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Whether you’re looking for a mini-vacation from New York City or Boston, or you call the Keystone State home, there are lots of interesting places to travel to in Pennsylvania. From big cities to tiny towns, roller coasters, state parks, and sandy beaches, Pennsylvania has been called “Kidsylvania” because of all the things you can do here with kids.
The destinations here are great for short holiday breaks, week-long vacations, and last-minute excursions that don’t break the budget. So without further ado, here are some great family weekend getaway ideas in Pennsylvania!
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Chocolate lovers of all ages will enjoy the chocolate-themed activities and sweet treats in Hershey, Pennsylvania. You can learn about how chocolate is made and how the Hershey brand came to be in the Hershey Story Museum. Hershey Park is an amusement park that has lots of rollercoasters, games, and live entertainment. The Hershey’s chocolate tour is free, but other attractions like “Create Your Own Candy Bar,” “4D Chocolate Mystery, and the “Chocolate Tasting Experience” require paid tickets. Hershey is just an hour and a half from Philadelphia and three hours from New York City.
The Poconos are an outdoor lover’s paradise, and this mountainous part of Pennsylvania is a great place to teach your kids about nature, plants, animals, and life. The Poconos has a list of family-friendly hotels including the Great Wolf Lodge, which has an indoor waterpark and treehouse water fort. Your kids can play to their hearts’ content on the water slides, raft rides, and lazy rivers. There’s also an arcade here and craft activities to keep everyone entertained. Or for a more outdoorsy Poconos experience, you can book a campground at Mountain Vista or the KOA and go for a nature hike to see the waterfall at Bushkill Falls. For older kids, the Skytop Lodge is a Poconos resort with easy access to hiking, biking, and ziplining. If you want to be in the outdoors, but aren’t so much into the idea of “roughin’ it,” then you’ll likely fall in love with “Glamping.” The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort offers a one-of-a-kind camping experience, putting you in the heart of nature on a private island in the middle of the Delaware River. Guests access the site by canoe, which has four separate Glamping tents, an attendant, WiFi, electricity, hammocks and restrooms with showers. Your tent is all but ordinary, equipped with a comfortable bed, fans, and even coffee.
Offering tons of budget-friendly activities that will appeal to kids, Philadelphia makes a wonderful weekend getaway for the whole family. You can take the kids to learn about Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell for a fun history lesson, and also check out the science exhibits at the Franklin Institute. When the weather is warm, your family can stop by the enormous Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse, which is the size of six football fields! The famous “LOVE” sculpture, the Philadelphia Museum of Art with its steps made famous by the Rocky movies, and the artistic Benjamin Franklin Parkway are worth visiting during your weekend as well.
If your kids love to color and be creative, then a stop in Easton, Pennsylvania is a must for your weekend getaway. The Crayola Crayon Factory is here, where you can see demonstrations of how crayons are made and try out arts & craft products of all kinds. Kids who love to make art can easily spend a couple of hours playing with all the art supplies here! While you’re in town, also check out the National Canal Museum to play with model boats that make their way through a miniature canal system.
Learning about Amish culture can be interesting for the whole family, but the shops and rolling hills in the countryside may appeal more to adults. For kids, check out Dutch Wonderland, which is an amusement park that’s great for kids under eight. This is a small amusement park in Lancaster that has everything from mini roller coasters to Princess storytimes and bumper cars. Other fun and family-friendly things to do in the area include the Barnyard Kingdom at Country Barn, The Comic Store, the Hands-on-House Children’s Museum, the Lancaster Science Factory, and the Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum. Extend your unique experience by paying a visit to the Red Caboose Motel. This restaurant and hotel are one of the most unique in the area, offering guests the chance to stay overnight in a train caboose, there is even a special honeymoon caboose for newlyweds. From free movies in the barn to Amish buggy rides, you’ll find it hard to be bored.
One of the greatest national wonders in the state of Pennsylvania is Crystal Cave Park, an underground wonder near the town of Kutztown. This cave was discovered in 1871 and has drawn millions of visitors ever since. It’s also located in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. The cave is open daily from March through November and even hosts Halloween ghost lantern tours for a spookily fun event. There’s an ice cream parlor and café open in the summer that serves sweet treats and Dutch specialties. There are also several wineries and breweries in the area, as well as the Renningers Antiques & Farmers Market.
Whether you grew up in the 1970s, the 1990s, or the 2010s, Sesame Street is a household name pretty much everywhere that kids grow up in America. Sesame Place is a theme park located in Langhorne, which is just 30 minutes from Philadelphia and an hour and a half from New York City. Kids between the ages of two and seven love this place and getting to spend time with their favorite characters. Core Creek Park, BounceU, and the Langhorne Heritage Farm are also fun places to visit with kids for a weekend getaway.
Pittsburgh is an ideal place to visit for the weekend if you have a family. Start your trip off by visiting the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and then stop by the Pittsburgh Zoo, Duquesne Incline, and the PPG Aquarium. Other fun things to do as a family for your weekend getaway include the Carnegie Science Center, Idlewild & Soakzone, Just Ducky Tours for a narrated land/water adventure, and Kennywood Amusement Park for classic rides and roller coasters.
One great reason to visit Erie for your weekend getaway with kids is Splash Lagoon. This is one of the top indoor waterparks in America and a way to get the kids active and entertained even when the temperatures have dropped and the snow is falling. Attractions include the Wild Waters Wave Pool, Adventure Bay, the Tiki Treehouse, and Laser Tag. Erie is only about two hours from Pittsburg, and other family-friendly things to do here are the Erie Zoo, the Experience Children’s Museum, Harbor View Miniature Golf, and Presque Isle State Park for swimming in the summer and snowshoeing in the winter.
Blue Mountain is a premier mountain resort for skiing in Pennsylvania, so take a weekend trip to Palmerton to take advantage of the snow falling. There are 39 trails here to challenge your skiing and snowboarding skills and 16 lifts to make getting back up to the top easy. There’s also a terrain park and opportunities for tubing, which is always fun for the kids. The snow-tubing park has up to 30 lanes that are over 1,000 feet long with three lifts to take you back up and do it all again. Lodging partners include hotels, B&Bs, and vacation home rental areas nearby. If you visit in the warmer months, you can also go white water rafting about 18 miles away from Blue Mountain at the Lehigh Gorge. Penn’s Peak is a mountaintop entertainment venue that hosts concerts in the summer as well.
Treat your family to a weekend of “time travel” when you visit Bucks County Peddlers’ Village in Pennsylvania. This is a historic village with charming colonial buildings, gardens, lodging, and shopping that’s been drawing in visitors for over five decades. Giggleberry Fair is an indoor family fun center with an obstacle course and seasonal events that are great for birthday weekends. If you visit during the holiday season, you can check out the Gingerbread Competition & Display and the Christmas Festival, and later in the year don’t miss the Maine in March Lobster Feast, Lahaska Restaurant Week, and the Scarecrow Festival. One recommended place to stay here is the Golden Plough Inn at Peddler’s Village.
Take your family on an outdoor adventure with a weekend getaway to the Allegheny National Forest, just a little over two hours from Pittsburgh. There are over 200 miles of hiking trails, 53 miles of cross-country skiing trails, and 18 miles of interpretative trails with many suitable for kids of all ages. Talk to a ranger when you get to the park to get trail recommendations and a map and start exploring the wild beauty of Pennsylvania!