It’s summer! The kids are out of school and York, Pennsylvania is full of fun events and activities to keep the whole family happy.
There’s no reason to get bored. Ever. But, if you find yourself in or near York, PA this summer and are wondering what there is to do on a typical day, I have 30 tried and tested, kid approved suggestions:
Enjoy the Annual “Made in America” Factory Tours
Every June, factories, businesses and local farms open up their doors and offer a glimpse into their operations and factory floors. The “Made in America” Factory Tours event offers four days of family-friendly fun and educational events- from how soap is made and how your chips are packaged to taking a step by step tour of how a Harley bike is built.
Catch a Free Movie in the Park
York Township holds free Friday night community movie screenings throughout the summer. Kiwanis Lake and Cousler Park also play movies on various nights. The full list of movies can be found on their respective websites and local movie theaters such as Frank’s also have free movie days- which can be found here.
Enjoy a Summer Concert at Springettsbury Park
The 2017 Sounds of Summer Concert Series is an annual tradition bringing jazz, blues, big band, and traditional music to this outdoor park arena. With a nearby playground and plenty of open space, this is one event you want to attend.
Camp Security Trail Park & Creek
Camp Security is a large, open field park. With its own athletic field (soccer), playground, covered picnic pavilion, and creek, kids can run around or waddle in the creek to cool off all day.
Kayak or Go Fishing at Lake Redman
Lake Redman, at William Kain Park, with its surrounding playground, grassy pavilions, and non-motorized boat rentals is a family favorite in the York area. While a fishing license is required of all adult, children can kayak out to the middle of the lake and join their parents in the fishing fun for free. As a bonus, all the fish in the lake are small and super cute! At $16 for the first hour and $8 for any additional hours, kayaking and fishing in Lake Redman is a great way to spend a child-friendly afternoon.
Cost: $16 for 1-hour kayak rental. Free to enjoy the lake (no swimming) and the attached park.
Attend a York Revolutions Baseball Game
York’s very own minor league baseball team, York Revolution, plays at home several times throughout the summer. With special events planned by the Stadium, attending a local baseball game is always fun for the whole family. There is, of course, all the eating. Their French fries are amazing and we highly recommend them! The stadium also has a playground for the kids to use up all their energy and a combination of game watching, eating, playground time, and more game watching is sure to be a winner.
Cost: $8 for lawn tickets, $12 for field box tickets, and $14 for dugout tickets.
Red Lion Splash Pad
The Red Lion Splash Pad opened up just a few years ago, but it has already become a local favorite. Free to the public, the splash pad is conveniently located next to a playground, open field, and library! Come early or later in the afternoon since it can get crowded, but with bathrooms on site and everything else there is to do right there no one in your family will be bored.
Perrydell Dairy Farm and Ice Cream
Local ice cream and a chance to pet the calves, along with the ability to check out the family cows and corn maize, are what give Perrydell Farm and Dairy its child-friendly charm. The attached store sells its ice cream and some yummy treats and I love the fact that they have hand sanitizer next to the calf petting section. The husband loves their ice cream and he is as close to an ice cream connoisseur as can be.
Cost: Free to see the cows and enjoy the corn maze, ice cream prices vary depending on serving size and cone.
York Central Market and Downtown Window Shopping
Central Market is a downtown eatery, meeting place, local produce point of sale, and York tradition. Visit on a Tuesday during lunch time and you will find the locals who work in downtown chowing down on their favorite food and relaxing. Visit on a Saturday and the market stalls are full of happy returning customers looking for locally grown fruits, veggies, and meats to bring home for Sunday dinner. Of course, we recommend you get there early and enjoy one of the amazing breakfast options throughout the market. The whole place has a feel to it- as though you’ll meet up with dear old friends who call out “Norm” when you walk through the big entrance doors (you know Norm, from Cheers. C’mon, I can’t be that old).
Our personal favorites include the Crab Sandwich at The Fish Market and the Hand Pies at The Cooper Crust Company.
Cost: Free to wander around and enjoy the view, food purchase prices vary depending on business.
Dabble in some Archery Skills
Another indoor sport for the summer, Xtreme Archery is a fun way to learn this ancient sport in a safe setting. Management is very helpful and great with kids. You can take a class ($45) or learn on your own with varying targets and set ups.
Cost: From $6 to $18 an hour (depending on set up).
Nixon Park Nature Center (and guided events)
Nixon Park has it all: bird viewing, an indoor nature center for kids and adults to learn from, outdoor trails to hike, a little creek to waddle in, and a plethora of activities throughout the year. In the summer months, Nixon Park becomes the go-to place for moms and kids. A nice hike to enjoy nature, a chance to dip your hot toes in the creek, some playtime in the indoor nature center to get out of the sun a while, and a bird identification window so the kids can ooh and ahh and the parents can feel like we sneaked in something educational.
