From crayons to canoes and bumper boats to Big Bird, Happy Travelers of all ages can kick up the fun in Pennsylvania with endless thrills, activities, and hands-on learning. Whether families prefer the energy of the city or the peace of the country, The Keystone State is the place to unite the young — and young at heart — in the pursuit of happiness.
From fun places to take kids to fun places to go with the family, we cover it all with these Pennsylvania hot spots.
Hersheypark® - Dutch Country Roads
Since its opening in 1907, Hersheypark® transitioned over the years from a relaxing park with baseball, picnics, and canoeing to the thrilling amusement park it is today, with 15 coasters including the Breakers Edge Water Coaster, and more than 70 rides, water slides, and other attractions. From the sooperdooperLooper, the first looping roller coaster on the East Coast, to the Cocoa Cruiser for the kids, there are endless options of thrills to enjoy at Hersheypark®. New this summer, the all-new wood and steel hybrid coaster, Wildcat's RevengeSM, promises thrills like no other with its 140-foot-tall hill, max speeds of 62 MPH, an 82-degree drop, and four inversions!
Sesame Place® - Philadelphia and the Countryside
With 17 land-based rides and 9 water rides, three live Sesame Street® shows and a daily parade plus an exclusive dine with Elmo and Friends experience, your entire family will be entertained all day long on your family vacation! It’s the perfect time — and they’re the perfect age — for Sesame Place®. Before little children become big kids, bring the entire family to whirl on rides, splash down slides, and hug everyone’s favorite furry friends. Sesame Place® is proud to be designated the first theme park in the world to be a Certified Autism Center. The staff receives special training in addition to providing sensory guides, noise-cancelling headphones, and quiet rooms, ensuring the park is a place for all. Get ready to sing, dance, and clap along at daily character shows, and go before they grow™ to the nation’s only theme park based entirely on Sesame Street®!
Knoebels Amusement Park - Valleys of the Susquehanna
Nestled among the trees of central Pennsylvania, Knoebels is a family favorite amusement park, with close to a century of summers of thrill under their belt, more than 60 rides, and 34 unique food stands with the park rated as having the best amusement park food in the world 18 times! Enthusiasts have touted the rides at Knoebels, including The Haunted Mansion, named in several publications as one of the best dark rides anywhere; The Grand Carousel, was voted “Best of the Best,” in the amusement industry by the Golden Ticket Awards in 2018; and The Phoenix, which has been ranked among the top 10 wooden roller coasters by the Los Angeles Times. To top it off, Knoebels admission is always free!
Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom® - Lehigh Valley
Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom® offers a myriad of possibilities for family fun. Guests can enjoy 16 rides perfect for the entire family, 6 roller coasters and more than three dozen slides, pools, and water play areas in Wildwater Kingdom. Seaside Splashworks is the perfect spot to take the family on a warm summer day with more than 75 play elements including six water slides totaling 430 feet in length, 12 oversized water cannons, a giant 317-gallon tipping bucket, an adventuresome 195-foot net bridge trail, and a splash zone just for toddlers. Kids can have fun in Planet Snoopy, the PEANUTS-themed park just for kids, and even try their driving skills on Dodgem, the midway classic bumper cars highly favored by park guests.
Dutch Wonderland - Dutch Country Roads
Designed for families with young children and celebrating its 60th anniversary, Dutch Wonderland features live entertainment, more than 35 rides including the brand new Topsy Turvy Tea Party ride, and Duke’s Lagoon water play area. Guests can enjoy Exploration Island, a rediscovered island full of lifelike dinosaurs. Young explorers can learn about the history of more than 20 dinos while digging up fossils at the interactive Dino Dig, walking along the Prehistoric Path, or embark on the Gondola Cruise. Dutch Wonderland has consistently been recognized as a premier family amusement park and was voted one of the Top 5 Best Kid’s Parks in the World by Amusement Today magazine.
Kennywood - Pittsburgh and its Countryside
Enjoy a unique mix of classic rides and modern thrills, including eight roller coasters, a 14-ride Kiddieland, and several attractions that cannot be found anywhere else. Celebrating 125years of innovation and connection to the community this year, Kennywood continues to be an icon and bucket list destination for each generation as one of the best amusement parks in PA.
The Crayola Experience® - Lehigh Valley
Ever wondered how Crayola® makes its crayons? See it right before your own eyes at The Crayola Experience®, a hands-on discovery center for children and adults. Explore the magic of color and experiment with innovative art techniques at this playful museum. With younger visitors in mind, Toddler Town offers a section of the factory for preschoolers, which includes a multi-colored peg board and a giant ball maze, where your young one controls the outcome.
The Houdini Tour & Magic Show - Upstate PA
The Houdini Tour & Magic Show is a nonstop spectacle held in the world's only building devoted to Harry Houdini, one of the most famous magicians of all time. Now visitors of all ages can be stunned by the noted professional magician, explore the fascinating world of Houdini with a fun guided tour and witness the rarest film footage of Houdini’s escapes. This year features a completely revamped magic show, certain to dazzle and amaze!
