After meandering your way through row after row of trains, some which you can board, and many hands-on-activities and learning stations, be sure to stop by the Stewart Junction, a special place for kids to build and play with motorized LEGOS, see huge model train displays, and more. We spent a good portion of our museum visit in that section, the kids couldn't get enough!
Located at 300 Gap Road, Strasburg PA, the museum is open Mondays - Saturdays from 9AM - 5PM and Sundays from noon - 5PM, but closed on Mondays in November - March. Admission is $10 per adult, $9 for seniors, $8 for youth, and free for ages 2 and under. They also have great membership options if you plan to go more than once a year!
The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is right across the street from the Strasburg Rail Road, and whether or not you plan to actually take a ride on that (which we covered in our 2017 Lancaster Vacation Guide), it is really fun to just go over and watch the huge train depart, screaming whistles and all. There's also a great free playground over there, as you can see in our video below, and Strasburg Rail Road hosts A Day Out with Thomas, if you can time your getaway right!
I love how parent-friendly this place is as well, with a full coffee bar and snack bar (and you can BYO but keep in mind they're a nut-free facility), and lots of tables to spread out and relax (or work?) while the kiddos play. Shoes are kept on so no need to worry about whether or not you brought socks (a common mistake and added expense in summer)! They also have a little baby and toddler area gated off in the middle of the massive playplace.
Located at 533 Janet Ave in Lancaster PA, Tiny Town is open Mondays - Saturdays from 9AM - 4PM, and closed Sundays for parties. Admission is $10 for children (free for 12 months and under) and $8 for adults, and it's good for the whole day! So you can go and come back as you like!
This year we were most excited to try their brand new Cherry Crest Feed Mill which is a giant kid and adult friendly obstacle course type thing with rock climbing, cargo nets, ropes and tires to balance and navigate across. Very fun!! We also were sure not to miss our tried and true favorites - the Hay Chute Slides, the Corn Crib (like a HUGE sand box filled with dried corn kernels instead of sand!!), the giant bounce pillow, and the Little Sprouts kids' village of outdoor luxury play houses.
We did nix a visit to their 24th Annual Amazing Maize Maze due to the heat (you can watch our trip through the corn maze last year here), but this year's "Man on the Moon 1969-2019 Corn Maze" design is in honor of their collaboration with NASA this year in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. Behold their "5-acre corny version of outer space":
Located at 150 Cherry Hill Rd in Ronks PA, their hours vary by time of year so check here, but during summer season they're closed Sundays and Mondays. Children ages 3 and under are free, and adults are $16 online or $19 at the gate in summer. It's pretty all-inclusive and you can easily spend half a day with just the basic pass, but there are certain add-on activities you can pay for individually or purchase a more expensive pass that includes them. For example, their priciest pass is $31 online or $35 at the gate and includes the Apple Blasters, Battle Zone, Paintball Range, hand-make rope or gem-mining, and a souvenir cup drink or kettle corn.
I wasn't really sure what to expect, and it was a HOT day, but we just had the most interesting and fun time, and learned a lot about raising cows on a dairy vs. beef farm, that most of the corn in Lancaster is actually for the animals (what!?!?!), and general life on the farm. We got to milk a cow, bottle feed baby cows, hold chickens, and play with baby goats (who climbed on our backs - ouch)!! For such city slickers as ourselves, this was just such a unique experience we will never forget!! You can even book a room there for a more immersive experience - you can help collect the eggs they'll serve you for breakfast, and have milk fresh from the cow, can you imagine!? Talk about Farm to Table! I'm definitely going to consider this for our next trip to Lancaster!
Located at 429 Strasburg Road in Paradise PA, tours are held Mondays - Saturdays in June - August and Saturdays in Spring and Fall, and go for about $10 - $25 per person.
The Bird-in-Hand Smorgasbord is huge with a great variety of foods, a little kids' section with staples that'll suit picky kids' tastebuds, and a to-die-for dessert bar! The whoopie pie cake, omg guys, a must! If you're not up for a buffet, you can always order a la carte, check out their menu here!
