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Trip to Pennsylvania with 9 year old grandson

Orlando
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Trip to Pennsylvania with 9 year old grandson

We have 8 days to tour PA. I'd like for my grandson to see Philadelphia and all it has to offer educationally. My husband would like to spend 1 day at Gettysburg so he can learn about the Civil War and we'd finish it off with FUN at Hershey for 2 days. Any advice or suggestions on the best route - where to fly into, other places we should see, etc. Thanks in advance for any help you can give me in planning this itinerary.

Elizabethtown...
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1. Re: Trip to Pennsylvania with 9 year old grandson

Sounds like a great trip to do with your 9 y.o.! My kids are 9 and 10. There is a lot to do depending on your grandson's interests. You will probably find the most convenient and cheapest flights in and out of Philadelphia. This is about 2 hrs. from the Harrisburg/Hershey/Gettysburg area, so depending on flight times, not too inconvenient for both arrival and departure from PA. I would start there. In Philadelphia my kids really enjoy The Constitution Center/Independence Hall/Liberty Bell, and The Franklin Institute, so I would consider those "must do's." Citizen Bank Park is a really nice ball park, so check the Phillies schedule for the days you plan to be in town and consider taking in a game while you are there. I've never been, but touring Eastern State Penitentiary might be something fun and different for you to check out. If you are considering a visit to the Philadelphia Zoo, I would do that on your last day, when you will be renting a car for the rest of your trip, since public transportation to it is not convenient, then continue on to Central PA.

I think you would be happiest sticking to one hotel located equidistant between Hershey and Gettysburg for the second half of your trip. The Hampton Inn Camp Hill is in a good location for visiting both, and we've always had good luck staying in them with our kids (they like the free breakfast with diy waffles). But there are many other hotels in the Harrisburg area if that doesn't suit your needs.

If you've never been, and your grandson is of average to above average height for his age, AND he likes amusement parks and thrill rides, I would consider 3 days to really see all Hershey has to offer. Two for the park, and 1 for all the other great stuff. Hersheypark has really gotten big enough that it takes 2 days to enjoy the water park and still ride all the big thrill rides, see some shows, and walk around Zoo America. Even if you are not interested in visiting the water and zoo areas, consider using the free evening hours the night before your planned visit. Buy your single day ticket at a discount from a local Giant Grocery store, then go to the park 2.5 hrs. before it closes. You will be admitted and your ticket will be marked and given back to you so that you can use it again for any full day you choose - although obviously most out of town visitors come back the very next day.

Other things to do while in Hershey include Chocolate World where you can also get tickets to the Trolley Tour (do this) and I would definitely take a 9 y.o. to The Hershey Story museum and sign him up for the Apprentice Program (kind of a scavenger hunt through the museum for little prizes and stamps in a book). Also look into a visit to the Antique Automobile Club Museum just north of Hershey. Indian Echo Caverns and a ride on the Hummelstown Railroad might be anther fun activity, especially if the weather is not cooperating.

Gettysburg, IMO, can be done in one very full day. Definitely take the time to see all that the Visitor Center has to offer - a movie, cyclorama show, and museum area. It is highly recommended on this sight to hire a private battlefield guide. I admit I have never done this, and hope to do it some day. However, we bought an audio tour when we took our kids, and it worked well for us - stopping at sights to get out and run around, pausing for lunch, and just generally going at our own pace. The Cemetery is separate from the battlefield tour, and you will want to visit this as well. You should also take a walk through the downtown area, maybe doing a ghost tour in the evening before heading back to your hotel.

Have a great trip!

Columbia, Maryland
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2. Re: Trip to Pennsylvania with 9 year old grandson

One other area to consider is PA Dutch/Amish country in Lancaster County, PA. Strasburg, PA is a good central point. You will see Amish using horse and buggies and farming using horses in the area.

In Strasburg there are many other things to see and do that would excite a 9 year old:

Strasburg RR - a 45 minute scenic steam train trip thru Amish farm country

http://www.strasburgrailroad.com/

Railroad Museum of PA - http://www.rrmuseumpa.org/

Choo Choo Barn - a large model railroad layout with many interesting things - padutchcountry.com/members/choo_choo_barn_-_…

http://www.choochoobarn.com/

Toy Train Museum - numerous train layouts and displays

http://www.nttmuseum.org/

If you're up for a bit of a lodging adventure that would thrill a 9 year old boy, try the Red Caboose Motel. Keep in mind these are converted cabooses. Think 1 star motel. http://www.redcaboosemotel.com/

If that is a bit too much adventure, the Fulton Steamboat Inn is a nice place.

Since you seem to be focusing on eastern PA, Philadelphia is the logical choice to fly into.

You could do a loop - Philadelphia, to Strasburg, to Gettysburg, to Hershey.

From Philly, take I76 to US30 west. US 30 west to PA 896 south to Strasburg. From Streasburg, get back on US30 west to US15 south to Gettysburg. US30 will have a stretch of a couple miles with a lot of lights west of York, PA. From Gettysburg, US15 north to PA581 east to I83 north to US322 east to Hershey. PA581 becomes I83. From Hershey take US322 east to PA72 south to the PA Turnpike (I76) to Philadelphia.

If you don't want to add Strasburg, you could still follow the same route to Gettysburg or a faster route would be to take I76 to the PA Turnpike (I76 west) to US15 south to Gettysburg.

Baltimore, Maryland
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3. Re: Trip to Pennsylvania with 9 year old grandson

not sure what the kid likes but you could consider brandywine valley area which is quite close to Philly. Du Pont Mansion

http://www.nemoursmansion.org/

and Longwood Gardens are a couple of the things to do.

Valley Forge for some Am Revolution history should be included.

You won't have any problem filling up your time.

Orlando
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4. Re: Trip to Pennsylvania with 9 year old grandson

Thanks for all your great suggestions. I have made copies of your responses to help me plan. I definitely would love to see the Dupont Mansion - will check that out.

2 other questions if I might ask. We are going June 23 and something must be happening in Philly that week as I'm having a hard time finding a room downtown. What towns would you suggest I try if we'll be heading to Gettysburg after Philly. Also is it worth it to stay at Hershey Lodge - so expensive? Wondering if there were other good places in Hershey. I had about decided to rent one of the cabins at Hershey Park (thought grandson would love staying in a cabin) but my husband said he couldn't stand being in a cabin without air conditioning and I'm afraid with the warm weather we're having now it'll be pretty warm the end of June.

Thanks again in advance.

Columbia, Maryland
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5. Re: Trip to Pennsylvania with 9 year old grandson

There are plenty of other lodging options close by other than the Hershey Lodge. Do a search for Hershey lodging and find something that suits you. Whenever we go somewhere we find that if a place offers a free breakfast, it is a time and money saver. As for places to stay in the direction of Gettyburg - the Valley Forge/King of Prussia area. However, your trip into and out of Philadelphia will be a pain.

I suggested Amish country but I would also second Valley Forge since history seems to be part of the trip. Longwood Gardens - not so much for a 9 year old boy.

6. Re: Trip to Pennsylvania with 9 year old grandson

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