Looking for a great place to escape with the kids over the weekend? No matter where you live in Pennsylvania, you have tons of options. Whether you’re looking for amusement parks, outdoor recreation, or museums — Pennsylvania has it all.
Pennsylvania was founded in 1681 by William Penn and has a long history of industrial progress, education, scientific advancement, and more. Home to two major historical, economic, and cultural hubs — Pittsburgh and Philadelphia — Pennsylvania also has its share of smaller cities, charming towns, farmland, mountains, and forests. There’s always something to learn and see in PA, from the past to the present.
Many Pennsylvanians enjoy proximity to other metros, such as New York City or Washington D.C. A lot of families have also made a tradition of heading to the Jersey Shore on weekends to play in the waves and breathe the salty ocean air. On the western side of the state, Pennsylvanians can easily take a trip to Ohio cities like Columbus or Cleveland.
The best part about living in Pennsylvania, though, is there’s no need to leave the state in search of something to do. That means the answer to the question, “What family weekend getaways are near me?” is simple. Everything you need to have a fun weekend with the kids is right here.
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Fun and Affordable Weekend Family Getaways in PA
Get ready to take the kids on a weekend expedition in Pennsylvania and create memories you’ll all cherish. Here are 10 family getaways — you’re bound to be inspired to get exploring!
No Pennsylvania list would be complete without mentioning the City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia has so much to offer including dozens of museums, historical monuments, a world-class zoo, and enough eateries to please even the pickiest palates.
You can easily spend an entire weekend exploring one of America’s most historically significant cities, no matter what your interests are.
For example, take the kids to the Please Touch Museum® where they can explore, learn, and frolic among two floors of interactive exhibits. A few of the museum’s permanent exhibits include a play town complete with a shore store, hospital, supermarket, and more. Kids can laugh and have fun while they pretend to be grown-ups and investigate a city of their own.
Fans of Alice in Wonderland will love to join the Mad Hatter for tea or roam the Hall of Mirrors in the Wonderland exhibit. During nice weather, take the little ones on a stroll in the museum’s outdoor Please Touch Garden to smell and feel the tomato and pepper plants.
Do your kids get ecstatic about monkeys? Perhaps they’ve begged for a pet hippo? We understand it might be tough to fit a hippo in the backyard pool, so we suggest instead taking the kids to the famed Philadelphia Zoo. Kids and adults will love the opportunity to hear a lion roar, observe gorillas roughhouse, or watch alligators sunbathe from a safe distance.
After spending a day visiting one of the city’s many attractions, you and your family are going to work up quite the appetite. Fortunately, Philadelphia has you covered. Take the kids to try a famous Philly cheesesteak or treat them to ice cream at an old-fashioned ice cream parlor like the Franklin Fountain on Market Street.
Gettysburg is not just a destination for history buffs. It’s also a place to take the kids to learn about America’s past and get a weekend of fresh air. Plus, Gettysburg offers one of the most budget-friendly weekend getaways on the list, as a self-guided tour of Gettysburg National Military Park is free, and many of the museums aren’t too pricey.
Begin your tour at the battlefield visitor center to pick up a park map. There are over a thousand memorials and monuments in the park, so you’ll need a way to navigate without missing a thing. Children will love climbing the castle-like tower at Little Round Top for a spectacular view of the park. Older children can explore the passageways between the huge, eerie boulders at Devil’s Den.
After visiting the battlefield, which could take most of the day, tour one of the several historic homes in Gettysburg, like the Jennie Wade House, or learn about civilian life in the Shriver House Museum.
Young children can enjoy a trip to the Explore and More Museum, an affordable hands-on children’s museum located inside of an 1860s house. At Explore and More, children are invited to play in a 19th-century general store, create artwork, and stand inside of a bubble. This museum is a great choice for rainy-day fun in Gettysburg.
Looking for the perfect Gettysburg souvenir to remember your trip by? What could be better than a Civil War family photo? Stop at the Victorian Photography Studio, throw on wartime garb, and celebrate a weekend of learning and quality family experiences.
3. Jim Thorpe
Jim Thorpe is a quaint mountain town located in northeastern Pennsylvania in the Pocono Mountains region, and it’s the perfect place to relax and marvel at the scenery while also keeping the kids entertained.
Go shopping in one of Jim Thorpe’s unique gift or consignment shops, or savor an ice cream treat after a day of biking or hiking the trails at Lehigh Gorge State Park. Not in the mood for outdoor exercise? Sit back and relax on a scenic ride aboard the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway instead.
