By Eva Leonard
1. King’s Dominion, Doswell, Virginia
Celebrating its 40th anniversary, King’s Dominion theme park has expanded its 20-acre water park, Soak City, with a mega water slide complex and a family-friendly Splash Zone. Three new attractions promising speed, drops, curves, loops, and thrills include Paradise Plunge, Aqua Blast, and Thunder Falls. Splash Island is for younger children and their parents, with small slides, water jets that spray up and down, and more.
King’s Domion, 160000 Theme Park Way, Doswell, Virginia, 23047, 804-876-5000, www.kingsdominion.com/
2. Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
You say you want a revolution? Get thee to Williamsburg, Virginia! History comes vividly to life in this Revolutionary War-themed town, through hands-on adventure for kids, like marching with a fife and drum corps, blasting water cannons in Splash Park, and dressing up in costume to play 18th-century characters. There’s plenty for grownups too, including tours, shopping, restaurants, theater, music, spas, and golf.
Colonial Williamsburg, 310 S. England St., Williamsburg, Virginia, 23185, 757-220-7976, www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/
3. Hersheypark, Hershey, Pennsylvania
There’s no shortage of chocolate and family fun at Hersheypark, including shows, concerts, rides, and of course, opportunities to stock up on Hersey’s candy. Children can also create their own candy bars at Hershey’s Chocolate World and eat breakfast with life-size Hershey’s characters at The Park at Hersheypark Place, while grownups can indulge in treatments like a whipped cocoa bath and a cocoa massage at The Spa at The Hotel Hershey.
Hersheypark, 100 W. Hersheypark Drive, Hershey, Pennsylvania, 17033, 1-800-437-7439, www.hersheypark.com/contact/index.php
4. Delaware Outdoor Trail
Nature-lovers can enjoy more than 60 activities, including hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, and water activities at more than 40 locations throughout the many parks, beaches, wildlife refuges, nature centers, equestrian facilities, trails, and waterways that make up the Delaware Outdoor Trail.
5. American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland
This whimsical museum covered with shining, colorful mosaic walls, and full of sparkly, fantastical art made with unusual, found, and recycled items, is an excellent introduction to art for kids, sure to spark young imaginations. Eye-catching artwork includes DeVon Smith’s World’s First Family of Robots, Andrew Logan’s 8-foot-high Cosmic Galaxy Egg and Vollis Simpson’s Giant Whirligig sculpture.The Sideshow gift shop is stocked with fun, creative, and kitschy items for both kids and adults.
American Visionary Art Museum, 800 Key Highway, Baltimore, Maryland, 21230, 410-244-1900, http://www.avam.org/
6. Catocin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo, Thurmont, Maryland
This private park is on a mission to broaden human understanding of the animal world. See and feed animals like emu, African zebra, and South American llama on wildlife safari rides on an escorted truck through 25 acres of naturalistic animal environments, including Africa, Australia, and Madagascar.
Catocin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo, 13019 Catoctin Furnace Road, Thurmont, Maryland, 21788, 301-271-3180, http://cwpzoo.com/
7. National Aquarium in Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland
More than 17,000 live marine and land animals are the star attractions in the exciting exhibits at the National Aquarium. The 225,000-gallon ring-shaped Shark Alley is home to sharks of all shapes and sizes, circulating inches away from curious visitors. Visitors can also see the eight Atlantic bottlenose dolphins of Dolphin Discovery, the award-winning Blacktip Reef, which replicates Indo-Pacific reefs, and exotic land animals, like Felize, the Upland Tropical Rain Forest’s new two-toed baby sloth.
National Aquarium in Baltimore, 501 E. Pratt St., Baltimore, Maryland, 21202
8. Franklin Square, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
With a burger shack and carousel rides, Franklin Square, one of William Penn’s original squares for his 1682 city plan, isn’t just for adult history buffs. It also puts history on a fun, pint-sized scale for children, with an 18-hole putt-putt golf course through miniature Philadelphia landmarks like the Liberty Bell. Afterwards, for classic treats, head a few blocks over to The Franklin Fountain, a Victorian-style ice cream parlor, and its sister shop a few steps away, the historic candy store Shane Confectionery.
Franklin Square, 200 6th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19102, 215-629-4026, http://historicphiladelphia.org/franklin-square/what-to-see/
The Franklin Fountain, 116 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19106, 215-627-1899, http://www.franklinfountain.com/
Shane Confectionery, 110 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19106, 215-922-1048, http://shanecandies.com/
9. Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Built more than a century ago, this playground featuring a three-story,16,000-square-foot playhouse and the Ann Newman Giant Wooden Slide (39 feet long and 13 feet wide) is proof that sometimes the best, most enduring attractions have the fewest bells and whistles. Spread over six and a half acres, the playground now also features more than fifty pieces of play equipment for children.
Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse, 3500 Reservoir Drive, East Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19121, http://smithplayground.org/about/
10. Stratosphere Trampoline Park, Wilmington, Delaware
What better way to let restless kids who’ve been riding in the car for a few hours burn energy than by bouncing on massive trampolines? Once they tire of that, more activities await, including a laser maze, a Velcro wall, and a hurricane simulator, with winds of up to 78 miles per hour.
Stratosphere Trampoline Park, 510 Justison Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 19801, 302-397-8142, www.wilmingtontrampolinepark.com/