Adventure awaits in the Keystone state with these family-friendly Pennsylvania day trips! From the vibrant colors of the Crayola Experience to the famous bumper boats at Knoebels, this list is sure to please everyone in the family. Whether you prefer the hustle and bustle of the city or the openness of the Pennsylvania backcountry roads, our list spans the entire state.
Amusement Parks in Pennsylvania
Hersheypark® – Dutch Country
Since its opening in 1907, Hersheypark® transitioned over the years from a relaxing park with baseball, picnics, and canoeing to the thrilling amusement park it is today, with 14 coasters and more than 65 other rides and attractions. From the sooperdooperLooper, the first looping roller coaster on the East Coast, to the Cocoa Cruiser for the kids, there is something for everyone to enjoy at Hersheypark®. In the summer of 2019, the park opened Reese’s® Cupfusion – a dark ride gaming experience, and in 2020, Hershey’s Chocolatetown opened with a new park entrance, fountain, coaster, and additional dining and shopping options.
Sesame Place® – Philadelphia and the Countryside
It’s a perfect time – and they’re a perfect age – for Sesame Place®. Before little children become big kids, bring the entire family to whirl on rides, splash down slides and hug everyone’s favorite furry friends. Sesame Place® is proud to be designated the first theme park in the world to be a Certified Autism Center. The staff receives special training in addition to providing sensory guides, noise-canceling headphones, and quiet rooms, ensuring the park is a place for all. Get ready to sing, dance, and clap along at daily character shows, and go before they grow™ to the nation’s only theme park based entirely on Sesame Street®!
Knoebels Amusement Park – Susquehanna Valley
Nestled among the trees of central Pennsylvania, Knoebels is a family favorite amusement park, boasting more than 90 summers of thrill under their belt, more than 60 rides, and 35 unique food stands! Enthusiasts have touted the rides at Knoebels, including The Haunted Mansion, named in several publications as one of the best dark rides anywhere; The Grand Carousel was voted “Best of the Best,” in the amusement industry by the Golden Ticket Awards in 2018; and The Phoenix, which has been ranked among the top 10 wooden roller coasters by the Los Angeles Times. To top it off, Knoebels admission is always free!
Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom® – Lehigh Valley
Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom® offers a myriad of possibilities for family fun. Guests can enjoy eight thrill rides, seven roller coasters, and more than three dozen slides, pools, and water play areas in Wildwater Kingdom. Kids can have fun in Planet Snoopy, the PEANUTS-themed park just for kids, and even try their driving skills on Dodgem, the midway classic bumper cars highly favored by park guests.
Dutch Wonderland – Dutch Country
Designed for families with young children, Dutch Wonderland features live entertainment, more than 30 rides, and Duke’s Lagoon water play area. Guests can enjoy Exploration Island, a rediscovered island full of lifelike dinosaurs. Young explorers can learn about the history of more than 15 dinos while digging up fossils at the interactive Dino Dig, walking along the Prehistoric Path, or embarking on the Gondola Cruise. In 2018, Dutch Wonderland opened its tallest ride and its first suspended family roller coaster, Merlin’s Mayhem. Dutch Wonderland has consistently been recognized as a premier family amusement park and was voted one of the Top 5 Best Kid’s Parks in the World by Amusement Today magazine.
Kennywood – Pittsburgh and its Countryside
Home to more than 40 thrill rides for all ages, Kennywood’s Thomas Town™ is sure to bring out the kid in everyone with five family rides and a life-sized Thomas the Tank Engine™. Also coming in 2019, Steelers Country will feature skill game challenges, dining options, and the tallest coaster in PA – The Steel Curtain, which climbs 220 feet and whips riders through nine inversions all while traveling at 76 mph. Kennywood has been an amazing place for family fun since 1898 and these new attractions will be sure to entertain for years to come.
Museums in Pennsylvania
The Crayola Experience® – Lehigh Valley
Ever wondered how Crayola® makes its crayons? See it right before your own eyes at The Crayola Experience®, a hands-on discovery center for children and adults. Explore the magic of color and experiment with innovative art techniques at this playful museum. With younger visitors in mind, Crayola® added Toddler Town, a section of the factory for preschoolers, which includes a multi-colored pegboard and a giant ball maze, where your young one controls the outcome.
