39 Things to do this summer

Our guide to fun destinations and activities in (or near) Central Pennsylvania!

1.  Antique Automobile Club of America Museum
161 Museum Drive, Hershey
Admission: Adults $12.50, kids 4-12 $9.50, 3 and under free

The recently renovated museum hosts a variety of antique cars displayed in scenes corresponding to their respective time periods. This summer, they’ll have special exhibits on the Studebaker Brothers and Harley-Davidson. Check out their interactive activities throughout the museum.

2. Bedford Village
220 Sawblade Road, Bedford
Admission: Adults $10, kids 6-18 $5, 6 and under free

Enjoy reenactments of both civilian and military life in the colonial days. There are many opportunities for crafts and lots of places to explore that provide a fun and interactive way to experience America’s history.

3. Catoctin Wildlife Preserve
13019 Catoctin Furnace Road, Thurmont, Maryland
Admission: Adults $22.50, kids 3-12 $16.50, 2 and under free

With animals coming from Australia, to Madagascar, to even the Bayou, there are many exhibits to explore here. There is also a butterfly garden along with many options to experience some of these animals up-close.

4. The Cave Indoor Rock Climbing
400 Bridge St., New Cumberland
Admission: $12 for a day pass; equipment rentals extra; kids 10 and under $7
It’s our region’s newest bouldering gym, with varying levels of difficulty and a designated children’s climbing area.

5. Crayola Experience
30 Centre Square, Easton
Admission: Ages 3+ $21.99, $18.99 if purchased online, age 2 and under free

Boasting 25 exciting, hands-on attractions, the Crayola Experience is a fun way to learn about color, chemistry and technology along with lots of fun coloring for the whole family.

6. East Coast Exotic Animal Rescue
320 Zoo Road, Fairfield
Admission: Adults $10, children $5, under 2 free

Open Saturdays and Sundays 11 a.m.-5 p.m., weather-permitting, this nonprofit rescue sanctuary is home to more than 40 species of exotic animals that have been misused or cast out. All money donated is used for the wellbeing and care of their animals. The fun of a zoo but associated with a good cause.

7. Gettysburg National Military Park
1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg
Admission: The Museum and Visitors Center and the park are free, some films and historic houses have a fee

Immerse yourself in Civil War history at the historical battlefield of Gettysburg, which was a turning point in the war and the inspiration for Lincoln’s famous address.  Enjoy many trails, tours and reenactments at this historical site.

8. Gifford Pinchot State Park
2200 Rosstown Road, Lewisberry
Admission: FREE park admission; you can rent various types of boats by the hour or day

Enjoy boating, camping and relaxing on the beach of Pinchot Lake. The park is always filled with wildlife to explore and offers many places for a fun family picnic.

9. Haar’s Drive-In
185 Logan Road, Dillsburg
Admission: Ages 12 and up $8, kids 3-11 $2

The drive-in is an old-timey but fun way to see movies. With speakers to rent, a fully stocked snack bar and an extra-large screen, catching a movie at a drive-in is always an adventure for the whole family.

10. Hands-on House Children’s Museum of Lancaster
721 Landis Valley Road, Lancaster
Admission: $9.50

This museum is designed for kids (ages 2-10) and their parents to learn and play together with many hands-on activities and opportunities to try out some real-life, adult tasks (like milking a cow and applying makeup, naturally). Closed Mondays.

11. Herr’s Snack Factory Tour
271 Old Baltimore Pike, Nottingham
Admission: Adults $4, kids 4-17 $3, 3 and under free

Sample warm, freshly made Herr’s snacks on a guided tour at Herr’s Snack Factory. Learn what makes a good potato chip and how tortilla chips get their seasoning in this handicap accessible facility, which features a gift shop, Chipper’s Café, theatre and more.

12. Hershey Gardens
170 Hotel Road, Hershey
Admission: Adults $12.50, kids 3-12 $9, 2 and under free

Overlooking Hershey, the Butterfly Atrium features 23 acres with 11 themed gardens, including the hands-on Children’s Garden and the Butterfly Atrium.

13. Horseback Riding at Ironstone Ranch
One Hollinger Lane, Elizabethtown
Admission: fees vary based upon trail, call 717-413-2660

With 275 acres with 10 miles of trails for horseback riding, Ironstone Ranch offers many rural, equestrian themed activities. Ride their well-mannered horses and join experienced equestrian guides to take you along the original railroad bed when Lincoln’s funeral train travelled.

14. Indian Echo Caverns
368 Middletown Road, Hummelstown
Admission: Adults $18.50, kids 2-11 $12, under 2 free

Unleash your inner explorer on a journey of geological wonders at Indian Echo Caverns, open seven days a week – including Sundays. Explore the limestone caves with a 45-minute tour, available for all ages, as a guide explains the history of the caverns. You can also picnic on the grounds, play on the playground or with a collection of furry or feathered animals at the Discovery Barnyard and search for gemstones, amethyst, calcite or agate at the Gem Mill Junction.

