Family travel in Pennsylvania: the 50 state series

by Sheila on August 5, 2009

by Sheila | August 5th, 2009  

Love in Pennsylvania (courtesy mezone at Flickr CC)Every Tuesday until we run out of states, I plan to post about family-friendly vacation ideas, attractions and events in each one of the US states, taking input mostly from Twitter and Facebook.

Yes, I know how to search for travel ideas on a destination or attraction Web site, but a tweet or a Facebook Wall recommendation is a much more engaging and public way to spread the word.

Please don’t email suggestions to me; that’s nice but it is one-to-one communication. Tweet me and/or Facebook me, so that all of our networks can see what’s cool about your state.

We’re going in alphabetical order but started with the end, so our first state for the series was Wyoming, then we investigated Wisconsin , West Virginia , Washington, Virginia, Vermont, Utah, Texas, Tennessee, South Dakota, South Carolina, Rhode Island and now we’re moving on to….Pennsylvania!

I was inundated this week by social media-savvy Pennsylvania folks and their input….hurray!

Their state tourism organization is on Twitter at @PATourismPR (update – and for more visitor info see @VisitPA.)  They aren’t on They are on Facebook at the VisitPA Facebook page, and so is Pennsylvania State Parks.

When I asked for ideas, here’s what came in….

Twitter Travel Tips for Pennsylvania

***  From Philadelphia Tourism via @VisitPhilly on Twitter  –  I brought my nephew to Smith’s Play Place in Philly’s Fairmount Park. Tricycles in Smithville were a hit! Smith: The Kid’s Play Place in the Park.   Also brought brought my nephews to Please Touch Museum (recently reopened.)

***  From Kimberley Kradel via @ArtistAtLarge on Twitter  — Don’t know if it’s still a favorite, but when I was a kid in West PA, my favorite was a day at Kennywood on the old roller coasters! [Yes, it is still there!]

***  From Wendy Perrin via @WendyPerrin on Twitter  — My 3 boys’ fave family-friendly event in PA is “A Day Out With Thomas [the Tank Engine]” in Strasburg http://www.strasburgpa.com. We go every September.

***  From Kayt Sukel via @TravelSavvyKayt on Twitter  — Love the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh. Also partial to Kennywood amusement park.

***  From the Philadelphia Federal Reserve via @PhiladelphiaFed on Twitter  — Check out the Philadelphia Fed’s free lobby exhibit “Money-in-Motion.” Next to the Constitution Center:  http://www.philadelphiafed.org/education/money-in-motion.

***  From Kristin at Visit Pittsburgh via @Kristin_VstPgh on Twitter  — Pittsburgh has great family friendly attractions. Visit http://www.visitpittsburgh.com.

***  From Bill Church via @BillChurch64 on Twitter  — Steelers camp (now open,) Latrobe, historic Kennywood Amusement Park, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh inclines, Daffins Candy, Sharon.

***  From Kim Haynes Hollenshead via @Kim_Hollenshead on Twitter  — Can you add a tour of Herr Foods in Nottingham PA? http://www.herrs.com/SnackFactoryTours.html Nothing’s better than a hot/fresh chip!

***  From Independent Traveler via @TravelEditor on Twitter  — Family-friendly Philly: http://www.independenttraveler.com/resources/article.cfm?AID=626&category=39 Beyond Philly: Sesame Place, Hershey Park, Crystal Cave, Crayola Factory.

***  From hchybinski via @hchybinski on Twitter  — for family-friendly travel in Philly,  check out the @pleasetouch if you have young ones – there is discounted admission on certain evenings.

***  From Happenings Magazine via @HappeningsMag on Twitter  — Coal Mine, Steamtown, Trolley Museum, Woodloch, Susquehanna & Delaware River Trip, Circle Drive In Theater, Split Rock.

***  From Annie Heckenberger via @anniemal on Twitter  — Support PA! In Philly: Smith’s Playground, Franklin Square Park and Franklin Fountain Ice Cream Parlor are great family spots!

***  From MechTeach via @mechteach on Twitter  — summer weekend deals at Seven Springs, children’s and science museums in Pittsburgh, fall festival at Hartwood Acres.

Facebook Travel Tips for Pennsylvania

***  From Sarah Vela on Facebook – Sesame Place – haven’t been in about 8 years, but it was a nice theme park. Not too overwhelming.

