We may be driving full speed ahead into back to school season, but there are still a few weekends and summer Fridays left before fall takes over. Whether you are a family of history buffs or thrill seekers, here are some of our favorite road trip ideas for the last weekends of summer.
Washington D.C. is incredibly famous not just for being our nation’s capital, but being the mecca for the many (free!) Smithsonian Museums. Enjoy a look into the world of animals and the beginnings of the universe at the National History Museum, visit Julia Child’s kitchen exhibit and much more at the American History Museum, or head to Georgetown where you and the family will stop by a favorite among the locals for gorgeous views and historic walks.
On The Way, Visit the 17th Annual Library of Congress Book Festival: Stop by our nation’s capital this year for a bookworm’s dream at the 17th Annual Library of Congress Book Festival, happening Saturday, September 2. With its reputable title of being the world’s largest library, the Library of Congress will provide an extensive array of literary classics to get your little one on a reading binge for months. In addition to book signings and author panels, there will also be activities for all ages throughout the day. loc.gov
Tuxedo Park, NY
Staying local? Bring the sunscreen and beach towels to Harriman State Park for a weekend of fun in the sun. Just next to Tuxedo Park, you may hear the sweet sounds of songbirds, spot some hawks, or even see a black bear roaming around Sterling Forest State Park. With over 32 trails, you and the family will enjoy plenty of Instagram-worthy views. Break away from the busy city life and enjoy some relaxing hikes in upstate New York.
On The Way, Visit The New York Renaissance Faire: Tuxedo Park is also home to the New York Renaissance Faire happening Saturdays and Sundays now through October 1. Kids can see fantastical jousting, join the court of Queen Elizabeth, or follow Robin Hood and his band of outlaws on an adventure. If you prefer to shop until you drop, the marketplace will be featuring their finest wares your shillings can buy. renfair.com/ny
Pittsburgh has been topping a lot of lists this year as one of the cities to visit in 2017, and there are plenty of ways to entertain the kids here. They can visit the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and discover exhibits about topics like the science of working with your hands or learning useful gardening skills. Explore the wondrous world of loveable and cuddly animals while you’re near Pittsburgh by heading over to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. Take a trip back to the prehistoric era with a gargantuan dinosaur experience or watch the fluffy polar bears captivate your little one’s heart.
On The Way, Visit The Hookstown Fair: If you’re planning a visit to Pittsburgh at the end of August, make sure to swing by the Hookstown Fair happening August 22-26 in Hookstown, PA. You’ve got Ferris wheels, tractor pulls, demolition derbies, and live music—what more could you ask for? There’s even a motocross show happening at the main arena, where kids can watch riders flip, fly and soar their way around the tracks and perform spectacular stunts. hookstownfair.com
Chocolate-lovers will be in heaven at Hersheypark, a world class amusement park featuring more than 70 rides and attractions. Their latest attraction, Hershey Triple Tower, gives visitors a choose-your-thrill ride experience. Choose the 80-feet high Hershey’s Kisses Tower or make your heart drop at speeds of 45 miles per hour with the 189-feet high Hershey’s Tower. Little ones will enjoy meet and greets with their favorite chocolate treats, and Chocolate World, a chocolate tour that ends with a very special surprise! hersheypark.com
On The Way, Visit The Crayola Experience: Only 90 miles away from Hersheypark, the Crayola Experience in Easton is filled with fun activities for kids of all ages. Their newest attraction, Adventure Lab, features a series of digital and physical quests with Crayola personalities and a “magic” tablet. Guest are given three challenges–such as jumping across a river of melting wax—and there are 15 total adventures to guarantee guests a different experience each time. crayolaexperience.com
Six Flags Great Adventure, NJ
This summer, make sure to pay a visit to the largest theme park in the world! Justice League: Battle for Metropolis is a new family thrill ride and gaming adventure with high-definition animation, wind, fire, mist, and fog effects, and real-time gaming elements sure to keep your kids on their toes. Join Batman, Superman, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Cyborg in a battle against Lex Luthor and the Joker in this 4-D interactive game! sixflags.com/greatadventure
