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Things to do in Pennsylvania with Kids

Looking for things to do in Pennsylvania with kids? Well, look no farther.

Pennsylvania is filled with educational landmarks but your kids are not looking for that during a vacation. History can be boring and will make for long days and cranky kids.

This list of the 10 things to do in Pennsylvania are things your kids will love and will make for a vacation of Happy Kids and after all that will make Happy Parents too.

I’m not implying that you shouldn’t go to historical sites and educational places, I’m just saying we’ve all been cooped up in the house too long and are ready to have some fun!

The following attractions in Pennsylvania for families will have your kids wanting to experience more. Take them to Hershey, Sesame Street, Dutch Wonderland, and Crayola but also take them to see the elk and Amish Country.

There are many places on this list that your kids will learn from but don’t tell them that cause they will be having too much fun. They will learn what products go into chocolate and ice cream making and also about the Amish culture and the history of elk on the east coast.

So lets get to that list so you can start planning and packing!

10 Things to do in Pennsylvania with Kids

1. Hershey PA “The Sweetest Place on Earth”

Hershey Park

With over 70 rides your kids will love Hershey Park. Come play in the kiddie ride section, see a show, ride one of the 13 roller coasters, and enjoy entertainment for the whole family.

They also have a water park, The Boardwalk at Hershey Park reassembles the east coast beaches. The waterpark is filled with water slides, a lazy river, and interactive water activities your kids will love.

Hershey Park also has special seasonal events in Hersheypark in the Dark for Halloween and Christmas Candyland where the park becomes a winter wonderland filled with over 4 million lights, rides, and shows.

Chocolate World

Every vacation to Hershey PA must include the famous Chocolate World free tour where you sit in a “Hershey Kiss” and learn how chocolate is made.

There are also other activities that your kids will enjoy at Chocolate World including 4D Chocolate Movie, Hershey Unwrapped, create your own candy bar and so much more.

For other things to do in Hershey with the kids check out this article all about Things to Do in Hershey PA.

2. Crayola Experience

The Crayola Experience offers fun for the whole family with 23 one-of-a-kind attractions designed to inspire imagination through play to your children. Your kids will learn all about color chemistry and magic combined to make the whole Crayola experience.

All activities are self-guided so you can go at your kid’s pace. Check out my post to read all about the attractions and things to do at the Crayola Experience.

3. Dutch Wonderland

Another things to do in Pennsylvania with kids is Dutch Wonderland. An amusement park in Lancaster geared towards families with younger children. With over 30 rides and attractions, there is something that everyone in your family will love. From mild rides like the train and merry-go-round to rides that will get you wet on a hot summer day like the Dragon’s Lair (log boat) you will make great memories with your kids.

photo courtesy of lancastercountymag.com

While some of the rides are “too” big for adults most rides at Dutch Wonderland are geared for the whole family to enjoy together.

There’s a monorail and the sky ride that take you from one place in the park to another. And from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day splash in Duke’s Lagoon, a water play area. You can even rent (extra charge) a cabana for the day to really relax in the sun.

Exploration Island

The kids will be talking about Exploration Island long after your visit. Discover 22 life-size dinosaurs as you explore (self-guided adventure on this prehistoric path) and learn facts about the different dinosaurs, and you can even hear them roar. After your walk don’t forget to take a ride around the island either by car (where the kids get to drive) or the gondola cruise where everyone gets to relax on the boat ride while looking for dinosaurs.

Don’t forget to take in a show (or all of them) while at Dutch Wonderland. You can choose from a diving show, an adventure about the frog prince, a dragon’s tale, or and musical bear show hosted by Bubba Bear.

There are plenty of places throughout the park to grab a snack or have a meal from indoor sit-down restaurants to healthy choice options to snacks that you can have along the way. All in all, there are 12 places to get something to eat in the park.

Visit their website for ticket information as they have several options to choose from. They even offer a night before preview (3 hours before closing) to visit the park which I totally recommend.

When visiting Dutch Wonderland be sure to spend at least a day in the Amish Country, another great place to take your kids and get some Amish food when you’re there. Be sure to check out my post on where to get the best Amish Food in the area.