Cost: Free (some of the specially programmed guided or planned activities do require a small fee).
Summer Fruit Picking at Brown’s Orchards & Farm Market
Brown’s Orchards & Farm Market, located in Loganville, is a large family operated orchard with a small roadside stand heart. The farm market carries homemade pies, ice cream, and delicious food. The outside pavilion hosts yearly family-friendly events, concerts, and farm to table dinners. Our personal favorite, of course, is the fields and pick your own seasons.
Generations of York residents have happily picked strawberries, sweet cherries, blueberries, peaches and apples at Brown’s fruit fields. Mackenzie has been picking fruit off the trees and vines since she was little and has always enjoyed the fun.
As an added bonus, Brown’s also hosts a summer concert series that takes place in their outdoor (but covered) pavilion every Sunday.
Cost: Varies by fruit picking and size
Enjoy The Local Thespian Scene
Spend enough time in York and you will find a very dedicated group of theater-loving families. While The Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center hosts a variety of great national and international shows every year, two local theaters have some amazing home grown talent.
DreamWrights Center for Community Arts and The Belmont Theatre both cast their shows from local families and community members. The results are high-quality plays, family friendly entertainment, and a strong sense of community and stewardship. The stage is definitely a place to find talent in York.
The Belmont Theatre will be performing Sister Act this June while DreamWrights will host 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Taming of the Shrew, and The Mousetrap.
Cost: Varies by show and venue (The DreamWright Summer In The Park show is always free).
York City Ice Arena
I personally can not think of a better way to spend a hot summers day than inside of the York City Ice Arena. Ice Skating is pretty self-explanatory: fun on the ice, exercise without the sweat and the sun, and family friendly.
Cost: $8 to $10 with skate rental (depending on date).
Roll ‘r’ Way Family Skating
In case you do not want to hang out with the ice, you can cross the street and head indoors to enjoy some old fashioned roller skating. Roll ‘r’ Way Family Skating is a family run business and indoors the whole family can enjoy the arcade, grab a bite in the food court, or just enjoy the music and roller skate the hours away.
Cost: $2 to $7 (plus $1.75-$3 for skate rental) depending on the date.
York Colonial Complex
Summer is a great time to fit in some educational field trips. Now, I’m not talking about a boring, drawn out “talk” or exhibit. I’m talking about history coming alive at the York Colonial Complex. With docents often dressed in period clothing, an informative and lively tour throughout the grounds, and artifacts that make you feel as though you have stepped back in time into Colonial York, this is one educational trip the whole family will love.
The York Colonial Complex does host various events and open houses throughout the summer months so make sure to check out their calendar!
Utz Factory Tour
If your child is anything like mine “why?” and “how?” are common questions heard around your house. The Utz Factory Tour is a great way to answer these questions! Why are factories so big? How are potato chips made? Why do people wear hair nets at work? How do machines work? And on and on…
We especially love the family and child-friendly Utz Factory Tour because of the incredible access they allow with their tour set up- and because they offer it year round. An elevated platform allows all children, small and large, to view the work performed on the factory floor. With wide halls, small children can freely move around as older siblings listen to the recorded information at each section and parents maneuver both. Informative and fun, the tour also happens to end with a free bag of their delicious chips. Trust me, the kids will be delighted.
Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts (in Harrisburg)
One of our favorite Science Centers, the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts, is located a short drive north in Harrisburg, PA. As ASTC annual science pass membership holders and avid science center visitors, we consider ourselves pretty savvy in this department. And always, we come back to the Whitaker.
What’s so special about this museum? We love the fact that they incorporate traditional science center exhibits with newer robotics and movie opportunities. Younger children have a whole section to play in and enjoy (which even the older kids love), while the tween-aged kids can enjoy the weather simulator for free (most other science museums charge for that experience) and make stop-motion pictures to their hearts’ delight.
Cost: $16 for adults, $12.50 for kids (3-17). For an even better deal, look into getting a science center annual membership pass with ASTC
York Agricultural and Industrial Museum
Housed in a former factory complex, the York Agricultural and Industrial Museum is a large open space filled with an oil train engine, a working 3-story grist mill, a huge compressor once used to make ice, and, my personal favorite, a 1930’s switchboard, and telephone exhibit. There’s just something about walking into a museum exhibit and recognizing the phone from your childhood! Filled with artifacts of York’s industrial past, this gem is family friendly, entertaining and fun.
Cost: $15 for adults and $7 for children. For an even better deal, look into getting a science center annual membership pass with ASTC
York Fire Museum
The Fire Museum houses more than 225 years of York firefighting history and memorabilia. With uniforms, old style equipment, and fire trucks on display, this family favorite is sure to be a winner. As an added bonus, the Fire Museum is within walking distance of DreamWrights and, if timed correctly, you can enjoy a theater performance after touring the museum.
