No wonder it is #1 - this is a really beautiful, well-outfitted park. Large lake with boat/canoe/paddle boat rentals for reasonable rates. Sandy, well-maintained beach area with life guards in season. Equipped playground areas with a large one right at the beach area. Others are located throughout the park. Picnic tables everywhere. Restrooms.
There are great fishing areas. Food concession stand in summer season. Well maintained hiking trails graded for difficulty. An in season events/educational program with nature talks for kids (and adults) by the rangers. Outdoor weekend family movie nights during the summer.
Camping and some rental cabins.
2.) Kosser State Park - small but very nice, unfortunately the beach is still closed to swimming
Lots of fishermen here. Small peninsula sticks out into lake, original WPA built concrete spillway at dam. Hiking around lake is flat and doable. Playground. Picnic tables. Restrooms.
Campsites and rental cabins. Rangers from Laurel Hill also service this park.
3.) Caddyshack - Nice, clean, well-kept private park. Lots of activities including the popular go-carts, a pool, and miniature golf. Check their website. Prices are okay, not the cheapest but I've sure seen worse!
4.) Laurel Caverns - absolutely worth the trip if you have kids. Or not.
A spacious, nicely lighted cave with lots of stairs and handrails. Always cool inside - about 55F so long sleeves or a light jacket are good to have.
Equally popular to the cave itself for my grandkids is the indoor minature golf course that goes into the cave. For whatever reason they just love this! And there is the well stocked gift shop, which actually has some very nice rocks and other artifacts along with the requisite T-shirts, mugs, etc.
Not overly expensive. See their website.
5.) Ohiopyle - great spot to stop for a while
Fascinating rushing waterfalls. Viewing overlooks. Rock surfaces above falls have unique large pools worn into the rock surfaces. If water is not too high you can walk out on these rocks. Caution! Watch your children carefully at Ohiopyle.
Scheduled whitewater rafting tours put into the river just downstream from the falls. You can walk down and watch the groups going in. This activity is definitely not cheap.
Another unique spot is located on the opposite side of road about 1/4 mile down towards Connelsville. Look for small parking lot. A long set of wooden steps leads downhill to a small but vigorous stream with a natural "chute" cut through the rocks over the many years by the force of the water. People "ride the chute". It's a nice, refreshing spot to visit. Again, be very cautious with smaller children here.
6.) Seven Springs Resort
I've left this for last. Access to the general resort grounds is free. There are numerous activities here and special events almost every weekend. Best to visit their website to see what all there is. Be warned, though. There is a fairly hefty charge for everything, including food.
We have found swimming - either outdoors in season or indoors year round - to be one of the more reasonable activities. The indoor pool can be great during the winter or if it is a rainy summer day. It is kept clean.