Victor, my 12-year-old schnoodle, is sitting on my lap while we whiz around on a miniature train, between trees and around bends. He’s been on novelty trains a few times now, though sometimes he’s not sure why.
Today, I think he likes the wind whizzing over his face – a relief from the heat.
Is there a pet-friendly amusement park in the U.S.? You bet – you can take your dog to Knoebels.
The Pioneer Train at Knoebels Amusement Resort is one of three rides you can do with your dog. I found this out from a couple also traveling here with their dog, just before the three of them climbed on the boat ride. The Grand Carousel is apparently the third.
Knoebels amusement park is dog friendly (on a leash but can’t go in gift stores or museums) and that’s widely publicized. What rides are available to them isn’t, so I took my fellow dog traveler’s advice, lined up for the train with Victor, and climbed aboard to see who would say what.
Nothing was said. Well, except for one fellow rider who mutter, “Oh, the dog’s riding too.”
Yup. He is.
However, we weren’t here for the rides, though I do regret not riding the historic Grand Carousel, hand-carved in 1913 and still one of North America’s largest with 63 horses and 3 chariots.
Located in Elysburg, Pennsylvania, the dog-friendly, family-owned 90-year-old Knoebels Amusement Resort has been updated throughout the years with 60 bigger and faster rides and a waterpark, but no bigger or faster prices – admission is free and you can buy single or multiple ride tickets or an all-day pass for $40.
Parking is also free and food is reasonable and varied. Be daring and try the deep fried pickles on a stick, though I recommend pierogi and potato pancakes. Of course, there are hamburgers and pizza, and corn on the cob for a dollar – Yo mate, a buck an ear (buccaneer, get it?)
People can bring picnics and make use of the many, many sheltered tables and charcoal barbeques, which I think is a welcome change from the too common ‘no outside food allowed.’ We’re stocked with our own water bottles.
Family-owned for 90 years, Knoebels is refreshing old-school charm with modern value. There’s no alcohol, a dress code and signs clearly prohibiting foul language. What I love is the absence of chains, brands, and license characters. Great value and less stress means reducing the number of family meltdowns I usually witness at places like this.
Wait, it’s dog friendly. That’s what I like best. Family includes pets.
Knoebels started in 1926 with a concrete swimming pool on a popular farm site already dotted with concession stands. It grew into a midway, and in 1942, the hand-carved 1913 Grand Carousel was added. The oldest ride in the park is the merry-go-ride in kiddie land carved in 1912.
The park remains current by adding ‘thrill rides’ including harrowing metal roller coasters such as 30-metre high ‘Impulse’ new last year, a haunted house and a water flute ride. Warning, if you stand on the bridge overhead, you will get soaked. Victor wouldn’t go up there. He did love cooling off in the stream that separates the park from the campgrounds.
Yes, you can stay on-site (with the dog) at the campground equipped for tents and RVs. However, after our active day – which Victor loves – we checked into the Red Roof Inn in Dansville, PA, about 30 minute drive from the park.
The Red Roof Inn front desk clerk said hello to Victor. When I told her where we spent the afternoon, said, “I love that place. It’s like going back in time. Plus, they don’t soak you for food.”
Food seems to be top of everyone’s mind … except Victor’s. He’s not eating dry food on this trip, and luckily, I’ve stocked up on single-serve wet portions. Hopefully, he’ll return to normal when we get home, because I can’t entice him with take-out hamburgers much longer, even if they are a good value.
NOTE: If you’re in the area, don’t miss Knoebels’ Doggie Dive the second Sunday in September, 10 am to 3 pm. For only $10, your pooch can jump in the pool and you can enjoy the other canine events going on. All $ is donated to local shelters. Register your dog at Knoebels.