4. Amish Country

Horse and buggy

More things to do in Pennsylvania with kids is taking them to Amish Country. There are so many things to see and do there for everyone but I’m only going to mention places where your younger children would enjoy.

Kitchen Kettle

Jam and Jelly Shop

The Jam and Jelly Shop are filled with homemade goods made by the Amish, but your kids will love making their own cookies. Gingerbread cookies are available all year long for your kids to decorate. They get to choose all different color icing and they can make their own creations.

Fudge Shop

The Fudge Shop makes homemade fudge throughout the day. The kids can see and learn how fudge is made and of course try a piece of delicious fudge before they leave.

Kitchen Kettle also offers horse and buggy rides. They have many different (miles and time frames) to choose from. It’s always a fun experience for the kids and every time I’ve been there, the drivers will let the kids ride up with them and steer the horses.

Old Candle Barn

Across the parking lot from Kittle Kettle is the Old Candle Barn. You kids will not really like the main level (that’s for mom to get lost in) but will like to see how candles are made in the downstairs area. They will get to see how the candles are dripped into the different color dyes and see them “hang to dry”. By the way mom, the candles they sell are made all downstairs, so many different types, sizes, and colors and of course, all the “stuff” that goes with candles are sold.

Buggy Rides

The kids will be fascinated to see all the horses and buggies on the roads. They will learn how the Amish live and get around town and survive with no electricity, cable, cars, and internet. There are numerous places in Amish Country to take a buggy ride in an authentic Amish carriage. They will get to see just how fast you can go in a buggy and how much room for the family there really is.

I’ve taken many buggy rides over the years and my kids always loved them. It’s a whole new experience for them and the guide will usually tell you all about the Amish culture.

For information about the places to get these buggy rides and to learn more about the Amish Country look at my post on Things to do in the Amish Country.

Take a Tour of a Farm

Taking a tour of an Amish farm is also a great things to do in Pennsylvania with kids. You get to see all the farm animals and see how an Amish farm works with no modern equipment. You also get to tour an Amish house and the kids will get to see how the Amish live with very few amenities and very different from the way most of us live.

Take Sturgis  Pretzel Tour

This is fun for the kids as they get to see how pretzels were made in the olden days. The tour is given in their original pretzel factory and you will see all the original equipment. So much different from how things are done today. Everyone will learn how to roll and make a pretzel (kids love doing this) and at the end you will get a sample of their hard pretzels and a certificate of your achievements of pretzel making. You can also purchase hot soft pretzel there too.

A fun souvenir to take home (only sold in Pennsylvania) is a bag of horse and buggy pretzels.

5. Kennywood Amusement Park

Kennywood is an old amusement park near Pittsburgh.

Photo courtesy of Kennywood

Although Kennywood features several rides and a roller coaster not suitable for younger children your kids will love Thomas Town.  It’s one of the attractions of the largest Thomas & Friends TM  in the United States.

Come see your friend Thomas the Tank Engine, Cranky, Harold, Flynn, and Diesel.  There are 5 rides and a show in this section of the park

Rides include, of course, a train ride aboard Thomas around the rear of Kennywood with views of the Monongahela River and Edgar Thomas Works, an old steel mill that represents what Pittsburgh is all about, the Steel City.

You can also take a helicopter ride that kids get to pilot, and an interactive ride, Flynn’s Fire Training, where kids get to shoot water on “flames” and put out fires, Diesel Drivers which kids ride in individual train cars, and Cranky’s Drop Tower, a crank ride that will lift your kids above “Thomas Town”.

There is also an interactive live show (check for daily times) narrated by Sir Topham Hatt and features many engines all geared towards younger children.

There are also 12 other kiddie rides at Kennywood that your kids will also like. Some include a carousel, an elephant ride, a plane ride, a trolley ride, a “mini” kids roller coaster, a miniature motorcycle ride and so much more.

For more information about Kennywood and their Covid information and precautions, check out their website

6. Go See the Pennsylvania Elk

Here are free things to do in Pennsylvania with kids, take them to see elk!

Living on the east coast you don’t get a chance to see Elk but if you go to Benezette Pennsylvania and Elk and Cameron Countries you will have a good chance of seeing them in the wild.

During the 1800s elk roamed the east coast with the largest population believed to be in the Allegheny Mountains. But over the years they were hunted and eventually almost exist on the east coast.

