Continuing in our tradition of touring the state of Pennsylvania this summer, my kids, my mom and I got to spend 3 days, 2 nights in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania, which is North of Philadelphia and a short drive from New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. The Lehigh Valley encompasses three main areas, including Bethlehem, Easton, and Allentown. I will touch on each of these places and tell you about the great family friendly places that you can visit while in this part of the state, including Dorney Park, The Lehigh Valley Zoo, the Da Vinci Science Center, and The Crayola Factory and Canal Museum.
Day 1 – Dorney Park!
Dorney Park is a great theme park and water park in one. What I love most about this park is that there are rides for every age, including some ridiculous roller coasters, and a wonderful kids “Peanuts” themed park called Camp Snoopy. Though the park is a good size, it felt very manageable for us, and in particular, Camp Snoopy, there was lots of shade, lots of kid-sized rides, some nice water sprinklers to cool us off without having to change, and no long lines! It was perfect and my kids really enjoyed it! It’s also great to cool off in Wildwater Kingdom, an area of the park (included with your admission price) that has lots of slides, a wave pool, and much more.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn in Allentown throughout our stay in the Lehigh Valley. It was an extremely accessible hotel to all of our destinations. The staff in the hotel were excellent: always offering to help and so nice and friendly. And the rooms and hotel in general exceeded my expectations for a Holiday Inn! Our room was recently re-done and are decorated very nicely, all with nice, new TVs and refrigerators. We really loved the 3rd floor concierge suite, which provided a free continental breakfast (with everything you could imagine), drinks all throughout the day, and dinner snacks and food in the evening. For an additional $20 per night per room, it is well worth the cost!
At night, we got to try out a great kid-friendly restaurant and game center called Rascals Food and Fun. Sort of a combo Chuck-E-Cheese, amusement park and better restaurant, my kids really enjoyed their time playing here (and my mom and I LOVED our fabulous dinners!).
Day 2 – Lehigh Valley Zoo and the DaVinci Science Center
We really enjoyed our visit to the Lehigh Valley Zoo in the morning… it was a nice, medium-sized zoo with a great variety of animals. We all loved the beautiful ride into the zoo, (complete with a trip over a covered bridge) lots of shade, children’s play area, and especially our close-up encounter with the kangaroos. (It’s called the Walkabout – we got to stand right next to them. It was amazing! See the picture to the right of my son standing about 2 feet away from a kangaroo!) The zoo is a low-key place yet has a ton to do. We really enjoyed this part of our trip!
In the afternoon, we took my older son Jacob (who is almost 5) to the Da Vinci Science Center, a fabulous place for children K through 8th grade to learn, experience, and explore science. My son loved getting his hands into all different kids of science, from touching live sea animals to experiencing his own shadows, to solving complex puzzles, to building his own airplane and then launching it. All children will love to challenge themselves and appease their curiosity in this unique center!
Day 3 – The Crayola Factory and Canal Museum
On our way home, we hit the Crayola Factory, a hands-on place for kids to express themselves through art. Though it sounds like you are actually visiting the factory where crayons are made, this is not the case. (Though you can see a 20 minute show that touches on this.) Most of the exhibits and attractions at the Crayola Factory involve your kids doing art… from coloring with crayons, to painting, to using color wonder markers and Crayola model magic, sidewalk chalk, finger painting, and more. There are stations set up all around the Factory with helpful staff to show your children exactly what to do. Upon entering you get a plastic bag to store all of your children’s art as well as some special coins for them to “buy” crayons, markers, and model magic.
After our fun time at the Crayola Factory, we headed upstairs to the Canal Museum, which is a really neat place where your children can learn how dams and canals work hands-on. My sons LOVED the part where they could sail their cargo ship, pick up cargo, and go through the dams. Afterwards there is a neat museum to explore, as well.
Other Fun Facts
Some fun things that I learned about the area when I met with Kim, from the Lehigh Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, is that the Lehigh Valley is home to 11 colleges and universities, as well as the Peep Factory and the factory that makes Mike & Ike’s, Good & Plenty, and Hot Tamales (yum!) Additionally, Bethlehem, which is also known as “Christmas City,” is recognized by Travel and Leisure Magazine as one of the top holiday markets in the world, with special events, music & arts, shopping, and much more.
Overall our trip to the Lehigh Valley was awesome. There is so much to do in this part of Pennsylvania, I highly recommend a 2-3 day trip for those who live in the Northeast part of the country (or anyone really! The Lehigh Valley has their own International Airport!)