Summer has reached its midpoint, but there’s still time to sneak in a long weekend or quick day trip with the family. From classic coasters to outdoorsy adventures, hit up one of these destinations and indulge in a relaxing escape before jumping back into school schedules. You can get from Pittsburgh to each of these perfect family getaways on a single tank of gas.
Be sure to pack lots of snacks, and factor in a potty break or two! When you return, share your photos on our Facebook page.
Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park, Erie
A quick trip north to Erie lands you at Splash Lagoon, an 80,000-square-foot indoor water park featuring nine water slides and one of the largest indoor wave pools in the United States.
The kid zone includes a Tiki Tree House, Monkey Shines Island Kids Area and Adventure Bay.
While the park is close enough to Pittsburgh to make it up and back in one day, it’s also connected to three hotels, convenient for an overnight trip.
Deep Creek Lake, McHenry MD
For outdoor recreation and plenty of fresh air, head two hours southeast to McHenry, MD, where the manmade Deep Creek Lake offers boating and other water fun including jet-ski rentals, water trampolines and inner tubing.
Although many of the vacation rentals at Deep Creek are for a full week, Railey Mountain Lake Vacations offers properties for a shorter week, perfect for long impromptu weekends. The company’s lakefront condo hotels, for example, offer last-minute lodging with a two-night minimum. New for the summer, some of those hotels have added giant inflatable water slides.
The 65 miles of shoreline at Deep Creek Lake feature cove areas for families to fish and swim. And surrounding the 3,900-acre lake are beautiful hiking areas like Swallow Falls State Park, home to three waterfalls in one mile-and-a-half trail.
Great Wolf Lodge, Sandusky, Ohio
Love a good water park but hate long lines? Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, Ohio, is a family-friendly resort that includes an indoor water park, lodging, mommy-and-me spas, and dining options under one roof. The 34,000-square-foot water park is exclusive to overnight guests of the resort, keeping the Totem Towers and Alberta Falls free of crowds.
A long weekend is the best way to enjoy a trip to Great Wolf. In addition to the water features, the resort offers a MagiQuest scavenger hunt throughout the lodge and the Scoops Kids Spa for manicures, pedicures, and organic chocolate facials.
The Sandusky location has 270 suites, including the family suite that accommodates up to six people and kid cabins, popular with families. The Kid cabins include a queen-sized bed and separate room with bunk beds and day beds decorated to look like North Country-style camping.
Opened in 2001, the Sandusky location is a three-hour drive from Pittsburgh, but the resort chain also has a Poconos location about five hours away. Summer rates for lodging and water park admission start at $179.99 per night, but check for special offers before planning a trip.
Cedar Point Amusement Park, Sandusky, Ohio
Cedar Point is well-known as a magnet for roller coaster aficionados, but the Sandusky amusement park also has three huge areas dedicated to kids and other family-friendly attractions throughout the park. Kids can meet Curtis the miniature cow on the Frontier Trail and visit a petting area with baby goats, camels, kangaroos and other barnyard animals. Planet Snoopy and Camp Snoopy have several rides just for kids and rides that littles ones can enjoy with family members, plus Peanuts characters performing and greeting visitors.
The park’s two Family Care Centers are convenient for diaper-changing and nursing, with private infant feeding areas and first-aid facilities, making them ideal for families with small children. The Parent Swap program means caregivers can split up kid-watching duties while still getting a turn on the coasters without spending twice the time in line.
With over 70 rides in Cedar Point and the 11-acre Soak City water park next door, an overnight stay is best for taking in all that the 364-acre Cedar Point peninsula offers. The mile-long sandy beach on the shores of Lake Erie also features overnight lodging with discounted rates and early entry options.
The smell of chocolate and the allure of roaring roller coasters greet visitors as they near the entrance of Hershey Park, about a four-hour drive east from Pittsburgh. The 100-acre amusement park is divided into theme areas, each of which contains a major roller coaster, a family ride like the Ferris wheel, at least three kiddie rides, and shopping boutiques and games, making it easy for families to walk through the park and stay together as a group.
The Boardwalk at Hershey Park offers 11 water rides and the 11-acre walk-through zoo are also included in park admission.
Hershey is 20 minutes from the state capitol of Harrisburg and an hour from historic Gettysburg, so you can always add a few education stops during your visit to eastern Pennsylvania.