Discover the Best Quick Trips from Philly
Two drives within an hour of Philadelphia offer nature-filled escapes with history, stone buildings and great eats.
A gorgeous day trip from Philadelphia, Bucks County embodies charm with antique shops, art galleries, stone barns and historic sites. Stop first at Washington Crossing Historic Park, a US historic landmark, where George Washington and his troops made their famous crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas 1776. For an immersion in colonial architecture and life, visit the Thompson-Nelly Farmstead where you can tour the 18th-century home, privy, stone barn and grounds.
Continue your ride towards New Hope, one of Pennsylvania’s most charming small towns. Long a magnet for artists, New Hope appeals to a range of visitors with funky boutiques, art galleries and beautiful homes. Just shy of the town center, meander through Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, marveling at more than 700 native plants and hiking its 4.5 miles of trails through forests and meadows. Then continue to Main Street for some serious retail therapy. Peruse the many eclectic shops, visiting the popular Love Saves the Day and Soap Opera Company for collectibles and gifts.
Enjoy riverside eats and support the local arts community at The Deck Restaurant & Bar, located behind the Bucks County Playhouse—part of your check goes to support the theater. The patio at The Landing Restaurant offers American regional cuisine while at the Ghost Light Inn superstar-chef Jose Garces’ Stella shows off a menu revolving around local ingredients.
If you can tear yourself away from New Hope, continue to Lumberville for a dose of local history. Stop for refreshments at the Black Bass Hotel, a 250-year-old inn, tavern, and fine dining establishment that seems like a museum with its collection of British royal class memorabilia. Sister restaurant Lumberville General Store offers less formal snacks including delicious homemade ice cream.
Your final stop on your Bucks County sojourn is the town of Erwinna where you can combine a wine tasting with an unusual park experience. Walk-ins are welcome at the Sand Castle Winery where you can sip Cabernet, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir in a socially distanced setting. Ten minutes north, stretch your legs and get some exercise at Ringing Rocks Park, an unusual boulder field with seven acres of rocks that ring like bells when struck. Bring a hammer!
Set your sights south this time for a distinctive foodie experience. In just under an hour, you’ll pass through some of Pennsylvania’s most beautiful countryside leading to Kennett Square, the mushroom capital of the world.
As you drive through Chester Country’s Brandywine Valley, you’ll see beautiful vistas and many stone structures characteristic of the area. If you love mushrooms, stop at the Mushroom Cap and The Woodlands at Phillips to learn about the mushroom industry and buy some unusual varieties. Save the fungi to cook at home, though, and pick up a takeaway lunch from the acclaimed Talula’s Table gourmet market or grab a craft coffee and pastry at Philter to fuel your drive.
Get your iPhones ready as there are numerous instagrammable spots on this route. Pull over to get a good shot of Speakman #2 Covered Bridge, a 75-foot-long bridge built in 1881 with a distinctive Burr arch-truss design. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You can mix the great outdoors with a dose of history at the lake at Hibernia County Park or the expansive greens of French Creek State Park, site of Hopewell Furnace, a historic “iron plantation” that illustrate the early industrialization of America from 1771-1883.
Set out your picnic by the site of another covered bridge on the National Register of Historic Places, Gibson’s Bridge (or Harmony Hill). The 78-foot wooden bridge crosses the Brandywine Creek and has distinctive clapboard siding.
You’ll want to log some shopping time in West Chester, the county seat. Check out Jane Chalfont Kiki Boutique, Kaly, and Tish for contemporary fashions. And no respectable foodie should miss Éclat Chocolate to sample and purchase their internationally acclaimed gourmet sweets. Among the numerous dining options available here, Limoncello is a popular choice with family-style Italian cuisine. For something more local, visit Iron Hill Brewery for a selection of craft beers and small bites.
Your ultimate destination, the magnificent Longwood Gardens, is one of the world’s most renowned public gardens. Just one hour from Philadelphia, the 1077 acres are a breathtaking oasis of gardens, meadows, woodlands and elaborate horticultural displays. If the weather isn’t perfect, there are indoor gardens and a conservatory as well.