Traveling with kids who are different ages can involve a lot of compromise, or the divide and conquer scenario. We have employed both methods with our daughters, now 19, 17 and 12. The older two were often lumped together, and the youngest got shafted on a few age-appropriate activities when neither my husband nor I wanted to split up, but for the most part, it has worked out. You just need to do extra research if you are looking for additional activities, and fully charged cell phones so you can meet up later.
Recently, we traveled to Lancaster, PA, without our oldest daughter, but with our 10 year old niece, so we had the same issues – but this time, Nora, my 12 year old, got to have the second kid, and we had to find stuff for Sela, my 17 year old, to do that didn’t induce eye rolling or heavy sighs.
So while I took the younger girls on the Strasburg Rail Road, my husband, Rob, took Sela on a Red Rose Segway Tour, and then to check out Franklin & Marshall College. The Segway Tours are restricted to ages 16 and up, so teens feel they get to do something special. Tours include the beautiful downtown, filled with restaurants, shop and galleries; one focusing on the arts in Lancaster; and a Ghost Tour.
The Strasburg Rail Road offers 45 minute rides on historic steam trains. But the ride, to Paradise and back (you’ve got to love the names of the PA Dutch towns; we also went to Bird-in-Hand and Intercourse) is only part of the fun. You can stop off at the Cherry Crest Adventure Farm, then pick up a later train, and at the train depot, find lots of train paraphernalia. Little kids can ride the hand-propelled cranky cars or the 1920 miniature steam train.
If you want to eat on the train, a dining car serves lunch, but vegetarians should note that the only non-meat option is the kid’s peanut butter & jelly sandwich.
At the farm, food choices included a sweet corn shed with local roasted corn and a café with burgers, wraps and salads. But the activities really shine here. The highlight: an interactive five-acre corn maze, with a different theme each year, encourages team work. The girls were motivated to collect puzzle pieces and et through the maze quickly; then they wanted to do it again. But save time for a farm wagon tour, a pedal kart ride and sliding down the giant hay chute. You can pet and feed ducks, llamas and pigs, and toddlers can climb around the Lil’ Farmers Playland.