10 Places We Love in Pennsylvania

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Pennsylvania is a big state- over 46,000 square miles, over 12 million people, and several popular cities. I remember the first time my husband and I, pre-children, drove a lengthy part of Interstate 76 to get to Pittsburgh (one of the first baseball parks we visited); it felt like the road went on forever. Many years later, we have travelled through most of Pennsylvania (and traveling 330 miles in one day is now a breeze- our record is 710 miles in one day!) and found a lot of spots we love. Although there are many more places we have yet to visit, here are our:

Top 10 family friendly spots in Pennsylvania:

1. Sesame Place in Langhorne. Full disclosure, we haven’t visited in a few years, but when we did visit, our children were in heaven! There’s an amusement park with almost 30 rides, a water park with 9 attractions and plenty of spots to meet up with your favorite Sesame Street character Plus, Sesame Place is the first theme park designated a Certified Autism Center.
Highlights: A walkable park that you can explore in one day (but I’d stay overnight and give yourselves two days to really enjoy it); character meals where you can get all your photo opts over during a meal and won’t have to stand in line for an extended period of time; plenty of ways for the toddler crew to be entertained.

2. Woodloch Resort in Hawley. Full disclosure again, it’s been a few years since we have visited, but when we did visit (right after Superstorm Sandy here in the Northeast when we had no electricity for a week in early November) we loved everything about it. We can’t wait to return now that the kids are older. Woodloch is consistently ranked a top family resort and has so many activities for every ages and interest.
Highlights:  A seemingly endless amount of activities (indoors, outdoors, every season!); indoor swimming pool and water spaces for younger children; family friendly entertainment (comedy hour, karaoke, trivia contests) in the theater; all-inclusive rates; all meals (delicious food!) on site; a massive lake with tons of sports and activities all year long.

3. Crayola Experience in Easton. Full disclosure one more time, it’s been a few years since our last visit, but I hear Crayola Factory has only gotten better and added more experiences since we visited. Half a day will be plenty of time to explore the space, but in busier summer months, try calling ahead to see if there are any camps coming- it can get very crowded and very busy.
Highlights:  Making your own personalized crayons; seeing a 1,500 pound giant crayon; catching the Factory Store; climbing the giant indoor playscape.

4. Hershey Park in Hershey. Who doesn’t love Hershey’s chocolate? Who doesn’t love amusement parks? Who doesn’t love amusement parks that smell like chocolate? With 11 rollercoasters, 6 water rides plenty of other attractions and shows, and tons of nearby fun, Hershey Park offers tons of options for the whole family. Definitely stay at the Hershey Lodge.
Highlights: Tons of rides for all ages, heights, and thrill levels; the Zoo America zoo attached to Hershey Park (and included in admission fees); Hershey’s Chocolate World (with every souvenir and treat imaginable to purchase, a free ride that explore the history of the company, and the chance to make your own candy bar).
Read the full blog post and travel tips here.

5. Echo Dell Indian Echo Caverns in Hummelstown. A super cool, unique experience, guided tousr go over 100 feet below ground to explore the maze of caverns. Disclaimer: I would not bring the toddler crew on tour. The paths are dark, uneven, and slippery. In some areas it is almost pitch black and can be scary. Younger children (really, anyone) can easily slip. There is also a steep, long set of stairs to climb down (and then up!) to get to the cavern and strollers are definitely not allowed.
Highlights: Seeing the cool formation inside the caverns learning about the geological formation of the caverns; visiting with some of the animals, including peacocks, alpacas, and goats on site.
Read the full blog post and travel tips here.

 6. Turkey Hill Experience in Columbia. Who doesn’t love ice cream? Although Turkey Hill ice cream (so yummy!) is not technically made on site, the Experience does take you through the ice creaming making process, and explains the nutritional value, concerns, and regulations behind the industry. In addition to over 70 flavors (not all made at the same time), Turkey Hill also produces over a dozen flavors of iced tea.
Highlights:  All you can taste samples of eight flavors of ice cream and eight flavors of iced tea; a make your own ice cream class in the Taste Lab; creating personalized ice cream flavors and recording commercials that can be emailed home; jumping in the ball pit and going down the indoor slides.
Read the full blog post and travel tips here.

7.  Independence National Historic Park in Philadelphia. There are several sites included in the park spread throughout the city with the main attractions in the historic section of town. Get in line for the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall first thing in the morning (you can get timed tickets for Independence Hall during busy summer months), and be sure to spend time in the Visitor Center, which has plenty of workshops, museum exhibits, short films, and helpful Park Rangers.
Highlights: It’s free!; Having kids complete the Junior Ranger booklet to earn a badge; going inside Independence Hall and Congress Hall, site of the Congress of the United States until 1800.
Read the full blog post and travel tips here. And check out our list of FREE things to do in Philadelphia here.

8. The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. It is one of the most popular spots in Philly, and for good reason. There are 12 permanent exhibit halls, two auditoriums, an IMAX Theater, and a planetarium. Plan on spending a full day exploring the museum and catching a show.
Highlights: The Sports Zone, Sir Isaac’s Loft, and Electricity interactive exhibits; sliding down a massive heart; launching rockets; climbing aboard a real 350 ton Baldwin steam locomotive INSIDE the museum.
Read the full blog post and travel tips here.

9. Magic Gardens in Philadelphia. This is one of the most unique spaces we have ever visited. It took mural artist Isaiah Zager over a decade to turn the vacant lot into a nonprofit museum that spans half a block and includes both indoor and outdoor galleries. Disclaimer: I would not bring toddlers here. There are too many angles, path, uneven paths and chances for little ones to fall, trip, and wander off. School ages kid, tweens, and teens? Selfie/Instagram nirvana! Note: Magic Gardens is closed on Tuesdays.
Highlights: Check out the neighborhood and streets around the official Magic Gardens- so many garages and siding decorated, too. Make sure you look up, down, and side to side to capture every angle. And try to get on one of the docent led tours- very informative.
Read the full blog post and travel tips here.

10.  Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg. Spending an entire day here gave us such an appreciation for what, when, and how our forefathers fought for so many of the liberties and values we have today. The Visitor Center, which includes a massive museum and cyclorama, went through a large renovation in 2008 and is quite impressive. There are driving tours through the Military Park which covers 6,000 acres and includes over 1300 monuments (don’t worry, you can pick and choose what areas you want to see). Plan on at least one full day to explore the museum and few of the stops of the park.  
Highlights: Exploring the massive museum (which could take 3 or more hours); having a ranger led private tour of the park in your own car (the ranger drives your vehicle, narrates, and makes various stops to show visitors important places); Eisenhower National Historic Site, home of the 34th president of the United States.
Read the full blog post and travel tips here.

For more of our City Guides, check out our list and links here.

Disclaimer: My family was given a media pass to explore some of these sites. All opinions expressed are my own.

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  1. What great fun! So many wonderful fun things to do. And Philadelphia is a great place to teach so much of America’s history to children. A great combination for families with children of all ages.

  2. What great fun! So many wonderful fun things to do. And Philadelphia is a great place to teach so much of America’s history to children. A great combination for families with children of all ages.

  3. What great fun! So many wonderful fun things to do. And Philadelphia is a great place to teach so much of America’s history to children. A great combination for families with children of all ages.

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