On The Way, Visit Wildwood, NJ: Looking for a wild adventure? You don’t have to go to the wilderness to do so. Walk along the free white-sand beaches at Wildwood and have fun at the beachfront waterparks! Visit Raging Waters Water Park, ride the new Great Nor’Easter at Surfside Pier, or take a VIP tour of the boardwalk at Morey’s Piers. Enjoy “Breakfast in the Sky” at Mariner’s Pier, an experience featuring a ferris wheel breakfast 150 feet above sea level. wildwoodsnj.com
Lake Compounce, CT
Conquer your fears on the Phobia Phear Coaster, a triple launch coaster with speeds up to 65 miles per hour and a cobra roll 150 feet in the air! Lake Compounce opened in 1846 and is the oldest continuously-operating amusement park. From thrill rides to kiddie rides and classic rides, there’s something for all ages. Ride the world’s number one wooden roller coaster, Boulder Dash, cool off in Connecticut’s largest water park, Crocodile Cove, or sit back and watch a Funky Fairytales show. lakecompounce.com
One The Way, Visit Bridgeport, CT: If you’re looking for a jungle-like adventure, stop by the Adventure Park at the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The aerial forest park located behind the museum features trails made from zip-lines, cables, and wood and rope bridges that connect from tree to tree. Find your balance as you choose from 11 color-coded trails with six difficulty levels ranging from beginner to advanced. discoveryadventurepark.org
Sylvan Beach, NY
With a mix of activities like arcade games and mini-golf to thrilling rides like Galaxy Coaster and G-Force Rotor, there’s fun for everyone in the family at Sylvan Beach Amusement Park! Practice your driving skills with bumper cars or take it on the water with Bumper Boats, and don’t forget to chomp on classic amusement park food. sylvanbeachamusementpark.com
On The Way, Visit Cooperstown Fun Park: Stop at Cooperstown Fun Park in Cooperstown, New York for an adrenaline rush the whole family can enjoy. Play laser tag and avoid your opponents or hop in the water for bumper boats. If you’re in the mood for speed, the park features a quarter-mile go-kart track and a two-seater car for the little ones. They also have games like mini-golf, nine-stall batting cages, and an arcade with games and treats. cooperstownfunpark.com
As the oldest city in Massachusetts, Boston, which was founded in 1630, played a key role in American history, especially during the Revolutionary War. These days, this seaside New England city is home to tons of historical attractions the whole family will enjoy. Don’t know which sites to see? You can follow the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile-long trail marked in red which leads to 16 historically significant sites throughout the city. Sports fans will delight in checking out Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, which was built in 1912 and the oldest stadium in the major leagues. Kids can also enjoy hands on learning at the New England Aquarium, Boston’s Children Museum, and Museum of Science.
On The Way, Visit Mystic, CT: Two hours southwest of Boston lies the town of Mystic, Connecticut, a 19th-Century maritime seaport filled with adventurous activities from sailing to whale watching. Many of the attractions in this town are geared towards children, making Mystic an exciting and educational vacation spot for families. ctvisit.com/mystic
Time travel to the 18th century in Williamsburg, Virginia. Built just north and not too long after Jamestown, Williamsburg is known today for its meticulous preservation of American history. Colonial Williamsburg’s re-created settings, museums, and actors let visitors experience first-hand what the area would have looked and felt like in the days before the Revolutionary War. Kids can dress up in colonial garb, have a conversation with Thomas Jefferson, and go on a candlelight ghost tour. If you’re having a bit of a history overload, Williamsburg is also home to many scenic bike trails, beaches, and Kidsburg, a 30,000-square-ft lighted playground.
On The Way, Visit Busch Gardens: A visit to Williamsburg would not be complete without stopping at Busch Gardens. Modeled after the various regions of Europe, Busch Gardens offers thrilling roller coaster rides, wild animals, fine dining, and activities for children, all themed around various European countries. If the Virginia heat becomes too much to handle, spend a few hours cooling off next door at Water Country USA. seaworldparks.com/
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Lancaster may look like a small town, but it is packed full of fun attractions inspired by Pennsylvania Dutch history and the culture of the Amish people who live there. Bring the family to see a Broadway show or opera at the Fulton Theatre, which dates back to 1852 and is considered the oldest continuously operating theatre in America. Take a tour of the Amish Farmhouse to see an accurate depiction of an Amish family’s lifestyle while respecting the privacy of the locals. As long as no one’s afraid of heights, finish off your historical road-trip with a view of the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside from the sky with the United States Hot Air Balloon Team.
