From the six-story-high water thrills of Sky Splash down to the smaller scale fun of Slimey’s Chutes – and all points in between – Pennsylvania’s Sesame Place is truly a family place, a great way to escape reality and spend the weekend with the fuzzy residents of America’s favorite street.
At Big Bird’s Rambling River, parents and children share tubes as they float along a 1,000-foot waterway. Over in Twiddlebug Land, where everything is larger than life, the 10,000-square-foot Teeny Tiny Tidal Waves “wave” pool finds everyone having fun under the watchful eye of a 16-foot-tall Ernie. Although the Vapor Trail, splash pools and various water slides suit most children, kids above 7 years will probably think they’re too “cool” to enjoy the park unless they are accompanying pre-school age siblings. Overall, though, this is a great place for your tykes to have fun with other children and stay cool during the summer.
Don’t miss Elmo’s World, a 21,000-square-foot Elmo-themed area with three rides — Blast-Off, a kid-friendly free fall ride that sends children in a UFO bouncing up to Planet Elmo and back to earth. Kids can hop onto a Flying Fish and swim up and down through an imaginary ocean or, play Peek-A-Bug, where they spin and slide from side to side on the back of a grinning bug in the garden where Elmo plays. Just like the segment on Sesame Street, the Elmo’s World area is a crayon-colored world of fun and imagination.
Take a moment to dry off and enjoy any of the three live shows offered by the park. One of the more popular addition to Sesame’s live schedule is Elmo Rocks. You and your kids will love dancing and singing to this rockin’ musical as the cast of Sesame Street transforms into “The Rockin’ Elmo Band.”
Be sure to hop your tots onto the Sunny Day Carousel which is adorned with 36 cute, colorful, muppetized horses and two benches resembling Snuffleupagus. While riding this unique carousel you’ll be surrounded by the sounds of traditional calliope and organ performances of your favorite Sesame Street tunes. The much anticipated Cookie Monster Land opened its doors to host all his monster friends with five rides, a three-story net climb and soft play area.
A trip to Sesame Place isn’t complete without a family stroll through the Sesame Neighborhood, a full-size outdoor recreation of the classic Sesame Street television show set where you’ll have a chance to meet childhood’s best friends: Bert, Ernie, Oscar the Grouch, the Count, Elmo, and others.
In and Around Bucks County
Other year-round Bucks County attractions are the quietly impressive collection at the James A. Michener Art Museum (215/340-9800), daily steam locomotive rides on the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad (215/862-2332), bird-watching walks at Churchville Nature Center (215/357-4005) and everywhere – paintball.
Pennsylvania maps, brochures, farmer’s market produce, walking guides, scenic driving tips, accommodation services and even a gift shop can also be found at the main tourist office located at 3207 Street Road in Bensalem adjacent to the entrance to Philadelphia Park Racetrack.
While there, families are encouraged to pick up a free copy of the “Experience Bucks County, Color & Learn Activity Book” featuring kid-friendly games, drawings of local sites ready for coloring and fun facts about Bucks County. Find out more abut the summer-only outdoor concerts at Bensalem’s amphitheater; craft and historic trade demonstrations at Pennsbury Manor (215/946-0400), the Mercer Museum (215/345-0210)and Graeme Park; kayaking, canoeing and tubing trips provided by Bucks County River Country.
If you are looking to add a historical component to your family’s trip to Bucks County then be sure to visit Washington Crossing Historic Park. Here you will find McConkey’s Ferry Inn, the very tavern where General George Washington ate dinner prior to crossing the Delaware River on Christmas day, 1776.
If the great outdoors is calling, families will enjoy a Delaware River Fly-Fishing Eco-Adventure offered by professional guide Gary Mauz (215/343-1720); children are welcome to join in his trips including two nights of tent camping, campfire dining, expert fly-fishing guidance, all gear, and full days of fishing.
Family Friendly Lodging
Many small hotels and motels near Philadelphia (itself a wonderful family destination in summer) offer great family packages in summer. Call the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (215/636-3300) to check on the city’s many ongoing activities and special summer events.
Try the Hampton Inn (215/245-5222) in Bensalem, Pennsylvania which offers great deals for families and periodically offers packages including Sesame Place tickets.
The fancier Radisson Philadelphia Northeast (215/638-8300) often offers Sesame Place special rates on limited dates. The Radisson, located in Trevose Pennsylvania, is relatively convenient for those interested in Philadelphia’s other sights, with the historic downtown about a 15-minute drive away.
At the Tohickon Family Campground (866/536-CAMP) in Quakertown, you can pitch a tent sleeping four and take advantage of the swimming pool, plus all the Bingo, clambakes and pig roasts you can manage.
Located 30 minutes from Philadelphia and 90 minutes from Manhattan, Sesame Place is open May through October, with an operating schedule which varies throughout the season. Discount coupons and hotel specials are often in effect, and discounts are available for children and seniors, and children under 2 are admitted free. For general park information, call 215/752-7070.
The Bucks County Conference and Visitors Bureau (800/836-BUCKS) offers a wealth of information about attractions in the area.
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