Cost: $15 for adults, $7 for children.
Escape Games Live
Escape Games Live is an interactive game in which participants race the clock (60 minutes) and use hidden clues in order to try to escape from a locked room. The fun in this activity starts with the themed rooms and clues- the 1970’s, Sherlock’s Office, and The Showdown are just a few of the available themes.
We have found management to be very responsive and helpful. They do host children’s birthday parties and events and therefore know how to tweak the clues and activities to be child-friendly. With a large enough family (family reunion at Escape Games anyone?) you could even have it adapted to your age group and difficulty preference.
Cost: Varies by theme but usually $120 for up to 5 people
York Barbell Weightlifting Hall of Fame
Ever wonder what weightlifting is all about? The York Barbell Weightlifting Hall of Fame is THE museum to visit and find out!
Paint Your Own Pottery
Feeling creative this summer? The Prancing Pig is a happy little establishment that will help you channel those creative urges into a beautiful piece of pottery. It’s a great indoor activity for when the sun is too hot or a passing shower decides to cancel your park date.
Cost: Varies depending on the piece you choose.
York County Solid Waste Authority
Wait, what? I know what you’re thinking: why are you sending me to the York County Solid Waste Authority? The answer is because the education connection (link on their website) and their tours are magnificent!
With an incredibly helpful and accommodating staff, the York County Solid Waste Authority is able to answer any and all of your questions- more importantly, they do a great job at answering all the kid’s questions. The guided tour starts with some information before taking you around the actual premises. You will get to see the control room, the large trash bay, and much more throughout your visit!
Ever wonder how trash is recycled? Always wanted to know what happens to trash once it leaves your house? This is THE place to come and find out. I promise this is one fun outing!
Want to Learn to Dive?
York Divers is York’s Dive Shop and education resource. The owner and instructors are all incredibly friendly and ready to take you to the nearest pool where they will introduce you to this addicting hobby. Children as young as 8 can take an introductory class or a one day experience (though you must be at least 10 years old to become certified to dive). Though you will need to schedule in advance, the one day experience is certainly something that should be added to everyone’s summer bucket list.
Kids Bowl Free
This summer program is an incredible chance to get kids active and learn a new sport. The program is simple: enroll your child in the Kids Bowl Free Program, receive your vouchers every week, and go play! That’s it, it is that simple. Enjoy the bowling alley!
Tennis For Kids
Much like the above program, Tennis for Kids provides free tennis instruction for children throughout the summer. Parents need only sign up, select the field that is most convenient, and send their children to class. If you have a tennis racket available, great. If not, no worries- the program will provide the rackets to any children who don’t already own one. This is outdoors and it lasts for several hours so make sure you send them with plenty of water and sunscreen.
Observe the Sky with The York County Astronomical Society
Summer is a great time to learn about the stars above- what with the warm air and the late bedtimes. What better way to do this than with the help of The York County Astronomical Society. With access to an observatory and a Planetarium Learning Center, not to mention the wealth of knowledge by its members and caretakers, the York County Astronomical Society should rocket to the top of your summer to-do list!
Make sure you check out their website for programs like “Astronomy Day” and opportunities to use their telescopes to view the night sky.
York County Summer Library Program
There’s nothing like the library summer program. For years it has been the cornerstone of our summer activities and scheduling. There are days when there are so many fun activities planned that we travel from one library to another- seriously. If you and your child do not have a library card, get one now and make sure to register for the summer program on May 21st.
Events vary by library and date but there are musicians, magicians, games, crafts, story times, and so much more! And it is all free. Could it get any better? Find out during the June 3 kick-off party!
Visit The York Fair
America’s first fair, the York Fair is a fun way to close the summer. Scheduled for September 8-17, 2017, the fair brings with it everything that you’ve come to expect from, well, a fair. There are rides and food and performances… and every year we enjoy ourselves just as much as the last. Fair warning: not everyone is a fair person. I get it. But the live animals, the butter sculpture, and the music are a piece of Americana I can’t say no to.
Cost: $8 adults, $4 children, free for the under 5 crowd and special pricing is offered throughout the days. Parking is an additional $7 ($5 in many parking lots outside of the fairgrounds). Rides and food are extra.
As you can see, this community in central Pennsylvania packs an awesome entertainment punch. Enjoy!
Want to venture beyond York? Central Pennsylvania is home to several cities within easy driving distance of each other filled with family-friendly activities to enjoy. As an active family, we wanted to make sure to make the most of our experience in the area. The result? The Ultimate Bucket List for Family Fun in Central PA!