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12 Fantastic Reasons To Visit Lehigh Valley With Kids
A fantastic destination for a long weekend or family vacation in Pennsylvania is Lehigh Valley. Here are some great reasons to visit Lehigh Valley with kids!
We were hosted by Discover Lehigh Valley but all opinions are our own.
At first blush you might you might not know much about Lehigh Valley, located in Eastern Pennsylvania and practically on the border with New Jersey. You have likely heard of HersheyPark, Lancaster County, and Philadelphia.
And while those Pennsylvania locations are fantastic, Lehigh Valley is fantastic too. Actually, Lehigh Valley may be absolutely perfect for families. We recently spent a long weekend in Lehigh Valley and trust me, we barely had enough time to scratch the surface of this amazing destination. Read on to find out why you should visit Lehigh Valley with kids!
The Lehigh Valley Region primarily encompasses three main town, each with their own distinct charm. I couldn’t stop singing Billy Joel when we were in Allentown (for real, I was humming the songs all weekend). Easton may be one of the cutest small towns in all of America. And Bethlehem– famous for both its SteelStacks and its Christmas festivities is very charming as well.
You will want to spend some time in each of these towns for sure!
If you are visiting with kids though, don’t miss these fantastic things to do!
1. Lehigh Valley Zoo
The Lehigh Valley Zoo in Schnecksville is a small but very lovely zoo that is perfect for kids, especially younger kids. The zoo is very walk-able and there is tons of shade.
There are actually quite a few animals that you can get super close to! The wolf sanctuary is really fantastic.
You can get really close to the giraffes and even feed them at designated times during the day (for a fee). The zebras are also very accessible.
We loved the petting zoo area. For a small fee you can feed the goats, which is always fun! There is a small children’s garden with some interactive features and a nice playground.
When we visited there were tons of activities, both free and for a small cost, that kids could participate in. Basically, you buy tickets for the activities when you pay the admission fee and the kids can spend them how they want. My daughter got an arm paint and then made a few animal enrichment crafts.
It won’t take all day to visit this zoo, but I would budget at least 2-3 hours.
On the way out of the zoo, keep your eyes peeled for elk and bison! AND– make sure you take the opportunity to drive across the Jordan Creek! That is cool and exciting (and totally safe)!
2. Da vinci Science Center
Another family favorite in Lehigh Valley is the Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown. This science museum is not as large as its’ big city counterparts, but wow.. it is amazing. We spent almost an entire day learning and exploring here!
Almost all of the exhibits are incredibly interactive and are meant for kids to learn by doing.
Some of our favorite exhibits included Tunnel Vision (there are designated times for this exhibit), Engineers On A Roll (we played here for at least an entire hour), the Newton Chairs, virtual reality (the exhibits change but we got to virtually walk on the moon), and designing paper airplanes!
3. Ice Cream
Oh my goodness, Lehigh Valley knows its ice cream. There are scads of amazing ice cream shops in each of the three main towns (Allentown, Easton, and Bethlehem). I wanted to get a scoop at all of them. Alas, that was not meant to be. But we tried!
One of the two places we did dig in was Ice Cream World in Allentown. Check out this double brownie fudge sundae (I shared with my daughter).
The second place we indulged in a few scoops was Bethlehem Dairy Store– where both of us dug into the cookie monster ice cream. Well, I did get a double scoop and my second scoop was THE best chocolate almond ice cream I have ever tasted. Hmmmm… delicious!
Other notable ice cream shoppes you will want to try out include:
4. Covered Bridges
There are seven covered bridges that comprise the Lehigh Valley Covered Bridge Tour. Five of the bridges are open for traffic but two of them, like Bogert’s Bridge in Allentown, are pedestrian only.
You won’t need to spend a long time visiting the bridges but they are really charming. So, take a few minutes to check a few of them out, pack a lunch and just enjoy them!
You can’t visit Lehigh Valley without paying homage to the steel industry. SteelStacks has been transformed from Bethlehem Steel, the second largest steel plant in the United States, to a community art and music venue that is pretty fantastic. We didn’t make it for a concert (they have a robust schedule of free and paid performances throughout the year), but you can walk up close to the SteelStacks for free any time.
