Nestled in the heart of Pennsylvania, with its sweeping vistas, historic towns and working farmland, York County and surrounding communities are the perfect family destination any time of year. Enjoy perusing quaint shops, experiencing informative and fun tours, visiting gallery-filled museums and taking advantage of plenty of family-friendly activities that will give your crew many memories to last a lifetime!
We’ve compiled this family fun guide to make it easy to find your way around the area. So, whether it’s a day trip or an overnight mini-getaway, start planning your experience today.
We know that the best part of any road trip is exploring the food offerings in different communities! Having kids in tow can make things a little more complicated, but not to worry: There are plenty of family-friendly establishments in York County and nearby areas that provide comfortable and casual places to refuel.
- Central Family Restaurant: Within walking distance of downtown York, this clean family-owned spot offers homestyle cooking at affordable prices, and it’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Chow down on a country egg scrambler, tater babies with bacon and cheese, or a fresh Greek salad alongside fried chicken. Locally-farmed bison and venison dishes are available on the menu, too. Save room for decadent desserts, like the homemade peanut butter cream pie! Open Monday through Saturday, 5 a.m.–10 p.m. and Sundays from 7 a.m.–9 p.m (only open til 2 p.m. on Easter Sunday). 400 N. George St., York; (717) 845-4478
- Shady Maple Smorgasbord: Located about an hour east of York, this longtime tourist fave is a tasty destination. Authentic Pennsylvania Dutch cooking done buffet-style includes surf-and-turf, barbecue ribs and Cajun catfish. Stop in for breakfast, lunch or dinner, which is served until 8 p.m. Don’t miss the on-site gift shop, for those who like to browse. Open daily 6 a.m.–8 p.m. Closed Sundays. 129 Toddy Dr., East Earl; (717) 354-8222
- Metro Diner: Did someone say chicken and waffles for breakfast? Yum! Lunch and dinner options, too, offer up dishes that define “tasty,” like chicken pot pie and the half-pound Holy Davoli Burger. Featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, your whole gang will feel right at home here. Bonus points for a great kids’ menu too! 360 Town Center Dr., York; (717) 690-1455
Downtown York is known for its long and vibrant history. Enjoy a walkable journey through tree-lined streets over brick sidewalks that portray the story of early America. The York County History Center is a campus of museums and historic buildings that offer a glimpse (and more) of the people, history and culture of the area. Spend an afternoon getting involved in hands-on activities, strolling gallery exhibits or visiting book tours at the Agriculture & Industrial Museum (AIM), the Colonial Complex and the Fire Museum. 250 E. Market. St., York; (717) 848-1587
Local tours are a great way to get an informative behind-the-scenes look at some of the industry giants of the York area. Interact with, and ask questions of, the tour guides along the way. Then, you and your kids can make a game out of quizzing each other on your newfound knowledge.
- Strasburg Railroad: Relax in the historic train as it lazily chugs along through Amish farmland and countryside. We guarantee that the family will enjoy this trip back in time while also learning how steam locomotives impacted early America. Talk to qualified mechanics, conductors and engineers about what makes these Iron Horses tick. Bring your own picnic to enjoy in the grove, and enjoy the fresh country air. There are themed events for holidays and Thomas the Train makes an appearance for the kids. 301 Gap Rd., Ronks; (866) 725-9666
- Hershey’s Chocolate World: Chocolate is delicious any time of year, and what better place to learn about (and to get a taste of) one of America’s greatest candies than at the Hershey Factory! The free, 30-minute tour illustrates the process of making chocolate and also promises a sweet treat to sample at the end of the tour. Other sweet things to do at Hershey’s Chocolate World include 4D Chocolate Mystery, Create Your Own Candy Bar and the Chocolate Tasting Experience. Make a full day of it and hit the world famous HersheyPark in season. Do we have to twist your arm? 251 Park Blvd., Hershey; (717) 534-4900
- Harley-Davidson Factory: Tour the Vehicle Operations Factory to watch the assembly-line process of putting together one of America’s most iconic classic motorcycles. This ticketed two-hour tour (Steel Toe or Classic) takes you through the manufacturing of fuel tanks, frames and fenders and the assembly of bikes. The tour is available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–2 p.m. 1425 Eden Rd., York; (717) 852-6590
- Made in America: This mid-summer free event celebrates its 20th year this year, with an exclusive lineup of multiple tours in the York area organized by the York County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Get an up-close look at the making of potato chips at Martin’s Snacks and discover the inner workings of violins at Bruett Bros. Violins and watches at the National Watch & Clock Museum. Ride historic railroads at the Ma & Pa Preservation Society, explore the fascinating science of local agriculture and so much more. Make your plans now! 1-888-858-YORK (9675)
Both Indoor- and Outdoor-Recreation Options
- Laser Alleys: One of York’s most popular bowling family fun centers has 24 lanes featuring the BES-X scoring system, laser tag and a state of the art arcade with over 30 of the newest games. Call for times and lane reservations and special family-package pricing. 3905 E. Market St., York; (717) 755-2946
- York Ice Arena: Lace up your skates and glide your way around the cool arena with a session of public skating, or watch a hockey game on one of two NHL-sized rinks. Check for pricing and public hours here. 941 Vander Ave., York; (717) 848-1084
- Genesis Golf: Experience indoor golfing at its finest with putt & play, a golf simulator, a snack shack and more. Professional instructors and a cheerful staff are waiting to help you improve your swing while the kids can try to get a hole-in-one. 200 Bailey Dr., Stewartstown; (717) 993-3028
- Autobahn Indoor Speedway: This is a bit closer to the Harrisburg area, but it’s a perfect venue for family fun in any weather. Race on this indoor electric go-kart track, and get a thrill in these high-performance karts, which are more adult-oriented (they can reach speeds of up to 50 MPH). But, Junior Karting is also available for those age 8 and older (and 48” tall). Call for times and rates. 1001 Bosler Ave., Lemoyne; (717) 695-4000
- Codorus State Park: About 30 minutes southwest of downtown York and open from dawn to dusk 365 days a year, this 3,500-acre park offers camping, pavilions, hiking, picnicking and more. Simply relax along, or go fishing on, the 1,200-acre lake. This park is tranquility defined! 2600 Smith Station Rd., Hanover; (717) 637-2816
- Gifford Pinchot State Park: Find over 2,000 acres of outdoor heaven just 30 minutes northwest of York. Hands-on activities, guided walks and evening programs take place around the 350-acre Lake Pinchot. Plenty of fishing, camping and wildlife await in this hidden corner of the world. 2200 Rosstown Rd., Lewisberry; (717) 432-5011
Be sure to take advantage of packages and special offers at one of York County’s family friendly hotels or bed & breakfasts. Stop by one of the Visitor Information Centers or call 1-888-858-YORK.
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- Trees photo: Pexels
- All other photos: York County CVB