35 Great Day Trips from Philadelphia
History, arts and outdoor attractions across Greater Philadelphia...
Historic homes, fascinating museums and sprawling parks await visitors to Philadelphia’s Countryside.
The towns in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties offer adventures for nature lovers, art appreciators and history buffs, as well as some of the best shopping on the East Coast.
Valley Forge National Historical Park and Brandywine Battlefield Park take visitors back to the days of the Revolutionary War. The expertly landscaped Chanticleer and Longwood Gardens delight guests with themed gardens and bountiful floral displays. And Elmwood Park Zoo and Sesame Place entertain kids with furry friends.
Check out our guide to Greater Philadelphia’s awesome attractions — all located within about a one-hour drive of Center City Philadelphia — below.
More than 35 helicopters, autogiros and convertiplanes — some of which are fully accessible — fill this West Chester destination . Also on view: fascinating exhibits like the one dedicated to the Whirly-Girls, a pioneering group of women helicopter pilots. Several times a year, guests of all ages have a chance to ride in a helicopter, while those looking to arrive in style can fly in using the museum’s helipad, ramp and runway.
Head to Bucks County’s historic Pidcock Creek Valley to unwind among 134 acres of 2,000 native plant species and the wildlife that depend on them. Bowman’s Hill Wildlife Preserve’s grounds span forests, a meadow, hillsides, a creek, two ponds and wetlands. And the Preserve offers varied programming for children and adults, including specialty walks like “mornings in the meadow” and forest bathing.
What’s now known as Brandywine Battlefield Park was the site of the longest single-day battle of the Revolutionary War. George Washington and his army lost the battle, but the park — which now includes a visitors center, a museum and a self-guided tour — serves as a memorable addition to any tour of the Philadelphia area. Visitors can also visit two historic homes : a reconstruction of the home that Washington used as his headquarters (the Benjamin Ring House) and the house where Marquis de Lafayette stayed prior to the battle, complete with 18th-century cookware (the Gideon Gilpin House).
The grounds are as breathtaking as the art at the bucolic Brandywine Museum of Art , housed in a renovated 1864 gristmill and surrounded by wildflower gardens and the meandering Brandywine River. Inside, works by Andrew Wyeth sit beside other beautifully detailed illustrations, paintings and installations, as well as special exhibitions that have showcased more works from the talented Wyeth family, photographs from the civil rights movement and works by Winslow Homer.
Grace Kelly, Audra McDonald, Robert Redford and other stars have graced the stage of the Bucks County Playhouse since it was converted from a gristmill in 1939. Since its reboot in 2012, the theater has hosted world premieres and returned to its roots of incubating soon-to-be Broadway hits.
The gardeners at this 35-acre pleasure garden are also artists, incorporating wood, metal and stone into the lush landscape. Be sure to make time for the Teacup Garden, brimming with tropical plants carefully arranged to create a colorful, sensory experience. And don’t miss the Minder Ruin Garden, which has three “rooms” created to look exactly like those of the Minder House, a home that once stood where the garden is today.
All aboard! Riders who want to hop on the restored century-old rail car on Boyertown’s Colebrookdale Railroad have their pick of several entertaining options, including scenic excursions with meals and cocktails, fall foliage viewing, wine tastings, and holiday trains. Or try pedaling a railbike through the forest for a fun change of pace.
A 60-mile linear park along the Delaware River from Easton to Bristol, Delaware Canal State Park calls to joggers and cyclists, as well as nature enthusiasts who enjoy the wildlife that thrives along the river shoreline and 11 river islands. Meanwhile, there’s plenty of fun on the water, too: The river and canal that the path follows offer ample opportunities for fishing, canoeing and kayaking.
More than 100 species of animals roam, swim and climb through the 16-acre Elmwood Park Zoo , where visitors can check out the giraffes, get up close with jaguars, ride a carousel and take part in the zoo’s conservation-focused educational programming.