If it’s raining, you can take the family to tour the historic Old Jail Museum and witness the mysterious cell-wall handprint that never disappears, or learn about butterflies in the Bear Mountain Butterfly Sanctuary.
Older children might enjoy a hike to Glen Onoko Falls, which you can access in Lehigh Gorge State Park, to take in the beauty of cascading water. Everyone will be happy to end the day with a refreshing cone at Annie’s Ice Cream, a local favorite.
4. The Poconos
There’s a whole world to explore in the Poconos beyond Jim Thorpe, and you won’t have a hard time finding ways to spend the weekend with your family. The Pocono Mountains are a popular destination for families looking to breathe some mountain air and have a great time they won’t forget.
Entertainment options, as well as outdoor recreation, abound in the Poconos. So, how do you choose? Well, what are you in the mood for? Want to spend the day splashing away? Take a trip to Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark in Tannersville or stay the weekend at Great Wolf Lodge and delight in their indoor water park slides, games, and hot springs.
Want to get the kids new clothes for school while you’re out and about? Take them shopping at the Crossings Premium Outlets. And, of course, after a day of shopping, you’ll have to treat the family to some yummy sweets — not so hard to find in the Poconos. Why not take a drive to Callie’s Candy Kitchen?
You’ll also have the option to make the animal lovers in the family happy. Visit the Pocono Snake and Animal Farm in East Stroudsburg to get close to animals like a bear, monkeys, and reptiles. This small, family-run zoo is worth the stop because unlike larger zoos, you get a more intimate view of the animals. Plus, children will enjoy the opportunity to pet and feed some of the animals right from the palms of their hands.
Pittsburgh is a city with a lot of character and a lot of hills. It also has a lot for families. The Carnegie Museums not only offer unforgettable experiences for adults, but they also have kid-friendly exhibits so children can have fun while learning about history and science.
Children who love dinosaurs will be thoroughly mesmerized by the dinosaur displays in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History®. Little treasure-seekers will be awestruck by the shimmering beauty of gems and minerals in the Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems.
For a day of complete interactive fun, take the kids to enjoy the variety of exciting hands-on exhibits at the Children’s Museum. For example, they can giggle as they try to make their way across the tilted Gravity Room, or hide in the giant seven-foot-tall tire in the Garage exhibit.
When the day winds down, fill hungry tummies with classic Pittsburgh eats like french fry-stuffed sandwiches or homemade pierogies.
Lake Erie is one of America’s largest lakes and part of the everyday scenery for Erie residents. As with many Pennsylvania destinations, you’ll have your choice of outdoor activities, museums, and amusements to choose from in Erie. Water lovers will especially love Pennsylvania’s personal shore.
Spend a sunny day on the beach at Presque Isle State Park or explore the trails. Or, you can take the family for a day of fun and rides at Waldameer and Water World. At Waldameer, you’ll find everything from kiddie rides to roller coasters and a water park.
On rainy or windy days, you’ll have the option to head to Splash Lagoon®, an indoor water park that features an 84-degree tropical atmosphere and cabana rentals, so adults can relax while kids splash the day away.
Erie also has the Erie Zoo where visitors can spend an afternoon among all kinds of animals from monkeys to a rhinoceros, and enjoy the interactive expERIEnce Children’s Museum, fun gift shops, and more. Use the weekend to get away with the family and experience one of the Great Lakes in your home state.
Allentown is an eastern PA city with a lot to do for weekend fun with the family. Many residents love the location because of easy highway access to New York City or Philadelphia, but Allentown also has its own character.
Many locals can recall frequent childhood trips to Dorney Park® and Wildwater Kingdom. Create your own memories with the kids at this large amusement and water park that has rides for all ages and personalities. Thrill-seekers will enjoy a ride on one of Dorney’s exciting roller coasters, and little ones can have fun with one of the many kiddie or family-friendly rides.
Baseball fans will love to visit Coca-Cola Park to cheer on the IronPigs, the Triple A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. Are the little ones too fidgety to sit through a baseball game? Take them to the Da Vinci Science Center™ to play and learn at the same time, or visit the animals at the Lehigh Valley Zoo.
End the weekend with a family film at one of the Lehigh Valley’s theatres like the historic Roxy Theatre in Northampton. Feeling hungry? Allentown is home to dozens of restaurants to suit all kinds of tastes, whether you want to take your family on a culinary tour of the Mediterranean or celebrate the weekend with a Mexican fiesta-style meal.
