It is with both excitement and terror I admit that summer is upon us. Summer is a mixed bag in our family because, while my kids and teacher husband enjoy the time off, my job gets a little more difficult with the addition of several school age kids to the daycare. Overall it’s a good time, I take a good bit of time off to travel and spend time with my family and we usually make out just fine in the daycare though it’s a stretch some days. 😉
Today’s post is geared more to our Central PA peeps but anyone visiting PA or the surrounding area in the near future should pin this baby for later! We have visited the majority of the places I’m going to mention with our children and the others come very highly recommended from family and friends. I’m actually pretty excited because I’m working with a few of the places on sponsored posts! We’re going to be visiting them early this summer and I’ll be posting to Instagram and Twitter throughout the day and then writing a full recap post after. One of them I haven’t visited since I was a teenager so I can’t wait! Be sure to keep an eye out for those in the coming weeks.
I’m going to start close to home and work my way ‘out’. Where we live in PA is almost the perfect center of the state. We’re very much in the middle of nowhere but we’re also within 2-3 hours from several destinations filled with loads of family fun so lets get going!
1. First up is Delgrosso’s Amusement Park in Tipton, PA.
This one is by far the closest and is frequented by our family each season. The best part of this small family owned park is FREE admission! Yep! If you’re not riding, you don’t have to pay! They offer all you can ride passes but also sell good ol’ tickets! This works great when you’re just driving by and the kids ask to stop and ride a ‘few’ rides. It’s also nice if you have little kidos because you can buy a band for them and just get yourself a few tickets to take them on the Tilt-a-Whirl and Train Ride. Our kids have reached the point where they really don’t need us to ride with them so other than a few rides when they need an adult along, we only have to pay for the kids, which is great.
They also offer an impressive water park that is currently under a massive expansion. While you will have to pay if you choose to ‘slide’ it’s definitely worth it and your paid admission is all you can ‘ride and slide’ in both areas of the park. This year they’re debuting a brand new ride, Rock Star, and I can’t wait to try it out!
Delgrosso’s is one of the parks we’re working with on another post so be sure to check back soon for a full post all about our day riding and sliding at Delgrosso’s Amusement Park!
2. Next up on our list of family fun is Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center!
Located in Petersburg, PA (just a short drive from State College, PA) and run by Penn State University, Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center is a great stop for families because it’s educational and, best of all, FREE!
We visited with our kids a while back and are planning to return soon because our kids loved it! The Raptor Center features over 20 non-releasable birds of prey that live on site. They also enjoyed the Discovery Room that has more live animal exhibits as well as many hands-on activities for children to enjoy. We finished up our visit with a walk on one of the hiking trails but they also offer native gardens, picnic areas, a gift shop and plenty of space to rest, relax, and take in the beauty of Central PA… if your kids will let you!
3. The third ‘stop’ on our Central PA tour of family fun: Baseball!!
Central PA is home to two minor league baseball teams the Altoona Curve (AA Affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates) and the State College Spikes (Single A (short season) Affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals). Both are incredibly family friendly and boast Kid Zones and frequent post game fireworks displays. We haven’t taken our kids yet, our oldest are girls with ZERO interest in baseball so we were holding off purposely. That said, husband and I have been to a few Curve games and had a great time. You obviously know your crew so if baseball is on your list, you have two options and the price is definitely right!
4. Next up: Swimming, boating, and fishing fun at Raystown Lake
Raystown Lake is a flood control project maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers. It offers a large public swimming area, marina, camping areas, cabins, hiking and bike trails, concession stands and much more. We spent one summer driving out there to swim multiple times each week and the kids loved it. If you’re into boating and/or fishing this is the place for you! While you’re there, keep your eyes peeled for one of the Bald Eagles that have made the lake their home!
