• 20 Reasons To Take Your Kids To Pennsylvania

    There are plenty of reasons why our neighbor to the west is a great travel destination for families!

    By Sara Touzard

    Photo: Hershey Park on Facebook

    Taking the family on a trip to Pennsylvania means visiting the state that has it all: historical sites, culture, adventure, entertainment, great food, and more. In the spirit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we wanted to highlight some of the popular and unique tourist attractions in Pennsylvania that you won’t want to miss on your next trip.

    The Betsy Ross House

    Visit the iconic home of America’s most famous flag maker, Betsy Ross, in Philadelphia. Her home is one of the more popular tourist attractions around and is located in the charming historic district. On this self-guided tour, families can walk around her quaint home, built in 1740, and see the bedroom where she made her first flag and wander throughout the residence. Thanks to character actors, kids get a chance to hear Ross talk about her exciting life, learn about what it was like in 18th century America, and ask her questions about her role in creating our nation’s flag. Tickets range from $4-$7. historicphiladelphia.org

    The Benjamin Franklin Museum

    Learn more about Philadelphia’s founding father, Benjamin Franklin, and his legacy in America’s history at the Benjamin Franklin Museum. This museum features personal artifacts, computer animations, and interactive displays exploring Ben Franklin’s personal life as a private citizen and a statesman. Families will discover the multifaceted roles Franklin played in his life such as working as a printer, scientist, a diplomat and a voice representing the American people in the 17th-18th century. Tickets range from $2-$5. nps.gov

    Once Upon A Nation Storytelling Benches

    Families should grab a bench around the Philadelphia Historic District and get a history lesson on the Once Upon A Nation Storytelling Benches. There are 13 benches throughout the Historic District with professional storytellers ready to give free five-minute tales about Philadelphia’s history and even share some secret stories about the town. historicphiladelphia.org

    The Franklin Institute

    Visit the Franklin Institute where science comes to life. The science museum has tons of kid- friendly interactive exhibitions that include a walk-through of a giant human heart, a two-story networking trail of the human brain, a Sports Challenge, an Electricity Exhibit, the Franklin Air Show, and an Outdoor Rooftop Observatory where kids can actually use a giant telescope to look up at the sky. There are even interactive high-tech exhibits like the Virtual Reality Exhibit. This institute is a beloved educational museum that allows kids to have fun and learn at the same time. General admission ranges from $16-$20. fi.edu

    Philadelphia Zoo

    Head on over to America’s first zoo–the Philadelphia Zoo! This zoo houses nearly 1,300 animals, including some rare endangered species with tree-lined walks, formal shrubbery, and animal sculptures. The zoo also has botanical gardens which hold over 500 different plants. Families will enjoy seeing animals on the move like never before in a new animal exploration trail called Zoo 360. It is a network of see-through mesh trails that allows all animals, big and small, to roam freely throughout the zoo. Kids will be so excited to spot tigers, lions, and pumas walking above their heads on an outdoor trail system at Big Cat Crossing. Be sure to visit Treetop Tail to watch as monkeys swing through the treetops or head to Gorilla Treeway to watch gorillas in their nature habitat. Kids will want to explore the farm animals at Zoo U, an indoor and outdoor barnyard where children can see, pet, and brush sheep, ponies, goats, chickens, ducks, parakeets, and even view an aquarium full of coral fish. Tickets range from $19-$23. philadelphiazoo.org

    Hershey Park

    There’s no better place to visit than Hershey Park, the sweetest place on Earth. Families will become immersed in Hershey history as they visit Hershey’s Chocolate World. There they will learn all about its founder, Milton Hershey, and the notorious Hershey Bar through a chocolate tour and see how the Hershey Bar is made. Once the tour is done, you get a free sample to satisfy your sweet cravings! In addition to all of the chocolate themed rides and water park, you can watch a 4D chocolate mystery movie, visit the photo studio, create your own chocolate bar, do some shopping, dine at the food court, and for dessert, wander into the bakery. If you don’t want your chocolate journey to end, accommodations are available at Hotel Hershey, The Hershey Lodge, or the Hershey Park Camping Resort. hersheypark.com

    Challenge Family Fun Center

    Located a short two miles away from Hershey Park, families can head on over to the Challenge Family Fun Center, an indoor and outdoor play center that includes 22-hole miniature golf course, indoor batting cages, duckpin bowling, and an arcade. After playing tons of fun games, families can have fresh homemade pizza, burgers, chicken tenders, fries, and ice cream. challengefamilyfunhershey.com

    Sesame Place

    Kids will love seeing Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and the rest of the “Sesame Street” gang at Sesame Place. Located on the outskirts of Philadelphia, this colorful theme park is based entirely on the award-winning television show. The entire family can whirl on different rides such as The Flying Fish, Flying Cookie Jars, Elmo’s Cloud Chaser, splashdown slides, and more, and even get a chance to hug their furry friends. Everyone can head on over to Cookie Monster’s Land for a meet, greet, and eat with all the different characters from the iconic show. Kids can also get their very own pins at 123 Pin With Me as they learn about pin trading and buy a few souvenirs of their  favorite character at the gift shop. This beloved destination will be a hit for younger children who may never want to leave the sunny streets of Sesame Place. sesameplace.com

    Kalahari Resorts

    Head to Kalahari Resorts, America’s largest indoor water park, in the famous Pocono Mountains. They are opened year round and feature African-themed water attractions, pools, and an interactive arcade! While the kids are having fun, parents can head on over to the spa for some relaxation or head to the gym. Kalahari doubles as a family resort, so families can have lots of fun and spend quality time together. kalahariresorts.com

