It’s no secret that Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is strategically located and close to an abundance of other major east coast cities as well as smaller towns. It’s also easy to reach the New Jersey Shore’s beaches, the Pocono mountains—and many great spots in-between. There are many exciting and fun day trips from Philadelphia, in all directions of the city, and here are 12 favorites.
Bushkill Falls (Pocono Mountains)
Considered the “Niagara of Pennsylvania,” Bushkill Falls is a beautiful wooded destination for nature lovers. With plenty of marked nature trails, lookout points, and bridges, all leading to eight stunning waterfalls of various sizes, this park is a favorite for those who enjoy the outdoors. This family-friendly destination is about a two-hour drive from Philadelphia. Nearby, there are other activities as well, including picnic areas, paddle boats, miniature golf, a playground, and a mining adventure that’s ideal for kids.
Less than an hour’s drive from Philadelphia is the historic town of New Hope, a charming and sometimes quirky destination lined with lovely clothing boutiques, antique stores, restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and pleasant walkways. A former industrial town located by banks of the Delaware River, it’s a lively place to spend the day, especially on weekends, when there are often markets and special events planned, so be sure to check the website for upcoming activities.
About two hours from Philly is the town of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, a tiny destination that’s big on fun. Situated by the Lehigh River, this former coal-mining town is steeped in history, as it was home to one of the first railroads in the United States and named for one of America’s best athletes. Today, this walkable town is filled with shops, restaurants, and great outdoor activities, such as white water rafting, hiking, and camping. With exciting festivals and events scheduled throughout the year, the town always has something going on, so be sure to visit the website for upcoming activities.
Delaware Art Museum
Less than an hour south of Philadelphia is the Delaware Art Museum that houses a vast collection of sculptures, paintings, and a variety of unique artwork. Highlights include American 19th-century art to the present, British pre-Raphaelites, and a lovely sculpture garden.
The museum also houses a café, so you can grab a snack when you’re finished admiring the many pieces of art. Admission for adults is $12, but there are many discounts available.
Founded by Pierre S. du Pont, Longwood Gardens is an incredible and award-winning destination that encompasses over 1,000 acres of exceptional indoor and outdoor displays of flowers, wooded areas, meadows, and more. Whether you’re a horticulture buff or just enjoy the jaw-dropping blooms and foliage, it’s a lovely, family-friendly place to spend the day. There are also gorgeous fountains, restaurants on-site, and plenty of special events throughout the year. The holidays are especially festive with brilliant lights and decorations just about everywhere!
Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library
Set on over 1,000 acres, this childhood home of Henry Francis Du Pont, Winterthur is an exquisite 175-room house that’s filled with beautiful artwork and awe-inspiring furnishings (and it’s less than an hour from center city, Philadelphia). It’s a fascinating destination that features over 90,000 objects used in America between the mid-1640s and the late 1800s. It’s well worth a day trip, and there are always intriguing exhibits on display. Since this home is so large, it’s nearly impossible to experience it all in one visit. Luckily, Winterthur also offers a variety of different tours so that you can return again and again.
Beach Plum Farm, West Cape May, New Jersey
For a rustic and authentic experience, check out Beach Plum Farm, located in the picturesque town of West Cape May, New Jersey. Take a guided tour of this expansive 62-acre working farm and check out lovely gardens and fountains, as well as many farm animals, such as chickens, pigs, horses, ducks, and more. The farm’s market sells fresh produce grown on the grounds, as well as breakfast items on weekends.
Considered the first resort town in the United States, Cape May was first settled over two hundred years ago and is known for its Victorian Charm. The beautifully-renovated Congress Hall is a block-sized historical oceanfront property featuring shops, restaurants, bars, live music, a swimming pool, and lots of public spaces. For history buffs, the hotel offers an intriguing historical tour that invites visitors to take a step into the past and learn about the history of the property. The area is also famous for its exceptional bird watching and filled with fun things to see and do, including great beaches, bicycling riding, the Cape May lighthouse, the zoo, whale watching, and more.
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Atlantic City is a classic resort town a little more than an hour's drive from Philadelphia and features the longest boardwalk on the Jersey shore – and a host of great entertainment. In warm weather, it's great fun to hang out on the beach or stroll along "the boards," but there's plenty to do indoors, too. A few of the must-visit spots include the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, the city's newest casino that features several restaurants and music venues (and many daily shows), and Ocean resort and casino, the northernmost casino with a great deal bars, eateries, and stylish public spaces.
At over 3,500 acres, Valley Forge National Park was the location of General George Washington’s continental army in the winter during the from 1777 to 1778. Today, it’s an expansive park featuring statues, monuments, trails, walkways, and other historically significant structures. It’s best to visit in the warmer months, as the park is outdoors and there is plenty to explore. There are also many events and programs scheduled throughout the year.
The famous Hershey chocolate bar is named after an incredible town in Pennsylvania.
Visitors can enjoy many attractions here, including the Hershey Story museum, where you can learn about how Milton Hershey created his world-renowned chocolate empire. There’s also the Hershey gardens, the Hershey Spa, or the opportunity to take in a Hershey Bears hockey game. Of course, you can also visit the exciting HersheyPark, which features an abundance of the latest and greatest amusement rides, shows, and entertainment—it’s fun for all ages.
Most visitors know that Lancaster is a rural region that comprised of several small towns that’s home to Pennsylvania Dutch country and a large Amish community. But there’s more than meets the eye…it’s also a great shopping destination, known for its many antique shops (and nearby retail outlets, too); museums, spas, wineries, breweries, and family-friendly activities, also. It’s definitely worth a day trip from Philadelphia—any time of year.