Experience Loads of Family Fun within a Two-Hour Drive of Towson

If a trip to Disney World or the Jamaican islands isn’t in the cards for your family this summer, fear not. Fun is just a car ride away with these tried-and-true day trips that won’t break your budget. 

Trip 1—Ice Cream and Caverns: Just outside Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the Turkey Hill Experience offers a hands-on opportunity to learn how ice cream is made. Kids can sit in a milk truck, milk the mechanical cows, make their own ice cream flavor in the taste lab and enjoy plenty of free samples. TurkeyHillExperience.com. Work off all the sugar with a stroll through nearby Indian Echo Caverns (30 minutes by car), which feature gorgeous limestone formations that are millions of years old. IndianEchoCaverns.com

Don’t miss: Learning from the tea expert at Turkey Hill’s Tea Discovery

 Trip 2—Shark Teeth Hunting: If a period of bad weather gives way to fair skies, take the opportunity to make the two-hour drive to Calvert Cliffs State Park in southern Maryland to dig for 5-million-year-old shark teeth in the Miocene deposits. (Best collecting is low tide and after a storm). Then learn more about Maryland’s prehistoric past, natural environment and maritime heritage with a visit to the nearby Calvert Marine Museum. CalvertMarineMuseum.com.

Check out: The Marsh Walk on Back Creek

Trip 3American History: The relatively new Museum of the American Revolution in downtown Philadelphia offers immersive galleries and interactive exhibits that bring to life the nation’s founding era. AmRevMuseum.org. When your stomach starts grumbling, make the 10-minute walk to the historic Reading Terminal Market, where 80 vendors offer a mouthwatering array of food, from roast duck and Philly cheese steaks to apple dumplings and homemade doughnuts. ReadingTerminalMarket.org

Order: Soft, butter-dipped Amish-style pretzels at Miller’s Twist

Trip 4—Biking: Though the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal stretches 184.5 miles long, starting in Washington D.C. and ending in Cumberland, you can tackle a manageable and family-friendly 13-mile stretch on the towpath from Georgetown to Great Falls Park. Enjoy tranquil views of the Potomac River as you pedal and stop to explore restored lock houses along the way. Once at your destination, enjoy a packed picnic at the Great Falls Overlook. NPS.gov/choh/planyourvisit/hikingandbiking.htm

Snap a Pic: Capture the panoramic view from Great Falls Overlook

Trip 5—U.S. Naval Academy: Head to Annapolis, and take a guided walking tour of the Naval Academy, with tours departing from the Visitor’s Center and lasting one hour and 15 minutes (USNABSD.com/for-visitors/public-tours.) A certified guide will share fascinating tidbits about major campus attractions—including Bancroft Hall (the midshipmen dorm), Herndon Monument and the Crypt of John Paul Jones—and you’ll end at the U.S. Naval Academy Visitor Center, with two floors of exhibits. Before heading back to Baltimore, stop by the legendary Chick and Ruths Delly for a slice of homemade pie or an old-fashioned milkshake. ChickAndRuths.com

Don’t Miss: The daily recitation of the Pledge to the Flag at Chick and Ruths Delly

Trip 6: Harriet Tubman: Opened in March 2017, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center in Church Creek, Md., offers a wide selection of thought-provoking exhibits that capture the life and work of the woman who escaped slavery and established a network to lead some 70 friends and family members to freedom. HarrietTubmanByway.org/harriet-tubman/#visitorcenter

Check out: The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, a self-guided, scenic driving tour

Trip 7—Sweet Tooth Mecca: Who doesn’t love the sweet taste of chocolate? Roll up your sleeves, and mix up a yummy batch of the confection at the Chocolate Lab of the Hershey Story: The Museum on Chocolate Avenue in Hershey, Pa. Then pass a few hours exploring the museum’s varied interactive exhibits, which chronicle the journey of Milton Hershey from failed entrepreneur to chocolate king and benefactor. HersheyStory.org/hersheys-chocolate-lab

Order: Take home some yummy Hershey’s products on sale in the museum shop.

Trip 8—Something Fishy: Get up close and personal with Jade, Spirit and Beau, and other members of the dolphin gang at the National Aquarium in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. In addition to “Dolphin Discovery,” where you can get a glimpse into the daily lives of the dolphins, the kids can get their fill of snakes (like the emerald tree boa) in the Amazon River Forest exhibit and gaze from a safe distance at sharks, jellyfish and sea nettles. Aqua.org

Don’t Miss: The behind-the-scenes Animal Care Tour (additional fee; for kids 8 and up).