Best weekend trips for families in Pennsylvania

May 28, 2010 at 5:16 a.m. ET

Though Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and other cities in Pennsylvania have a lot to offer, sometimes you just want to get away. Let's take a look at some weekend getaway destinations in Pennsylvania that will take you out of the city just far enough without being too far or too expensive.

Pennsylvania Road Sign

Jim Thorpe

Jim Thorpe is a small borough of under 5,000 people just outside Philadelphia. Though small in population, it has become an up-and-coming tourist destination as it was named in the top 10 of America's Coolest Small Towns by Budget Travel magazine in 2009. Families enjoy white water rafting, mountain biking, hiking, paint ball and much more. Located in Carbon County, Jim Thorpe is often called the "Switzerland of America" due to it mountainous locale, amazing scenery and unique architecture. Located just 80 miles from Philadelphia, Jim Thorpe makes a terrific weekend getaway destination.


Jim Thorpe, PA. Hour: Open; Admission: Vary upon attraction.


Gettysburg National Military Park

The Battle of Gettysburg was the turning point in the Civil War. Adults and kids of all ages can learn a little about our country's history and enjoy a day or two exploring Gettysburg National Military Park. Families can enjoy free ranger-guided programs, evening campfire programs, activities for kids, and specialized battle walks during the summer months. Be sure to check out the museum and visitors center, as well as take a tour of the battlefield and significant sites. Gettysburg is located about 150 miles from Philadelphia and 40 miles from Harrisburg.


1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg, PA 17325. Park hours: Daily 6 a.m.-10 p.m. April through October; 6 a.m.-7 p.m. November through March. Museum hours: Daily 8 a.m.-6 p.m. April through October; 8 a.m.-5 p.m. November through March; Museum admission: Adults: $10.50; seniors and active military: $9.50; children ages 6-18: $6.50; kids under 6: free. Guided tours and other activities available for additional fee.


Lancaster County

Pennsylvania Dutch Country allows you to explore farm life as it was back in the 1800s. Head to Lancaster County to see an authentic Amish experience, enjoy outdoor activities, visit their vibrant, cultural downtown, and explore everything the area has to offer. Take your family on a buggy ride or get a view from up above in a hot air balloon. Bike or hike the many trails throughout the spectacular landscape. If you want your family to experience a simpler time, there aren't many better places than Lancaster County. With a quick weekend getaway, your family can get a break from the hustle and bustle of busy city life. Lancaster is just 65 miles outside Philadelphia.


Lancaster County, PA. Hour: Open; Admission: Vary upon attraction.


McConnells Mill

Just about 40 miles outside Pittsburgh, McConnells Mill State Park offers plenty of outdoor adventures for adults and children of all ages. This Pennsylvania state park consists of 2,546 acres. Explore a restored gristmill and covered bridge. Take a scenic hike to experience the area's flora and fauna. And for adventurous families, whitewater boating and fishing, as well as rock climbing/rappelling opportunities, are available. The park incorporates Slippery Rock Creek Gorge - an amazing, steep gorge formed by glacial lakes.


Lawrence County, Ellwood City, PA 16051. Hours: Park open 24 hours daily; gristmill open Memorial day through Labor Day 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Admission: free.