Skip to main content

Educational Trips for Families in Pennsylvania

Linda enjoys reading, learning, and writing about different things. She enjoys sharing her love of writing, history, and crafts with others.

The state of Pennsylvania is full of historic sites for you and your little ones to visit.

The state of Pennsylvania is full of historic sites for you and your little ones to visit.

Summer Vacations Can Be Fun and Educational

It is never too early to start considering different vacation destinations for your family. Vacations are meant to be fun, but they can also provide great educational opportunities for your children. For those who homeschool their children, here are some suggestions for educational opportunities in Pennsylvania.

Nice weather and summer seem to arrive before we are ready for it, so it is a good idea to start planning where you would like to spend some relaxing, fun time with your family well ahead of time. Begin planning early and consider vacationing in places that will offer your children some educational value as well as a super fun time for all family members.

Fun Areas to Visit in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania—also known as "The Keystone State"—has played many parts in America's rich history from the country's humble beginnings.

  • The Philadelphia area is filled with historical educational opportunities, as well as the Philadelphia Zoo.
  • The capital area in Harrisburg and surrounding areas feature the state capital and the State Museum of Pennsylvania.
  • Close to Harrisburg is Hershey, where that world-famous chocolate is made as well as Hershey Park and Zoo America.
  • Lancaster County is well known for its agricultural, quaint rural family farms but it is best known for its Plain People, the Amish. There are also several caves, lakes and wildlife parks that children will enjoy while learning about animals and their environments.
Gettysburg is a must-see battlefield when in Pennsylvania.

Gettysburg is a must-see battlefield when in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania's Battlefields

From its earliest beginning, Pennsylvania has been the center of several wars, including the French and Indian Wars, the War of Independence from England, and of course the Civil War. If you are planning to visit Pennsylvania, you really must plan to visit some of our country's most famous battlefields.

Battlefields and Museums to Visit in Pennsylvania

  • French and Indian War Museum in Braddock, PA, the site of one of George Washington's early battles: The Battle of the Monongahela. Forty years later, this same battlefield was the place of a mass protest called the Whiskey Rebellion.
  • Valley Forge is the site where George Washington and his Continental Army survived a very brutal winter during the U.S. War for Independence. Here you and your children can tour Washington's headquarters as well as watch enactments and enjoy other activities.
  • Who could ever forget the Battle of Gettysburg, which was the turning point of the Civil War? The most famous battlefield in Pennsylvania is the Gettysburg National Military Park. It has so much for children to see and learn that you could plan to spend several days at this site.
  • There is also the Gettysburg National Cemetery, which was dedicated Nov 19, 1863, with Abraham Lincoln making a short two-minute speech, which became his famous Gettysburg Address. There are many statues and memorials throughout the park, which can be driven to by car. For a thoroughly educational tour, you may wish to hire one of the trained tour guides who will be able to point out areas of interest and answer any questions.

There are too many more battlefields and military landmarks scattered throughout Pennsylvania to list in this article. Most of these have small museums and offer good educational material. A book called "Pennsylvania Battlefields & Military Landmarks" would make a good reference if you are interested in planning a vacation of touring battlefields throughout Pennsylvania.

If you don't have much time and are looking to make the most of your family vacation while also ensuring that the children get some educational value, Gettysburg National Park is the place you should consider visiting.

Some of the most famous authors of the Declaration of Independence: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin.

Some of the most famous authors of the Declaration of Independence: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin.

Philadelphia's Educational Attractions

The City of Brotherly Love has plenty to offer families in the way of history. Here are a few of the city's top historic and educational sites.

Congress Hall

Early in American history, the first capital of the new country was located in Philadelphia from 1790 till 1800 in a building now known as Congress Hall. History was made many times in Philadelphia, including the inauguration of two presidents—George Washington and John Adams—at Congress Hall.

The Independent National Historic Park

Visiting the Independent National Historical Park will provide many history lessons for young students. Independent National Historical Park covers 55 acres stretching over 20 city blocks. There are over a dozen different sites and museums located in the Independent National Historical Park.

The Liberty Bell

No visit to Philadelphia would be complete without viewing the awesome "Liberty Bell" which is located a block away from Independence Hall. This bell represents freedom and patriotism to all Americans.

The bell was cast in England in 1752 but developed the famous crack not long after it arrived. It was recast by a local craftsman who added the famous inscription "Proclaim throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof."

The Philadelphia Zoo

While visiting the Philadelphia area, be sure to take your children to visit the Philadelphia Zoo, where your children can have a good time while learning about the different animals and their habitats. The zoo has an estimated thirteen hundred animals, many of which are on the endangered species list.

Other Important Philadelphia Sites and Museums

Other educational places in or near Philadelphia you will want to visit include:

  • The Ben Franklin Museum
  • The Betsy Ross House where Betsy Ross sewed the first American Flag
  • Independence Seaport Museum where youngsters can tour ships and fire a mock cannon
  • Philadelphia History Museum
  • The U.S Mint in Philadelphia

There is so much of our country's history throughout Philadelphia that this is but a short list of some of the more famous places to visit in Philadelphia. You may need to plan on spending several days in Philadelphia with your family, but it is certainly going to be an educational and fun place to spend some vacation time.

The Pennsylvania Monument is the largest monument at Gettysburg.

The Pennsylvania Monument is the largest monument at Gettysburg.

Pennsylvania Zoos

Hershey, Pennsylvania, is famous for its chocolate and Hershey Park. Chocolate World offers tours through its chocolate-making factory, and of course the kids would love a day at Hershey Park.

But Hershey also offers one of Pennsylvania's nicest zoos, Zoo America, which features animals of North America. It is the home of some 75 to 200 animal species. Zoo America also offers much in the way of education, especially to those who are interested in working with animals as a career.

Guided tours with well-trained guides are also available. What child would not love to visit the zoo and learn more about the animals?

As already mentioned, the Philadelphia Zoo is another great zoo to spend family time together. It was the first zoo in America, opening just after the Civil War, and it offers guided tours and many learning opportunities for children.

Caverns in Pennsylvania

There are several nice caverns located in Pennsylvania which provide many different sources of education.

  • Lincoln Caverns and Whisper Rocks are two amazing crystal caverns which also feature guided tours through the caverns as well as hiking on nature trails and picnic areas
  • Penn's Cave is a cavern that has guided tours through its all-water caverns. There are also sixteen hundred acres of forest and fields that provide a natural habitat for wildlife. A ninety-minute bus tour can be taken through this wildlife area. There are also hiking trails and picnic areas.
  • Indian Caverns were once occupied by Native Americans. Tours of almost one mile are led by experienced guides who are well educated in conservation, nature and natural history.

These amazing caverns would make good educational day trips for those who are interested in learning about wildlife and caves.

Mountain lions are just one of America's wildlife that can be seen at Zoo American in Hershey, PA.

Mountain lions are just one of America's wildlife that can be seen at Zoo American in Hershey, PA.

Other Places to Visit

This is just a small handful of interesting, fun and educational places to plan family vacations around. There are many others, but too many to include in one article. Some of the other places I would like to mention are listed below:

  • Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
  • Lake Raystown
  • Horseshoe Curve
  • East Broad Top Railroad & Coal Company
  • Lancaster Amish Country.
  • Crayola Factory

These are all great places to visit and enjoy some vacation fun, quality family time and encourage young minds to question, research and learn new things. Many times children will learn just as much from what they observe and experience as they will in a classroom or from books. For some students, history, nature, and wildlife come alive and more real and exciting with close-up interactions.

© 2014 L.M. Hosler