Bushkill Falls, Bushkill, Pennsylvania
Whether you want to get away for a whole day, or just an hour or two, we’ve got you covered. Some of these are great for burning excess energy, others for sitting back and taking it easy. Almost all are within a 90-minute drive, and best of all, the kids won’t even miss their electronics.
The Amish Village
199 Hartman Bridge Road, Ronks
Covering 12 acres, the Amish Village provides an authentic Amish experience, where visitors can tour a one-room schoolhouse, a barn with farm animals, a blacksmith shop, and a smokehouse market. Plus there are buggies and plows!
Appalachian Trail Museum
1120 Pine Grove Road, Gardners
The museum opened in 2010 in a renovated 200-year-old grist mill. In addition to thousands of photos and some exhibits, there’s a children’s discovery area.
Bushkill Falls Road, Bushkill
“The Niagara Falls of Pennsylvania,” this privately owned estate features eight waterfalls accessible via clearly marked hiking trails and bridges. The park comprises 300 acres overall, with two miles of stunning hiking trails.
Cherry Crest Adventure Farm
150 Cherry Hill Road, Ronks
There are tractor rides, pedal carts, a bucking bronco, a great burlap sack slide, a chick hatchery and a discovery barn where your kids can meet and feed the goats, llamas, pigs and other farm animals. And beginning July 1, we challenge you to find your way out of their incredible corn maze!
12995 Bain Road, Mercersburg
The nonprofit, 30-acre historic site has 18th-and 19th century log houses and outbuildings, a German 4-square garden, a visitor’s center, a rose garden, an 18th Century summer kitchen, and access to an historic cemetery dating to the 1760s.
715 Centerville Road, Newville
One of only a few hundred drive-in theaters left in the U.S. Everyone has to experience it at least once!
Cumberland Valley Rail Trail
23 McFarland St., Newville or 304 Britton Road, Shippensburg
Follow the abandoned Cumberland Valley Railroad 11 miles from Newville to Shippensburg, looking at signage along the way marking agricultural and Civil War significance. Great for hiking and biking.
The Fulton Theatre
12 N. Prince St., Lancaster
Fulton Hall was built in 1852. It’s been expanded and remodeled a few times since then, and now blends the elegance of Victorian architecture with the amenities and technical resources of a modern theatre. This summer you and the kids can check out a performance of the musical Big.
Gamut Classic Theatre
15 N. Fourth St., Harrisburg
The combined company of Popcorn Hat Players Children’s Theatre and Harrisburg Shakespeare Company tells classic stories in new and exciting ways. Take the kids to see Popcorn Hat Players’ Tall Tales in June and The Ugly Duckling in July or August.
809 Forbes Trail Road, Greensburg
This is three or more hours away from most of our readership, but steeped in history. Founded in 1773, the town was the first English court west of the Allegany Mountains and was the county seat until Native Americans and their British allies torched it in 1782. Tour a tavern/courthouse, log houses, a reconstructed Revolutionary War-era fort, and more.
NFB Field, 245 Championship Way, City Island, Harrisburg
An affiliate of the Washington Nationals, they play in the AA Eastern League. They have a great Kids Zone with seven inflatables.
Heritage Rail Trail
This scenic trail runs from the Mason Dixon line just south of New Freedom through Glen Rock, Hanover Junction, and Seven Valleys to the City of York. There are museums along the trail in the Hanover Junction Station and the New Freedom Junction Station, and moonlight bike rides planned throughout the summer. It is an active train line, so always stay clear of tracks and cross only at established crossings.
Indian Echo Caverns
368 Middletown Road, Hummelstown
The limestone cave was at one point home to William Wilson, known as the Pennsylvania Hermit, who withdrew from society after his failure to halt the execution of his sister Elizabeth for the murder of her twin sons. Since then, it has become a place for families to view and learn about stalagmites and stalactites.
Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery
219 E. Main St., Lititz
Housed in a building that’s 233 years old, Sturgis is America’s first commercial pretzel company. Tour the original bakery, get a hands-on lesson in pretzel twisting, and taste the results of more than 150 years of pretzel baking heritage. Then take a walking tour of historic and scenic downtown Lititz.
Kitchen Kettle Village
3529 Old Philadelphia Pike, Intercourse
Experience quintessential Lancaster County, from homemade baked goods, jams and relishes, to locally made art, pottery and quilts.
760 Tobias Road, Halifax
The sights and sounds of the jungles and grasslands of six continents can be found in Central Pennsylvania, with mammals, reptiles and birds from around the world. Families can touch wildlife and head out on a safari tour.