Several times Pennsylvania purchased elk from other areas in the country, including Yellowstone, and released them into different areas. However, conflicts occurred with the farmers as the elk were eating crops and the farmers began to hunt them again.

But in the 1980s Pennsylvania established an elk management team and started buying land to keep the elk away from the farms. It has been very successful and today the elk herd in this area has grown to around 1,500 elk.

Here are a few places where you can see elk in Pennsylvania:

Benezette & Elk County

Although the elk herd roams 6 counties in PA the best chance to see an elk is in Benezette and Elk County.

The best time to see them is at dawn and dusk. Also during the rut (September and October) when the elk roam more during the day and it gives you a better chance of seeing elk.

WARNING: Watch from a distance especially if you see 2 male elk fighting (locking antlers). They are wild animals and can be dangerous so please view from a distance and always give all wild animals space.

Elk County Vistior Center, Benezette

Here you can learn all about the Pennsylvania elk and how the state manages the elk herd. Part of this was that “food plots” were planted in several areas to keep the herd feed and this keeps them away from the farmer’s fields.

Elk Viewing Areas

There are 3 food plots outside of the visitors center which gives you a good opportunity to see elk. I would definitely start here. There are also 4 other areas in Benezette where food plots are planted. If you don’t see elk near the visitors center try these other places:

  • Winslow Hill- One mile from the visitors center on Winslow Hill Road
  • Woodring Farm Viewing Area–about 1/2 mile from Winslow Hill is Woodring Farms. There are 2 plots near the road. There is also a viewing platform with great views (go to the scenic overlook).
  • Dents Run Viewing Area–About a mile from Woodring Farm on Winslow Hill Road overlooking a large food plot. There are also picnic tables and benches in this area. This is a large area and elk can be anywhere so look around. A pair of binoculars would come in handy here.
  • Moshannon State Forest Viewing Area–across the river from the Benezett Store is another viewing area. Park in the gravel parking lot and walk down the trail to another large food plot.

All areas are well marked for your convenience.

There are other areas in Pennsylvania to see elk so check the PA state game website to see the locations.

7. Pittsburg Zoo

The Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium houses more than 4000 animals from around the world. The 77-acre zoo is broken down into 8 areas including the PPG Aquarium. It is only one of 6 zoos in the country that also has an aquarium.

The zoo is very popular because the exhibits show animals in their own environment. Here is what you will see at the zoo:

Kid’s Kingdom

An interactive children’s area with a petting zoo, playground, and reptile area. It also has exhibits featuring wildlife that live in Pennsylvania.

PPG Aquarium

This 2 story, 45000 square foot aquarium contains marine fish and aquatic wildlife including a coral reef and open ocean area.

Africian Savanna

This section contains animals such as lions, elephants, zebras, giraffes and makes you feel like you are walking in the African Savanna.

Tropical Forest

Walkthrough this indoor rainforest and discover all the animals, such as monkeys and apes, that survive in the rain forest.

Water’s Edge

Represents a fishing village and has long tunnels with tanks with polar banks and sea otters.

Forest Pottage

Big cats from Asia featuring some endangered animals.

The Islands

Represents an island with a “beach with sand, beach chairs and umbrellas making you feel like you’re on a tropical island with of course tropical aminals.

Jungle Odyssey

Rainforest animals from around the world.

8. Turkey Hill Experience

Check out their website for Covid precaution and to make a reservation (required for entrance). 

Who doesn’t like ice cream? We all scream for ice cream and there is nothing better than Turkey Hill Ice Cream and their other products made in Pennsylvania. The kids will love their visit(and so will you) to the Turkey Hill Experience.

The experience is not a guided tour but several interactive areas of exhibits all about their products and how they are made, including the following:

  • Produce and star in your own TV commercial
  • Milk the mechanical cow
  • Learn how they develop new ice cream flavors and even develop your own virtual flavor too
  • Discover how to make ice cream
  • Learn how to make ice tea
  • Plan on spending around 60-90 minutes on the above activities

They also have other exhibits not included in the experience price ticket and the kids will love these too.

