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Calling Philly-Area Families: Here’s The Ultimate Itinerary for a Local Weekend Getaway This Summer

We’re all glad summer is here, but that doesn’t mean we agree on everything. Parents and kids are all too familiar with the different activity preferences and vacation ideas that each member of the family seems to hold: One kid wants to go to the beach, one is refusing to go for a hike, and all you care about at this point is getting some ice cream.  

The good news for Philly-area families is that a quick road trip to Lancaster, PA, can deliver a range of fun experiences to please even the pickiest of kids. The best part: Lancaster’s summer attractions are so expansive that you can fill a whole weekend with eats, adventures and culture. 

Not sure where to begin? Here are some attractions and activities to add to your itinerary that are sure to please the entire family—and get you all the ice cream you deserve… (more on that later!) 

Eat and Stay 

Cartoon Kitchen 

Kids and nostalgic adults alike will find a meal that dreams are made of at Cartoon Kitchen—where a breakfast, lunch or dinner is a front-row seat to characters from Powerpuff Girls, Adventure Time and more. Cartoons will just be one part of the culinary joy and family time that make this dining experience so memorable. And, the restaurant is inside of the world’s first Cartoon Hotel (and right next to the Dutch Wonderland Family Amusement Park!), so if you’re looking for a place to stay, this immersion into a world of nostalgia is perfect. 

Magic & Wonder Dinner Theater 

You’re never too old to appreciate some fantastic tricks and lively entertainment—and your kids certainly aren’t too old for it either. At the Magic & Wonder Dinner Theater, audiences can enjoy a variety of shows accompanied by full dinner (and drink!) menus. Watch illusionists, family-friendly comedy, circus arts and more in this dynamic, enthusiastic environment. 

The Craft & Cork Trail 

Okay, maybe this one won’t be for the whole family—but the adults can stop for some fun along your journey with the Craft & Cork Trail. Earn points toward prizes like keychains, water bottles, backpacks and more by stopping at the local breweries, wineries and distilleries that populate this adventure trail. Downloading the free mobile passport enables you to try craft drinks and sample some flights—and make great memories along the way. 

The Ice Cream Trail 

Lancaster’s 2024 Ice Cream Trail is the perfect way to cap off a day of adventuring and excitement, through using a mobile passport that provides coupons and discounts to dozens of local ice cream shops. You can check in at different shops and creameries along the way and sample new flavors—or stick to your old reliable. The trail can be a part of each day of your trip, or you can stop for a cone multiple times in the same day…we won’t judge. 

Do (And Ride) 

Dutch Wonderland Family Amusement Park 

Rollercoasters, attractions, a waterpark area, and more make up Lancaster’s Dutch Wonderland Family Amusement Park—an award-winner that’s been open since 1963. The park is designed for families with young children and celebrates its identity as a “kingdom for kids” full of fun activities. And when you need a break from the rides, check out Exploration Island: an educational hub where dinosaurs come to life. 

The Strasburg Rail Road 

Lancaster County is home to America’s oldest operating short-line railroad: Strasburg Rail Road, voted 2021’s TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Award. During this picturesque 45-minute train ride, you and your family can enjoy some relaxing time off your feet and appreciate the lush Amish farmland Lancaster is known for. On select days this June and September, kids of all ages can enjoy a special Thomas the Tank Engine ride through the stunning countryside! And at select times, treat yourself to the Wine and Cheese train: a luxurious, first-class experience featuring (you guessed it) wine, crackers and cheese.  

Wolf Sanctuary of PA 

Nestled in a natural woodland in northern Lancaster county, the Wolf Sanctuary of PA hosts educational tours through natural habitats for wolves and wolf-dogs. The sanctuary’s owners, the Darlington family, provide quality lifetime care and enrichment for displaced animals—and families can learn about the behavior and biology of wolves, all while having a fun outdoor experience. 

Farm Adventure Trail 

You won’t be leaving the states, but you can still find use for a passport: Lancaster’s Farm Adventure Trail is a free mobile passport that’ll take you through Lancaster’s gorgeous preserved farmlands. The passport format also allows you to “check in” at local spots for nature-oriented experiences at culinary gems, farm-themed attractions, roadside stands, and more.  

These experiences are just a few standouts among an expansive catalogue of summer experiences that Lancaster offers. For more information and to begin planning the trip that’s best for your family, click here.