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10 Great Summer Day Trips for Main Line Families

Summer's here and the time is right — for day trips with the family!

In between vacations, camps, and other activities, summer’s a great time to explore area attractions that are a little further from home, but don’t require an overnight stay. That’s what we had in mind when we compiled this list of 10 Great Summer Day Trips. Each of these 10 destinations makes for an interesting, fun, and memorable family outing that you can easily do in one day — and be home before bedtime! What’s more, the list includes attractions suited for a variety of ages from little ones, to tweens and teens.

So if you’re looking to make some summer memories with a one-day adventure, check out our list of ideas for day trips. We started with a 30-minute trip to Historic Philadelphia, then feature nine more intriguing attractions ranging from 60 minutes to 90 minutes of drive time.

About a 30-Minute Drive…

Historic Philadelphia – A Walking Tour

Photo on Independence Hall by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA® 

While the birthplace of our nation might seem like an obvious day trip for Main Line families, it’s definitely a must-see destination if you haven’t visited yet! Since there’s more history in Philly than can be done on one day, we culled a few favorite highlights into a curated walking tour. As a whole, this tour is best suited for kids in elementary school and older, who can appreciate the meaning of the historic sites.

(Please note, the entire tour listed below is probably not doable for small children, older folks, and those with limited abilities.)

Independence Visitor Center & Parking

599 Market Street, Philadelphia

Begin your tour of historic Philly here, where you can park your car in the garage underneath the visitor center (GPS address is AutoPark at Independence Mall, 41 N. 6th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106). Inside the Independence Visitor Center, park rangers provide information about Independence National Historical Park and you’ll find public restrooms, loaner wheelchairs, a cafe, and free Wi-Fi.

Liberty Bell Center

526 Market Street, Philadelphia

Take a short walk down 6th Street to visit the Liberty Bell. View its legendary crack firsthand and take a family photo in front of this symbol of freedom.

Independence Hall

520 Chestnut Street (between 5th and 6th), Philadelphia

After the Liberty Bell, cross Chestnut Street to arrive at the stately Independence Hall. Inside this landmark building is where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed. Entry is by tour only, so you must reserve your timed ticket prior to arrival. Afterwards, stroll around Independence Square and take an optional tour in Congress Hall, included with your ticket.

Franklin Court

318 Market Street, Philadelphia

It’s about a five-minute walk from Independence Hall to the Franklin Court sites. Out on Market Street, walk through the Franklin Court Printing Office, a reproduction of an 18th century print shop. In the courtyard behind the shop, explore the foundation of Ben Franklin’s house and walk around the frame structures that outline where Franklin’s home and his grandson’s printing business once stood. To learn more about this incredibly accomplished forefather, tour the Benjamin Franklin Museum (for a small admission fee), also in the courtyard.

Betsy Ross House

239 Arch Street, Philadelphia

If your crew still has the energy, push on to the next and last stop on this tour, which is the Betsy Ross House. I’m not going to lie — it is a bit of a hike, but definitely worth a visit! With the purchase of admission ($10 adults, $8 children), visitors take a self-guided tour inside this narrow, colonial-era house where Betsy Ross once lived and worked. It’s a fascinating glimpse into 18th century life and the story behind the creation of our nation’s first flag.

When you’re all done, relax with lunch or dinner at one the restaurants in Old City or head back to Independence Mall. After this day trip, you’ve earned your American history badge and hopefully you feel inspired by the founding history of our great nation!

About a 60-Minute Drive…

Hiking in French Creek State Park

French Creek State Park Office, 843 Park Road, Elverson, Chester County, PA

Some of the trails in French Creek State Park provide access to Hopewell Furnace, an early American iron “plantation,” that you can explore.

With 7,916 acres of protected woodlands, French Creek State Park offers a big forest retreat for a small amount of drive time. Within the park you’ll find more than 35 miles of well-marked trails, ranging from Easiest to Most Difficult, with a variety of distances for both short and longer hikes. Especially nice is the Hopewell Lake Loop hike, which has restrooms, potable water, and benches at the trailhead. What’s more the lake is lovely place for a family picnic. In fact, picnic tables are located throughout the park. If you’d like to add some history to your hike, there are a few trails that take you to the Hopewell Furnace Historic Site. Wander the well-preserved buildings of this 18th–19th century rural iron plantation and learn a little bit about early American industrial operations. It makes for an interesting hiking destination.

New Hope

Bucks County, PA

Photo of a street corner in New Hope by R. Kennedy for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

Situated along the banks of the Delaware River just north of Washington Crossing, New Hope is one of PA’s most vibrant and unique small towns. Although the town is just over a square mile, it’s packed with cool eateries, shops, and galleries. Combined with historic architecture and loads of charm, New Hope invites you to wander its streets and alleyways, and soak up the ambience. Especially fun for families, the New Hope Railroad and The Bucks County Children’s Museum make good anchor points for your day trip to New Hope.

For a more detailed look at New Hope, don’t miss Bucks County Parent’s Guide to New Hope!

Tubing on the Delaware

Bucks County, PA

Tubing on the Delaware River; photo courtesy of Bucks County River Country

How about a water adventure cruising down the Delaware River, soaking up the natural scenery along the way? A mellow afternoon tubing on the river is one of the best summer day trips for water-loving kids and adults! From the Main Line area, the closest tubing outfitter is Bucks County River Country located in Point Pleasant, PA. They have been renting tubes, kayaks, rafts, and canoes since 1967. A little further upriver are Treasure Island Outfitters and Big Bear Gear. Pack a picnic lunch to eat before or after tubing (as you can’t bring food out on the water), or hit the The Famous River Hot Dog Man along the way. Oh, and wear sunscreen!

