Courtesy of Shenandoah National Park Facebook page
Shenandoah National Park, VA
This Virginia gem is a must-visit. The 105-mile Skyline Drive, which runs the entire length of the park in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is filled with scenic photo ops. Go camping (make sure you reserve ahead) or stay in the park at a cabin or lodge. Spend your days hiking, biking, fishing or horseback riding, and trek to a waterfall that fits your fam’s skill level. Sign up for a ranger program to be guided by a pro through the park.
Courtesy of Discover Lehigh Valley, Crayola Experience
Lehigh Valley, PA
Rich with history and farm-to-table fare, this region is less than two hours from NYC. Lehigh Valley has three main sections: Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. Visit the Allentown Art Museum on a Sunday to score free admission, then head to Hamilton Kitchen and Bar for lunch. Go shopping in Bethlehem, or take a guided tour of the Moravian Museum. Venture to Easton for the epic farmers’ market (it’s the longest continuously-running open air market in the US!), and of course, the new-and-improved Crayola Experience. Then, grab a bite at Easton Public Market, famous for Mister Lee’s ramen bowls and Dondore and Heister’s craft butchery. Best part? LV is just a short drive away from rural farms and vineyards (try Seiple Farms in Bath and Galen Glen Winery in Andreas).
Cooperstown Hall of Fame
Your little league star will be in heaven in this quaint village upstate. Best known as the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, this spot is full of stats and memorabilia for your little Yankees fan. But Cooperstown isn’t just about baseball. It’s also home to the Fenimore Art Museum (reopens March 31), which is packed with exhibitions and gorgeous grounds to explore, as well as the Farmers’ Museum, where kids learn what it’s like to work the land. Don’t miss a visit to Brewery Ommegang or a local winery. On the way home, make a stop at Howe Caverns in Howes Cave and discover a whole world 15 feet underground, or try the H2OGO Balls (12-foot blow-ups riders climb into and roll in) and ropes course at Howe High Adventure.
Courtesy of Strasburg Rail Road Facebook page
While some of Pennsylvania’s Dutch population eschews technology and cars, the rest of this city in the heart of Amish Country bustles along beside them, making for a vibrant little hybrid. You’ll find amazing restaurants serving traditional Amish delicacies like Shoofly Pie (molasses crumb cake). Indulge in the local stuff by eating your way through Central Lancaster Market, scoping out covered bridges on a driving tour and taking a buggy ride. Sprinkle in some fun with a visit to Dutch Wonderland amusement park, perfect for younger kiddos who’ll love rides tailor-made for them. There’s also Strasburg Rail Road’s steam-powered trains that go from Ronks to Paradise, PA, or the nearby National Toy Train Museum, a must-see for little Thomas the Tank Engine fans. Extend your trip and take your older thrill seekers to Hershey Park. Once you’re done binging on chocolate, burn some calories walking around 23 acres of botanical bliss at Hershey Gardens.
Courtesy of the Please Touch Museum Facebook page
If you’ve never been to Philly, you’ll want to check out landmarks like the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art (home of the Rocky statue!) and the Philadelphia Zoo. But if you’ve been there and done that, there’s a lot more to see. The kids will want to spend hours at the Franklin Institute, an awesome science museum with a giant walk-through human heart, and the Please Touch Museum, a magically interactive children’s museum with a Wonderland (as in Alice) exhibit you’ll never want to leave. Don’t miss the Wanamaker Organ, the largest functioning pipe organ in the world, inside the downtown Macy’s. Take a trip to the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden (reopens March 24) to see stunning cherry blossoms, or walk through Reading Terminal Market to grab some Philly-famous cheesesteaks and pretzels. Older kids can check out the Mütter Museum, filled with bizarre medical oddities, or brave their way through the historic (and haunted) Eastern State Penitentiary.
Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Statues
Finger Lakes, NY
This region is popular for its wine and cheese, but there’s a ton for kids to do, too. Known for sprawling vineyards, picturesque hikes and a vibrant food scene (the area’s ice cream will be a hit with the kids), the Finger Lakes were also home to monumental women’s rights leaders like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Among the many historic spots worth visiting are the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House in Rochester and the Harriet Tubman Home, a National Historic Park in Auburn. From Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca to spectacular gorges at Watkins Glen State Park, there’s tons of outdoor exploring to do. The kids can make their own masterpieces at The Corning Museum of Glass or explore American art at the Rockwell Museum, also in Corning. Ready for carnival season? If you go in the summer, have some good old-fashioned roller coaster and water park fun at Seabreeze Amusement Park in Rochester.