I love pet friendly day trips and vacations. As I progress through life, I find that I am taking a deeper interest in historical things. I want to know what came before so I can more appreciate where we are today and anticipate the amazingness of tomorrow. That said, I enjoy and embrace traveling with my family, which always includes our dog.
In looking for things to do during these sweltery summer months that are both pet welcoming and fun, it is with great pride that we share a recent historical find with you: Valley Forge National Park in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Valley Forge National Historical Park is nationally significant as the location of the 1777-78 winter encampment of the Continental Army under General George Washington.
Before You Go
Prepare for a hot day by keeping dog paws protected. I cannot begin to tell you the number of dogs we encountered who were walking on hot pavement and in clear discomfort. We recommend some sort of paw protection, such as Pawz dog boots.
CLICK THIS: How to Get Your Dog Used to Paw Protection
Have plenty of cool water, a bowl, first aid kit just in case, and make sure your dog is protected against ticks and fleas.
CLICK THIS: Safer Flea and Tick Protection for Dogs
Be sure your gas tank has plenty of gas and a working CD player. Test the CD before pulling out of the Visitor Center area.
The Audio CD Car Tour
Since it is hot out at this time, we highly recommend you do what we did: The air conditioned comfort of an audio CD car tour. Valley Forge Park has nine major tour stops that follow the 10-mile route called The Encampment Tour. This driving tour can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on how often you stop. The tour takes you past some of the most scenic views of the park and to many historic monuments and sites.
We got out to stop at each of the stops, and even with the construction going on at present, we are re-routed without any issues.
You’ll start at the Valley Forge Visitor Center, where you can purchase the CD for $15. It is well worth it for an afternoon of learning, fun, and entertainment that includes the dog. You can purchase souvenirs, snacks, and books there, or stop back on your way out for some swag.
Highlights of the Car Tour
The audio CD is fun, engaging, and even provides historic background music that is very patriotic and battle-infused.
One of the first stops on the tour are replica log cabins where the soldiers stayed. Later in the tour, you will see the spot where Washington pitched his tent until his quarters were finished. Interestingly, when the war ended, farmers quickly tore down the structures and used the wood for their own. In 1787, George Washington returned to the area, as he was a farmer and took great joy that agriculture recovered after such a battle.
The audio tour is very informative, as we learned that thousands of soldiers literally lost the clothes on their backs when they were taken in for medical care. Their clothes were given to active soldiers, so the others had no clothes to wear. So when you hear that the soldiers were naked and hungry, this is not a euphemism: It was reality back then.
The National Memorial Arch
Dedicated in 1917, this arch honors the sacrifice of our soldiers and serves as a reminder to all that occurred at this historic location.
Washington’s Headquarters and Office
Dogs are allowed on the grounds but not inside the house. The door frames are original, so President Washington might have leaned on the frame and you now are able to touch it. Replica versions of the rooms are set up, which adds to the historical flavor of the tour.
We stepped out of the car for this shot, which features General Anthony Wayne. He appears to look forward towards his home of Waynesboro, five miles away.
The Grounds at Valley Forge National Park
There are over 28 miles of authorized trail that are popular for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Picnicing, bird watching, and cross-country skiing are other popular activities. For dog moms and dads, leashed pets are allowed in most places except the visitor’s center and Washington’s house. Here is the Valley Forge National Park Pets page.
Cell Phone Tours
If a cell phone is more your thing, you can take the cell phone tour of the grounds. The cell phone tour is entirely self-guided, so you can choose what you want to hear and when you want to hear it. Over thirty prompts are available and organized by Encampment Tour Stop. You can listen to the tour 24/7 and from any place with cell phone coverage. The tour is a free service, but you will use your own cell phone service and minutes.
It is timely that in this modern political climate, and with the first female Presidential candidate recently nominated to represent the Democratic party, the roots of female labor stem far back in history. Women gained new outlooks as a result of the American Revolution, but their status remained unchanged. The battle for individual rights would become a hard fought one, and one for which women are still striving for on an equality front to this day.
The grounds are open daily, year-round 7 AM to dark (1/2 hr after sunset).
CLICK THIS: Operating hours.
The National Park Service turns 100 on August 25, 2016, and everyone can take part in the celebration! Not all sections and all parks are pet welcoming, so check ahead of time.
CLICK THIS: Ways to Celebrate with National Parks
About a half hour from Valley Forge National Historic Park is a place called Giggy Bites in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. If you go, tell Stephanie we sent you. Try the doggie pupzelles, which we wrote about. They are ooooh so delish and made for dogs. You will love the aroma of the place and all its yummy doggie goodness.
If you are not from the area, you can head into King of Prussia and onto Philadelphia, which have many pet-welcoming things to do and see.
What activities do you like to do with your dog? Is taking a tour like this interesting to you?