6 Perfect Destinations For Families Visiting Pennsylvania
From peaceful walks through historic small towns, to the thrill of kayaking a scenic waterway, the traveler in Pennsylvania has a varied assortment of possible destinations. One may discover beauty in both the natural landscape and the centuries-old architecture. In no particular order, here are a few ideal locations to visit within The Keystone State.
Starting off the list at #1, the city of Philadelphia is home to a wide array of outdoor attractions, historical sites, seasonal events, museums, hotels, restaurants, and breweries. Must-see monuments and buildings in the area include Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution were debated and adopted, and the Liberty Bell, one of the iconic symbols of American freedom.
Philadelphia's Fairmount Park contains more than 2,000 acres of lush urban green space, as well as a collection of public art and the country's first zoo. History and architecture buffs will enjoy the many 18th and 19th-century homes, found throughout the park, that once served as summer villas for wealthy Philadelphians. The city is also the birthplace of several culinary creations, with perhaps the most famous being the cheesesteak. Local eateries, like Campo's and the iconic Pat's, have been serving up the sandwich for generations.
At #2, Washington County is a family destination boasting unique shopping opportunities and historical sites, as well as vibrant arts, entertainment, dining, sports, and outdoor attractions. Monthly events highlight the best of each of the area's offerings. Visitors can discover the area via Haunted History Walking Tours, which begin at the historic Bradford House, or the Washington Antiques Fair, which showcases the most significant and rare items from many local sellers and shops.
At the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, visitors can experience living history through scenic rides on vintage streetcars. There are several trolleys on display, along with films and exhibits. Washington County is also home to 23 historic covered bridges, including the Ebenezer Bridge. The SpringHouse restaurant and bakery prepares smokehouse meats, baked goods, and farm-fresh milk in an old-time country setting. Meanwhile, families may tour the Washington County Courthouse, built in 1900, with its stately architecture and landscaping.
Coming in at #3 is Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve. Located in Bucks County's historic Pidcock Creek Valley, the Preserve strives to inspire the appreciation and use of native plants by serving as a sanctuary and an educational resource for conservation and stewardship. Miles of trails lead visitors through forest, meadow, and wetland settings that host hundreds of native plant species.
A variety of educational and interpretive experiences are geared toward everyone from preschoolers to professionals, and include guided walks, classes about native plants and pollinators, and conferences. The center's Native Plant Nursery grows more than 200 local species, including cardinal flowers, Virginia bluebells, and butterfly weeds. Many are available to take home for sowing.
Next at #4 is Lebanon Valley. The South Central Pennsylvania community describes itself as the area's "premier destination for exploration and adventure." Featuring both outdoor activities in the county's picturesque landscape, and a small town charm that includes a wealth of 18th-century architecture, Lebanon Valley is a year-round destination for those who enjoy both recreation and learning.
Families can hike or bike the area's parks and trails, abundant with local wildlife. One notable path is the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail. This mixed-use greenway offers users of all ages and abilities the opportunity to explore the natural, social, and industrial history of the area. Sporting individuals can enjoy kayaking adventures in one of Lebanon Valley's many creeks and lakes. History buffs, meanwhile, will appreciate the community's original buildings and homes, such as the Chestnut Street Log House, which was built around 1772.
In at #5, the Everhart Museum of Natural History, Science & Art was founded in 1908, and is one of the oldest museums in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The initial natural history collections were provided by Dr. Isaiah Fawkes Everhart, a Scranton physician and Civil War veteran. Originally containing the physician's own taxidermy birds and other specimens, the institution has since grown to include classical paintings, as well as folk art from around the world.
Permanent exhibits at the Museum include the Fossil Gallery, which houses specimens spanning the Cambrian to the Quaternary period. Here, guests can see a fully-articulated Stegosaurus and a Tyrannosaurus rex skull. The Bird Gallery features a large selection of birds and mammals, including several extinct and endangered species.
Lastly, at #6 is Historic Kennett Square. Established in 1855, the one-half-square-mile district is part of Kennett Township in southern Chester County. The area contains a variety of historic homes, as well as several restaurants, shops, hotels, and parks. A walking tour of the district reveals many of the prominent houses and buildings, including the Chalfant Mansion. There's also Longwood Gardens, which lets guests hike over a thousand acres of lush meadows and woodlands.
Kennett Square claims to be the "Mushroom Capital of the World," producing half of America's mushrooms. One may get a taste of the local export at restaurants like Portabellos, with several menu selections that feature the regional fungi. Visitors may also take in a guided food tour that highlights the local eateries and winery tasting rooms.