Willow Tree's Guide to Local, Family-Friendly Vacation spots (on a budget)!

It’s summer and for many of us that means going on vacation! Not everyone can afford the luxury of traveling to a tropical island or visiting another country so we’ve done some research and found several fun-filled family adventure getaways right here in Northeast PA!

For those of you who enjoy a thrill ride, there are several amusement parks within a reasonable driving distance and most of them have a waterpark section so you can cool off in between roller coaster rides. Knoebel’s campground and amusement park in Ellysburg is a classic old family friendly park and the closest if you are in Columbia County. They offer free parking and free admission! Ticket books are also available at a discounted price at the local grocery chains. Groups and pets are welcome with the option to rent pavilions for larger parties. Activities include the amusement park, fishing, playground, swimming, and waterpark. Rent a campsite or RV site with full hook-ups starting at $46/night.

If you are looking for something a bit larger with higher roller coasters, Hersheypark in Hershey is another great option. I highly recommend their newest coaster, Sky Rush! You will enjoy a thrilling 200-foot drop and get to speeds of 75 miles per hour. They have a great variety of small rides for the little ones as well. You are not allowed to bring food into the park so you have to purchase it there. They have an allergen free restaurant for those with special dietary needs. There is a waterpark included and suited for all ages. Adult tickets are $61.95 and $38.95 for juniors and seniors. You can also purchase your tickets at the local grocery chains for a discount.

If you would like to take a day trip with the family to get some education about Pennsylvania’s cultural heritage, The Amish Village in Lancaster Dutch County has three different tours to choose from. Experience the authentic farmhouse, backroad bus tour, village tour, or all three! Learn how the Amish community works and lives today and learn about their history as well. Tours ra

nge from $9 for an adult and $6 for a child to $26/$13. All children under four are free.

The most popular natural attraction in PA is Crystal Cave Park near Kutztown. They offer underground educational tours and are open from March until the end of November. You will get a 55-minute tour and learn about cave geology while keeping cool in the constant 54-degree underground caves. A nice alternative to air conditioning on these hot humid days! They have a rock and mineral shop to purchase souvenirs to take home and an ice cream parlor and café along with mini golf, and panning for your own gemstones.

Love hiking and waterfalls? Ricket’s Glen State Park in Red Rock is one of the most scenic places in PA. Hike the Falls Trails System and view 22 named waterfalls along the way. Hiking around the falls can get steep so this may not be the best destination for young children, unless of course, you are carrying the on your back. Bushkill Falls in the Pocono mountains is another great spot for hiking. They too have a series of waterfalls along the trails and there is a wildlife exhibit at the entrance to the falls.

Looking for some fun team building or family bonding activities? Refreshing Mountain Resort in Lancaster County looks like a blast with retreats for families, children, adults, and groups. Stay in a cozy cabin or just go for a day adventure and learn valuable skills for working as a team. They have a pool, gymnasium, zip lines, ropes course, climbing wall, and more! Meals are provided and get a group discount for groups of three or more. Breathe in the fresh mountain air for a purifying break from the daily grind and return with renewed energy!

We may not live on a tropical island, but there are other great options to enjoy what our state has to offer so check one or more of them out! Visit the websites below for more information on the destinations mentioned above and get away without breaking the bank! Summer is going fast so plan ahead and take advantage while the warm weather lasts!

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