Taste Lab

Make your own flavor of ice cream at the taste lab. You start with the base ice cream then add your own flavors (just like they do in the factory) to make your own and then you get to eat it too! The instructor gives you an
“ice cream class”. You get to add different flavors, candies, and nuts.

You must make a reservation for the taste lab, which costs $10.50 for adults or you can also get a combination ticket with the experience. The Taste Lab takes approximately 45-minutes.

Tea Discovery

Learn all about tea from all places around the world, how it’s made, the different aromas and flavors. This 30-minute experience must be reserved, and you will get to try several different flavors. My favorite is the orange iced tea, what’s yours?

The Tea Discovery is $4.50 per person and you can sign up when you arrive at the Turkey Hill Experience (tickets are not sold online).

Ticket Information

The Turkey Hill Experience tickets are $10.50 for adults, $10 for seniors 62 plus, and juniors 4 to 12. Military and children 3 and under are free.

Combination Turkey Hill experience and Taste Lab combination tickets are $18.95 for adults and juniors, $18.45 for seniors, and $8.95 for military and children 3 and under. The tea Discovery is $4.50 for all tickets.

9. Sesame Street

Want a stress-free vacation with your kids? Well go where they will love it and as parents, you can enjoy a fun-filled family experience. Take your kids to Sesame Street.

Although some rides and attractions will not be operating this year and you will need to make a reservation for the day you want to go (all due to Covid precautions). Your family can still have a blast at Sesame Street.

They offer dry rides only or tickets that include their water park where you can either go in the morning or afternoon. It’s all designed to make the best of what your family is looking for.

With 19 rides and attractions in the amusement section of the park along with shows (the parade and some shows are temporarily closed), you will need a full day to see everything at Sesame Street.

Waterpark rides include many water slides as well as a lazy river. The tidal wave pool, an interactive water play area, and the Count’s splash castle. The water park section is opened from Memorial Day weekend to the weekend after Labor Day.

Want to see your favorite Sesame Street characters, well Dine with Elmo and Friends, is a great opportunity to meet and greet your favorite characters, make sure to bring your camera.

Note: Paid admission is required in addition and the cost of your meal. Reservations are a must.

10. Pocono Mountains Indoor Waterparks

If you are looking for indoor waterparks the Poconos is the place to go. With 4 locations to choose from you can find the place that’s just right for your family.

Kalahari Resort Pocono Manor PA

The largest indoor water park in the Poconos. It’s free if you are staying at the hotel but you can also get day passes (must be reserved) if not a hotel guest. They have numerous water slides, a lazy river, a water play area, a lost lagoon and swim-up bar, a splashdown safari with a tipping bucket, water races, and a water twister ride. They also have an interactive water play area just for the little ones too. You can even become a mermaid or a shark (extra charge) at one of their underwater experience (you must know how to swim).

For more information check their website here.

Split Rock Resort Lake Harmony PA

A full-service resort in the Poconos. The waterpark is for guests but there are also day passes available if the hotel is not fully occupied (call ahead).

The waterpark has three 4-story water slides, a wave pool, an interactive activity pool, a play area with a tipping bucket, and a lily pad crossing area where you jump from one lily pad to another.

Great Wolf Lodge Scotrun, PA

Photo courtesy of Great Wolf Lodge

The Great Wolf Lodge is geared to families with younger children as well as older kids. Families can play together in the wave pool, ride the lazy river, an activity pool, and several water slides rides, and a favorite amongst visitors, the River Canyon Run, a river raft ride.

The Great Wolf Lodge also has a story hour every night where the kids get into their PJs and come to the lobby to listen to the moose tell them a bedtime story.

Camelback Resort and Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark, Tannersville PA

Featuring 13 water slides, this indoor waterpark will give you tons of family fun.

There is so much more than a waterpark here with an indoor rope course, laser tag, an arcade, an escape room, and rock climbing.

It’s a ski area in winter and golf in summer, this resort has it all. They even have a mountain coaster (summer). Check out all the fun here.

Final Thoughts

I hope you liked this list of things to do in Pennsylvania with kids. This is just a drop in the bucket of the many things to do in Pennsylvania with kids. It’s a big state with big cities and mountains and the possibilities for adventure on endless. So visit Pennsylvania, you will love to want to keep going back year after year.

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