With the kids off from school, parents may be seeking ways to keep little ones busy.
In the Lehigh Valley, there is lots to do. Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown offers liquid nitrogen shows and live reindeer. SteelStacks in Bethlehem hosts PeepsFest with live music and kids activities, and Crayola Experience in Easton has lots of crafts as well as an early party to welcome in the New Year.
Those aren't the only options. Here are some other fun outings, some in our back yard and others requiring a little road trip:
Scuba Santa is back at Adventure Aquarium in Camden.
Through Wednesday, see Santa swimming with a great hammerhead shark, large sea turtles and stingrays in the aquarium's 760,000-gallon Ocean Realm. Santa appears at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and greets visitors through the Ocean Realm panoramic window.
Scuba Santa also swims by in the "Believe in Scuba Santa" show, in which Santa's helper tells the story of Christmas at Adventure Aquarium and puts the final touches on the decorations at 11 a.m., 12:30 and 2 p.m.
Kids also can meet Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and his friend Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster in the Rotunda. Listen to an elf tell the story of Rudolph. At the end of the story, Bumble arrives to light the larger-than-life tree and will even make it snow inside the aquarium. The story is 11:45 and 2:45 p.m. through Wednesday.
On Thursday, join the aquarium's "New Year's Eve Splash," with hours extended through 6:30 p.m. and fireworks over the Delaware River.
The aquarium, the fifth largest in the country, has the largest collection of sharks on the East Coast.
In KidZone, the second floor has been transformed into an interactive area for ages 6 and under. Kids can crawl under an aquarium tank and stick their heads into a bubble to see the tank from the inside. Little ones can touch shrimp and small crabs.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $25.95; $18.95, ages 2 to 12.
The aquarium is at 1 Riverside Drive, Camden, N.J. Info: www.adventureaquarium.com, 856-365-3300.
Lego Castle Adventure
The Mercer Museum in Doylestown is featuring the exhibit, "Lego Castle Adventure," through Jan. 17.
It offers Lego building stations, and teaches children about the construction of castles, how castles were managed and some history of the medieval period.
There's an explorable kid-size castle, larger-than-life-size knights made out of Lego bricks and a friendly Lego dragon.
In one section of the exhibit, kids can use a 3-D computer program to build a castle wall on a video screen and then use a catapult to "throw" a ball at the wall and see if it can stand up to attack. Kids can learn through trial and error the most durable way to build a castle's defenses.
All around are Lego models of real castles, among them Beaumaris Castle in Wales, Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Blarney Castle in Ireland, Arundel Castle in Sussex, and Leeds Castle Garden in England.
There are areas for little ones to explore what they've learned. In one area, children can dress up like princes, princesses, knights or dragons. Kids also can put on suspender-style horses and try jousting with foam lances and soft targets.
Kids can make Lego creations in separate areas for ages 7 and up and ages 3-6. There are oversize Lego bricks for those under age 3.
The Mercer Museum also has a display of prints, ceramics, armor and other objects from its collections related to Henry Mercer's love of castles and castle landscapes.
Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $14; $12, seniors; $8, ages 6-17.
The museum is at 84 S. Pine St., Doylestown. Info: 215-348-9461, mercermuseum.org.
Hersheypark Christmas Candylane
Hersheypark has doubled the number of holiday lights for its Christmas Candylane. The amusement park in Hershey twinkles with 4 million lights through Thursday.
Colored lights decorate the trees, shrubs and even some of the kiddie andfamily rides for sale at the park. Search out the Twelve Days of Christmas re-created in sparkling displays. Take the Dry Gulch Railroad for a amusement park trains for sale through a tunnel of lights on a trestle and view lighted and animated scenes that light up the park.
The monorail also gives an elevated view of the decorations that include a Noel musical light show, during which more than 200,000 lights are synchronized in time to holiday music. Nightly shows are every half hour starting at 5 p.m.
Open are the wooden coaster Wildcat, the looping SooperdooperLooper, kid coaster Cocoa Cruiser and the spinning glow coaster, Laff Trakk. Check out this page: http://bestonamusementequipment.com/amusement-park-trains-for-sale/.
Other rides open include the Ferris wheel, the Whip, Music Express, the Pirate ship, the Claw, the carousel, Reese's Xtreme challenge, the Turnpike and many of the kiddie rides along the main walkway.
Kids can visit Santa Claus, see live reindeer and rent ice skates to try out the artificial ice of Rudolph's Skating Pond. See "A Music Box Christmas: The Littlest Tree" at the park's Music Box Theatre and hear story time in The Cookie Workshop, on Kissing Tower hill.
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