The best things to do while in Crawford County

Note: None of the businesses mentioned in this article are paid endorsements.

I have lived in Crawford County my entire life. That being so, I am a self-proclaimed expert on local places to visit and explore in Crawford County and the surrounding area. Whether you like to try new restaurants, enjoy the outdoors or go shopping, there are plenty of local places you can go to in the area.

The first suggestion I would like to make is small-scale sports, namely mini golf and bowling. There are a number of courses in the area, but when it comes to getting the most bang for your buck, my suggestion for a mini golf course is Putt-It Miniature Golf.

If you have ever been to the local Walmart, you have certainly seen this course before. Located next to Palmiero Toyota and directly across from one of the main entrances to Walmart, Putt-It is a small, fenced-in golf course with two separate courses. The first course is considered the easy one, and the second is supposedly more advanced. Indeed, when I went with my sister and my cousin a few weeks ago, the second course was harder. We spent at least twenty minutes trying to get our balls around a figure-eight, even though we were significantly over par. In my opinion, mini golf is much more fun when you are not great at it and do plenty of ball moving.

As of the time of writing, you can play both courses for $7. Additionally, you do not have to play both courses at once; you are able to pay for two games, and you are given a ticket with which you can come back and play a single course. Each course has a full 18 holes, making the game long enough to be worth playing but short enough that you do not get bored. With three players, we got through each course in well under an hour (apart from the figure-eight incident). Overall, Putt-It is a great course to visit for a fun weekend out with friends. And, when you are finished, you can go to Casey’s Ice Cream next to Walmart. (link to ice cream article online)

While I for one could not bowl a strike if my life depended on it, I happen to think that bowling is still a great group activity. There’s something very cathartic about throwing the ball down the lane and watching it roll into the gutter along with your hopes and dreams.

The alley I would suggest is Plaza Lanes in Meadville, adjacent to Hoss’s Steak and Sea House. There are a number of other bowling alleys I have been to in my life, and for some reason, a lot of them feel dirty to me. Whether it is because I think too much about the balls being handled by so many people or the god awful colors of the bowling shoes making me sick to my stomach, I am unsure. But Plaza Lanes is a very clean facility that regularly sanitizes frequently touched surfaces, and as someone who struggles with OCD, I have never felt unsafe when visiting. They also often have specials, which feature different prices per person or shoes. They are currently on a summer recess, and will return to regular hours on Tuesday, September 7th.

If you enjoy being outdoors, I must suggest visiting Ernst Trail. A five-mile long trail, it can either be traversed on foot or on bicycle. My sister adores the trail, and the scenery is absolutely gorgeous. There are a number of bridges and other landmarks to look at along the way, making for some very aesthetic Instagram photos. I also recommend looking into the history of Ernst Trail, as the local history in Crawford County is very rich and well worth exploring.

If hiking, bowling and mini-golf are not your style, but you do enjoy being outside, you can take a trip to the Pymatuning Spillway. People who know me very well may note that I am always willing to talk about the Pymatuning Spillway, as it is located in my hometown of Linesville, approximately twenty minutes from campus.

Pymatuning Reservoir is a man-made body of water originally created to lessen damage caused by floods in the area. Since its creation, it has become home to thousands of carp. For those who do not know, carp are a rather ugly bottom-feeder with funny little mustache pieces on their mouth. While a delicacy in some countries, carp are all but invasive in the United States. 

These fish are not very smart, but they are certainly entertaining. Visitors to the Spillway bring bread — usually moldy or stale, or generally no longer edible to humans — and throw it at the fish. The carp come up to the surface and slop up the bread into their gaping mouths, their thoughtless eyes glazed over as they indulge in the delicious treat. This has been a thing for decades. In fact, the carp in Pymatuning are not the color of most other carp; these bottom-feeding fish are actually somewhat sunburnt from spending so much time at the surface and eating bread.

The Pymatuning Spillway experience really combines things that are vaguely disgusting with things that are downright fun in a way that not many activities can. While I actively complain about tourists causing traffic and their seeming inability to drive, I will never not recommend people visit the Spillway. It is certainly something everyone should see before leaving Allegheny.

There are a lot of incredible, locally-owned restaurants in the Meadville area. While I have previously shared my opinions on the best pizza and ice cream places, there are a number of restaurants in the area that have more diverse menus and are worth going to. The ones that every student needs to visit before they graduate are Julian’s Bar & Grill, Smoky Martin’s BBQ, and The Whole Darn Thing Sub Shop.

Julian’s, while a smaller restaurant, has an incredibly cozy atmosphere while still feeling like an upscale establishment. Their prices are a little bit higher than some other restaurants, but the portion sizes are ginormous. I went there for the first time last semester, and I am very much looking forward to the next time I am able to go.

Smoky Martin’s BBQ is some of the best barbecue I have had in my life. I do not like pork, but their barbecue pork is delicious. My usual qualm with pork is that it can be very dry if cooked wrong, and it is much easier to mess up than beef or chicken. Smoky Martin’s is smooth and savory, and I cannot recommend it more.

Lastly, Whole Darn Thing is a local restaurant that specializes in subs. The biggest reason I am often opposed to eating at Subway is because I cannot stand a mediocre sandwich of any kind. Going to Whole Darn Thing, I never face this problem. While they are obviously a little more expensive than Subway, the quality is more than worth it. Additionally, you are able to order a quarter sub, a half sub, or a whole sub, so whether you are a dainty eater or you can eat the house down boots, Whole Darn Thing has got you covered.

All in all, while Crawford County may not seem the most interesting place in the world, there are definitely many things to do in the area that are worth your time.