When you're a kid, the best part about summer is NO SCHOOL! With our interactive museums, fascinating history, and creative ways of blending education and fun, parents can get their little students back in a learning mindset, even if it's just for the day. Check out this semester’s schedule:
As Pennsylvania's center for government, there's a lot for kids to discover about our legislature. The State Capitol in Harrisburg offers free tours daily where you’ll tour the building President Teddy Roosevelt called “the handsomest building” he’d ever seen. Stop by the Welcome Center and embark on a self-guided and interactive journey through Pennsylvania history and our legislative processes. The kids can crank wheels, push buttons, watch videos, and stomp on the correct trivia answers – but we’re sure you’ll learn something new, too! There’s also an overlapping lesson in engineering as the kids marvel at the Commonwealth statue made entirely of yellow LEGO® bricks!
While you're munching on a chocolate bar in Hershey, wrap yourself in the fascinating story of Milton S. Hershey, the candy company's founder and the town's namesake, at The Hershey Story Museum on Chocolate Avenue. This interactive history lesson is all about chocolate, and Mr. Hershey, of course, from bankrupt beginnings to billionaire brilliance. The museum also has a Chocolate Lab where visitors can whip up their own chocolate creation -- a Home-Ec crossover!
Hershey is a remarkable part of the state, but there's another treasure trove of Commonwealth history waiting for you at the State Museum of Pennsylvania. Explore Pennsylvania Icons, an exhibit with more than 350 collection items that tell the story of how Pennsylvania residents, places, products, and events helped shape our nation. Walk through Village Square featuring historic recreations of a typical 19th century Pennsylvania town. You might have traveled the Pennsylvania Turnpike to get here, and the Transportation & Industry exhibit includes the history of America's First Superhighway. In total, this museum has three floors of exhibits!
Wait! We can keep talking about the State Museum because their exhibits step beyond human history! Dipping into some of a kids' favorite science class topics, you can learn about geology, paleontology, ecology, and more. A family favorite is Mammal Hall with its dioramas of native Pennsylvania animals. You can even watch a show in the Planetarium that bring it all together and remind you just how small we are!
At the Whitaker Center's Harsco Science Center, kids think they're running around having fun, but they are also discovering new things about physics, engineering, weather, gravity, sound, the human body, and even the technology behind movies and television. Spend a few hours with your kids roaming three floors of science experiments and endless opportunities for them to say, "Cool!"
Reading about rocks and geology in a textbook can't compare to a tour of Echo Dell - Indian Echo Caverns, one of the most visited and marvelous attractions on the East Coast. This natural geologic wonder is filled with breathtaking rock formations that date back millions of years! For an extra science credit, ask your tour guide about the creatures that inhabit the caverns!
Okay, don't tell the kids, but there's a lot of science, math, and physics going on at Hersheypark® every day! Have you ever thought about how the kinetic energy of the sooperdooperLooper® at the bottom of its first hill compares to its total energy at the top of the first hill? Or if you put your hand in a bag that contains 5 Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, 7 York Peppermint Patties, 13 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and 10 Twizzlers, what is the probability that you’ll grab two pieces that are chocolate? You can also make your time in line fly by with sneaky math questions like: If you are standing in line for Fahrenheit® and there are 42 people in front of you. How many full trains will leave before its your turn? Check out Hersheypark's School Groups page for more educational ideas to share with your children.
Your child's artistic skill level might be somewhere between macaroni art and nailing the alphabet, but there's something for everyone to enjoy in an art gallery. It's free to browse the exhibitions at Art Association of Harrisburg on Front Street with its beautiful view of Riverfront Park. The artwork in their galleries change every couple months, so there's always something new to see when you visit.
Kids can be dramatic, but you can show them how the pros do it at a Popcorn Hat Players Children's Theatre performance! This acting troupe specializes in performing classic fairy tales, with a twist! Think Hansel & Gretel in the 1950s or The Ugly Duckling as an 80s movie!
At the Whitaker Center, walk along curved wall art gallery featuring works ranging from impressionistic to modern. Then, take in some art on the big screen! No, seriously. The Digital Cinema at the Whitaker Center is 38 feet high and 70 feet wide and boasts a 20,000-watt surround sound system. From fascinating 3D documentaries to the latest blockbuster family flicks, we give four-story-tall films five stars!
There's always that one student who says their favorite class is recess! We're sure we've packed in lots of fun alongside educational experiences, but when its time to let loose, there's no shortage of let-kid-be-kids activities in Hershey & Harrisburg. Race go-karts and ride bumper boats at Adventure Sports in Hershey. Play laser tag and arcade games at Carlisle Sports Emporium. Cheer on the pros at a Harrisburg Senators Baseball game or Penn FC Soccer match, both held on City Island. While you’re there, take part in classic family fun activities like Water Golf, a playground, a train ride, and a carousel.
Sneak in a few extra credits this summer!