You can grab discount tickets here.
The Hershey Story® – Dutch Country
The Hershey Story® allows visitors to take a journey through the legacy of Milton S. Hershey, as well as the town, school, and history he created. Highlighting this American entrepreneur’s rags to riches story, the museum tells the tale of how he revolutionized the process of chocolate making and allows visitors to explore the unique qualities of chocolate through playful, hands-on experiences and interactive demonstrations. Guaranteed to bring out the kid in everyone, the museum’s Chocolate Lab offers participatory classes such as tempering, molding, dipping, and even making chocolate from scratch.
Please Touch Museum – Philadelphia and the Countryside
The ideal children’s museum in Philadelphia, the Please Touch Museum is the perfect venue for families with young children. Exhibits are all interactive and encourage learning through play, so children can feel free to touch, explore, and lead their parents through the process. In addition to enjoying the 12 exhibits offered, including Healthy Me and Imagination Playground, families can also take pleasure in live theater performances.
Carnegie Science Center – Pittsburgh and its Countryside
The Carnegie Science Center brings the world of science alive for visitors of all ages. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, the science center features four floors of hands-on exhibits, three live demonstration theaters, a four-story IMAX® dome theater, an interactive planetarium, laser shows, an authentic Cold War submarine moored on Pittsburgh’s Ohio River, and a world-renowned model railroad display. Take a peek into the human body at BodyWorks, an interactive exhibit featuring live shows and demonstrations allowing children to explore how the body works inside and out.
The Turkey Hill Experience – Dutch Country
The Turkey Hill Experience allows visitors to learn everything there is to know about dairy culture and the history of Turkey Hill® itself. Through interactive exhibits, visitors can discover the intricate details of creating Turkey Hill® ice cream and tea. Children and adults alike can even take a shot at the process themselves by milking mechanical cows or concocting their own ice cream flavor in Turkey Hill’s® Taste Lab.
The Franklin Institute – Philadelphia and the Countryside
With a mission to “inspire a passion for learning about science and technology,” the Franklin Institute designs innovative, interactive exhibits to enlighten and educate each visitor. The dynamic institute is recognized internationally for its educational programs, lectures, and exhibits and emphasizes curiosity and enjoyment. Highlights include SportsZone, which uses virtual-reality technology to illustrate the physics of sports, The Train Factory’s climb-aboard steam engine, Space Command’s simulated earth-orbit research station, and exhibits on electricity.
Hands-on House Children’s Museum – Dutch Country
Hands-on House is designed for children ages 2 to 10 to learn, explore, and play. The exhibits, classes, and programs are short on lectures and long on interactive and participatory activities. Connect your dinner foods to local farms, steer tractors, and feed animals at the Hands-on-House exhibit, Little Valley Farm. While the exhibits change regularly, the experiences are always hands-on and self-guided.
Adventures in Pennsylvania
Woodloch Pines Resort – Upstate PA
The Woodloch Pines Resort is a family-oriented, year-round resort that lies in the Pocono Mountains. Parents magazine acclaimed Woodloch as “one of America’s favorite vacation resorts.” Various family-friendly activities at this resort include a Pre-K activity center, boat rides, bocce ball, bumper boats and cars, canoeing, children’s arts/crafts, scavenger hunts, mini-golf, nature trails, Woodloch family Olympics, and fitness classes. After a day of intense family fun, parents can relax in Woodloch’s spa, rated the No. 3 Destination Spa in the World by Travel + Leisure and the No. 1 Family Resort in America in 2015 by TripAdvisor.
Strasburg Rail Road™ – Dutch Country
Since the 1850s, Strasburg Rail Road™ was used for various purposes, including passenger and freight transportation and interchange. Now it serves as a tourist attraction, where visitors can experience fun attractions while simultaneously learning about steam railroading. Not only can guests take a trip in the authentically restored coal-burning steam train, but they can also operate the hand-powered Pump Car. Your little one can hit the rails with Thomas the Tank Engine and his pal Percy as the Strasburg Rail Road™ presents a special Day Out With Thomas™.