Kids make getting out of the house a challenge. More shoes to tie, more snacks to pack, more devices to tear them away from. And being out of the house is now getting difficult, too, what with the donning of masks and facing masked and unmasked strangers who may or may not be happy about what your family is or isn’t wearing on their faces.

It helps to head to a place that everyone in the family loves. This week, Henry Mercer’s wacky, fascinating collection in a Doylestown castle reopens, as does Philly’s connoisseur-approved car museum. Longwood Gardens has resumed its splurge-worthy nighttime fountain shows, a sound-and-light spectacular that’ll transport you and the kids to a freer, happier summer, if only for 30 precious minutes. Masks required.

Back at home — sigh — theater camps with a Playbill pedigree and two new Netflix animated movies keep things bearable, and in one case bug-able.

Illuminated Fountain Show at Longwood Gardens

9:15 p.m. Friday & Saturday, $13–$25, (ages 4 and under, free; $2 with PA Access card or DE EBT/Snap card), advance tickets required via longwoodgardens.org. (Non-illuminated, 12-minute shows daily every two hours from 11:15 a.m.–5:15 p.m., last show 8:15 p.m. Friday & Saturday.)

The Main Fountain Garden at Longwood Gardens
HAROLD A. DAVIS
The Main Fountain Garden at Longwood Gardens

So far, this hasn’t been a summer worth staying up for. There’s little going on beyond bedtime — no after-dark carnivals, no Fourth of July fireworks. But with Longwood Gardens’ resumption of its weekend-only, 30-minute illuminated fountain show, there’s suddenly a spectacular reason to keep them up late. Sure, the musical themes aren’t exactly made for the younger generation — this week, it’s Bailando: Latin Rhythms on Friday and Solid Gold 70s on Saturday — but the waterworks, lights, and excitement are exactly what memorable summer nights should be made of.

Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum

Reopens Thursday, hours 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily (closed Mondays), $8–$12 (ages 7 and under free) tickets online at simeonemuseum.org (all ages)

The 1966 Ford GT40 MK II on display at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia on Nov. 7, 2019.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
The 1966 Ford GT40 MK II on display at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia on Nov. 7, 2019.

Homes overtaken by orange Hot Wheels tracks can release their builders to discover the real deal this week. The incredible car collection of Dr. Fred Simeone reopens to the public Thursday with two-hour reservation times, sanitized play cars available throughout, and a no-touching rule for the crank-able drive train. Plans for popular demo days — when visitors gather behind the building to watch the good doctor and helpers take rare models for spins around a large empty lot — are under wraps. They’ll happen, staffers say, but they will be happy surprises, as to not attract too large of crowds.

Mercer Museum, Doylestown

Reopens Thursday, hours 11 a.m.–6 p.m. daily (open at 10 a.m. for seniors and immunocompromised guests, closed 1–2 p.m. for cleaning), $8–$15, (age 5 and under free) reservations at mercermuseum.org, $8–$15 (all ages)

The Mercer Museum in Doylestown display of artifacts from 19th-century life includes a blue whaling boat artistically mounted in the atrium.
JUSTINE McDANIEL / Staff
The Mercer Museum in Doylestown display of artifacts from 19th-century life includes a blue whaling boat artistically mounted in the atrium.

Henry Mercer sure did know how to decorate. His old house, a wonderfully oddball concrete castle filled floor to six-story ceiling with pre-Industrial Age carriages, boats, hand tools, fire engines, and somewhat creepy cigar store statues is the ultimate setting for games of I spy. (Kids will be sorely tempted to play hide-and-seek too.) Tickets are good for two-hour time slots. Sibling attraction Fonthill Castle reopens Aug. 3.

Playbill virtual theater camps

Various dates, times, and prices. Details at Playbill.com (ages vary)

The Broadway League has announced that performances in New York City will stay dark at least through the end of the year. Playbill has compiled a list of virtual summer camps that help keep kid fans connected.
Jamie McCarthy / MCT
The Broadway League has announced that performances in New York City will stay dark at least through the end of the year. Playbill has compiled a list of virtual summer camps that help keep kid fans connected.

First, it was the spring musical, canceled. Now Shakespeare isn’t happening in parks, and Broadway is dark. Playbill comes to the rescue to connect budding drama royalty with idled performers. Among the offerings are one-hour lessons with Alvin Ailey dancers, two-hour-a-day weeks of improv instruction with the Groundlings, and twice-weekly two-hour classes with Princeton’s McCarter Theatre. (At $625, most weeks of five-hour days with Broadway World have already sold out.)

Larva Island & Animal Crackers

Available starting Thursday and Friday, respectively, on Netflix (ages 6 and up)

Remember mid-July movies — those rated-G Pixar flicks grown-ups enjoyed twice as much because of the frigid theater? These days, Netflix and a window unit have to suffice. New this week: The Larva Island Movie (Cast Away meets A Bug’s Life), on Thursday, and Animal Crackers, a tale of dissatisfied parents, a failing circus, and magical cookies, in which some of us watchers will be visualizing the characters not as their animated selves but as the flesh-and-blood actors who voiced them — John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Danny DeVito, Ian McKellen, Raven–Symoné and Sly Stallone — out Friday.