How do you picture the perfect family vacation? When you’re traveling with young children, you might want lots of attractions and activities nearby to minimize drive time, as well as things to do that don’t involve getting everyone back in the car at all.
If you’re looking for family-friendly hotels in Lancaster, PA, take a close look at Bird-in-Hand Family Inn. This resort-style hotel is just minutes from some of the area’s most popular attractions and offers many onsite amenities, making it one of the best places to visit with kids near Lancaster. Read on for a sampling of ways to create family memories while you’re here.
11-MIN. DRIVE: STRASBURG RAILROAD
Take Ronks Road south for 11 minutes to reach the Strasburg Rail Road, where you can ride an authentic steam train through Amish Country. Choose from a full calendar of regularly scheduled rides and special holiday events. Offered on various dates through the summer, a Day Out With Thomas™ is especially popular with young fans of Thomas the Tank Engine. In addition to the 45-minute ride, the event features several related activities, such as the interactive Imagination Station, Pint-sized Pufferbelly miniature steam train, and hand-cranked Cranky Cars.
Less than half a mile west of the Strasburg Rail Road, just past the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Choo Choo Barn—Traintown, USA, is a favorite destination of model railroad lovers. It features an elaborate 1,700-square-foot train layout with more than 150 hand-built animated figures, vehicles and 22 trains. The display grew from a layout George Groff built with his son for Christmas 1945 in their home. It became so popular with neighbors over the years that in 1961 the Groffs moved it to a building of its own and opened it to the public.
Today, it also features a complex of specialty shops, including an officially licensed Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends store and a picnic grove.
10-MIN. DRIVE: DUTCH WONDERLAND
In 2019 and 2021, Amusement Today magazine gave Dutch Wonderland the Golden Ticket Award for Best Family Park. No wonder. For generations, the Dutch Wonderland theme park has drawn visitors from far and wide. On nearly 50 acres, it features more than 35 rides, attractions and shows for young children, plus Duke’s Lagoon and Exploration Island. Imagine the family memories you could create on Merlin’s Mayhem roller coaster, the Wonderland Special train ride or the Wonder House, which turns everything upside down.
The dragon-themed Duke’s Lagoon water park is a great place to cool off, with a multi-level water play platform, a pipeline plunge, spray nozzles and other water attractions, and a lounge area with palm trees and thatched cabanas. Exploration Island offers a prehistoric paradise where budding archaeologists can find fossils in the Dino Dig sand pits and meet more than 20 life-life “dinosaurs” on the self-guided Prehistoric Path.
You can also explore the island with Turnpike cars, take a Gondola Cruise, or ride a monorail around the park. On the park’s website, rides and attractions are labeled with minimum height and “thrill level” to make it easy to plan your visit.
10-MIN. DRIVE: CHERRY CREST ADVENTURE FARM
Cherry Crest Adventure Farm is a family-owned 25-acre adventure farm that gives families a chance to enjoy the outdoors, learn about farming and have lots of fun. On the grounds of a completely solar working farm, the adventure farm is open from spring through fall, with interactive attractions like Sproutsville, the Discovery Barn, a Farm Animal Center and activities like the Giant Slinger, Hay Chute, Straw Bale Racer, Farm Tour Wagon and Apple Blasters.
Some attractions, like the Amazing Maize Maze and Pedal Carts, are available in summer and fall. In addition to the 60 attractions (some are crop or weather-dependent), Cherry Crest hosts various festivals, including the Baby Animal Festival, a Sweet Corn Festival, Sunflower Festivals and a Hometown Heroes Festival. Like many tourist attractions, the farm is cashless.
8-MIN. DRIVE: BUSY BODIES PLAY CAFÉ
If your kids have energy and creativity that needs channeling, Busy Bodies Play Café may be the place to do it. An interactive open play space for children ages 1 to 6 years, the environment is designed to allow children to learn through discovery and experimentation.
You can reserve time for any of the three play sessions offered throughout the day from Monday through Friday or join “drop-in” play if space is available. The café also schedules family-focused enrichment classes in arts, crafts, music and other fun topics.
2-MIN. WALK: WATERS EDGE MINI GOLF
Just a few steps from the Bird-in-Hand Family Inn, Waters Edge mini golf is fun for the whole family. Play miniature golf in a gorgeous setting, surrounded by cascading waterfalls, gently rolling streams, serene ponds and gardens bursting with colorful plants. When you’ve finished your round, stick around and enjoy a delicious dish or cone of artisan ice cream from the Bird-in-Hand Creamery, available at the Waters Edge snack bar.
ON-SITE: AWESOME AMENITIES
At the Bird-in-Hand Family Inn, you can choose from a wide variety of clean, comfortable rooms and suites, including our unique Schoolhouse Suite, which sleeps up to five guests in a unique reproduction of an Amish schoolhouse, complete with a teacher’s desk, blackboard, gas stove, books and a globe. Meals are easy and convenient: Our onsite Restaurant & Smorgasbord serves farm-fresh foods, prepared with care, with a varied menu that offers something for everyone. Select from the buffet or order from the menu—and we have a kids’ menu.
When you’ve finished sightseeing and adventuring for the day, cool off with the kids in our outdoor pool, which has a walk-in zero-grade entrance, or our two indoor pools. Your stay also includes the use of our lighted tennis and basketball courts, playground, fitness room, game room and walking paths—so you can be sure to have enough fun to fill a whole scrapbook with memories!