Weekends are for Getaways – Ideas by Age Group

Choosing the perfect summer getaway for your family is a difficult decision. Many factors weigh into the choice, such as driving distance, each family member’s unique interests, and, of course, budget. Age appropriateness of the destinations should also be considered, and we’ve got you covered! Here are four summer, weekend getaways to please children of each age group.

2 and 3-year-olds

Lancaster, Pennsylvania
At this age, it’s all about pretend play, and your child’s fill of it exists in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Start a long weekend with a trip to the heart of Dutch Country, and spend the day at Tiny Town, an indoor play center that replicates an entire kid-sized city block. A salon, fire station, library, hospital, and more line the walls of this beautifully renovated former factory building outside of the city.

Hands on House, a few miles north of Tiny Town, hosts another set of pretend play opportunities, including a full-size tractor with farm activities, play factory, grocery store, and dress-up stage. An outdoor garden provides additional play space during the warmer months.

The grand finale of the weekend is a day at Dutch Wonderland, an amusement park that is the ideal size for the younger crowd. Heaps of kiddie and family-friendly rides greet you as you walk through the castle doors, including favorites like the train, log flume, and antique cars. Enjoy time cooling off in Duke’s Lagoon, the water play section of the park. Then, listen to a story read by a princess, or sit in the splash zone at the diving show. This year, the park opened a new suspended family roller coaster which simulates a magical journey with Merlin the Magician, in search of his fun-loving, but mischievous, dragon friend named Mayhem.

4 and 5-year-olds

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Building, discovering, and learning await this age group with a trip to Philadelphia. Outside the city, in Plymouth Meeting Mall, Legoland Discovery Center brings Lego-fun alive for your child.  Enter the Discovery Center via a train ride with interactive magic wands and emerge in Legoland with attractions that include tons of building stations, a multi-story indoor playground, a 4D theater, and a laser maze. The mall also boasts a double decker indoor carousel, a fun way to end your day.

On day two, enter the city to visit the Franklin Institute. This hands-on science and technology museum is the perfect mix of learning and fun. Walk inside a giant replica of the human heart, climb around in the brain, and watch a live science show.
If the weather is nice, enjoy some outdoor play with a visit to Smith Playground. The favorite here is the giant wooden slide, a must-do when visiting the city with children.

6 and 7-year-olds

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, also known as Kidsburgh, has tons of activities and destinations to offer this age group. Visit the MAKESHOP, a maker station in the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, full of the materials and tools to get your child’s imagination flowing. Next, get dizzy and disoriented in the museum’s gravity room, and don’t forget to bring a change of clothes for the water play area.

Kennywood and Sandcastle are an obvious pair to top-off your getaway to Pittsburgh. Kennywood is an historic amusement park in the nearby town of West Mifflin and offers a wide variety of kid-friendly and thrilling roller coasters. Sandcastle Water Park, a bit closer to the city, boasts a dozen water slides, shallow-water play area, and a wave pool. The best scenario for visiting Sandcastle is when your child reaches over 48 inches barefoot, then they can take advantage of the large water slides.

8 year-olds and up

Southern and Central New Jersey
Adventure awaits the eight and over crowd with a mix of dry rides and water slides in New Jersey. Diggerland USA, a unique construction-themed park in West Berlin, New Jersey, is a kid’s paradise. Even if your child is not obsessed with backhoes and diggers, who doesn’t want a chance to operate these large machines in this fun, controlled environment? Five new rides were added this year, including a zip line which towers 130 feet off the ground.

Even more thrills are to be had at Six Flags Great Adventure, where the #1 wooden roller coaster and the tallest roller coaster in the world call this large amusement park home. Even if your child is not interested in thrill rides, there’s still plenty to do. An animal safari, various shows, and tamer rides will fill the day with fun.

If bad weather tries to ruin your New Jersey getaway, Sahara Sam’s Oasis can save the day with an indoor water park which hosts various slides and a lazy river. If the weather is beautiful, there’s even an outdoor section of the water park, so you can soak up the sun.

Enjoy the summer with your children by planning a getaway to one of these fabulous destinations.


by: Karen Bumbaugh,
from Been There Done That With Kids