Winding stairways, turrets and balconies give a 13th-century feel to the eclectic Fonthill Castle , which boasts 200 windows of different shapes and sizes, as well as embellishments from the adjacent Tileworks. The castle hosts year-round programming that includes summer festivals, fall ghost tours, food events and more.
The Nakashima family brings its samurai roots, as well as experiences in construction and art, to its museum-like furniture studio . The grounds double as the family’s private residence, and visitors are welcome by appointment into the showroom, finishing room, chair shop and Conoid Studio. The hand-crafted wood pieces are designed with art and utility in mind.
This Media theater — founded in 1913 — has attracted prominent national performers, including Keanu Reeves. It offers an outdoor children’s theater for families, as well as an innovative program for sensory-friendly performances.
Tucked into the expanse of French Creek State Park, Hopewell Furnace is home to 14 restored structures from a colonial-era iron-producing village that relied on free labor and the work of enslaved people. Nature lovers enjoy the bird-watching and photography opportunities, and visitors can participate in demonstrations of crafts, agriculture and other 19th-century activities.
Opened in 2019, this immersive museum and nature facility occupies the site of famed U.S. ornithologist John James Audubon’s historic 18th-century home and property. Visitors can explore galleries and permanent exhibits about conservation and art, an outdoor birdwatching area and an interactive exhibit that allows people to experience the earliest stages of a bird’s life, from egg to first flight. The center rests beside the existing historic house, barn and nature trails at Mill Grove.
With more than 450 stores and nearly 3 million square feet, King of Prussia Mall is the premier shopping destination on the East Coast. Together, The Court and The Plaza welcome around 20 million visitors each year to major department stores like Nordstrom, specialty shops like Apple and Burberry, and eateries that let shoppers dine on the go or sit down to reflect on a day of deals.
One of the last working farms in Delaware County , Linvilla Orchards offers pick-your-own apples, peaches, berries, corn and more, plus fun-filled festivals and educational programs built around them. Visitors can stop by the open-daily, always-fresh farmers market, and enjoy seasonal events and activities like hayrides, fishing, pumpkin carving and Christmas tree shopping.
Longwood Gardens’ 1,000 acres offer a tranquil oasis less than an hour from Center City . The conservatory, winding pathways and exquisite gardens are home to 9,000 species of plants that attract deer, birds, butterflies and other wildlife. In addition to spectacular fountain shows set to music and regular arts and culture programming, the attraction hosts elaborate installations like the late-winter Orchid Extravaganza and A Longwood Christmas .
The towering castle that houses the Mercer Museum is full of themed rooms dedicated to the tools and crafts of American life before mechanization. Archaeologist, collector and tile maker Henry C. Mercer founded the museum in 1916 to display such objects and artifacts as a whaling boat and a Conestoga wagon. Permanent exhibits include the kid-oriented and interactive Animals on the Loose gallery, as well as shoe- and hat-making stations.
Pennsylvania impressionist paintings take center stage at this museum named for Pulitzer Prize-winning writer James A. Michener. The galleries also host photography, sleek woodwork from nearby furniture maker George Nakashima Woodworkers, and other historical and contemporary works.
Passengers enjoy narrated tours of scenic Bucks County on either a steam locomotive or diesel engine train on the New Hope Railroad . Coast through the county’s hills and valleys and past sprawling farms, historic bridges and other countryside features.
Southeastern Pennsylvania’s largest lake — located inside the 5,000-acre Nockamixon State Park — is a great spot for boaters and fishers of all kinds. Visitors can find picnic sites, more than 25 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, and four public launching areas for boats. Rentals include motorboats, paddleboats and canoes, and Lake Nockamixon welcomes fishers of bass, pickerel, catfish and beyond.
Many of Nobel- and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Pearl S. Buck’s personal belongings are on display at this early 18th-century farmhouse, including the typewriter she used to write The Good Earth . Visitors to the site, often referred to as Green Hill Farms, can tour her former home, the gardens and Buck’s nearby gravesite.
