Just one perk of living in Philly? The city's location, which allows for easy commuting to New York City, Washington DC and Baltimore. This article, however, is all about pleasure, not business. Break out your suitcase and your sense of adventure: Here are the five best day (or weekend!) trip destinations within the tri-state area.
1) Pennsylvania Dutch Country; Lancaster County, Pa.
Rolling farmlands, kid-friendly amusement parks (Dutch Wonderland and Strasburg Rail Road), and a high concentration of antiques dealers lure nearly 8 millions people to Lancaster County every year. Of course, this section of central Pennsylvania is also well-known as being homebase for the Amish, followers of the Christian faith who've farmed these lands since the early 18th century. Since that time, much about their way of life remains unchanged. See for yourself with a guided tour.
Distance from Philadelphia: 60 miles
2) Jersey Shore; Ocean, Atlantic, Monmouth and Cape May counties, NJ
On Memorial Day weekend, all lanes of the Atlantic City Expressway and Garden State Parkway slow to a crawl as Philly makes it annual pilgrimage to the Jersey Shore. These barrier islands bustle with activity during the summer months as visitors arrive to dig their toes into the pristine white sands of Avalon and Stone Harbor, test their luck at the casinos of Atlantic City, or stroll the boardwalk in Ocean City. During the winter months, you might seek shelter in one of the romantic B&Bs of Cape May.
Distance from Philadelphia: 62 miles to Atlantic City
3) Poconos Mountains; Carbon, Monroe, Pike and Wayne counties, Pa.
Stretching across 2,400 square miles, the Pocono Mountains are home to 11 national and state parks, 261 miles of hiking trails, 150 lakes, seven major ski areas and 30-plus golf courses. It's no surprise, then, that this untouched pocket of northeast Pa. remains active year-round. More than 25 million outdoor adventurers arrive every year, intent on camping, skiing, water tubing, horseback riding, fishing or simply witnessing the autumn foliage as it makes its stunning change to fiery reds, oranges and yellows.
Distance from Philadelphia: 120 miles
4) New Hope; Bucks County, Pa.
The water power of the Delaware River spurred industrial growth of this postcard-perfect, riverside town, dating back to the early 18th century. Nowadays, the town's long-abandoned mills and canals complement a charming landscape of art galleries, antiques shops, playhouses, specialty boutiques and B&Bs. A day trip to New Hope is best augmented by a visit to the similarly styled town of Lambertville, NJ, which is connected to New Hope by a pedestrian bridge. The town makes claim to being "The Antiques Capital of New Jersey."
Distance from Philadelphia: 40 miles
5) Brandywine Valley; Chester County, Pa.
Encompassing 350 verdant square miles in Chester County, the Brandywine Valley attracts a crowd with a broad array of interests. Equestrians, for example, might tack up for the area's many steeplechase races, while oenophiles can tour the valley's countless wineries. History buffs can follow in the footsteps of Revolutionary War soldiers via the self-guided History Trail, and many would argue that no visit to the Brandywine Valley is complete without touring the 1,077-acre Longwood Gardens, one of the Philly area's best public gardens.
Distance from Philadelphia: 40 miles
6) Wilmington; New Castle County, De
Also nestled in the Brandywine Valley is Wilmington, Delaware, the state's capital city and a fantastic place to get away for the weekend. The area is chock full of exciting things to do, whether you're interested in visiting museums, touring public gardens, catching a show or doing some world-class shopping. Visit landmarks like First State National Historic Park, the DuPont Environmental Education Center or the Hagley Museum and Library before sitting down to a memorable meal to end the day.
Distance from Philadelphia: 30 miles