***  From Marilyn McCray on Facebook  –  I’m sure you got Hershey PA with Hershey Park and the Hershey Zoo but they also own another park, Dutch Wonderland, aimed at a younger audience. Not to be missed in Hershey is Chocolate World. Since the factory tours are no longer offered, the Hershey company hired some of the designers from Disney to create a ride that takes people through the process of making chocolate candy. see http://www.hersheypa.com.

***  From Mara Gorman on Facebook  –  Where to start? OK, I’ll pick one: Longwood Gardens, which has both an outdoor and an indoor children’s garden, one of the world’s most beautiful conservatories, and enough fountains to satisfy young and old (some of them are even coordinated to music). See my post about it at http://www.motherofalltrips.com/2008/09/out-and-about-with-kids-welcoming-fall-at-longwood-gardens.html.

***  From Peter Justen on Facebook  –  I’d have to go with the Ligonier area. Beautiful scenery, tons of family activities, relatively inexpensive….not sure how old your kids are but there is a great theme park for the little guys…

***  From Lucy Baker on Facebook  –   Story Book Forest at Idlewild Park in Ligonier, PA. Used to go there as a kid every summer — and it’s still there! Video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hn7cbFaKmwM

***  From Kelly Phillips Erb on Facebook  –  PA has great family friendly destinations! All things Philly: zoo, Liberty Bell, Reading Terminal, City Hall (can tour the top), Art Museum, Franklin Institute.  A Phillies game (or even cheaper, a minor league game at Reading, Hershey or Lancaster.)
– Valley Forge
– Longwood Gardens (nifty indoor children’s garden + one outside)
– Hershey Park
– Family White Water Rafting on the Lehigh River (took my 5 and 7 year olds, they had a blast)
– Hawk Mountain
– Camping and fishing in any of the 120 state parks
– Morris Arboretum (the new tree house is AMAZING)
– Pittsburgh (incline, zoo)

***  From Jeremiah McEnerney on Facebook  — Its a big state, and to many, it’s like three different ones: Philly, Pittsburgh and Central PA.  (We didn’t spend too much time in Pittsburgh.)
For central PA:
1. Harrisburg Senators game on City Island in the middle of the Susquehanna River…fun just to get there.
2. PA Farm Show at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. Always a hoot.
3. Central PA is big on fruit. Apple Fairs in the Fall, and for a special kick, go to the Utz Potato Chip Factory in Hanover, Pennsylvania. Fresh potato chips never tasted so good!
4. Gettysburg…walking Picketts Charge gives quite a sense of drama of it all, or standing in the place where Lincoln said the Gettysburg Address.
5. Hershey Park.
6. See the championship double AA Hershey Bears hockey team.

In Philly:
1. The Army-Navy [football] Game, when it’s there.
2. Franklin Institute
3. Commodore Perry’s footsteps from the USS Olympia. “You may fire when ready, Gridley”.
4. Constitution Hall and the Liberty Bell.

Whew, thanks, everyone!

On the BootsnAll Travel Network, here is the Pennsylvania Travel Guide.

Thanks so much for the contributions – the next state in the series is Oregon.

Send your Oregon highlights to @SheilaS on Twitter or write them on my Facebook Wall (please tell me you’re a 50 state-er if you want to friend me.)

My purpose for this series is not only to highlight worthy kid-friendly vacation destinations in all 50 states, but by using Twitter and Facebook I want to also encourage tourism organizations to learn more about connecting with their visitors using social media and online networks.

Please add your own Pennsylvania suggestions in the comments below, if we’ve missed anything. Thanks!


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{ 4 comments }

Linda August 6, 2009 at 8:08 am
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Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia is the best children’s museum we’ve been to, and we’ve been to a lot.

Utz Factory Tour in Hanover is kid-friendly and allows you to see the making of a potato chip from beginning to end.

Driving the Lincoln Highway is a step back in time and a way to get off the turnpike. Get the activity book for kids before you go.

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Sheila August 6, 2009 at 8:56 am
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Thanks very much, Linda. I wasn’t familiar with the Lincoln Highway until I started planning a Texas-Chicago road trip and looked beyond the better-known Route 66 for inspiration.

(…and that’s high praise for Please Touch!)

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Laurel Highlands August 6, 2009 at 3:52 pm
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The Laurel Highlands offers wonderful family activities. From hiking and biking, to whitewater rafting, as well as Idlewild and SoakZone as mentioned, and so much more. We would love to hear from you regarding your adventures in the Laurel Highlands. Visit http://www.laurelhighlands.org, or our blog at http://www.insidelaurelhighlands.org for more information.

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Eve White August 10, 2009 at 4:48 pm
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Very cute pic. I love it!!!

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