manager and worked to coordinate internal projects and facilitate training video shoots with various hotels and restaurants. This gave me a lot of behind the scenes insight into the hotel and food and beverage industries. I then went on to work for an entertainment company where I also worked with coordinating various weddings and events with a variety of different hotels and other venues. I also have a plethora of different sales experience working for a telecommunications company and doing event promotion in the Philadelphia area. I joined on with the beautiful Hotel Indigo Harrisburg Hershey this past July and have been here since!

How does your restaurant menu(s) work with the region?

By brand, 20% of all Hotel Indigo’s F&B must be locally sourced. On our menu, you will find Kunzler’s bacon, Elementary coffee, and Urban Churn ice cream – all locally established brands that anyone visiting the area will come to love. We serve Spring Gate wine and Troegs beer as well – some other local favorites.

What are a few of the perks related to your role at the hotel?

I would say that the biggest perk for me is I get to be involved in helping each and every guest in our hotel feel special and appreciated. I love people and I love hospitality and anything I can do to make someone staying with us have an even better day is a plus for me.

The number to call for reservations is 1-800-496-7361 or reach the hotel directly at 1-717-558-7676.

For more information about Hershey and Harrisburg attractions, visit www.VisitHersheyHarrisburg.org.

My trip was hosted and comped by Visit Hershey & Harrisburg but my opinions are my own and are based on my personal experiences. 

 


Check back again for “A Story to Tell: Part Two” or sign up for my mailing list and you’ll receive notifications when new articles appear.

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