Pennsylvania vacation with kids

Pennsylvania is the Keystone State, the beautiful place where we all come together. And if you’re looking for a vacation spot that’s as diverse as it is awesome, you won’t be disappointed.

Pennsylvania is home to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the country, and the best part is: you don’t have to drive far to get there. The mountains are beautiful in Pennsylvania, and there are plenty to explore. Whether you’re looking for a hike or a bike ride, a weekend getaway or an extended vacation, Pennsylvania has something for everyone.

Pennsylvania has so much to offer: from the bustling city of Philadelphia and its rich history, to the gorgeous mountains of the Pocono region, which are known for their skiing and hiking opportunities. And there’s plenty more in between—like Pittsburgh, which is home to some of the best sports teams around and has some great restaurants to boot.

If you’re looking for something quieter but still urban, check out Lancaster or Allentown—they’re both great spots for foodies or families (and they’re only about an hour apart).

If you want something a little different from what your friends have been telling you about, try out one of these top destinations:

Allegheny National Forest

Allegheny National Forest
Allegheny National Forest

Fill your weekend with outdoor recreation in the Pennsylvania Wilds region in the Allegheny National Forest. Hiking trails in the forest range from less than a mile to 201 miles. The forest is an outdoor enthusiast’s haven with options for cycling, ATV adventures, boating, fishing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, golf, horseback riding, and even skydiving.

The Allegheny River is where you can enjoy days of canoeing and kayaking. Guide services are available and recommended if you are new to navigating the river. Allegheny Outfitters offers watercraft rentals as well as guided adventure trips with experts who grew up in the region. There are trips suitable for every skill level.

Rent a cabin on-site or set up camp at one of the 15 campgrounds in the forest. Each campsite has a picnic table and parking for two vehicles. With more than 1,000 campsites available, reservations are easy. For a truly different kind of camping experience, reserve a spot in one of the five remote campgrounds that are only accessible by boat or hiking trails.

Hershey

Hershey Gardens
Hershey Gardens

There’s a reason that Hershey, Pennsylvania is billed as the sweetest place on earth. That’s because you can fill your sweet craving at every turn, as the city pays homage to the chocolate empire, right down to the Hershey-Kiss-shaped street lamps.

One of the top things to do in Hershey is visit Hersheypark, which has more than 70 rides and live entertainment. The best time to visit is in the summer, when all the attractions are open, including the Boardwalk at Hersheypark.

Perched high on a hill overlooking Hersheypark are the 23-acre Hershey Gardens. Chocolate magnate Milton S. Hershey created these as a gift to the community, and you can explore five themed gardens filled with botanical beauty.

Next to Hersheypark is Hershey’s Chocolate World, which will fill several hours as you learn about the history of Hershey’s candy with interactive exhibits and rides. Take advantage of the free tours that end with samples of chocolate. Be sure to get a photo to take home as you pose with a larger-than-life Hershey’s candy bar.

If the weather cooperates, hop on the Hershey Trolley Works to get a guided ride and tour through Chocolate Town, USA. This is a fun excursion led by entertaining conductors who are informed about the rich history of this unique place.

The star of Hershey is The Spa at Hotel Hershey® where you can spend several days basking in chocolate wraps and scrubs to relax. This is an ideal place to visit for a romantic getaway or a solo retreat.

Ski Weekend

Aerial view of Jack Frost Big Boulder ski resort in Pennsylvania
Aerial view of Jack Frost Big Boulder ski resort in Pennsylvania

There are quite a few options for a ski weekend getaway in Pennsylvania. With more than 20 ski resorts throughout the state, you can take in the great mountaintop views and find on-site lodging all in one place. Each of Pennsylvania’s ski resorts have something different to offer.

Blue Mountain Resort in the Poconos region has 40 ski runs and the state’s largest vertical drop. Camelback Mountain Resort, also in the Poconos, is a full-service resort with convenient lodging right at the bottom of the ski hill and an indoor waterpark that is popular for families.

In the Allegheny region, Blue Knob resort has 34 runs, a terrain park, and tubing. Seven Springs resort is only about an hour from Pittsburgh and has six terrain parks and 41 ski slopes and several types of lodging options.

Elk Mountain Ski Resort is ideal for a weekend getaway if you want to be more remote. It is located beyond the Pocono Mountains with a lot of natural snow on the slopes covering a wide area in the wilderness.

Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh offers so many things to do that it’s nearly impossible to tackle them all in a weekend. But if you only have a few days to spare, you can explore Pittsburgh through a creative tour like the Pittsburgh Art in Public Places Downtown Tour, ‘Burgh Bits and Bites Food Tour, Architectural Walking Tour, River of Steel Heritage Tour, or Bike the Burgh Tour.

In Pittsburgh, it’s easy to theme your weekend around sports. You can take in an NFL Pittsburgh Steelers game, hit the ballpark to see the Pittsburgh Pirates, or enjoy an ice hockey game with the Pittsburgh Penguins. When you are not at a game, the Heinz History Center-Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum and Engine House No. 25 each showcase sports memorabilia collections.

Art fanatics can fill a weekend with unique pop-culture. The Andy Warhol Museum houses countless originals from this popular American painter who was born in Pittsburgh, and the Mattress Factory has a one-of-a-kind art experience that will get you in touch with your creative side. Watch as artists-in-residency create and execute new contemporary artwork installations in front of the public.

For the best view of Pittsburgh, visit the Duquesne Incline that takes you by cable car to the top of Mount Washington. The most picturesque time to go is at sunset, when the city lights are reflecting off Pittsburgh’s three rivers.

Philadelphia

Independence Hall in Philadelphia
Independence Hall in Philadelphia

A weekend in the birthplace of America requires some pre-planning to make the most of your time. If this is your first visit to Philadelphia, it is worth exploring the historic parts of the city.

You will want to fit in a visit to the Independence National Historical Park, the Liberty Bell Center, National Constitution Center, and the Betsy Ross House. Elfreth’s Alley is also worth your time. It is America’s oldest residential street, with brick walkways and structures that date back to 1720 and 1830.

The Philadelphia Zoo, considered America’s first zoo, is a fun detour from the historic scene surrounding the city. The zoo has unique animal viewing exhibits like Zoo360, which is the world’s first natural habitat system, with mesh trails that completely surround you.

The best view of Philly is without a doubt from the One Liberty Observation Deck, which lets you view the city from 57 floors above the ground. The deck is open 365 days a year, so it’s easy to include this stop in your visit.

Gettysburg

Gettysburg
Gettysburg

Historic Gettysburg is known for its Civil War battlefield tours and reenactments, but there are now more active ways of touring the sites. You can explore the town on a guided tour or pick up a map and head out on your own.

Pack your bike for a tour of the battlefield with an organized trip through GettysBike Tours or get a taste of Pennsylvania’s Dutch Country Roads with a bike ride along part of 26-miles of roads in the Gettysburg National Military Park. You can choose to travel with a National Park Service Ranger on a tour through the battlefield and Cemetery Ridge for an in-depth look at this piece of American history. Programs change seasonally.

For an unconventional way to see the town, take a nighttime ghost tour with a stop at the Jennie Wade House, the home of the only civilian casualty of Gettysburg. To truly get into the historic mood of the destination, be sure to enjoy the growing culinary scene by having lunch or dinner at a restaurant that features farm-to-table dishes or period and historic fare.

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