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Old 07-06-2009, 12:07 AM
Location: Oakland, CA
2 posts, read 40,035 times
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My wife, my four year old, and I will be visiting my sister in Clarion (NW PA) for Thanksgiving. We plan to fly into PIT and fly out PHL, taking several days after Thanksgiving to navigate a meandering route between Clarion and Philadelphia, and then finish off with a couple of days in Philadelphia before flying back home to SFO.

So far we think we would like to visit New Hope for a day of shopping, sight seeing, and dining there. Also on our agenda are Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water and nearby Kentuck Knob, as well as the Pennsylvania Dutch country. Do you have other suggestions for "must see" small towns or sights to visit between in PA?
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Old 07-06-2009, 08:35 AM
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That's deer season, you won't find anyone home in small town PA. More to the point, you might find some iffy weather too, so listen closely to the weather report and watch the Weather Channel. Getting to and from places like Fallingwater could be a little dicey.

The incline in Johnstown could be a nice stop for a little one. The Flood Museum downtown is pretty interesting although your 4yo might understand just enough of what's being shown to ask some uncomfortable questions. Skip the National Historic Site at the dam site with a little one.

The Slinky Action Zone (no website last I looked) just south of Altoona is a good stop with a little one. It's kind of like a Chuck E Cheese but cleaner and age segregated. The railroad museum in Altoona has a bit more for the older people too.

Our little one climbed all the Thousand Steps (over 1100 rough stone steps) near Mount Union when she was 4. (And slept very nicely in the car afterwards.) Don't try this in ice, or other than on a Sunday in deer season because they are located on State Game Lands. Each step is different from the others (a key criterion when you're 4) and there's a great view on the top.

If the weather is nice getting out of the car in Boiling Springs is a nice stop. There's a little lake that you could probably walk around with a 4yo in about an hour. Nearby Carlisle has the U.S. Army Heritage Center trail between outdoor exhibits of such things as World War I trenches (a favorite of our kid and others who come along). They're more fun to toddle through if you don't read the interpretive signs to the little ones.

The State Museum in Harrisburg is good for a couple of hours with a little one, with a discovery room on the first floor. Again if the weather's OK, the Five Senses Gardens on Harrisburg's Capital Area Greenbelt is a good run around spot with a little one - even though all will be dormant by then, the stone maze and stream remain. It's located behind the Bass Pro Shop with lots of native fish in a big aquarium, and boats to climb over. Hershey's Chocolate World is another indoor option if the weather's not great. In downtown Hummelstown just west of Hershey, Toys on the Square has a great selection of the sort of toys the box stores skip, if your little one needs more diversion by then. The "Cocoa Castle" playground on PA 743 between US 322 and US 422 is a spot to run off some steam.

Just east of Lancaster the "Amish Farm and House" right on Route 30 offers some of the flavor without trying the attention span of a 4 yo too much.

I'm a believer that great art is inspiring to little ones, but I'm also thinking that taking a 4 yo to both Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob sounds like a real patience trying experience.

If you need a weather backup plan at Pittsburgh there is a nice children's museum on the North Side and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History is a great stop with a little one. IMO the Carnegie Science Center (across town from the natural history museum) is a little "old" for a 4 yo. A nice-day stop if it's on your way is the Cranberry Township playground just off US 19 north of "downtown" of Cranberry Twp.

Philadelphia's Please Touch Museum at its new location is a full day for a 4 yo. The building and one exhibit is left over from the Centennial Exposition to add some adult interest to the experience.
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Old 07-06-2009, 11:04 AM
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Shopping's first destination would be King of Prussia, which should be combined with a trip to Valley Forge which is literally 5 minutes away. Thanksgiving time will find it mobbed, though. Kitchen Kettle is a nice touristy stop in Lancaster, near to the Amish farms and smorgasboards( Shady Maple and Good and Plenty). Gettysburg, of course. Hershey has a quasi factory tour, a free ride detailing the making of chocolate. Candy and souvenir Concessions and the Hershey Museum are also there .
Hopewell Village Iron Works( Berks/Chester County) historical museum is a nice scenic area with a lake nearby. It's not too far from the Daniel Boone Homestead which is small and a quick stop.
Other shopping destinations would be the Rockvale Outlets along Route 30 in Lancaster, Wyomissing's Vanity Fair in West Reading, and Philadelphia Premium Outlets in the Limerick area. If you get near Grove City north of Pittsburgh, they have a huge outlest mall.
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Old 07-06-2009, 11:20 AM
Location: Oakland, CA
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Thanks for the great tips thus far. Do you have any suggestions for small towns known by foodies for great dining experiences, or those with an assortment of boutique shopping options? On a similar note, are there any B&B/dining/shopping destinations popular with people from Pittburgh and Phlidelphia, for weekend getaways? (In a similar vein to Carmel or Mendocino here in Northern Califirnia.)

Last edited by jimmacd; 07-06-2009 at 12:49 PM..
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Old 07-06-2009, 12:29 PM
Location: Harrisburg, PA
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If you are planning to travel by car across Pennsylvania during the first few days of deer season, you need to ask your sister to provide you with the appropriate items for travel during potentially hazardous winter conditions (such as blankets, water, food, etc)

Be aware that should you have a problem with your vehicle in one of the rural counties, even on the Turnpike or any of the Interstates or US Routes, wait times for a tow or other roadside assistance on Monday especially could be 5 hours or more. Odds are you won't have any problems, but you don't want to be caught waiting for hours in the cold unprepared.
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Old 07-06-2009, 12:42 PM
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Carmel it ain't, but of the choices available you might have some interest in Wellsboro - see The Wellsboro Area Chamber of Commerce : Dickens of a Christmas Celebration (they still have last year's info posted as of right now, presumably will update soon) It's a beautiful but a long drive from Clarion and you'll pass scores of orange clad folks alighting from old pickup trucks along the way. But they probably will help you if you break down, which is a good thing because in much of the "PA Wilds" cell phones don't work.

Edit: Can't believe I forgot this the first time, less far out of your way to boot: http://www.jimthorpe.org/

Last edited by ki0eh; 07-06-2009 at 12:50 PM..
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Old 07-06-2009, 09:54 PM
Location: PA
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I would say Gettysburg...so much history there. People say its haunted but thats for one to determine for themself. Valley forge is also great for many of the same reasons. The PA renassaince faire is also a fun time ( lancaster county near millersville). Good luck, have fun!
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Old 07-10-2009, 11:55 AM
Location: Philly
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The Horseshoe Curve near Altoona, maybe the incline in Johnstown (though you can see one in Pittsburgh). What's left of the Bethlehem Steel Works. the grand canyon of Penn.
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Old 07-12-2009, 05:57 AM
Location: Mid-Atlantic
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Drive a stretch of The Lincoln Highway, Route 30.
Flickr: Search Lincoln Highway (http://www.flickr.com/search/groups/?q=pa&w=10821754%40N00&m=pool - broken link)

Route 30 goes through Gettysburg, York, Lancaster. It's a nice ride if the weather is decent. Just east of York you'll find the Shoe House.
Haines Shoe House, Hellam, Pennsylvania
In the Lancaster area, look for the road signs which point the way to towns with funny names like Intercourse, Blue Ball, Bird in Hand.

From Lancaster I'd suggest traveling down to Kennett Square and along Route 1 through the Brandywine Valley. http://www.historickennettsquare.com/ Brandywine Valley Guide: Southern Chester County PA

Stick to the major roads 476 to 95 or 76 to 696 to downtown Philadelphia. You don't want to get lost on the wrong side of town.
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