The Bird-in-Hand Stage's website touts "broadway-style music theater and magic shows" and it's no joke. The entertainment was top notch - illusionist Brett Myers was spectacular! The fun starts off in the lobby where one of the magicians is doing small tricks for the kids (and selling cool magic tricks to take home as well). The main show itself was exciting, breath-taking, hilarious, and all-around highly entertaining!!! Unfortunately we were not allowed to film or take pictures, so you'll just have to take my word for it, or better yet, go see it for yourself! Do consider your schedule and kids' naps and bedtime though. Our 3 year old twins hadn't napped that day and we went to the 7PM show so you can imagine, it didn't go completely smoothly and we did have to escort ourselves not-so-quietly out of the show before it ended. But, this is life with 3 littles!! The night was fun while it lasted!
If you get to the cafeteria by noon, it's still pretty empty and you can have a relaxed break eating pizza, grilled cheese, gourmet sandwiches, you name it. Then back to the pavement for more rides, and don't forget to catch some of their live shows, which are another chance to rest your feet a bit. I'm a huge fan of their diving shows, especially "A Dragon's Tale" which had great music and I found it, actually, kind of hilarious!! Be sure to sit in one of the front rows if you enjoy a refreshing splash or two!
With fabulous live shows, over 35 rides, Duke's Lagoon water park, and animatronic dinosaurs in Exploration Island, you really do need to plan a full day at Dutch Wonderland to get as much in as possible. For families coming from NYC, this is even feasible as a day trip (bonus - the kids will sleep the entire ride home!!). If you plan to spend a good amount of time in the water park, I recommend a day and a half or 2 full days at Dutch Wonderland. Or you could go for a season's pass!
Regular pricing is $44.99 for visitors ages 3+, but you can get a special $5 discount with my code here!!
- AAA Buggy Rides
- Aaron & Jessica's Buggy Rides
- Amish Experience
- Abe's Buggy Rides
- The Amish Farm & House
- The Amish Village
- Hans Herr House & Longhouse
- Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum
- Bird in Hand Smorgasbord
- Casey Jones' Restaurant @ Red Caboose Hotel
- Central Market
- Good 'N Plenty Restaurant
- Katie's Kitchen
- Miller's Smorgasbord
- Mr. Sticky's Buns
- Shady Maple Smorgasbord
- Boulders Miniature Golf
- Bounce Kraze
- Choo Choo Barn
- Corn Cob Acres
- Country Barn's Barnyard Kingdom
- Go 'N Bananas Family Fun Center
- Hands-on-House Children's Museum
- Lancaster Central Market
- Lancaster Science Factory
- National Toy Train Museum
- North Museum of Science and Nature
- Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
- Refreshing Mountain Adventure Center
- Rockvale Outlets
- Sickman's Mill Creek Tubing & Kayaking (closed summer 2019 season)
- Sight & Sound Theater
- Skyzone Trampoline Park
- Strasburg Railroad (with seasonal Thomas the Train excursions)
- Tanger Outlets
- Tiny Town Indoor Playplace
- Turkey Hill Experience
- Verdant View Farm Tour
- Waters Edge Mini Golf
Family Friendly Accommodations:
- Bird-in-Hand Family Inn (indoor/outdoor pools, playground, mini golf, tour neighboring farms, see our 2018 review here)
- Lancaster DoubleTree Resort (great indoor splash zone for kids, see our 2017 review here)
- Eden Resort (indoor/outdoor pools, outdoor kids water zone & playground)
- Fulton Steamboat Inn (looks like a Steamboat! Very unique!)
- Verdant View Farm Bed & Breakfast (for the true Farm to Table experience)
- There are tons of options offering a more local feel and experience, as well, even staying on a working Amish farm!! Check out Discover Lancaster's list of accommodations!