15. Knoebels Amusement Resort
391 Knoebels Boulevard, Elysburg
This free-admission amusement park has everything from rollercoasters, to campgrounds, to even a pool. Knoebels charges per ride (all-you-can-ride wristbands are available during lower traffic days). Plus free parking.

16. Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
760 Tobias Road, Halifax
Admission: Walk-about ticket: $8, explorer ticket (includes safari tour): $15, 2 and under free

Embark on a safari tour across 150 acres of land with herds of approximately 500 wild and exotic animals from around the world.  Animals include elk, watusi, bison and new this year, giraffes! Some animals come so close to the tour bus that you can touch them. Visitors can also enjoy the zoo exhibits, featuring lions, tiger, bears and more, feed the animals at the petting zoo, or visit the Reptiles and Exotics Building.

17. Lancaster Science Factory
454 New Holland Avenue, Lancaster
Admission: Ages 3 and over $10.95, 2 and under free

A great place to spend a rainy day, this interactive museum features a number of exhibits and activities about STEM topics such as electricity and magnetism. The exhibits boast being aligned with Pennsylvania’s Academic Standards, giving student visitors a closer look at topics they are learning in school.

18. Lehigh Gorge State Park
3613 State Route 534, White Haven
: FREE to enter the park; prices for rafting, kayaking, and canoeing vary by licensed, commercial outfitters
A deep gorge with a river and waterfalls, it’s perfect for whitewater rafting (it has Class II and III rapids so it’s not for young children), hiking and bike riding. On your way home, stop in the quaint Victorian town of Jim Thorpe.

19. Lincoln Train Museum
425 Steinwehr Avenue, Gettysburg
Admission: Adults $7, kids 6-12 $4, 5 and under free

Tour America’s history starting with the Civil War to present day with the narration of President Lincoln, along with a large display of trains, a simulated train ride and railroad memorabilia.

20. Little Buffalo State Park
1579 State Park Road, Newport
Admission: FREE park admission; you can rent various types of boats by the hour or day
This 923-acre state park offers boating and fishing in Holman Lake, numerous picnic and camping spots, and let’s not forget about the park’s large swimming pool complete with a sprayground and two waterslides.

21. Longwood Gardens
1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square
Admission: Adults $23, kids 5-18 $12, 4 and under free

With numerous gardens filled with exquisite plants only found in the fanciest of places, Longwood Gardens boast a beautiful façade. But that’s not all – there are two gardens designated just for kids, with many fountains to play in, treehouses to climb and wildlife to explore. Each season presents something different. Tickets are provided for timed admittance, so it’s best to purchase online before you go.

22. The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
1 Safari Place, Baltimore, Maryland
Admission: Adults $21.99, kids 2-11 $17.99, 1 and under free

Encompassing nearly 200 species displayed in their natural settings, the Maryland Zoo hosts quite a variety of things to see. There is even a display dedicated to the endangered penguins that call the zoo home.

23. The National Civil War Museum
One Lincoln Circle at Reservoir Park, Harrisburg
Admission: Adults $13, kids $11, 5 and under free; family pass for 2 adults and up to 3 kids, $48

The National Civil War Museum takes pride in being the country’s only museum that portrays the entire story of the Civil War from an unbiased perspective. The museum boasts a collection of over 24,000 artifacts, manuscripts, documents, photographs and other printed matter.

24. Naylor Observatory
670 Observatory Drive, Lewisberry
Admission: FREE

Observe the beauty of the planets, moon, stars, nebulae and galaxies through the Naylor Observatory’s large telescopes. Admission is free but reliant on weather conditions. If the weather is less than ideal or you spot overcast skies, call 717-938-6041 30 minutes before sunset to verify the observatory is open.

25. Oakes Museum of Natural History
One College Avenue, Mechanicsburg
Admission: Adults $6.50, kids 4-18 $4, 3 and under free

Park of Messiah College, the Oakes Museum is a 10,000-square foot museum with a collection of many animal exhibits along the lines of the Smithsonian museums in D.C. but on a smaller scale. Be sure to check out their hours before visiting.

26. Paulus Orchards
522 East Mount Airy Road, Dillsburg
Admission: Varies

With more than 150 acres of fruit trees, Paulus Orchards offers 25 varieties of apples and seven varieties of peaches, as well as nectarines and plums. Pay the orchards a visit this summer and pick your own strawberries, blueberries, black raspberries and blackberries. From rubber duck races to pedal karts, the orchard’s PlayLand has over 20 attractions and activities. For an additional fee, kids can take an orchard tour around the farm on a tractor-pulled wagon ride or take part in a Little Farmer’s Class (ages 3-8), which includes a light snack, story time, crafts, nature hikes, fruit picking, science experiments, games and a visit to PlayLand. Cooking classes are even offered for adults.

27. Penn FC
City Island, Harrisburg
Admission: Adult $14, kids $8, kids 4 and under free; game day prices are an additional $1

Central Pennsylvania’s professional United Soccer League (previously known as the City Islanders) hosts weekly matches at their City Island stadium with music, food and lots of soccer. Tickets are typically affordable, which allows soccer to be fun for the whole family. Visit their website for a full schedule and to purchase tickets.

