5 Cheap Family Vacation Destinations in Pennsylvania

5 Cheap Family Vacation Destinations in Pennsylvania

Summer is coming, which means it’s time to hit the road on a family vacation. Your vacation can be great without breaking the bank. And if you’re heading to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, well, there’s so much in store for you.

Here is a list of the 5 best places to visit in PA for a family vacation that will keep you on your toes without emptying your wallet.

Jim Thorpe

Jim Thorpe is a quaint Victorian town bursting with charm and history. Named for the first Native American to receive an Olympic gold medal, Jim Thorpe is nestled at the base of the Pocono Mountains and is a place you’ll want to visit again and again.

For Harry Potter fans, hit Muggle’s Mug for a Butterbeer Latte and chocolate frog. When you’ve been revved up, walk the streets, or climb onto a train for a ride with the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway.

Hikers, take note: there’s some great hiking in this area. Glen Onoko Falls are a series of waterfalls that are wonderful to behold. Wear proper footwear at all times, as it’s a steep climb and best suited for older children and adults. For families with little ones, other trails may be better.

Jim Thorpe is close to many neighboring towns, so you’ll likely find lodging inexpensively at a hotel nearby. You’ll also find there are many resorts around, as well, which feature popular water parks for kiddos.


Lancaster, PA is a city bursting with character. With shopping outlets to farmers’ markets to smorgasbords, there’s enough to see and do here for more than a few days. Hotel prices are relatively cheap as well, with room rates at many places falling around $100 a night.

Try to hit the city on a weekend to sample the market downtown. There, you’ll see an array of food choices, including cheeses, deli meats, breads, cakes, whoopie pies, fruits and veggies. Should you hit Lancaster when the market is closed, your next food stop is a smorgasbord. These Amish buffets take food to another level.

And once you’ve eaten all you can truly eat, go for a drive to see how the Amish make a living. Take a buggy ride or sail the skies in a hot air balloon. If that’s not enough, hit the rides at the kid-friendly Dutch Wonderland, a small amusement park.


This sweet town will have you smiling in no time. The obvious choice for a family activity in Hershey, PA, is Hersheypark. Boasting thrilling roller coasters, a full waterpark, and a kiddie land for the smaller riders, it truly offers something exciting around every corner.

Once you’re through with Hersheypark, take a trip to Hershey’s Chocolate World, which features a free ride showing the chocolate-making process. The best part? The mini candy bar you get at the end.

Trolley rides are available to show you the history of the town. Hershey Gardens are perfect for the horticulturist. And The Hershey Story museum encourages an interactive approach for kids and family to learn more about the founder of the town, Milton Hershey.

Staying in town may be a bit more expensive for those on a budget, though there are often vacation packages available through Hersheypark with lodging included.

Check out this list by PSECU, a Pennsylvania credit union, of more cheap things to do in Hershey.


The Battle of Gettysburg is said to have been the turning point of the Civil War. Its renown has brought visitors from all over the world. Tour the battlefield atop a double-decker bus, run Pickett’s Charge, and scour the rocks at Devil’s Den. Hit the Visitor’s Center for a true lesson in history and get an authentic wet plate portrait of your family done at Victorian Photography Studio.

There are plenty of great places to eat, but if you’re a root beer lover, you have to hit Appalachian Brewing Company for dinner and drinks. Finish with an ice cream dessert at Mr. G’s and you can head back to your B&B.

To keep costs down and beat peak season prices, consider staying outside of Gettysburg in Chambersburg, PA. Not only will you find a variety of hotels at great prices, but you’ll also be staying in the only town north of the Mason-Dixon line to be burned by the Confederates. That’s something, right?


The Steel City has a lot to offer for a family vacation. A ride up the Duquesne Incline will give your kids an excellent view of the city, one offered to the public since the 1870s. From the top, you’ll be able to see the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers merge into the Ohio River. You’ll also see Heinz Field, home of NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, and the city skyline.

Riding around in the city, it’s imperative you hit the Dor-Stop. A diner featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, it serves the best breakfast you’ll ever have. The hotcakes are like eating cookies and the jumbot, an egg dish, will keep you full for days.

When you’ve eaten to your heart’s content, head to Pittsburgh’s very own amusement park, Kennywood. Kennywood features lower prices but excellent rides. It also has the only known single-track racing rollercoaster. So good.

To stay, you can’t go wrong with a hotel downtown. You’ll be close to restaurants and can walk off your full stomach as you experience all the sights of the city.

Pennsylvania has so much to offer for a family vacation. These 5 towns are sure to keep you and your family busy and having fun. Take your kids on a vacation they’ll remember without breaking the bank.

One comment

  1. Hersey sounds like a blast. An entire city centered around chocolate? It doesn’t get any better than that!

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