Not only is it cool to see the remnants of the area’s manufacturing history, there are plenty of placards that tell exactly what happened at the plant, how many people were involved, and the process for turning rock into steel. It was really fascinating.
6. Crayola Experience
I personally think this amazing attraction is great for kids of all ages (including 40-something Moms!). But if you have kids, you absolutely MUST visit the Crayola Experience in Easton. Budget most of the day for this fantastic attraction. It’s very hands on and your kids will love all the activities (there are over 25 activities!).
7. Great Street Art Murals
There are many cool places in Lehigh Valley where the sides of buildings have been transformed into public art. I adore this alley behind the Crayola Experience. Not only is the Bank Street Creamery located here, but the entire street is an open air art gallery.
Other places in Lehigh Valley to check out outdoor art murals include:
8. Easton Public Market
About 5 steps (literally 5 steps) from Crayola Experience is a foodie haven that both you and your kids will adore. Easton Public Market is an indoor market (like Quincy Market or Reading Terminal Market) with a number of great restaurants to tickle the taste buds of everyone in your family.
Sadly, we had already eaten lunch– but we totally chowed down on delicious snacks! My daughter was tickled to eat a super cute mermaid princess cupcake and I savored these banana-strawberry-nutella crepes from Full of Crepe!
Lehigh Valley is also home to a number of great breweries. Even if you aren’t into craft beer, the food is amaaazing. Just sayin’.
We checked out Fegley’s Brew Works in Allentown (there is also a location in Bethlehem). My daughter loved her kid friendly Mac’ N Cheese. But oh my word… I tried their specialty High Gravity Mac-N-Cheese and it was divine. Rotini tossed with gruyere, aged cheddar, bechamel, and topped with toasted bread crumbs. It was awesome.
10. Karl Stirner Arts Trail
Another fun and free activity you can do is walk on the Karl Stirner Art Trail. This 1.75 mile trail follows the Bushkill Creek and hosts around 16 pieces of art along this lovely nature trail. Such a great way to get into nature, enjoy art, and burn energy!
11. Dorney Park
I couldn’t possibly talk about a visit to Lehigh Valley without mentioning Dorney Park in Allentown. We had never visited Dorney Park before but both me and my daughter had an absolutely fabulous time!
There are tons of fun attractions for both younger kids and tween and teens. You could easily spend two days here (one at the amusement park and one at the expansive water park). Click here for my in-depth review!
Finally, I really can’t talk about Lehigh Valley without mentioning Christmas. We haven’t visited during the holiday season yet (emphasis on the word yet). However, Christmas is a Lehigh Valley specialty. Koziar’s Christmas Village is one of the most impressive Christmas lights displays in the entire United States. Bethlehem is rightly dubbed ‘Christmas City USA,’ complete with a fantastic Christkindlmarkt.
Where To Stay
If you have kids, you will absolutely want to stay at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Allentown West. We were hosted by Fairfield Inn & Suites for our stay, but I actually sought this hotel out because I heard so many great things about it. The hotel did not disappoint.
The rooms are really comfortable, with plenty of room for suitcases, a microwave, mini frig, and Keurig. The beds are very comfy (as in we both slept soundly). The complimentary breakfast has a wide variety of items, including mini-waffles. You will definitely not go hungry. Also, the hotel staff and management are super responsive to customer concerns and they take customer service very seriously.
The reason this hotel is so fabulous for families though is this pool! Oh. My. Goodness. It has a water-slide! Woo hoo! My daughter’s eyes lit up when she saw this pool and we probably spent 2 hours here every day we stayed in the hotel. The great thing about the water-slide is it is self contained. That means even younger kids can enjoy it without splashing into the deep end of the pool.
Here is the hotel information so you can make your reservations!
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Allentown West (click link to make a reservation)
208 Pennsylvania Route 100, Breinigsville, Pennsylvania 18031 USA (Google Map directions link)
How about some more family fun ideas?
Check these fun family travel and family fun ideas out!
- Dorney Park is the Perfect Pennsylvania Amusement Park for families!
- All the reasons you will love Crayola Experience!
- King’s Dominion is fantastic for family fun!
- Best DC Area Amusement Parks for younger kids
- Best Things to Do With Young Kids in Philadelphia
- Tips for Visiting Hersheypark with Kids