5. A little further away but still a day trip: Hershey PA
Hersheypark, a 110‐acre theme park with more than 70 rides and attractions, will welcome its 13th roller coaster, Laff Trakk, in 2015. With more than 20 kiddie rides, live daily entertainment, 38 family games, 46 food and beverage locations and 26 retail venues, there is something for everyone. Three family attractions ‐ Cocoa Cruiser, a family gravity roller coaster; Tea Cups, an iconic family ride; and Sweet Swing, a large bench swing with two sides ‐ were added for the 2014 season along with new culinary favorites including the legendary Philadelphia/South Jersey eatery, Chickie’s & Pete’s, and a frozen yogurt stand.
Your paid admission gets you access to Hersheypark including all the rides, attractions and entertainment as well as The Boardwalk at Hersheypark. With its nine unique water attractions and 29 private rental cabanas, The Boardwalk at Hersheypark is open daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
You also get admission to ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park, an 11 acre, walkthrough zoo that cares for more than 200 animals representing more than 60 species.
Talk about bang for your buck huh? Good thing they offer two day passes! I’m thinking dry park one day and The Boardwalk and ZooAmerica the next? 😉
6. Could still be a day trip but we prefer to make it a weekend: Pittsburgh Zoo & Children’s Museum
A few years ago we took the girls to Pittsburgh and visited the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium and the Children’s Museum. I have since recommended both places to every person I’ve spoken to asking for good ideas for littles in the Pittsburgh area. We LOVED both places and will go back if we’re ever in the area again.
The Pittsburgh Zoo falls under great bang for your buck because it’s a zoo but also has a small aquarium on site. We went on a weekday but I was thrilled with the lack of crowds, we pretty much had the place to ourselves. I also loved that most of the animal exhibits had multiple viewing spots so when you couldn’t spot the animal at one, in most cases you could at one of the others. The best part? Admission is $15 or less, can’t beat that!
The Children’s Museum is just wonderful in every way. I’m sure my Early Childhood Education background fuels that some but it truly is a child’s paradise! They can do and touch everything! It’s so nice taking your kids somewhere and not needing to have ‘Don’t touch that!’ on repeat. Word of the wise… bring a change of clothes.
7. Last but certainly not least the Philadelphia Area
Because my husband was born about 15 minutes from the city, we frequent this area regularly. So often in fact, that we purchase the Philadelphia Zoo membership. If we’re there visiting his family, and the weather is decent, we head to the zoo. The kids love it and we’re getting more for our money. Their Big Cat Crossing exhibit, which is part of Zoo360, just won USA Today’s Best Zoo Exhibit award! It really is quite impressive when you’re walking through a zoo and look up to see a Tiger walking above you.
They just opened Gorilla Treeway which is the same type of exhibit, but for the gorillas. Can’t wait to see this one on our next visit. It is quite expansive and as you’re walking through the tree covered peacefulness of the zoo, enjoying the animals, you forget you’re in the middle of the city!
Next up is the Please Touch Museum which is also VERY high on my list of recommendations for littles. For all the same reasons as the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum, the Please Touch Museum is a wonderland for Children. Impressively large and absolutely filled with fun, hands on, activities for children. Check their website for a full list of exhibits but same story with the change of clothes…for the same reason. 😉
We’ve also taken the trip across the bridge to Camden, NJ to visit the Adventure Aquarium. I love an aquarium so this one was a no brainer for us. The kids had a great time and mommy got to be in her happy place. Most impressive exhibits, in my opinion, are the Shark Realm, the very large hippo habitat called Hippo Haven, and the KidZone which provides multiple kid-friendly activities for children to enjoy.
There really is much to do in the Philly area but I’m trying to shoot for things geared more for the little guys. So my last stop is going to be Sesame Place in Langhorne PA. This is one place we haven’t visited ourselves. For various reasons, we’ve just always missed it but, because it has come so highly recommended by close family and friends, I’m going to include it. If your crew includes a fan(s) of Sesame Street, this one is probably a no brainer for you. If you’ve been there please comment with any good tips you may have, other readers would love to hear about your experience!
Well, that’s it! My list of family fun in (and around) Central PA. If you have any questions, or anything to add, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment, I’m always open to new fun to share with my kids!
Wishing you lots of summer fun!