Arts & Life

A Day in Selinsgrove – May 2011

Written by Mary Bannon | Apr 18, 2011 6:32 PM

Selinsgrove, a quaint college town nestled in the Susquehanna Valley, lures visitors with its distinctive mix of outdoor recreation, historical clout, cultural happenings, great food and fine shopping.

Begin by discovering Selinsgrove's little-known gem, the Isle of Que (20). Only a half-mile wide and five and a half miles long, the isle exudes a mystical quality first recognized by the Native Americans, who considered the southernmost tip to be sacred land; it became their burial ground. In fact, you might still find Indian artifacts buried there.

When not foraging for arrowheads, you can walk, bike, hike, swim or fish. If you own your own boat, you can ease it into the river at Selinsgrove's newly renovated public landing, which is equipped with picnic tables and restroom facilities. The designated trophy bass water is great for fishing.

For a more serene experience, paddle silently in a kayak. The rare, undisturbed river islands serve as fantastic nurseries for all kinds of wildlife.

If you love the river, no better experience exists than being guided down it by Jim Charles, a native self-described "river rat" who runs the Isle of Que River Guides (20). As you float down the water, he'll regale you with its history — "At 300 million years old, the Susquehanna is one of the three oldest rivers in the world!" — while he proudly points out nesting bald eagles, geese headed for the low grass bars, green herons flying above and, if you look to the east, a breathtaking view of the sun rising above Mt. Mahanoy.

History and Entertainment

After lounging around on the river (a great natural play area for kids), take a short walk to Market Street, where history buffs will want to see Gov. Simon Snyder's mansion (18) and final resting place. Snyder, Selinsgrove's famous resident and Pennsylvania's third governor, built an impressive Federal-style limestone mansion in 1816. At the old cemetery on Bough Street, you can see the towering monument erected in his memory, an 1884 bronze portrait bust of Snyder gazing into the distance.

Step back in time at the Selinsgrove Post Office (1) to view New Deal art: a stunning 1939 mural painted by George Rickey. Dramatically gracing the northern wall of the lobby and nearly life-size, the painted farmer looks as though he's ready to walk into the room and join the waiting customers.

For sheer idyllic pleasure, take a stroll on the Susquehanna University (22) campus at dusk. In spring and summer, the flowers and foliage bloom and provide cover for all manner of little creatures. Clearly, Prince­ton Review was right to include it in its list of the 20 most beautiful campuses in America.

With the Lore Degenstein Art Gallery, the Degenstein Center Theater and the Weber Chapel Auditorium, it's also the cultural hub of the town. Throughout the year, you can enjoy eclectic and classical entertainment — concerts, plays, dances, exhibits, readings — many of which are free to the general public.

Dining

Hungry yet? Well, in three densely packed blocks, you'll find almost a dozen restaurants in Selinsgrove's historic downtown to satisfy your cravings.

The Selin's Grove Brewing Company (19) cozily occupies the ground floor of the Snyder Mansion. The locally grown foods and, of course, fantastic microbrews account for the pub's consistent rating by beer aficionados as one of the top 10 brewpubs in the world.

Just down the street, BJ's Steak & Rib House (13) is a local institution with its famous Chicago steak, baby back ribs and frickles (fried dill pickles). It now boasts the only fresh oyster bar for miles around. For an old-fashioned breakfast or lunch, head to the Kinfolk Restaurant (9) — try the tasty tuna melt.

If you decide to picnic on the riverbank, pick up a cheesesteak at Taste of Philly (16) or a pizza at IT Xpress (4).

The Kind Café (12) bustles with locals all day long. And with its fresh salads and sandwiches, enriching smoothies and foamy lattes, it's easy to understand why.

Go to Emma's Food for Life (7) for local seasonal food in a laid-back setting, and if you prefer a more raucous college-bar atmosphere, head to Bot's Tavern (8).

Infused with Old-World charm, Isabella (6) is housed in the former M&T bank building. The original bank vault sits inside the bar, making it the ideal place to make a "withdrawal" of baked artichokes and shrimp fra diavolo complemented by a glass of chardonnay.

On Saturday mornings from mid-May through November, Amish and local farmers sell seasonal fruits and vegetables, sustainably raised meats and cheese, baked goods, plants, honey, jams and jellies at the Selinsgrove Hometown Harvest Farmer's Market (10).

They're at the corner of Market and Pine Streets, a location that is soon to be home of the Selinsgrove Commons, a beautifully landscaped "center of town" that will host musical performances in the pavilion and will lead you toward the newly renovated library.

Shopping

Ready to shop the charming and uniquely stocked stores? Antique lovers should check out The Firehouse Marketplace (11), always filled to the brim for those who seek a good find. Trek north on Market Street for Little House Antiques and Gift (21).

The Country Squire (21) is a treasure trove of unique and interesting home furnishings — from an antique Chinese chest, to cool wine racks, glasses and furniture, to coveted Lee upholstery.

Housed in a beautiful old home dating from 1875, J. Kleinbauers (15) carries on a 44-year legacy of fine apparel, accessories and personal service in an elegant shopping environment.

The old-fashioned charm characterizing the town is especially evident at DJ Ernst Books (14). DJ, affectionately known as Homer, has been behind the counter talking about books for more than 35 years. His unique bookshop provides anything from good used paperbacks to surprising and interesting old rarities.

It's All About Me Boutique (21) offers stylish outfits for any occasion. Yarn, fabric, supplies and lots of advice about knitting and crocheting are what you'll find at The Sewing Shanty (5).

Across the street standing side by side in "the art corner" are The Post & Lintel (3), a funky art gallery and the newly opened Peppers: The Artisans' Collective (2), which is chock full of the exclusive and sometimes quirky work of local artists.

At the end of your enjoyably busy day, kick off your shoes and sleep well at the Selinsgrove Inn (21), a new and comfy place right on Market. Or enjoy the gracious service at Potteiger House (17), a historic bed and breakfast where a sumptuous home-cooked breakfast awaits you in the morning. Eat heartily, because you'll probably want to stay another day.

 

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