Through the eyes of non-natives, Pennsylvania is known for a variety of attractions. There’s the chocolaty goodness of Hershey; the historic gold mines that lay within Philadelphia and Gettysburg; rowdy sports teams and fans; traces of the hard work of an original colony left via mines and factories — the list goes on and on. Though The Keystone State has quite a bit of well-known facets, there are also many hidden gems, and within a drivable distance from New England, they offer a full slate of family fun.
Fun, no matter the season
Camelback Mountain Resort
(309 Resort Drive, Tannersville; camelbackresort.com): This sprawling play area caters to winter and summer junkies. While the mountains are ripe for snow tubing, skiing, and snowboarding during the cold months, there’s just as much action (if not more) in the summer.
Camelback Mountain Adventures provides a 4,000-foot-long Zip Flyer that whizzes over the mountains; the state’s only mountain coaster; a climbing wall; Euro bungees made just for kids; and treetop courses that lead all ages through the forest via ropes, bridges, and other contraptions (all while safely harnessed, of course).
Camelbeach is built for water lovers, a park that boasts a pair of bowl slides that drop the rider from one level to the next (Vortex); a wave pool (Kahuna Lagoon); racing water slides (Checkered Flag Challenge); and a non-water ride in the form of a chilled-out trip over the terrain (Sullivan Sky Ride).
The 170,000-square-foot Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark offers an 84-degree climate all year round and a host of adventure; it was voted the #1 indoor waterpark in the U.S. in a USA Today poll.
For the wee ones….and nostalgia
Sesame Place (100 Sesame Rd, Langhorne; sesameplace.com/en/Langhorne): Kids and adults alike will be delighted to immerse themselves in the world of a street inhabited by a big yellow bird and a trash-dwelling grump. Sesame Place has kids’ rides like the Flying Fish, Elmo’s Cloud Chaser, and Flying Cookie Jars. There are also water rides, like Bert and Ernie’s Slip n Slide and Big Bird’s Rambling River. There are amusement park-style games, activity areas, and shows such as Elmo the Musical, as well as the Neighborhood Street Party parade, which happens during the day and at night.
Crayola Experience (30 Centre Square, Easton, crayolaexperience.com): Visit the birthplace of the venerable Crayola crayon. Kids of all ages can enjoy 26 attractions that allow them to explore art and technology, express their creativity, and experience color in a whole new way. The attraction was completely re-imagined in 2013, so if you’re a previous visitor, you’re in for a whole new experience.
Travel back in time
Philadelphia and Gettysburg are the first stops that come to mind when thinking of history in Pennsylvania, leaving Lancaster oft overlooked. It’s one of the oldest inland towns in the U.S., and traces of that are still evident. There are still many people who live by way of the farm there, but there are also modernized elements and tourist attractions. Bonus? Hersheypark isn’t far off.
Dutch Wonderland (2249 Lincoln Hwy E, Lancaster; dutchwonderland.com): This park skews towards smaller children. The family-friendly rides include Choo Choo Charlie, Duke’s Dozers, and the Dino Dig, as well as water rides like Pipeline Plunge, and shows such as Bubba Bear & the Badland Band.
Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery (219 East Main Street, Lititz; juliussturgis.com): Who knew snacking could be so fun? The first commercial pretzel bakery in America was founded in 1861 and now offers tours of the bakery as well as hands-on pretzel twisting.
The Amish Farm and House (2395 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster; amishfarmandhouse.com): The premier Amish attraction in the area, this property dates back to the days of William Penn and gives visitors an inside look at the Amish community of Lancaster, set in a home in which an Amish family resided. The 45-minute tour also includes activities like a scooter run, farm animal feeding, and a one-room schoolhouse visit.
Much more. An extensive list of Lancaster-area family adventure and fun, from sports and science to tours and treats, can be found at discoverlancaster.com/activities/kid-friendly-things-to-do.asp
Crystal Caves (963 Crystal Cave Rd, Kutztown; crystalcavepa.com): A natural attraction, Crystal Caves takes visitors on an underground tour of caves that have a plethora of unique formations adorning the cave walls. In the summer months, the Ice Cream Parlor and Crystal Caves café are open, and visitors have a chance to not only shop the rock and mineral shop, but also mine for gems of their own in an outside prospector’s “creek.”
There are also plenty of unique stops in between bigger attractions, many of which would be a shame to overlook. Make these a part of your road trip:
The Harry Houdini Museum (1433 N. Main Ave., Scranton; houdini.org): The only museum in the world dedicated to the famed magician, it’s a small operation that tells big tales of a man who has escaped out of water tanks, straight jackets, and an oversized milk can.
Nay Aug Gorge Tree House (Nay Aug Park, Nay Aug Road, Scranton): This wooden treehouse rises 150 feet above the gorge, offering beautiful sites, as well as close proximity to kid-friendly rides, walking trails, picnic areas, a waterslide complex, and the Everhart Museum.
Penny Rock (Salt Spring Road, Montrose): A rock riddled with bronze coins, this is a point of good luck for visitors who pound a penny into the surface — and bad luck for those who decide to remove one.
Mack Truck Historical Museum (2402 Lehigh Pkwy S., Allentown; macktruckshistoricalmuseum.org): Take a tour through the world of these vehicular behemoths andsee how assembly is done.
Model Train Display (Merchants Mall, 1901 S. 12th St., Allentown): This large indoor display showcases many facets of a tiny world, including a teeny drive-in with a working screen and a thunderstorm that strikes every half hour. Within the mall is also a comic book store, wrestling store, and plenty of vendors peddling antique wares.