The Hershey Story® - Dutch Country Roads
The Hershey Story® allows visitors to take a journey through the legacy of Milton S. Hershey, as well as the town, school, and history he created. Highlighting this American entrepreneur’s rags to riches story, the museum tells the tale of how he revolutionized the process of chocolate making and allows visitors to explore the unique qualities of chocolate through playful, hands-on experiences and interactive demonstrations. Guaranteed to bring out the kid in everyone, the museum’s Chocolate Lab offers participatory classes such as tempering, molding, dipping, and even making chocolate from scratch.
Please Touch Museum - Philadelphia and the Countryside
The ideal children's museum, the Please Touch Museum is the perfect venue for families with young children. Exhibits are all interactive and encourage learning through play, so children can feel free to touch, explore, and lead their parents through the process. In addition to enjoying 18 permanent exhibits, including Food and Family and Imagination Playground, families can also take pleasure in live theater performances.
Carnegie Science Center - Pittsburgh and its Countryside
The Carnegie Science Center brings the world of science alive for visitors of all ages. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, the science center features four floors of hands-on exhibits, three live demonstration theaters, a four-story IMAX® dome theater, an interactive planetarium, laser shows, an authentic Cold War submarine moored on Pittsburgh’s Ohio River, and a world-renowned model railroad display. Take a peek into the human body at BodyWorks, an interactive exhibit featuring live shows and demonstrations allowing children to explore how the body works inside and out. Decide for yourself whether the Vikings were blood-thirst plunderers, amazing mariners, or peaceful farmers and tradesmen at their new exhibit, VIKINGS: Warriors of the North Sea, on display through Sep. 4.
Elk Country Visitor Center - Pennsylvania Wilds
Situated on 245 acres within the heart of Pennsylvania's elk range and within the Elk State Forest, the Elk Country Visitor Center is the premier conservation education facility in the entire eastern United States. Families visiting the center can learn about Pennsylvania’s elk population through interpretive exhibits, interactive 4-D theater presentations, and exciting tours of the region to catch a glimpse of the largest elk herd in the northeastern United States.
The Turkey Hill Experience - Dutch Country Roads
The Turkey Hill Experience allows visitors to learn everything there is to know about dairy culture and the history of Turkey Hill® itself. Through interactive exhibits, visitors can discover the intricate details of creating Turkey Hill® ice cream and tea. Children and adults alike can even take a shot at the process themselves by milking mechanical cows or concocting their own ice cream flavor in Turkey Hill’s® Taste Lab.
The Franklin Institute - Philadelphia and the Countryside
With a mission to “inspire a passion for learning about science and technology,” the Franklin Institute designs innovative, interactive exhibits to enlighten and educate each visitor. The dynamic institute is recognized internationally for its educational programs, lectures, and exhibits and emphasizes curiosity and enjoyment. Highlights include SportsZone, which uses virtual-reality technology to illustrate the physics of sports, The Train Factory’s climb-aboard steam engine, Space Command’s simulated earth-orbit research station, and exhibits on electricity. In celebration of 100 years of Disney magic, Disney100: The Exhibition has kicked off its world tour at the Franklin, with 10 immersive galleries and hundreds of seldom-seen items from the Disney archives and vault, through Aug. 27.
Hands-on House, Children’s Museum - Dutch Country Roads
Hands-on House, Children’s Museum of Lancaster is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids learn and making sure they have lots of fun in the process! Designed for children ages two to ten, the exhibits, classes, and programs are short on lectures and long on interactive and participatory activities. Connect your dinner foods to local farms, steer tractors, and feed animals at the Hands-on-House exhibit, Little Valley Farm. While the exhibits change regularly, the experiences are always hands-on and self-guided.
Woodloch Pines Resort - Upstate PA
The Woodloch Pines Resort is a family-oriented, year-round resort that lies in the Pocono Mountains. Parents magazine acclaimed Woodloch as "one of America's favorite vacation resorts," while USA Today readers have proclaimed Woodloch the #1 Family Resort in the U.S. in 2019, 2021, and 2022. Various family-friendly activities at this resort include a Pre-K activity center, boat rides, bocce ball, bumper boats and cars, canoeing, children's arts/crafts, scavenger hunts, mini-golf, nature trails, Woodloch family olympics, and fitness classes. After a day of intense family fun, parents can relax in Woodloch’s award-winning spa, featuring the Aqua Garden's Hydromassage WaterWalls and an activity pool with floor-to-ceiling windows surrounded by nature.
Strasburg Rail Road™ - Dutch Country Road
Since the 1850s, Strasburg Rail Road™ was used for various purposes, including passenger and freight transportation and interchange. Now it serves as a tourist attraction, where visitors can experience fun attractions while simultaneously learning about steam railroading. Not only can guests take a trip in the authentically restored coal-burning steam train, but they can get a behind-the-scenes tour of the Mechanical Shop where all the magic happens in keeping the trains in tip top shape. Your little one can hit the rails with Thomas the Tank Engine and his pal Percy as the Strasburg Rail Road™ presents a special Day Out With Thomas™ on select dates.
To learn about family fun destinations in Pennsylvania, check out the visitPA website. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more PA inspiration. Don’t forget to sign up for our monthly Happy Thoughts e-newsletter so you never miss an update.