Clipper Stadium, 650 N. Prince St., Lancaster
An independent professional baseball team, a member of the Freedom Division of the Atlantic League. There’s a great play area for kids that includes a carousel, cranky cars and inflatables. Plus they have tons of fun promotions throughout the summer.
Lancaster Central Market
23 North Market St., Lancaster
It’s been around since 1730, and that in itself makes it a worthy destination. Beyond that, come for the food! Fresh produce, meats, dairy, fish, bakery items, ethnic specialties, and many delicacies. Open Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Milton and Catherine Hershey Conservatory at Hershey Gardens
170 Hotel Road, Hershey
The 16,000-square-foot facility features an indoor butterfly atrium with more than 600 tropical and North American butterflies representing 300 species in a tropical environment. Plus there’s an educational and horticultural wing, overlook, terrace and gardens shop.
Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach
130 Lakeview Drive, Lebanon
This family-owned and operated swim and recreation facility offers great beach, lawn and picnic grove areas along Lake Conewago in Lebanon. With lifeguards, a snack bar, a children’s play area and even canoe and kayak rentals, you can make a whole day of it with your family. Be sure to visit the seasonal, century-old Jigger Shop, 202 Gettysburg Avenue, for some tasty ice cream treats before heading home!
Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art
176 Water Company Road, Millersburg
The Ned Smith Gallery features selections from the $1.5 million collection of hundreds of original paintings, drawings, field sketches, journal notes and manuscripts donated by Smith’s widow, Marie. The center sits on more than 500 acres of woodland and fields and features more than 12 miles of trails and stunning views of the Susquehanna River.
Olewine Nature Center
100 Wildwood Way, Harrisburg
Interact with nature while exploring an exhibit area that depicts the park’s natural resources. Climb through a tree, watch birds from a special glass-enclosed bird blind that overlooks the lake and see all that nature has to offer.
222 Penns Cave Road, Centre Hall
Fewer than two hours from Harrisburg, it’s the only cave in Pennsylvania on the National Register of Historic Places. Take the 50-minute, flat-bottom motorboat tour along the cavern passageways. You can also take a 90-minute, guided bus Farm-Nature-Wildlife Tour through the Penn’s Cave grazing pastures, mountain trails and forests where you’ll look for bears, wolves, elk, deer, bobcats, bison, longhorn cattle, mustangs, big horn sheep and mountain lions.
The Railroad Museum of Pa.
300 Gap Road, Ronks
With more than 100 locomotives and cars from the mid-19th and 20th centuries, including the priceless Pennsylvania Railroad Historical Collection, the museum houses one of the most significant collections of historic railroad artifacts in the world — and you can board many of them.
Stoney Valley Rail Trail
Ellendale Road, Dauphin County.
The trail spans three counties and nearly 20 miles, beginning at Ellendale Road and eventually ending at the Lebanon Reservoir. Ride as long as you and your kiddos are able.
The Turkey Hill Experience
301 Linden St., Columbia
Learn how Turkey Hill ice cream is made, sit in a milk truck, milk mechanical cows, create your own ice cream flavor, and star in your own commercial. A bonus? Get samples of ice cream and iced tea.
U.S. Army Heritage Education Center
950 Soldiers Drive, Carlisle
Indoor and outdoor exhibits — including 14 full-scale reconstructions of war immersions throughout history along a one mile trail — as well as living history events and educational programs.
Utz Quality Foods Tour
900 High St., Hanover
See and smell the making of the famous Utz Potato Chips and Snacks. From an observation gallery that looks down on the production process from beginning to end, you will be guided step-by-step through the making of Utz snack foods. Call ahead, 1-800-367-7629.
1120 Marietta Avenue, Lancaster
Tour the home of President James Buchanan. Tour guides share Buchanan’s family stories about a bachelor uncle who raised orphaned nieces and nephews, cared for Lancaster’s widows and orphans and was a successful attorney.
Williams Grove Speedway
1 Speedway Drive, Mechanicsburg
One of the top sprint car tracks in the country. Family-friendly racing Friday and Saturday nights throughout the summer.
Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania
465 Speedwell Forge Road, Lititz
Created more than 30 years ago as a private rescue, the wolf sanctuary has grown into an educational facility devoted to providing food, shelter and veterinary care for more than 40 wolves residing within 80 acres of natural woodland. Tours offered on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Yellow Breeches Creek Water Trail
The popular limestone creek spanning 22 miles offers tubing, kayaking and canoeing opportunities.
5 Brooks Robinson Way, York
An independent professional baseball team, a member of the Freedom Division of the Atlantic League. The family-friendly park offers a little taste of several major league stadiums.