    Idlewild Parks and SoakZone

    Rated the Best Amusement Park in Pennsylvania, families should visit Idlewild Parks and Soakzone. Founded in 1878 and located near Pittsburgh, this children’s amusement park and water park has over 35 different rides, attractions, and shows galore for ultimate family fun. Visit the Soak Zone Water Park, Story Book Forest, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Little kiddos can stroll on a winding path to Storybook Forest, a quaint place where families can visit cottages and meet Mother Goose, Goldilocks, Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, and other classic storybook and nursery rhyme characters. Parents can take their children on a trolley ride down to the Land of Make Believe to visit Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, inspired by the popular children’s show, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” While teens can head down to Old Idlewild and take a ride on roller coasters, bumper cars, the howler, merry-go-round, and the ferries wheel. idlewild.com

    Randyland

    Explore the quirky kaleidoscopic and colorful home of native Pittsburgh artist Randy Gibson at Randyland. This public folk-art instillation, located in North Pittsburgh, allows families to enter into a whimsical rainbow home where color reigns supreme and little details help create this unique atmosphere. Families can even take a picture with the artist and meet him to discuss his unique artwork. Free admission but donations are welcome. randy.land

    Pittsburgh Children’s Museum 

    The Pittsburgh Children’s Museum was designed for kids to learn through touchable and interactive play. This innovative space allows kids to unleash their creativity through various art exhibitions including The Makeshop, where a team of skilled makers and educators help translate kid’s visions into real objects. The indoor jungle gym is the place to expend youthful energy and there is even an exhibition dedicated to “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” where kids learn about Fred Rogers, his show, his impact on television, and create their own Mr. Rogers sweater. Tickets range from $14-$16. pittsburghkids.org

    Carnegie Hall Natural History Museum

    Visit the Carnegie Hall Natural History Museum one of the top museums in the country. This museum is the best place for families to discover science and the wonders of the natural world. Parents can browse through the galleries and examine artifacts that span throughout centuries while kids dig for dinosaur bones in Bonehunters Quarry and get hands-on with real and replicated specimens in Discovery Basecamp. The museum is also connected to the Carnegie Museum of Art, which is worth a visit and the admission covers both places. Be prepared to spend an entire day enriching your children with some educational fun. carnegiemnh.org

     Kennywood Amuseument Park

    Familes and kids will have a blast at a classic amusment park that is the perfect place for rollercoaster junkies of of all ages. This Pittsburgh park, founded in 1898, offers a wide variety of classic and modern rides including six roller coasters and Kiddieland for the younger crowd provides unforgettable fun for the young and the young at heart. kennywood.com

    Bushkill Falls

    Bushkills Falls, located in the scenic area of the Poconos, is known to the locals as “The Niagara Falls of Pennsylvania.” This famous scenic location has been popular with tourists since 1904 and encompasses 300 acres with eight waterfalls that are accessible through hiking trails, and bridges. There are fabulous views of the falls and the surrounding forest that provide a picture perfect family photo opportunity. Families can also enjoy a round of mini golf or ride in one of the paddle boats. visitbushkillfalls.com  

    Pocono Tree Ventures

    Spend a day zip lining through the trees and be prepared to see the world from 40 feet above ground at Pocono Tree Ventures. This outdoor family aerial forest adventure offers kids and adults zip lining challenges where family members compete against each other, climb ropes, and perform swing log steps. Whether a beginner or an expert all are welcome since activities are geared to your level. poconotreeventures.com

    Toonseum

    If you’re into the comic book scene, graphic arts, or cartoon arts then add this museum to your list. Toonseum, a small boutique museum with 100 pieces of orginal artwork provides kids with an introduction to this underrated art form and provides a deeper appreciation of it’s importance in our culture. This place is perfect for older kids, especially teens, since it focuses on comic books as art at its finest. Tickets range from $4-$6. toonseum.org

    Bear Mountain Butterfly Sanctuary

    Kids can explore the wonderful world of butterflies at the Bear Mountain Butterfly Sanctuary. At this educational center, children can enter the sanctuary’s Fluttertarium and watch live butterflies and some moths flutter around land on you. There are puzzles, a short movie, and kids can create butterfly-themed crafts to take home. bearmountainbutterflies.com    

    Popcorn Buddha

    Popcorn lovers of all ages will enjoy a blissful experience sampling over 85 unique flavors of popcorn at the Popcorn Buddha. Families can pick a variety of fresh popcorn flavors to try like cinnamon toast, watermelon, bubblegum, mac and cheese, Philly cheesesteak, and more. Find your favorite popcorn flavor to take home or snack on while traveling around the Poconos. popcornbuddhausa.com

    Callie’s Pretzel Factory and Candy Kitchen

    Get a lesson on how to make pretzels at Callie’s Pretzel Factory. This quaint country shop, located in the Poconos, allows visitors to explore this salty snack and watch pretzel factory bakers create a variety of pretzels in front of you. The bakers encourage kids to get involved by letting them try their hand at twisting their own pretzels and sample some freshly made pretzels straight out of the oven. Afterwards families can head to the gift shop to take some pretzels home. If your still craving more snacks, families can take a 3 mile drive to Callie’s Candy Kitchen for some sweet treats and wander through their candy museum. calliescandy.com

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