28. Please Touch Museum
4231 Avenue of the Republic, Philadelphia
Admission: Adults and kids under 1 $19, 1 and under free

A museum mixed with exhibits intended for both playing and learning, this isn’t your typical museum experience. Visitors can drive a SEPTA bus, launch rockets, ride a carousel and journey through a rainbow tunnel, among other activities.

29. The Pride of the Susquehanna Riverboat
11 Championship Way, Harrisburg
Admission: Varies; visit website to learn more

It’s an authentic, stern-driven paddle wheel riverboat built 30 years ago by the Harrisburg Area Riverboat Society. It offers a wide selection of cruises from May through October: Dress in your finest pirate outfits and prepare for the battle of the summer at the Pirates on the Pride event ($29.50 for adults and kids) held on three dates this summer: June 1, July 6 and August 10; the cruise includes pizza, a drink and a frozen dessert. Or whisk your little princess away on a Princess Party Cruise ($24.50 for adults and kids) on several dates throughout the summer; the cruise includes pizza, snacks and themed activities and crafts.

30. Refreshing Mountain Retreat and Adventure Center
455 Camp Road, Stevens
Admission: Starting at $29 per person for two different zip line adventures

This retreat and adventure center provides zip lines and outdoor activities for families. There’s also a pool, wildlife center, horseback riding and an elevated obstacle course with a climbing wall, slackline, vertical logs, multiple bridges and platforms.

31. The State Museum of Pennsylvania
300 North St., Harrisburg
Admission: Adults $7, kids 1-11 $5, infants free

Watch the stars in the Planetarium sky, see dinosaurs, follow the history of Pennsylvania’s Native Americans and more at the official museum of the Commonwealth. The State Museum also offers Curiosity Connection, a hands-on museum experience for children ages 1-5.

32. Steamtown National Historic Site
150 South Washington Avenue, Scranton
Admission: FREE; train ride fares vary, call 570-340-5200 for details

Learn and experience the history of the locomotive at this park with real-life trains from many eras and locations. During these summer months, you can also take a scenic train ride.

33. Strasburg Railroad
301 Gap Road, Ronks
Admission: Varies; visit strasburgrailroad.com/ride/operating-schedule

Experience the Strasburg Rail Road, America’s oldest operating railroad. First used for passenger and freight transportation, the railroad has since been salvaged and restored, now operating as a tourist railroad with five working steam locomotives and 20 operating passenger cars. Purchase a ticket and take a 45-minute, round-trip ride through the Amish countryside.

34. Susquehanna Art Museum
1401 N. Third St., Harrisburg
Admission: Adults $8, students $5, kids 12 and under free

As one of the very few art museums located in Central Pennsylvania, the Susquehanna Art Museum hosts nationally and internationally recognized artists. With new exhibits arriving every few months, this is a great place to brush up on some culture and explore the wide world of art.

35. Tiny Town
533 Janet Avenue, Lancaster
Admission: Adults $8, kids 13 months and over $10, 12 months and under free

Stimulate your child’s curiosity and creativity through play at Tiny Town, Lancaster’s newest hands-on, interactive indoor playhouse. With 11 luxury playhouses and a coffee bar and café seating, you can relax without guilt while your children are playing within your view.

36. Turkey Hill Experience
301 Linden St., Columbia
Admission: Varies; adults $10.50-19.95, kids 4-12 $10-19.59, 3 and under free $8

Learn how ice cream is made, milk mechanical cows, sit in a milk truck and learn about Turkey Hill Dairy at the Turkey Hill Experience in Lancaster County. Seating is subject to availability, so don’t forget to make your reservation.

37. Valley Forge National Historic Park
Admission: FREE
1400 North Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia

Valley Forge was the site of the Continental Army’s camp during the Revolutionary War. Explore the park’s nature and monuments in this immersive historical park. Check out their Ranger programs, including the free, ranger-guided walk that explores the Valley Forge winter encampment and its impact on the American Revolution.

38. Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts
222 Market St., Harrisburg
Admission: Science center only: adults $16, kids 3-17 $12.50, 2 and under free; science center and film combo: adults $19.75, kids 3-17 $16.75, 2 and under free

Attractions at the Whitaker Center include the Harsco Science Center, the Select Medical Digital Cinema, the Sunoco Performance Theater, an art gallery and a gift shop. Through hands-on exhibits and STEM-based learning, the Harsco Science Center provides kids ages 12 and under the opportunity to explore the sciences, perform experiments and learn more about the world.

39. Wolf Sanctuary of PA
465 Speedwell Forge Road, Lititz
Admission: Weekday public tour: adults $15, kids 11 and under $13; weekend public tour: adults $12, kids 11 and under $10; full moon tour: only for ages 16 or over, $20

It’s been the home of refuge or displaced wolves for over 30 years. Take a guided tour around the facility to see several of the packs and learn about their biology and conservation. The Full Moon tour for visitors ages 16 and older features self-guided tours, a bonfire and live entertainment.


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