You can escape with the entire family to the scenic beauty of the Pocono Mountains, which span four counties in eastern Pennsylvania. In the rolling hills, backwoods trails and numerous lakes, your family will find kid-friendly activities that the whole crew will enjoy. From boating in the summer and skiing in the winter to fall pumpkin festivals and zoo explorations, the Poconos offers a wealth of family fun for tourists and locals alike.
1. Animal Parks and Petting Zoos
Nestled in the woods near Hamilin, Pennsylvania, you’ll find Claws & Paws Animal Park, with a surprising 120 species of wild animals. Here, your kids can observe the white tiger and kangaroo, feed the animals in the petting zoo, discover fossils in the Dino Dig, explore Turtle Town and watch the daily live animal shows. Plan your trip accordingly, since it is only open from May through October. In Lehighton, you'll find a petting zoo called “Pappy’s Farm” at Country Junction, which stakes a claim to being the world's largest general store. A local fall favorite with its Great Pocono Pumpkin Festival, Country Junction also provides a corn maze and pumpkin-picking activities for its youngest visitors.
2. Amusement and Water Parks
Entertain the kids with a trip to Costa’s Family Fun Park, where you can engage in a game of miniature golf or laser tag, spend time in the batting cages, or just enjoy the go-karts, bumper boats and water slides. For even more water fun, head to Great Wolf Lodge in Scotrun for the day or to stay. Great Wolf Lodge has an indoor water park with more than 79,000 square feet of water-packed excitement, including slides, as well as zero-depth entry areas for the little ones. Outside the water park, you'll find restaurants, shopping and an arcade area. Another option is Split Rock Resort’s indoor H20oooh Water Park, which has a wavepool, flow river, fun play structure and five water slides.
3. Lake Activities
The 150 lakes in the Poconos area beckon family visitors with their beaches and boat activities. Beltzville State Park in Lehighton boasts 525 feet of sandy shore front for swimmers between May and September. The park provides a bathhouse and refreshment stand for the convenience of visitors. Explore the 949 acres of water by boat, whether you rent a paddle boat, canoe or motorboat for the family. Within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, you can find two lifeguard-protected beaches open to the public: Mitford Beach and Stafford Beach. Edge of the Woods Outfitters, which is nearby, offers guided river trips and bike rentals.
4. Snow Activities
From sleigh rides to tubing and skiing, the countryside of the Poconos offers plenty for young visitors to do in the winter months as well when the weather is warm. Daisy Field Farm in White Haven provides year-round horse rides in addition to its carriage and sleigh rides. In Waymart, Happy Trails Stables also caters to families and small parties with their sleigh rides and trail rides. In Analomink, take a family adventure day at Alpine Mountain Ski and Snow Tubing Center. With 21 trails from which you can choose, you're sure to find a comfort level for every family member. Or, head to Camelback Mountain Resort in Tannersville, a popular family ski destination.
- Claws 'n' Paws Wild Animal Park
- Country Junction
- Costa Family Fun Park
- Great Wolf Lodge Poconos Water Park
- Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources: Beltzville State Park
- National Park Service: Delaware Water Gap
- Edge of the Woods Outfitters
- Camelback Mountain Resort
- Daisy Field Farm
- Happy Trails Riding
- Steve Mason/Photodisc/Getty Images