Canoeing, kayaking, fishing, kids activities, a wine trail and a charming old-world shopping village means there is something that appeals to every member of the family.
The warm and welcoming Little Red Barn Campground has been owned and operated for more than 45 years by the Roeder family and is a great choice for families who want to dip their toes into camping. Select a flat tent site or a spacious, grassy or wooded RV site with a picnic table and fire ring or one of three comfortable rental trailers. There’s plenty to do on-site, including a game room with a pool table, volleyball and basketball courts, horseshoe pits, wagon rides and a playground, as well as free Wi-Fi, a general store, hot showers, a laundry room, golf cart rentals and a pavilion. // 367 Old Bethlehem Road, Quakertown, Pennsylvania; ; rates start at $40 for tent sites and $45 for standard RV sites
Before checking in, hit the Quakertown Farmers Market and Flea Market, a Bucks County tradition since 1932, with more than 150 farmers market departments and 120 indoor and 450 outdoor flea market vendors. Stock your site with fruits and vegetables at JG Produce, fresh fish at Zangaris Seafood and steaks to throw on the grill at Fredericks Meat. (Snag some extra spicy spears and pickled green tomatoes at B’s Pickles.) Make a lunch stop at The Coop, known for its addictive chicken wings and deep-fried, spice-coated jo jo potato wedges.
Kids and adults alike will marvel at the stalactites and stalagmites at Lost River Caverns, a natural limestone cave so named because the source and mouth of the river that formed its five chambers has yet to be discovered. Equally captivating is the Da Vinci Science Center, with two levels and more than three dozen hands-on, STEM-focused exhibits and activities about engineering, electricity, physics and forces of nature. One of the most popular lets guests hone their other four senses as they crawl through a pitch-black, 72-foot-long tunnel.
Drive to the nearby town of New Hope, a quaint locale on the Delaware River regarded in the 18th century as the halfway point between New York and Philadelphia, where travelers would stay overnight and be ferried across the next morning. Stroll through the shops at the brick-pathway-lined Peddler’s Village, where you’ll find trendy boutiques, curated home goods, art galleries and tasting rooms. Stay for burgers and stone-fired pizza at Buttonwood Grill or contemporary cuisine at Earl’s New American Restaurant, and let the kids expend their remaining energy with games and a six-story maze and obstacle course at Giggleberry Fair.
Grab a quick breakfast in your cabin and get a jump on the day by making the short drive to Nockamixon State Park, home to the namesake lake formed by a dam on Tohickon Creek. Swimming is not permitted, but there are six public launching boat ramps, hiking trails ranging of various lengths, mountain biking, horseback riding, disc golf and great bass fishing. Fly fishing aficionados might want to also check out Tohickon Creek or East Branch Creek for more angling opportunities.
After dining on a casual lunch at Beckers Corner, parents can treat themselves to a glass or flight of wine at any of the eight family-owned wineries that are part of the Bucks County Wine Trail. Download the wine trail and plot your course ahead of time. Highlights include an Alsatian-style riesling at Sand Castle Winery, whose founders were raised in Czechoslovakia; chambourcin at Buckingham Valley Vineyards, one of Pennsylvania’s first farm wineries; and French-inspired offerings at Rose Bank Winery, founded on a tract of land originally deeded to William Penn.
If you don’t feel up to cooking by your campfire, La Campagna Ristorante is one of the area’s top restaurants with a crowd-pleasing menu. Share calamari fritti, caprese salad and plates of vongole and pernacchio, penne pasta and grilled chicken, sausage, mushroom and roasted red peppers in tomato sauce. Afterward, grab dessert at Rosemarie’s Italian Ice (215-512-2114), whose staff doles out water ice, soft serve ice cream, frozen yogurt and hand-dipped ice cream, which can be topped with Philadelphia Eagles sprinkles if you like.
Channel your inner artist at the Crayola Experience in Easton, the hometown of the company crafting the drawing and coloring tools beloved the world over. Create a customized coloring page from your family picture captured in the photo booth, use drip art to make a swirly masterpiece, “catch” digital melted wax (and even bounce it off your head), see a 1,500-pound crayon dubbed “Big Blue” made from melting down crayons sent in from all over the globe and leave time to shop in The Crayola Store, offering the world’s largest selection of the company’s products and souvenirs.
Lunch options abound in this town from gumbo, shrimp and grits, po’boys and other Cajun specialties at The Bayou to a whole guacamole menu and tons of creative, flavorful tacos at Mesa Modern Mexican. Work off your meal with a walk through the Easton Public Market, a community-supported market that’s an outgrowth of the Easton Farmers Market where you’ll find food vendors, a farm stand, a demonstration kitchen and a community room. Take home a few edible souvenirs like truffles or macarons from master chocolatier Jean-Paul Hepp at Chocodiem, blueberry-cream-cheese-stuffed brioche from The Modern Crumb Bakeshop and applejack brandy from Eight Oaks Farm Distillery.
Make first-time camping memories by toting along these fun items for families:
• Handy lighting like solar or battery-powered string lights can be used to adorn tents for late-night reading and headlamps or glow sticks are handy for bathroom runs.
• Squirt guns, bubbles, Velcro catch-and-toss games, insect-collecting kits, car and camping bingo are all low-tech, easier-to-pack toys and games.
• Metal marshmallow roasting sticks (instead of branches) and ready-to-toast s’mores kits make everyone’s favorite campfire treat effortless.
• A versatile pie iron can be used to whip up pizzas, hand pies for dessert and egg sandwiches.
• Bring along the ingredients for walking tacos (sauteed seasoned taco meat, toppings, individual bags of corn chips and salsa) for an easy, crowd-pleasing dinner.