Family-Friendly Attractions in Pennsylvania

From crayons to canoes, bumper boats to Big Bird, Pennsylvania offers a bounty of fun, educational activities for children young and old. Whether families prefer the energy of the city or the peace of the country, or both, Pennsylvania is the place for family-friendly fun.



people enjoying hersheypark lightning racing roller coaster
Hersheypark® | Credit: Visit Hershey Harrisburg

Since its opening in 1907, Hersheypark® transitioned over the years from a relaxing park with baseball, picnics and canoeing to the thrilling amusement park it is today with 13 roller coasters and more than 65 other rides and attractions. From the Sooper Dooper Looper, the first looping roller coaster on the East Coast, to the Cocoa Cruiser for the kids, there is something for everyone to enjoy at Hersheypark®. In the summer of 2016, a new indoor/outdoor waterpark will open at the Hershey Lodge, Hershey’s Water Works. The waterpark will feature a zero-entry pool, slides, water play features and a splash pad.

The Crayola Experience®


people sitting near colossal caddy
The Crayola Experience®

Ever wondered how Crayola® makes their crayons? See it right before your eyes at The Crayola Experience®, a hands-on discovery center for children and adults. Explore the magic of color and experiment with innovative art techniques at this playful museum. With younger visitors in mind, Crayola® added The Color Park, a section of the factory for preschoolers, which includes a ball play area and a soft play area for children ages two and under.

Sesame Place


kids hugging elmo charatcer
Sesame Place

It’s the perfect time, and they’re the perfect age, for Sesame Place®, the nation’s only theme park based entirely on Sesame Street®. So before little children become big kids, bring the entire family to whirl on rides, splash down slides and hug everyone’s favorite furry friends. Don’t miss Cookie’s Monster Land, the furriest land ever, or the special opportunity to meet, greet and eat with Elmo & Friends! Get ready to sing, dance and clap along at daily character shows, like “Elmo the Musical–Live at Sesame Place!,” and the spectacular Neighborhood Street Party Parades™. So go before they grow™ to the nation’s only theme park based entirely on Sesame Street.

Knoebels Amusement Park


People riding Phoenix roller coaster at Knoebels Amusement Park
Knoebels Amusement Park

Nestled among the trees of central Pennsylvania, Knoebels is a family favorite amusement park! Enthusiasts have touted the rides at Knoebels including The Haunted Mansion, named in several publications as one of the best dark rides anywhere; The Grand Carousel, one of the largest in the world; and The Phoenix, which has been ranked among the top ten wooden roller coasters by the Los Angeles Times. To top it off, Knoebels admission is always free!

Woodloch Pines Resort


woodloch pines resort
Woodloch Pines Resort

The Woodloch Pines Resort is a family-oriented, year-round resort that lies in the Pocono Mountains. Parents magazine acclaimed Woodloch as "one of America's favorite vacation resorts." Various family-friendly activities at this resort include a Pre-K activity center, boat rides, bocce ball, bumper boats and cars, canoeing, children's arts/crafts, scavenger hunts, mini-golf, nature trails, Woodloch family olympics, fitness classes and more. After a day of intense family fun, parents can relax in Woodloch’s spa, rated the #4 Destination Spa in the World by Travel + Leisure and the #2 Family Resort in America by TripAdvisor.

Strasburg Rail Road


strasburg Rail Road Locomotive Engine
Strasburg Rail Road™

Since the 1850s Strasburg Rail Road™ was used for various purposes including passenger and freight transportation and interchange. Now it serves as a tourist attraction where visitors can experience fun attractions while simultaneously learning about steam railroading. Not only can guests take a trip in the authentically restored coal-burning steam train, but they can also operate the hand-powered Pump Car. Your little one can hit the rails with Thomas the Tank Engine and his pal Percy as the Strasburg Rail Road™ presents a special Day Out With Thomas™.

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom®


Kid riding carousel at Dorney Park and WildWater Kingdom
Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom® | Credit: Discover Lehigh Valley - ColinColeman

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom® offers myriad possibilities for family fun. Guests can enjoy nine thrill rides, eight roller coasters and more than three dozen slides, pools and water play areas in Wildwater Kingdom. Kids can have fun in Planet Snoopy — the PEANUTS-themed park just for kids.

The Houdini Tour & Magic Show


woman performing magic show
The Houdini Tour & Magic Show

The Houdini Tour & Magic Show is a non-stop spectacle held in the world's only building devoted to Harry Houdini, one of the most famous magicians of all time. Now visitors of all ages can be stunned by the noted professional magician, tour the fascinating world of Houdini with a fun guided tour and witness the rarest film footage of Houdini’s escapes.

