8 Winter Weekend Trips for Philadelphia-area Families

8 Winter Weekend Trips for Philadelphia-area Families

Living in Philadelphia has its perks, not least because of the range of natural, recreational, and historical attractions and amenities located directly within the city.

However, while Philadelphia has plenty to offer on its own, sometimes you need to get away for a weekend with your family or friends. As the winter approaches, you may be searching out nearby cities and areas to visit for a nice mini-vacation in the coming months.

That’s where Philadelphia homeowners are also in luck. Within a roughly two-hour radius, there are numerous sites and attractions around which to plan the perfect weekend trip for you and your family.

Places Near Philadelphia to Visit

Whether you prefer an urban environment, the beach, or a town enriched in history, there is a place near Philadelphia that’s fitting for your particular tastes and preferences. As you start planning out a weekend getaway for this winter, consider adding these family-friendly locations to your short-list:

1. The Poconos

green trees and river at the poconos

Up for a weekend of skiing and snow tubing? The Pocono Mountains, or simply the Poconos, are less than two hours away from Philadelphia and an appealing destination for the whole family. While outdoor recreation in the snow is a big draw, you can also take a horse-drawn sleigh ride at Daisy Field Farm, visit the 220,000-square-foot indoor Kalahari Waterparks, and go to unique restaurants and shops. For example, American Candle has a designated candy room with more than 200 barrels full of different candy varieties.

2. Aquariums

The Adventure Aquarium fish tank tunnel located on Baltimore’s Inn Harbor

For a day trip, The Adventure Aquarium is a great find, located on Camden's restored waterfront. There you will find a fantastic array of wildlife where you can meet Button and Genny, the aquarium's resident hippos up close! Spend time inside of the shark tank looking through an underwater glass tunnel.

The National Aquarium makes for a great weekend trip. Located on Baltimore’s Inn Harbor, it is considered one of the finest aquariums in the nation. You can see a Giant Pacific Octopus, Golden Lion Tamarin, Atlantic Puffin, or more than 20,000 other animals representing 800 unique species. Inn Harbor itself is a busy tourist destination featuring numerous fun activities and attractions, such as the Maryland Science Center and Port Discovery Children’s Museum. With so much to do, you can easily turn a day trip to the aquarium into a fun-filled family weekend.

3. Gettysburg

Gettysburg National Battlefield, Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center

Up for a little history and culture? Gettysburg is about two and a half hours from Philadelphia and renowned as the home of Gettysburg National Battlefield, Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center. In terms of historical appeal, there's also the Jennie Wade House, Shriver House Museum, David Wills House, and other historical sites and attractions. However, you can also do other enjoyable activities as a family, such as trying out one of the local escape rooms or going to Hickory Falls Family Entertainment Center. For outdoor recreation in nearby Gettysburg, stop by the Michaux State Forest for a hike or cold-water fishing. The Liberty Mountain Resort in neighboring Carroll Valley also offers skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating.

4. Cape May, NJ

cape may is known for its grand Victorian houses (1)

Hear the ocean calling your name? You can’t underestimate how beautiful the Jersey Shore is, even during the winter months. In particular, Cape May is a fitting destination for a midwinter sojourn. Considered America's original seaside resort, as well as New Jersey's crown jewel, this lovely destination is known for its grand Victorian houses, quaint shopping district, and historic Cape May Lighthouse that was built in 1859. The three pedestrianized blocks of Washington Street are lined with shops and restaurants. If you visit for a winter getaway from Philly, you can beat the lines and enjoy the relatively quiet beach with your family.

5. Hershey Park

Hersheypark, located in Hershey, PA, is about 95 miles west of Philadelphia.

Hershey Park, located in Hershey, PA, is about 95 miles west of Philadelphia. Founded in 1906 by Milton S. Hershey, this family theme park was originally designed for the employees of the Hershey Chocolate Company. When you visit in winter, you can catch the merriest event of the year: Hershey Park Christmas Candylane. Enjoy your favorite rides, coasters, and other activities surrounded by more than five million twinkling lights. Explore the all-new Hershey’s Chocolatetown, with the park’s largest rollercoaster. While you’re there, check out the Hershey Story Museum.

6. Great Wolf Lodge

waterslides at the Great Wolf Lodge located in Scotrun, PA

If indoor swimming in warm-water pools is more fitting for your family, head to the Great Wolf Lodge located in Scotrun, PA. There’s something for everyone, from toddlers to adults, at the lodge, which features a 79,000-square-foot indoor water park, mini-golf, arcade, and kid-sized bowling alley. From late November to the beginning of January, the lodge also hosts Snowland for the winter holidays. You and your children can participate in the Snowland Snowball Family Dance Party, a visit with Santa Clause, and arts, crafts, and story times.

7. New York City

you can have a wonderful weekend getaway with the family in NYC

New York City is stunning during the winter when you can go ice skating beneath the giant tree at Rockefeller Center or go sledding at Central Park. Many of the shops also have beautiful window displays for the holidays. Getting to NYC from Philadelphia takes about two hours by car, or you can travel by bus or train so you don’t have to deal with parking in the city. If you dress warmly and prepare for the weather, you can have a wonderful weekend getaway with the family in NYC. Plus, there are plenty of museums, shops, entertainment venues, and other attractions to enjoy inside out of the cold.

8. Strasburg

the best ice cream in the country at the Strasburg Creamery in Centre Square

 

Strasburg, a historic town nestled in Lancaster County, about an hour and a half from Philly, makes for another fun winter weekend vacation. You can experience some of the best ice cream in the country at the Strasburg Creamery in Centre Square. The Strasburg Rail Road offers activities for children all year long, including the Lego Building Zone in Stewart Junction, the museum’s education center. The Dutch Wonderland theme park is also located only about 5 miles from downtown Strasburg.

Read our sister blog with information about Strasburg's steam train and maize-maze attractions (See attraction #4) ! 

Creating a Life and Home in Philadelphia, PA

There are plenty of reasons to live in Philadelphia, including job opportunities in various industries, affordable housing, and a top-notch arts and culture scene. When you need a change of pace, the region features numerous interesting and inviting destinations to visit. However, you also want to make sure you have a desirable home base to return to. If you’re looking to remodel your existing home or expand it for the next phase of life, Bellweather Construction can help. We specialize in high-quality design-build projects, from room additions and basement finishing to kitchen and bathroom remodeling, that enhance the function and long-lasting appeal of your Philadelphia home.

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