About a 90-Minute Drive…

Cherry Crest Adventure Farm

150 Cherry Hill Road, Ronks, Lancaster County, PA

The Lil Wagon Express at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm

Cherry Crest Adventure Farm takes a “day at the farm” to whole new level. With about 35 games and attractions, families can spend hours here playing and exploring, dining at multiple food and treat concessions, and browsing the general Store and Trading Post. Visit the Animal Grove, the Baby Chick Hatchery, the kiddie town of Sproutsville, and the Tractor Display. Then ride the Pedal Carts, the Country Road Carts, the Hay Chute, and the Straw Bale Racer. Play games like Skee Ball, Big Ball Corral, and many more. Phew! After that, there’s still tons more to do and see. And when you get hot, cool off in the Misting Tent. All in all, it’s a full day of active fun outdoors.

Cherry Crest Adventure Farm is also renowned for its corn maze, which USA Today has ranked as one of America’s top ten for the last five years. FYI: The corn maze won’t reach its full height until the end of July.

Crystal Cave

963 Crystal Cave Road, Kutztown, Berks County, PA

The underground walkway inside Crystal Cave

This natural wonder underground was discovered way back in 1871 and is nowadays known as Historic Crystal Cave. For Main Line families, a visit here is an easy day trip to an otherworldly experience! It’s also a nice place to spend time in the summer, as the cave temperature is a cool 54 degrees. (Insider tip: wear or bring a hoodie or jacket; the change in temp can make you feel quite chilly.) Admission is a reasonable $14 for kids and $19 for youth (age 12+), and adults. While you’re there, your family can also do a little gemstone panning or play miniature golf. Head into nearby Kutztown for lunch or dinner and call it day.

Downtown Lititz

Lancaster County, PA

The Lititz Train Station and Wilbur Chocolate factory building, by Tom Roe Photography

This charming little town in the heart of Lancaster County makes for an ideal destination in “Pennsylvania Dutch Country.” Established by Moravian settlers in the mid-1700’s, the town of Lititz offers a glimpse into history and a handful of unique attractions. Topping the list are pretzels and chocolate! Build your day trip around a visit to Sturgis Pretzel Bakery and Wilbur Chocolate, famous for delicious Wilbur Buds. Stroll Lititz Springs Park and feed the ducks or learn about the town’s history at the Lititz Museum. Be sure to stop by the Train Station Welcome Center for maps and information about restaurants and other activities.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

1700 Hawk Mountain Road, Kempton, Berks County, PA

View from the North Lookout on Hawk Mountain by Zeete via Wikimedia Commons.

Up for a hike? The view from Hawk Mountain is one of the best mountain summit vistas in our area and makes for a great day trip. Part of the Kittatinny Ridge in Berks County, Hawk Mountain is now a sanctuary for raptors, which are birds of prey like hawks. The best time of year to see hawks are the spring and fall, during migrations. However, summer’s a good time to visit when the mountain is less crowded.

When you reach Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, you’ll find parking and a path up to the visitor center, which features educational exhibits. From the visitor center you have choice of trails; admission to the trails is $10 for adults and $5 for children (6–12). The shortest hike with a view is .25 miles and takes you to the South Lookout at 1300 feet in elevation. This is ideal for families with small children or who prefer a short hike. For families with older children and teens, there’s The Lookout Trail which is one mile to the vista points. (But remember it’s also a mile back!) On this trail you can reach The Slide and the Sunset Overlook at 1500 feet in elevation, as well as The North Lookout. Enjoy the breathtaking views!

Storybook Land

6415 E Black Horse Pike, Egg Harbor Township, NJ

My daughter on her 4th birthday riding Happy Dragon at Storybook Land.

For some parents (like me!), a visit to Storybook Land holds a special place in our childhood memories. What likely began as a whimsical, mid-century, roadside attraction on the way “down the shore” has evolved into a delightful little children’s theme park. Geared for kids ages 1–8, it’s a magical land, complete with a fairytale castle entrance. Inside the park you’ll find lots of kiddie rides, plus giant storybook figures like Mother Goose and walkthrough attractions like The Crooked House. In the summer, cool off in their Storybook Seaport splash pad, included with admission. Additionally the park offers numerous dining and snacking concessions, and features a giant birthday cake pavilion for parties. Overall, Storybook Land is a quirky, fun, and memorable day trip for families with little kids.

Turkey Hill Experience

301 Linden Street, Columbia, Lancaster County, PA

Be a Turkey Hill Dairy ice cream maker for a day. Photo courtesy of Turkey Hill Experience.

Perhaps you’re familiar with Turkey Hill, the convenience store chain found in PA counties just beyond Wawa’s territory. But did you know that Turkey Hill offers a factory tour that’s rated #10 among the “25 Best Factory Tours in America,” according to Good Housekeeping? Described as “a delicious family attraction,” the Turkey Hill Experience features interactive exhibits about the story of Turkey Hill Dairy and how the company’s ice cream, and iced tea flavors are created. As part of the experience, you can create your own virtual ice cream flavor and star in your own Turkey Hill commercial. Plus you get to enjoy unlimited samples of ice cream and iced tea! Up the ante and purchase tickets to the Taste Lab as well, and you can bring your virtual ice cream flavor to life. It’s a whole day trip dedicated to ice cream — the perfect summer excursion!

For even more family-friendly fun, including amusement parks, museums, playgrounds, and more, be sure to check out The Main Line Summer Family Fun Guide.

Lead photo courtesy of Cherry Crest Farm.

Main Line Parent Writer & Calendar Editor. Email beth@familyfocus.org.