Finding higher ground in Fairmount Park and the sky’s the limit at the virtual Franklin Institute in this week’s ‘Things To Do’

Pennsylvania Parks

(Pennsylvania Horticultural Society)

As we embrace the dog days of summer — there’s still plenty of fun, family-friendly activities to discover in our region.

This week, as more options open up for events at different venues, most require advanced reservations and sharply limited capacity. Others are continuing virtual and hybrid options, with more reopenings on their way. Here are our picks.

Musik lovers

The Bethlehem Musikfest is virtual for most of its concerts this year. For this year’s lineup, which extends through the weekend, both live and archived performances will be available. Named USA Today’s reader’s choice #1 music festival in the nation for the second time, the 2020 version includes an outdoor dining and live music component. The 10-day festival, started in 1984, bills itself as the largest free festival in the country. If you want to take advantage of the alfresco dining component, get your tickets quickly, as they are selling fast. Some of the festival’s fave foods and its commemorative beer mug are available for takeout at ‘Fest Food To Go at the PNC Plaza in Bethlehem. Live performances scheduled through the weekend include Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials, Scythian, Southern Avenue, the Alex Meixner Band, Cinnamon Jones and Eternal Soul, and Boat House Row. The festival runs through Sunday, August 9.

Get high

Fairmount Park has a lot of hidden treasures. One of its most unusual ones is Treetop Quest, an aerial adventure and obstacle course that allows you to challenge your fears and partake in an adventure all within the confines of the vast park. There are courses ranging from the beginner’s level to the advanced, but the course for kids 4-6 has been closed temporarily due to COVID-19. All ticket sales are online and advance reservations are required – no more walk-up visits. You will need gloves for the course, which can be purchased on-site but you can also come prepared with gardening gloves. (There are no more communal gloves available.) Note: There is a weight limit of 250 to use the course. Social distancing and mask wearing are strictly enforced.
51 Chamounix Dr., Philadelphia, PA 19131
$35 – $52

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Here’s one father and daughter’s view of their time at the Quest:

Tiara time

Doylestown’s Fonthill Castle reopened this week and though a tiara isn’t mandatory for admission, you guessed it, a mask is. The castle was once owned by archaeologist, anthropologist and ceramist Henry Chapman Mercer who developed the Moravian tile during the Arts & Crafts movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Mercer tiled many of the castle’s 44 rooms, 18 fireplaces and 32 stairways with his beautiful handcrafted tile designs. Tickets must be purchased online and are time-limited. The nearby Mercer Museum is also open, but subject to availability that may not coordinate with a Fonthill visit, so plan accordingly if you want to see both.
East Court St. and Rt. 313, (525 E. Court St. for GPS) Doylestown, PA 18901
$8 – $15, open seven days a week

Looking up

The chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute’s Pels Planetarium, Dr. Derrick H. Pitts is well known to WHYY fans as the host of “Sky Talk.” His Night Skies series is usually held at the Franklin Institute, but has moved online. In a session suited for all ages, Pitts will host Night Skies @ Home on Facebook Live, answering questions about the stars, the skies, the galaxies and what’s behind what you see when you gaze into the sky seeking the mysteries of the universe – or just wondering what that constellation is called.
Thursday, August 6, 7:45 p.m.

Flower power

No matter what’s going on in the world, sunflowers are a welcome sight. They are the redwoods of the flower world as they can grow to 30 feet tall. Hill Creek Farms in Mullica Hill, N.J. opened earlier than planned as the heat forced their sunflowers to bloom prematurely. The farm offers plenty of Instagram-friendly moments, and each paid carload receives a free gift of four sunflowers, a barrel train ride, and a bag of cider donuts. The farm boasts four varieties of sunflowers and room to picnic as well as photo-ops with Mr. Apple. Barrel-train rides and gemstone mining are operating for kids, but playground usage and hayrides are suspended. Bring your own food or buy from the food trucks the farm says will be in place.
1631 State Hwy. 45, Mullica Hill, N.J. 08062
Saturday, Aug. 8 – Sunday, Aug. 9.
Four 2-hour time slots start at 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., $30
Fridays are free for U-Pick and market only

Gardens galore

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society reopened Meadowbrook Farm this week. The 19 free public gardens in Jenkintown are redesigned annually so that even if you’ve been before you can have an entirely new experience the following year. Its 25 acres were once the home of Philadelphia philanthropist J. Liddon Pennock Jr., whose estate was gifted to the city after he died in 2003. Highlights are the Perennial Garden and Alice’s Garden, named after Pennock’s wife. Gardening enthusiasts will find several kinds of flowers and plants including perennials, begonias, and ferns available to take home from the plant shop.
1633 Washington Lane, Jenkintown, PA 19046
Wednesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Royal video

Beyoncé’s lavish “Black Is King” video is the companion film to the live-action animation version of the Disney classic, “The Lion King.” It’s a look at Black culture from Africa to America that is saturated with vivid imagery and a multi-genre mix of jazz, R&B, hip-hop and contemporary African music. The approximately hour-and-a-half video has a local tie-in. The designer label Jeantrix — Deric “Nice” Crawley and Muhammad “Homm” Abdul-Basit — are a local duo whose paint-spattered, one-of-a-kind denim and leather has been worn by celebs like Janet Jackson. Jeantrix has two looks in the “Always” portion of “Black is King,” worn by Ghanaian dancehall artist Shatta Wale. Abdul-Basit is the younger brother of Malik Abdul Basit, or Malik B, one of the original members of the Roots who died last week.

Keep checking with “Things To Do” as we continue to provide our picks for entertainment during the industry’s COVID-19 hiatus. Please consult our coronavirus updates to keep up with the latest information regionally.

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