Pennsylvania

Polar Express and Santa Trains Near NYC This Holiday Season

The magic of Chris Van Allsburg’s popular Christmas picture book, The Polar Express, comes to life again this winter with festive holiday trains within a whistle's blow of the New York City metro area. A huge hit with kids and parents alike, these trains spark the imagination and holiday spirit with seasonal snacks, stories, even token gifts—not to mention a visit from Santa himself.

These old-school cabooses (some harking back to the 1920s) offer a classic holiday ambience. There's a Polar Express just an hour south into New Jersey, or the one-day-only Tri-State Santa Train about 50 minutes away, or consider a day trip to the Catskills or weekend getaway to Pennsylvania Dutch Country for this Santa's Paradise Express. Best of all, families can combine the annual Santa Claus photo op with a sweet adventure sure to create lasting memories.

Remember: these train rides sell out quickly, often months in advance, so book now if you want to go.

Farm Stays Near NYC: Enjoy a Farm-Themed Family Vacation

For New York City area families, it only takes a few hours to arrive in the bucolic countryside, where the landscape seems thousands of miles away from the crowded subways and packed playgrounds. Farm stays are an increasingly popular vacation option to enjoy that countryside and a back-to-nature experience. For children who’ve never been around livestock, farm stays provide a firsthand way to learn about the animal world in a casual fashion. It also often comes with a few more amenities when compared to camping.

If you're interested in the source of your food, farm holidays offer a fine way to connect with what you eat and sometimes even pick your own fresh fruit, veggies, and eggs. You're not required to work during your farm stay, but many visitors find farm chores so different from their regular routines that they are eager to participate. Curious kids should relish the opportunity to gather eggs, watch cows be milked, and pick fresh peaches off the tree. 

Consider these eight farm stay options in the Hudson Valley and Catskills, New York, and in Pennsylvania for your next family vacation

17 Things To Do with Kids in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

Lehigh Valley, comprised of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton, is chock-full of entertainment for the kids. From crayons and caverns to music, science, and more, the Lehigh Valley has something to offer everyone in the family year-round.

With so much to do, and its proximity to Philadelphia and NYC, this pretty Pennsylvania region makes for the perfect place for a long weekend getaway with the family, or even a day trip

Crayola Experience Pennsylvania: A Day Trip for Doodlers

Save $5 on admission to Crayola Experience! See this deal and others on our local deals page.  

There are few sights more satisfying than a quietly coloring, fully focused child. Entering the four-story Crayola Experience in Easton, Pennsylvania, does not exactly replicate that peaceful scenario (it's busy with excited families!), but there’s no doubt that it’s a kid doodler’s paradise.

Part creators’ studio, part indoor playground, this 65,000-square-foot kid entertainment center is bedecked in bold primary colors with smiling crayons beaming at you from every corner. It offers more than two dozen art-making stations using the full spectrum of Crayola materials—paints, clay, markers and yes, crayons—as well as more active entertainment like a multilevel play, bounce and climbing structure, toddler section, a water table with boats, and a “Cool Moves” dance-like crayon-themed game.

It debuts a brand-new attraction, Adventure Lab, with an immersive and interactive quest-style game. Read on for the full Mommy Poppins review, and find more day trips and hot kid destinations in our U.S. Travel Guide for Families.

Pocono Mountains with Kids: 61 Best Things To Do as a Family

Just two hours from New York City or Philadelphia, the Pocono Mountains offer pristine natural beauty mixed with enough family-friendly activities to fill a long weekend getaway or an entire summer vacation. Truly a four-season resort area, during the winter people flock to the region for skiing and other winter sports, and the cool lake-dotted mountains draw families for swimming, hiking, boating, horseback riding, and more in the summer. It's also loaded with great water parks, both indoor and outdoor.

We've rounded up dozens of the top family attractions in the Poconos into one mega list. Given that it's a fairly large region, we've separated the list by area or town to make it easier to find what's closest to where you and your family plan to visit. Staying longer? Hit all the regions!

Dutch Wonderland: A Fairy Tale Amusement Park in Amish Country

If you have a little thrill-seeking kid like I do, Dutch Wonderland might be just the right place to go this summer. This fairy tale-themed amusement park in Pennsylvania's Dutch Country caters toward the small but fearless like my ride-loving toddler.

In spite of the name and location, there isn't much Amish about Dutch Wonderland, aside from a photo opportunity with a horse and buggy statue. If you're in the area for more traditional Amish Country fun, Dutch Wonderland is right nearby all of it, so the amusement park makes a great addition for a trip to Dutch Country. With over 35 rides, attractions, and shows, as well as a 15-acre campground right on site, you can easily fill a whole day here with the kids, or even a long weekend. Read on for our review of this nearby theme park.

Best Amusement Parks for Preschoolers in and Near NYC

For young children, a ride on a carousel’s painted pony, a spin with dad around the bumper car track, and a dripping swirl of frozen custard are the stuff summer memories are made of. No need to seek out the latest scary high-tech roller coasters (which means you can cross Luna Park's most scary rides off your list).

Rides that look mild (or frankly, downright boring) to big people usually provide just the right amount of thrills for toddlers and preschoolers. Happily, there are a number of amusement and water parks in or near New York City that offer these kinds of tame attractions. Here's our roundup of theme parks perfect for the pint-sized.

Find more seasonal rides in our Theme and Water Parks Guide for NYC Families.

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