The Hershey Story®


Kids Chocolate Tasting activity Hershey Story
The Hershey Story®

The Hershey Story® allows visitors to take a journey through the legacy of Milton S. Hershey, as well as the town, school and history he created. Highlighting this American entrepreneur’s rags to riches story, the museum tells the tale of how he revolutionized the process of chocolate making and allows visitors to explore the unique qualities of chocolate through playful, hands-on experiences and interactive demonstrations. Guaranteed to bring out the kid in everyone, the museum’s Chocolate Lab offers participatory classes such as tempering, molding, dipping and even making chocolate from scratch.

Please Touch Museum


Kids playing inside Please Touch Museum
Please Touch Museum® | Credit: M Edlov for Visit Philadelphia

Home to eight interactive exhibit zones, the Please Touch Museum® is the perfect place for families with children to learn and discover. River Adventures takes kids on a journey down the river to explore science, nature and weather, and in the Wonderland exhibit, children can weave through a circular maze and enjoy a nice break in the Tea Party. The must-see Hamilton Hall features a 40-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty's arm and torch created out of toys, games and other objects assembled by local artist Leo Sewell. Starting this year is Please Touch Museum® First Wednesdays. On the first Wednesday of every month, visitors who arrive between 4 — 7 p.m. receive a discounted admission of $2 per person.

Carnegie Science Center


Kids playing at Carnegie Science Center
Carnegie Science Center

Located in Pittsburgh's historic North Side, the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh offers interactive exhibits for the young tinkerer, artist and more. In the Garage, children can roll up their sleeves and investigate many things that drive, fly and roll. Get behind the wheel or fill up the gas tank on a real SmartforTwo car. Children can even experience the joy of their favorite author through Very Eric Carle: A Very Hungry, Quiet, Lonely, Clumsy, Busy Exhibit. This play-and-learn exhibit allows children to immerse themselves in the stories of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Quiet Cricket, The Very Lonely Firefly, The Very Clumsy Click Beetle and The Very Busy Spider.

Elk Country Visitor Center


Elk statue infront of Elk County Visitor Center
Elk County Visitor Center

Situated on 245 acres within the heart of Pennsylvania's elk range and within the Elk State Forest, the Elk Country Visitor Center is the premier conservation education facility in the entire eastern United States. Families visiting the center can learn about Pennsylvania’s elk population through interpretive exhibits, interactive 4-D theater presentations and exciting tours of the region to catch a glimpse of the largest elk herd east of the Mississippi.

Dutch Wonderland


People riding roller coaster at Dutch Wonderland
Dutch Wonderland

Designed for families with young children, Dutch Wonderland hosts an array of attractions including live entertainment, more than 30 rides and a water play area. Guests can enjoy Exploration Island, a rediscovered island full of lifelike dinosaurs. Young explorers can learn about the history of more than 15 dinos while digging up fossils at the interactive Dino Dig, walking along the Prehistoric Path, or embarking on the Gondola Cruise. Dutch Wonderland has consistently been recognized as a premier family amusement park and was voted one of the Top 5 Best Kid’s Parks in the World by Amusement Today magazine.

The Franklin Institute


Kids enjoying The Franklin Institute a center for science and education
The Franklin Institute | Credit: J Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Founded in honor of America’s first scientist, Benjamin Franklin, The Franklin Institute is one of America’s oldest and premier centers of science education and development in the country. Think about how you think at the Franklin Institute's newest–and biggest–exhibition, Your Brain. Explore the brain at the cellular level, learn how it controls your body and cognitive functions, and consider the field of neuroethics as the discoveries in brain science rapidly advance.

The Turkey Hill® Experience


kid getting hands on experience at Turkey Hill factory tour
The Turkey Hill® Experience

The Turkey Hill® Experience allows visitors to learn everything there is to know about dairy culture and the history of Turkey Hill® itself. Through interactive exhibits, visitors can discover the intricate details of creating Turkey Hill® ice cream and tea. Children and adults alike can even take a shot at the process themselves by milking mechanical cows or concocting their own ice cream flavor in Turkey Hill’s® Taste Lab.

Hands-on House, Children’s Museum


Kids getting hands on experience at Hands-on house childrens museum
Hands-on House, Children's Museum

Hands-on House is designed for children ages two to 10 to learn, explore and play. The exhibits, classes and programs are short on lectures and long on interactive and participatory activities. While the exhibits change regularly, the experiences are always hands-on and self-guided.

To learn about more family-friendly attractions in PA, check out the pahappythoughts website. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to stay up-to-date on even more great ideas and places to visit around our state. Don’t forget to never miss an update and sign up for our monthly Happy Thoughts e-newsletter.