Looking for something to do to entertain and educate a preschooler? Or maybe you need an active attraction that’ll keep your teen off their phone for a few hours! The Hershey Harrisburg Region has a range of family-friendly activities that’ll suit you and your brood’s dynamic interests!
It’s not easy to keep the attention of toddlers and preschoolers, but we’re up to the challenge!
A must-see for families traveling to Harrisburg is the Harsco Science Center at the Whitaker Center for Science & the Arts with three floors of interactive exhibits and scientific discoveries that’ll keep the kids learning for hours. Build a wooden car and test its downhill velocity, splash around while learning why things float, get creative on the digital graffiti wall, and erect a skyscraper on the block table. Curious kiddos can explore the child-sized city, KidsPlace, where climbing, crawling and construction is encouraged! The Whitaker Center is also home to Central Pennsylvania’s largest digital movie screen showing immersive 3D documentaries and blockbuster hits daily.
While you might think that your youngster is too little for museums, the State Museum of Pennsylvania offers the Curiosity Connection, a hands-on space for kids from 1-5 that’ll get them excited about learning. There are secret passages, floor-to-ceiling trees to crawl through, life-size farm animal models, and one larger-the-life chicken you can see from the street! The Curiosity Connection is included in with general admission, so take your time exploring everything the museum has to offer like a full-scale 19th century town!
Now this is a great age for a museum visit!
Starting with the State Museum of Pennsylvania, kids can browse exhibits on anthropology, archaeology, transportation, geology, paleontology, and Pennsylvania mammals and ecology - and maybe even discover their calling! You can even make a stop in outer space to observe the constellations in the Museum's Planetarium!
Where else would you find a museum dedicated to chocolate? At The Hershey Story, Museum on Chocolate Avenue, learn all about Milton S. Hershey, the man behind the chocolate bars you love so much. From bankruptcy to brilliance, his story is inspiring and fascinating. The rumble of innovative machinery and collection of historical items lets kids experience what it was like in his chocolate factory. They can design their own candy wrapper, look at sugar crystals under a microscope, and work up an appetite for chocolate as they discover the legacy of the man who built a town on chocolate!
The Pennsylvania National Fire Museum has all the bells and whistles! From marveling at the horse-drawn carriages to honoring the brave firefighters who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, the Fire Museum celebrates firefighting history with remarkable artifacts, trucks, and vintage helmets. Ask the staff to ring the (still-working!) antique alarm system that would alert firemen when and where one of the city’s pull-down fire alarm boxes was triggered!
Harrisburg is also home to the National Civil War Museum, one of the largest of its kind in the world dedicated solely to the story of the American Civil War. While the topic of the Civil War is hefty for young children, visitors can watch videos and get a sense of what it was like back then, as told by the storyline of two families on either side of the battlefield.
For kids ages 6-10, we can’t leave out the Whitaker Center, mentioned above. The exhibits on weather and nature, health and the body, transportation and manufacturing, and technology behind movies and TV will make their science class come to life!
With today’s technology, entertainment, and video games, young adults in this age bracket will respond best to an active, immersive experience!
Adventure Sports in Hershey offers hours of family-friendly competition! Kids can practice their swing in the batting cages, on the 18-hole miniature golf course, or at the driving range. Get behind the wheel of a go-kart or duck behind a fence during outdoor laser tag before splashing and squirting each other on the bumper boats. May the best family member win, and maybe they’ll want to put a little allowance money on the line!
Instead of going head-to-head, put your heads together to find clues, solve riddles, and unlock the mystery of an escape room! Escape rooms will challenge them to think outside the box and enhance their analytical and problem-solving abilities. Plus, the “no cell phones” rule gives parents up to 60 minutes of quality kiddo time while locked inside a puzzle! Try the Escape Room Hershey, Outside the Box Escape Room, Hershey Perplex Escape Rooms, or Do You Even Escape? attractions!
Probably the best immersive experience our region has to offer is the great outdoors! With miles and miles of hiking trails and bike paths and access to the mighty Susquehanna River for kayaking and boating, your preteens will enjoy the fresh air and the beautiful scenery. Ok, let them snap a few #nofilter pics to document a beautiful day!
If you’re looking for something that’ll interest every age all at the same time, the Hershey Harrisburg Region plenty of family attractions perfect for toddlers, school-age children, and teens!
Hersheypark® might have ride height requirements, but there are no limits on being Hersheypark HappySM! With kiddie cars, family thrills, towering coasters, and water slides to choose from, the family can take turns deciding what to ride next!
For the times when your kids can’t agree, there’s always consensus on chocolate! At Hershey’s Chocolate World Attraction, take the family on the free chocolate tour ride, make custom candy bars, and help each other carry armloads of chocolate to the car, straight from Hershey's largest candy store!
America’s favorite pastime is also a perfect family outing. At a Harrisburg Senators Baseball game on City Island, your older children can explain the game to their younger siblings while everyone shares peanuts, popcorn, and hot dogs and cheers for home runs and fireworks. And a trip to City Island for a game wouldn’t be complete without a cruise down the river on The Pride of the Susquehanna Riverboat, one of last remaining paddlewheel riverboats in the country.
Animal lovers of all ages will enjoy a one-of-a-kind safari ride at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park where they’ll get up-close-and-personal with flightless birds and herds of mammals! See lions, tigers, and bears (oh my), reptiles, exotic animals, and more! Another way for kids of all ages to enjoy nature is a walk through Wildwood Park in Harrisburg. Their boardwalks, paths, and trails are suitable for any age, and the nature center offers a chance to discover something new about Pennsylvania’s natural conservation!
Hard to please or “please, please, please” — kids of all ages will have a blast in the Hershey Harrisburg Region.