Fun Family Weekends in the Keystone State
Parts of Pennsylvania, from the 67,000-acre Pocono region, the state’s summer playground, to the neat farms and unique eats of Pennsylvania Dutch country, seem designed for family fun. After spending a night or two in a yurt, walking with dinosaurs or cooling off in a water park on your weekend getaway, you'll wish two days were a couple of weeks.
Budget-Friendly Outdoor Fun
The small campground at Sizerville State Park (199 E. Cowley Run Rd., Emporium, PA) opens in April and closes mid-December. Use it as a base of operations for hiking, fishing and swimming. Trails range in difficulty from easy walks suitable for the entire family to more difficult hikes with steep elevation gains and difficult terrain. Younger kids can participate in hands-on nature activities or explore the park’s butterfly garden. In October, the park celebrates fall with a festival of old-time skills like crafting and woodcarving.
Treat your family to a stay in a yurt at Bald Eagle State Park (149 Main Park Rd., Howard, PA). The round wood and canvas structures have cooking facilities and electricity that sleep up to six. Bring your boat, or rent one from the concessionaire. An easy trail, created for the preservation of butterflies, winds for 1.5 miles through the park, and harder trails weave through forest and along the lakeshore.
Both parks are open year-round, though some facilities may be closed. During the winter, visitors are invited to ice fish, cross-country ski and ride snowmobiles.
Less than an hour’s drive from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Dutch Country is marked by tidy farms surrounding small cities and back roads traveled by the horse-drawn buggies of the Amish people who have long lived in the area. You’ll find lots of family-friendly attractions.
Kids can make their way through a straw bale tunnel, ride a tractor or race rubber duckies at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm (150 Cherry Hill Rd., Ronks, PA). The farm’s interactive 5-acre Amazing Maize Maze takes between two and four hours to complete, depending on the level of difficulty you choose. Note that the corn maze is closed in the spring. Visit on Saturday; the farm is closed on Sunday and Monday.
You and your family can immerse yourselves in Amish life at the Amish Village (199 Hartman Bridge Rd., Ronks, PA). Sign up for a tour of the farmhouse, ride a bus to off-the-beaten-path sights or take a self-guided tour of the village. The attraction is open daily.
Geared mainly toward younger children, Dutch Wonderland Family Amusement Park (2249 Lincoln Hwy. East, Lancaster, PA) has kid-friendly rides and a small water park. A monorail winds through the park at treetop height, and parents can play with their kids in the Dino Dig and along the Prehistoric Path lined with replicas of dinosaurs.
Note that all of the above attractions, except for self-guided tours of the countryside, charge admission.
Kid-Friendly Pennsylvania Resorts
Book a KidKamp, Wolf Den or KidCabin suite at Great Wolf Lodge (1 Great Wolf Dr., Scotrun, PA), and your kids will have a separate themed area they can call their own. Water park passes, included in the room rate, provide access to the resort’s water slides, lazy river and swimming pools. Activities for younger kids include story time and pajama parties. Older kids can try out a ropes course or speed down a watercourse on a slideboard aiming for colored targets.
Adults who summered in the Poconos as children might feel nostalgic about their childhood after a stay at Woodloch Resort (731 Welcome Lake Rd., Hawley, PA). The all-inclusive resort is a reminder of the day when families enjoyed live entertainment, communal dining and organized activities like scavenger hunts and hayrides—together. Older kids can ride the zip line, steer a kayak or water ski. Accommodations are in standard rooms, suites and guest houses—some lakefront. Woodloch is open year-round; check for any activities if you plan to go during the winter.
- Pennsylvania: Pursue Your Happiness
- Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources: Sizerville State Park
- Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources: Bald Eagle State Park
- Cherry Crest Adventure Farm
- The Amish Village
- Dutch Wonderland Family Amusement Park
- Great Wolf Lodge
- TripAdvisor: Great Wolf Lodge
- TripAdvisor: Woodloch Pines Resort
Meg Jernigan has been writing for more than 30 years. She specializes in travel, cooking and interior decorating. Her offline credits include copy editing full-length books and creating marketing copy for nonprofit organizations. Jernigan attended George Washington University, majoring in speech and drama.