As a blogger, I may be compensated in some way (either pay, product, or experience) for sharing the post below All opinions are my own. ~Heidi
Last week, I shared a list of Free Things to do in Central PA. As much as my family loves doing free things, that’s not always possible. Sometimes the fun comes with a price tag. But, since I’m a cheapskate (and my hubby is a tightwad), we like to keep our entertainment on the CHEAP side, at least. Over the next 2 weeks, I’ll be bringing you 2 lists of Cheap Things to do in Central PA. This week, we’ll be focusing on the under $10 list; next week, we’ll bump it up to under $20.
I’m basing my list on the REGULAR ADULT ADMISSION PRICE (kids – and often seniors – will be cheaper). I will list all prices below.
Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery
I shared about my love of the little town of Lititz on the FREE list. We love strolling through this idyllic town. One of our favorite things to do while visiting is to stop by the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery. Technically, it’s free to visit and you can purchase all sorts of pretzel goodies at the gift shop on site. However, it’s really hard to visit and not take part in the tour – and that’s where the cost comes in that puts it on this list.
It doesn’t seem to matter how many times we visit, we still love learning how they made pretzels and the history of the pretzel company. You get to twist a pretzel and become an “official pretzel twister” complete with certificate. WARNING: It gets HOT in there during the summer months – there is no air conditioning and you’re seeing the brick ovens up close and personal (it’s worth a little sweat though).
Admission Prices: Adults – $3.50, Children – $2.50
Fort Hunter Mansion & Park
Years ago, while attending college at HACC, my friend and I would go through the McDonald’s drive-thru, grab some lunch, and head to the picnic area at Fort Hunter Mansion to sit and enjoy our lunch while overlooking the scenic Susquehanna River. I was always intrigued by the beautiful house and grounds, yet I’m ashamed to admit that I have yet to visit and tour the inside.
If you’re interested in bygone days of central PA, this is one place you’ll want to visit. I hope to take the tour sometime soon! The website also offered a downloadable walking map, which is really neat. Maybe you want to walk the grounds for exercise; but be sure to take the time to stop and visit all the historic sites along the way.
Admission Prices: Adults – $5, Seniors – $4, Students/Children – $3
The State Museum of Pennsylvania
This museum used to be free; and, because of that, I used to visit as often as I could. Now that they’ve started charging admission, I have to admit that I haven’t had the kids there in a long time. (We tried to visit once, but it’s honestly hard – and quite costly – to find adequate parking on a weekday.) However, if you’re interested in Pennsylvania history, I’d recommend adding this museum to your To Do List. With a wide selection of both permanent and rotating exhibits, there’s sure to be something of interest for everyone in the family.
I recommend combining your visit with a free tour of the state capital, which is located right next door.
Admission Prices: Adult – $7, Seniors – $6, Children (1-11) – $5. There is a $3 additional fee for the Planetarium.
The Hershey Story Museum
The kids and I visited this museum several summers ago and had a great time learning about Milton Hershey, the man behind the town, the chocolate, and so much more! Mr. Hershey truly was a remarkable man with a heart for children, and he went out of his way to create a town with jobs for locals and a school to house underprivileged kids. I would definitely recommend a visit to this museum.
Admission Prices: Adult – $10, Senior – $9, Junior (3-12) – $7.50 (If you’re interested in the Chocolate Lab Class also, that will double these prices. I’m adding this to the $10 and under list because I don’t feel the lab class is essential for a great museum experience.)
James Buchanan’s Wheatland
There are certain places that I add to our Field Trip list every year, yet never seem to visit. This is one of those places. I love touring president’s homes; but this one eludes me, for some reason! I really need to get there! “Step inside the stately mansion of President James Buchanan and explore the rooms and stairwells where the secrets and stories of his political and personal life intersect. Tour Guides in period clothing bring history to life as you walk through Wheatland, beloved home of our nation’s 15th President.”
Admission Prices: Adult – $10, Senior – $8, Student (11-17) – $6, 10 & Under – FREE (must be accompanied by an adult/senior)
North Museum of Nature & Science
When we think of Lancaster, we’re mostly thinking of the areas surrounding the city. Located right in the heart of Lancaster city, is this neat little museum that the kids, my mom, and I visited a few summers back. This museum covers 3 floors and has exhibits on paleontology, animals, rocks, and so much more. This summer includes a dinosaur exhibit that looks pretty neat too!
Admission Prices: Adult – $9, Senior – $8, Youth (3-17) – $8 (Adding the SciDome Theater puts the Adult price up to $13, and the other prices up to $12. Not necessary, but a nice addition.)
Hands-on House Children’s Museum
We used to visit this museum when the girls were little, but I have yet to take Ian there (and he’s quickly becoming too old!) If you have little ones, though, I would highly recommend making a trip to Lancaster for the Hands-On House. We have many happy memories from this museum.
Admission Prices: $9.50 for all ages
Columbus Chapel & Boal Mansion Museum
I have had this on my list of places to visit for MANY years now (ever since I first bought Kids Love Pennsylvania). “The Boal Estate has been the Boal family home for eight generations and over 200 years and tells the story of America as seen through one family. It has the original furnishings. The fourth generation, Colonel Theodore Davis Boal, called Terry, went to Europe in the 1890’s and married Mathilde, a descendent of Christopher Columbus, who inherited the Columbus Chapel and brought it to Boalsburg in 1909.”
Admission Prices: Adults – $10, Children (6-17) – $6
Parks & Recreation
Pride of the Susquehanna
45-minute tours are available on the Pride of the Susquehanna Riverboat (an authentic stern-driven paddle wheel riverboat built 25 years ago as a community service project by the Harrisburg Area Riverboat Society for the benefit of and visitors to the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area).
Admission Prices: Adult – $10, Senior – $8, Kids (3-12) – $5