It’s almost back-to-school time, so what better way to celebrate the end of summer than with that little blue engine Thomas? This month, the Strasburg Rail Road in Lancaster, PA, is welcoming back Thomas and Percy at the Day out with Thomas!
Click here and here for our reviews of previous Day out with Thomas events at the Strasburg Rail Road.
From August 27 through September 4, Thomas and Percy will be giving rides through the scenic Lancaster countryside! Thomas rides last 25 minutes, and Percy rides are 12. Additional activities include photo ops with Sir Topham Hatt, art-and-crafts stations, more train tables and Thomas toys that you’ve ever seen assembled in one place, and storytelling sessions, among other things.
Also, the Strasburg Rail Road’s vintage Cranky Cars, pint-sized pufferbelly train, and LO&S motorcar train will all be running.
Frankly, if your kids love trains and/or Thomas, this event is everything they could ever want.
The Roarbots’ series of NPS Adventures takes a big-picture view of one location within the National Park Service and highlights some of the best activities that site has to offer. This is usually done through a kid-friendly lens and almost always includes activities and suggestions we can recommend from personal experience. And pictures. There are lots and lots of pictures. Glad to have you aboard!
Welcome to Valley Forge National Historical Park!
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It’s that time of the year again! It’s time for that little blue engine Thomas to make the rounds. And this month, the Strasburg Rail Road is kicking off summer with not only Thomas the Tank Engine but also a return of last year’s surprise favorite: Percy!
That’s right, Percy’s back! (Click here for our review of last year’s event when Percy was unveiled for the first time.)
From June 20–28, both Thomas and Percy will be giving rides at Strasburg Rail Road! Additional activities include photo ops with Sir Topham Hatt, art-and-crafts stations, more train tables and Thomas toys that you’ve ever seen assembled in one place, and storytelling sessions, among other things.
Frankly, if your kids love Thomas, this event is everything they could ever want.
I don’t remember how it happened, but at some point in the past few months my daughter became obsessed with Annie. The musical. She can sing “Tomorrow” and “Maybe” with the best of ’em, and she’s only 6. We’re thinking about dyeing her hair red and bringing her to auditions.
Her Annie obsession came just after the Broadway revival ended its run (in January 2014), but we were thrilled to learn that the show is now on a national tour! It’s currently playing at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music before moving across the country through the summer. (Check cities and dates here.)
It was therefore with much excitement that we recently had a daddy-daughter evening at the opening night performance of Annie in Philadelphia.
And what a night it was. Annie did not disappoint. The audience was a mix of families with young kids and older couples, and everyone seemed equally enchanted by the production, the songs, and the young actors on stage.
In the great tradition of my post about Sesame Place’s Halloween event, this is posting after the relevant holiday has come and gone. But like I said in that post, the Internet is forever…and A Very Furry Christmas will be back next year.
Sesame Place is one of the best “family-friendly” theme parks around. It generally appeals to the very youngest kids—up to about 5 years old. My daughter is at the upper end of that range, and though she doesn’t choose to watch Sesame Street anymore, she still loves Sesame Place.
Only a couple rides have height restrictions, and they’re very generous for shorter kids. (The one roller coaster in the park actually has a lower height restriction than the similar, but tamer, ride in the Sesame Street Forest of Fun at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.)
In short, if you’ve got little kids, and you like to have fun, and you’re in the Philadelphia area, make sure Sesame Place is on your list.
The Crayola Experience is one of those museums we’ve been dying to check out forever, but it was just so…out of the way. It’s located in Easton, PA, which is about an hour and half north of Philadelphia and west of New York.
In truth, it’s not near much else, so the chance that you’d make it quick add-on side trip while visiting someplace else is slim. However, we took a roundabout route up to New York on a recent trip with the express purpose of checking this place out.
And I’m glad we did. It’s pretty outstanding.
OK, so Halloween is technically behind us, and Sesame Place is already gearing up for A Very Furry Christmas. But I still wanted to post about The Count’s Halloween Spooktacular.
- Reason #1: It was simply awesome.
- Reason #2: It’ll be back next year. And the Internet is forever.
- Reason #3: Did I mention that it was awesome?
We’ve been to Sesame Place several times this year. The kids (3 and 5) are the prime age for the park, and they just love it. We’re actually Busch Gardens Platinum Pass holders, which means we basically have season passes to all 11 of their parks (including Sesame Place, Sea World, Busch Gardens, and the water parks). We live about halfway between Sesame Place and Busch Gardens Williamsburg, so it’s a great deal.
This was our first time attending one of the special holiday events, though. Sesame Place is located just outside of Philadelphia, and as such, it gets cold weather. At the end of the summer, the park closes down and only reopens on the weekends through October and December for the Halloween and Christmas events.
(The Day Out With Thomas is currently at the Strasburg Rail Road outside of Lancaster, PA, through Sunday, September 21. Buy tickets here.)
The Day Out With Thomas events have been a staple at train museums for many years now. The first such event in the United States was back in 1996, and they’ve been going strong ever since. If you have a kid who likes Thomas or is a train fanatic, then you’ve very likely heard of or been to this event.
There are about a half dozen different Thomas engines making the circuit, and I was surprised to learn that they were all built by the Strasburg Rail Road.
Well, Thomas now has a new friend on the rails! The good people at the Strasburg Rail Road decided to expand the fleet, so they designed and built a working Percy engine!
(Varekai is currently playing at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia through Sunday, September 14. Buy tickets here.)
It’s no secret that the Roarbots love Cirque du Soleil. We’ve see eight different shows and recently had the amazing opportunity to tour the International Headquarters in Montreal. If you haven’t read our trip report from that tour, make sure you go and do that right now.
Go ahead. We’ll wait for you.
Whereas other groups try to cash in by using the word cirque in their name but end up delivering mixed results of varying quality, Cirque du Soleil is the original. They’re who those other guys are mimicking, and they consistently deliver stellar performances of the highest quality possible.
Varekai is no different.
To coincide with my post about the Choo Choo Barn, I thought I’d just talk about the National Toy Train Museum at the same time. Both are located in Strasburg, PA, which is just a short drive from Lancaster and is filled to the brim with train-related goodies.
The two museums share a common enthusiasm (they’re both lovingly devoted to the world of model railroading), but they have different missions. Whereas the Choo Choo Barn is a presentation of what model railroading looks like, the National Toy Train Museum is dedicated to sharing how the hobby was born, presenting the history of its growth, and reveling in the obvious joy its curators take from this pastime.
Bonus: they’re only about a mile apart, so there’s really no reason not to visit both of them.
The area around Lancaster, PA, has no shortage of stuff to do with the little ones. We recently spent a weekend in the area and devoted most of a day to the wonderful world of trains. Strasburg, PA, about 15 minutes to the southeast of Lancaster, is also known as Traintown, USA.
And for good reason. It’s home to the Strasburg Railroad, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, the National Toy Train Museum, the Choo Choo Barn, and the incredible Red Caboose Motel.
The adorably named Choo Choo Barn certainly lives up to the cuteness of its name. Located just down the street from the Strasburg Railroad, the Choo Choo Barn is essentially an enormous model train layout.
It’s every little boy’s fantasy. At 1,700 square feet and with 22 operating trains, it certainly puts my childhood model train layout to shame.