Do you and the kids imagine living in a town completely made of chocolate? If so, we think it’s time to pack your bags and head to Hershey, PA for the weekend.
Although the town of Hershey is not made of chocolate, it is home to Hersheypark®. Originally a spot for chocolate factory workers to relax and take a break, Hersheypark is now a large family amusement park that you could easily spend two days at. From all kinds of rides to a water park and a zoo, there’s something to make any family member smile. Plus, who doesn’t love to be surrounded by the delicious aroma of rich, creamy chocolate?
Make sure you tour the Hershey Story Museum for the full chocolatey experience. Learn what inspired Milton S. Hershey to push forward and become a success, and you might even get the chance to make and taste your own chocolate in the Chocolate Lab.
If rides and candy aren’t enough to keep the kids happy over the weekend, take a short road trip down to Columbia, PA to visit the Turkey Hill Experience. Here, you’ll get to learn how to make ice cream from start to finish and, of course, taste your delicious creations.
What does your family prefer for dessert — chocolate or ice cream? Head to central PA, and you don’t have to choose just one!
Want to teach the kids everything there is to know about the state they live in without breaking the bank? Head to the capital city of Harrisburg for educational, affordable, and fun ways to spend a weekend with the family.
For example, you can take the family to the State Museum of Pennsylvania to roam three floors of fascinating exhibits that will intrigue kids of all ages. On the first floor, kids can peek in the window of a re-created general store at the Village Square exhibit, which showcases a life-size 19th-century Pennsylvanian town.
On the third floor, little ones will love to check out the animals in Mammal Hall — a popular diorama exhibit that displays animal species who call Pennsylvania home. You’ll also have the chance to stand next to a mastodon skeleton, composed partially of real mastodon bones that were found in Marshalls Creek in Monroe County.
You’ll be amazed at all you can see at the State Museum for a low admission fee. Adult tickets are only $7, and ages one to 11 get in for $5. This museum is hard to beat when it comes to finding an affordable way to spend the day learning something new.
When you get hungry, your family can refuel with all kinds of home-cooked goodies at the Broad Street Market. You’ll find everything from ethnic dishes to Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine. Then, to burn off some of those calories, head to Wildwood Park and take a stroll on a boardwalk trail for an afternoon of birdwatching.
You might also choose to walk along the portion of the 20-mile Capital Area Greenbelt that runs parallel to the Susquehanna River. You and your family can enjoy beautiful river views and snap photos of Harrisburg’s historic bridges.
Lancaster County is the well-known home of many Amish families. The county seat, Lancaster, is a historical and creative city, with plenty of art galleries and museums. Exploring both the county and the city promises a culturally rich experience, one that your family can remember for years to come.
To start the weekend with a taste of history, head to the Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum where visitors can experience life on the farm as it was in the 18th and 19th centuries for German settlers. Travel back in time to explore over 100 acres and several historic buildings.
If you want a closer look at the Amish way of life, you can tour the historic Amish Farm and House, Lancaster’s first tourist attraction. The house was given to Governor John Evans in 1715 by William Penn and has had many owners since, such as Quaker, Mennonite, and Amish farming families. The property was purchased in 1955 by Adolf Neuber, who opened the house to the public with the mission to educate people about the Amish lifestyle.
After your family has learned all about Lancaster’s past, travel back to the future with a fun trip to Dutch Wonderland. Open since the 1960s, Dutch Wonderland has all the classic rides one can hope for, from kid-friendly coasters to a log flume ride. Young ones can enjoy live shows and meet fantasy characters like a princess, a wizard, and knights.
If the kids agree, you might also choose to appreciate the peace and beauty of Lancaster at a much more leisurely pace to eat, shop, and take in the scenery.
Save on Trips With PSECU
Pennsylvania has so much to offer residents and visitors of all ages and backgrounds. With a rich, fascinating past and plenty of world-class museums, shops, and attractions to enjoy, it’s impossible not to find something to do no matter where you are in this fun, adventurous state.
We are proud to call Pennsylvania home and even prouder to have been serving Pennsylvanians for over 80 years. As one of the largest credit unions in Pennsylvania, we strive to offer our members plenty of ways to save so that they have more money in their wallets to appreciate the pleasures of life in PA.
Our members enjoy many money-saving benefits such as low-interest loans, surcharge-free ATMs, cash rewards with our Founder’s Card, free checking, and a savings share that only requires a $5 deposit to get started.
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