There’s always a ton to accomplish when hosting a child’s birthday celebration at home. Planning the menu and party theme, decorating, figuring out games, party favors and goodie bags. Serving a spread, cutting the cake, opening presents and keeping the kids occupied. For our daughter’s 5th birthday we took a different route. One that didn’t require putting anyone on edge planning, but invited everyone to the edge of their seats—buckled in, of course.

So how does a child really want to celebrate their birthday? Simply ask. Our birthday girl wanted to meet her favorite Sesame Street Characters. Instead of the typical party theme, we booked a Sesame Place® soiree. Little did we know this family road trip would have a surprise twist.

Our GPS lead the way from the Crayola Experience in Easton to Sesame Place in Langhorne, a visit to Lancaster County to sample ice cream and iced teas at the Turkey Hill Experience, then off to the haunted streets and battlefields of Gettysburg. Our multi-destination getaway through Pennsylvania was packed with spontaneous family-friendly stops offering experiences we’ll never forget. Check out the highlights from this amazing road trip and parenting pointers we learned along the way.

1. The Crayola Experience 30 Centre Square, Easton, PA 18042

This was the perfect spot to stop en-route to stretch little legs. Situated in the heart of Easton, oversized Crayola crayons and markers welcomed us to the colorful warehouse featuring more than 20 hands-on creative exhibits. Visit weekdays for easy admission with fewer crowds. Design crayon labels, dance through raining wax and bring artwork to life through color magic. The kids can climb a two-story playground, model clay figures, create dripping wax spin art and melt crayons into molds to form wearable rings and race cars. Families can even watch a live crayon making demonstration during the Crayola Factory Show. What’s more impressive is their gigantic gift shop, the Crayola Store, offering excellent art sets, cool clothing, souvenirs and so much more.

2. Sesame Place® 100 Sesame Road, Langhorne, PA 19047

Take a thrilling kid-friendly amusement park, pair it with some wet water park fun and your favorite furry costumed characters from the award-winning Sesame Street television show and you’ve got Sesame Place®, located on the outskirts of Philadelphia in Langhorne. Even more awesome, Sesame Place® is the first theme park in the world to become a Certified Autism Center. Go for great values by purchasing parking passes, a Kids FREE Hotel Package and the Dine with Elmo & Friends experience online in advance of your visit. They even offer special birthday party packages for easy and unique celebrations. Arrive early weekdays for close parking, shorter lines and access to water park lounge chairs. Wear swimsuits in with tennis shoes and socks or water shoes, and fill a backpack with sunscreen, extra clothes, towels, drinks and snacks. Start dry on the rides, enjoy lunch in an air-conditioned facility, then get wet during the afternoon parade when the water park is less crowded. Towards evening, change into dry clothes, sing, dance and clap along with Elmo the Musical and the Let’s Play Together live shows, get hugs and snap photos with characters found in the 1-2-3 Smile With Me and Sesame Neighborhood Hopscotch areas of the park, then lay towels down and end the day with an evening parade before the park closes.

3. Turkey Hill Experience 301 Linden Street Columbia, PA 17512

The Turkey Hill Experience provided the perfect mid-way pit-stop on our journey through Pennsylvania. Here we got the scoop on how Turkey Hill ice cream and iced teas are made and cooled down tasting a variety of flavor samples. After the samples settled in, the kids burned off energy exploring a vintage milk truck, milked mechanical cows and enjoyed free reign of the playground ball pit area. We snapped fun family photos inside an oversized ice cream tub and created virtual flavors, pint product packaging and ice cream commercials at special interactive exhibits. Guests can up their experience with advance reservations creating one of a kind ice cream flavors in the Turkey Hill Taste Lab and tasting teas from around the world at Tea Discovery.

4. Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center  1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg, PA 17325

We went off the beaten path for our last stop, journeying through historic Gettysburg for an overnight stay at James Gettys Hotel followed by outdoor exploration in and around Gettysburg National Military Park. Dating to 1804, James Gettys Hotel, located in Downtown Gettysburg, is a historic boutique hotel offering a traditional bed and breakfast twist. With only twelve suites, we were lucky to secure spacious accommodations perfect for our family of four. We explored the historic downtown neighborhood peppered with plaques designating historic homes and a nearby recreation park perfect for the kids. Just a short drive away we hiked battlefield trails, strolled through spooky Sachs covered bridge, visited Soldiers National Monument and saluted our forefathers at the memorial marking the site of Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Gettysburg Address. Gettysburg is absolutely worth revisiting when our kids get older, to experience their unique overnight accommodations, ghostly tours and haunted excursions.

Taking a different route to celebrate our birthday girl created the most memorable family road trip we’ve ever experienced. Together we covered miles of history, had some outdoor amusement park fun, sampled scrumptious ice cream and colored to our heart’s content. Our daughter’s birthday was anything but ordinary. This was a road trip through Pennsylvania providing adventures both adults and kids alike can appreciate.