The county seat of New Castle is officially dubbed the Fireworks Capital of America as a result of two of the nation’s largest fireworks companies - Zambelli Internationale and Vitale Pyrotechnico Industries - calling it home. Thousands have looked to the night skies to enjoy their luster, from local sporting events to national celebrations like the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. Every July, the town celebrates with a two-day festival showcasing their hometown pride and joy.
Spanning over 2500 acres, McConnells Mill State Park has been a long-time favorite for outdoor activity. The park boasts nine miles of trails ranging from easy to difficult, whitewater rafting on Slippery Rock Creek and prime spots for fishing. Nature lovers can find plentiful spots for picnicking or take in the Trail of Geology. The park is open year-round from dawn to dusk – plenty of time to enjoy everything from an early morning hike to a golden sunset.
Volant Mills has always been a meeting spot of sorts in the hills of Amish country. While farmers no longer make the journey to have their grist milled, locals and visitors alike make the trip to this postcard town for unique shopping and local fare. While it’s especially popular during the holidays, , the mill is open daily and offers local Amish made wares.
Take a step back in time by visiting this nearly 100-year-old complex adorned with crystal cut glass doors, a German suit of armor and a rotating collection of art exhibits. In addition to its rich history, the Institute offers classes for children and adults in dance, pottery, art and chess, ever exemplifying their mission to expand and enrich the life of the community through participation in the arts.
This grand building overlooking downtown New Castle wears many hats. First built as a Masonic Temple in 1925, the neoclassical cathedral now also houses an auditorium with a capacity of 2,800 – plenty of seats to serve as the “home away from home” for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Local brides and grooms also celebrate their big day throughout its marvelous lobby, dining rooms and grand ballroom.
Peppered amongst the countryside surrounding New Wilmington and Volant is the Amish community, small in number but significant in their historical presence. The descendents of Jakob Amman have carried out the same simple way of life for generations. Families can often be seen on the area’s back roads in horse and carriage or at work on the farms their ancestors founded decades ago.
One hour north of Pittsburgh lies the borough of New Wilmington and in it, Westminster College. The school boasts a 12:1 student to faculty ratio, more than 80 clubs and organizations and 20 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Its students make up over one third of the quiet town’s population established in 1797.
The area’s premiere spot for theatrics has expanded twice since its inception over 50 years ago. This venue – run by and for its community – now includes the Old State Movie Theater building for its theater group and a renovated garage, home to a 100-seat annex, perfect for smaller performances. The season lasts for 26 weeks and 76 shows of musical theatre, comedy and youth theatre.
Whether you tour it by foot or by automobile, New Castle’s North Hill District takes a great deal of pride in its historic homes and streets. With brick exteriors, intricate woodwork and hipped roofs, the area’s mansions were built largely in the Queen Anne style developed in England in the 1870s. Finish out your visit with a trip to the Historic Society Building to take in collections and exhibits showcasing the town’s past.
Living Treasures Animal Park will be the highlight of any child’s visit to the area. Local wildlife and exotic species from Africa and Asia bring the four corners of the globe right into Lawrence County’s back yard. The popular destination for field trips also offers pony rides and is the ideal spot for birthday parties.
Contrary to its name, this sixth generation family farm is also Lawrence County’s favorite market for blueberries, peaches, nectarines and fall and winter produce like squash and pumpkin. Fall is also when Apple Castle hosts its most popular events like the Annual Fall Harvest and Craft Festival, a pick-your-own pumpkin patch and Johnny Appleseed Celebration. Despite the season, no visit is complete without their fresh cider and homemade donuts.
Residents of Ellwood City – both young and old – enjoy its Ewing Park year-round for various outdoor activities and leisure. Lincoln High School uses the facilities of the city’s largest parks for sporting events during the school year and locals know Veteran’s Memorial Pool is the best place to cool off on a hot summer’s day. Four tennis courts, two basketball courts, a walking trail and a 200-square foot children’s playground keep the park busy year-round.
Surrounding a 20-acre lake is the SNPJ (Slovene National Benefit Society) Recreation Center – more of a secret getaway than just a building for extracurricular activities as the name suggests. Sixty cabins dot the 500 acres complete with swimming pools, tennis and volleyball courts and a playground. Guests can enjoy events like bingo and live music or rent out the Alpine Wedding and Banquet Room for weddings, reunions and receptions.