On The Way, Visit Dutch Wonderland: Families with younger children can finally enjoy an amusement park, without being confined to the kids section. Dutch Wonderland, which is designed around the theme “Kingdom for Kids” and is specifically geared towards family-friendly fun. This 48-acre amusement park is located just East of Lancaster and features over 35 rides like the Skyfighter, Wonder Whip, and Panda Party. dutchwonderland.com
The City of Brotherly Love offers a mix of colonial and modern architecture to give visitors a blast to the colonial past. In addition to more well-known historic sites like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, Philly is also home to several world class museums including the Franklin Institute of Science Museum. Kids will love running through the maze of mirrors, looking for constellations in the planetarium, and learning about cardiovascular health while climbing through a giant heart. For animal lovers, be sure to visit America’s first zoo, the Philadelphia Zoo. Built in 1859, this 42-acre zoo is home to over 1,300 animals and features mesh above ground walkways which allow the animals to walk right above you. Even dinnertime can have a touch of history in it with the infamous Philly cheesesteak!
On The Way, Visit Diggerland: While spending time in the Philly area, make sure to visit Diggerland USA in nearby West Berlin, NJ. This construction-themed amusement park gives children the chance to operate real construction equipment which has been engineered to be perfectly safe for even the littlest drivers. In addition to the heavy machinery, guests can partake in one of the world’s tallest ropes courses, off-road military vehicle tours, a rock wall, and an arcade. diggerlandusa.com
Cape Cod, MA
Cape Cod is the quintessential summer beach destination, with adorable seafood shacks and large sandy beaches stretching 70 miles into the Atlantic Ocean. On top of visiting one of the countless beaches, there are lakes that are perfect for swimming, fishing, and scouting for frogs, as well as mini golf courses, bike paths, hikes, and boat cruises. If you and the kids are in need of some AC, stop by the Cape Cod Children’s Museum, the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, or any of the lighthouses that are open for exploring. After a delicious seafood dinner, grab some ice cream and head over to Wellfleet Cinemas, one of the oldest drive-in theaters in the country.
On The Way, Visit Narragansett, RI: This seaside town in Road Island is a great place to stop on the way to or from the Cape for a lobster dinner and some shore side fun. Families with a little extra time can stop at Adventureland, a mini theme park in Narragansett with batting cages, mini golf, bumper boats, go karts, and more. Enjoy a nice lunch or dinner by the ocean before passing through town at one of the beaches, including Narragansett Beach, Scarborough State Beaches, and Salty Brine State Beach. narragansettri.gov
On the easternmost end of the South Shore of Long Island lies Montauk, a favorite summer beach getaway destination for city dwellers. It only takes a couple hours to get here from Manhattan, so it is a great place to spend a long weekend. Families can enjoy catching some sun or surf at the local beaches and state parks, as well as some fishing and boating on Lake Montauk. Equestrians can visit Deep Hollow Ranch for some beach or trail horseback riding, and foodie families will love exploring the different seafood restaurants and lobster shacks.
On The Way, Visit Adventureland: Montauk is a great place to enjoy nature and the seaside without straying too far from the city, and since the drive isn’t that long, consider bringing the family to Adventureland on the way back to Manhattan. After a long weekend of disconnecting and getting in touch with nature, kids will love playing at the arcade, riding roller coasters, and playing outdoor carnival games like Whac-A-Mole and Hot Shot at an amusement park that has been delighting Long Island residents since 1962. adventureland.us
The Pocono Mountains, PA
If you’ve already visited enough beaches this summer, head to the Pocono Mountains for some one-on-one time with nature. Hike towards Bushkill Falls, lovingly referred to as the “Niagara of Pennsylvania,” a collection of eight waterfalls that will take your breath away that are buried in forests of the Pocono Mountains, or visit Kittatinny River Beach Campsites for canoeing, kayaking, and tubing along the Delaware River. Families with smaller or less adventurous kids can stop by Claws “N” Paws Wilds Animal Park to pay a visit to the over 120 exotic animal species that call it home, and maybe even get the chance to pet a few!
On The Way, Visit Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom: Kids will love visiting this mega amusement park and water park because there is a little something for everyone here. Older kids will love the thrill rides and roller coasters, little ones wills love the kiddie rides, and families can enjoy quality time together at the water park or various family rides. There are also fun shows for kids, family movie nights, and “Dinosaurs Alive!”, a new addition to the park featuring 40 life-sized moving dinosaurs for kids to interact with. dorneypark.com