Peddler’s Village welcomes more than 1.6 million visitors a year to enjoy its 70-plus shops and restaurants. Brick pathways wind through landscaped grounds, boutiques, specialty shops, wineries and more. Check the calendar for annual festivals celebrating strawberries, blueberries, apples, scarecrows and other seasonal events.
You’ve seen William Penn gazing down from atop Philadelphia’s City Hall — now check out his bucolic country home on the Delaware River. Pennsbury Manor is the reconstructed 17th-century estate that Penn built for his Quaker family. Visitors can check out an award-winning exhibit about Penn and his legacy, plus hands-on activities and open hearth cooking demos.
Home to more than 140 designer and brand-name outlet stores, the Philadelphia Premium Outlets offer 425,000 square feet of deals just 35 miles outside of Center City . Shoppers can save big at merchants like Tory Burch, Theory, Coach and Under Armour.
The Philadelphia Union , the region’s first Major League Soccer club, has been thrilling soccer fans decked out in navy and gold since 2010. Subaru Park in Chester hosts the Union’s lively home games. Bonus: Union spectators also get impressive views of the Delaware River and the Commodore Barry Bridge.
Located just 16 miles from Center City, Ridley Creek State Park ’s 2,600-acre oasis of wooded trails and rolling hills welcome nature lovers. Visitors can enjoy trails made for hiking and horseback riding, a creek stocked with trout, and park space open for archery and deer hunting. Ridley Creek is also home to 14 picnic areas, and the historic buildings of the former 18th-century mill village known as Sycamore Mills — plus the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation , a living history site.
Visitors should bring their own hammers (no joke!) to Ringing Rocks County Park , a 123-acre boulder field that responds to strategic whacks and thumps with the sound similar to ringing bells. Melting permafrost, weathering and the shape of the boulders themselves combine to contribute to the melodic geological experience. Once through the boulder field, visitors can continue on into the park for views of Bucks County ’s largest waterfall.
At Sesame Place , visitors can meet furry friends like Cookie Monster, Elmo and pals in the nation’s only theme park based entirely on the beloved children’s show Sesame Street . The park opens seasonally from spring through the holiday season and features rides, splash parks, carnival games, a daily parade and “A Very Furry Christmas” festivities.
Ardmore ’s Suburban Square is a pedestrian-friendly, upscale outdoor shopping center that serves as one of the Main Line’s premier retail and dining destinations. Brands like Apple and Free People have set up shop here, and visitors can also find affordable silver and gemstones at Dandelion, work up a sweat at SoulCycle and grab a salad at Sweetgreen. Also on site: a daily farmers market.
Doylestown’s “working history” museum is a National Historic Landmark that continues to produce handmade tiles in a manner similar to the method established by founder Henry C. Mercer in the late 19th century. Visitors can tour the site to see original displays and get a glimpse of the production process.
Tyler Arboretum ’s 650 forested acres are part of the property that English Quaker Thomas Minshall purchased from William Penn. With 17 miles of trails, 80-foot-tall trees and delicate wildflowers, it’s one of the region’s oldest and largest public gardens. Adventurers enjoy solving the puzzle of the seven-ringed Meadow Maze labyrinth, children learn about nature at Discovery Stations, and history-lovers can tour several sites on the National Register of Historic Places.
Valley Forge National Historical Park is a major hub in the 75-mile system that links Philadelphia to the Appalachian Trail. It’s also brimming with history dating back to the American Revolution. Monuments, statues and buildings throughout the park evoke milestones such as the long winter George Washington and his army spent at Valley Forge from 1777 to 1778. Runners and bicyclists can cruise past these important sites, and park visitors can get guided tours of the grounds.
Both a preserved historic site and a nature area, Washington Crossing Historic Park offers visitors a chance to see the spot where General George Washington and his troops quietly crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night in 1776 on their way to victory at the battles of Trenton and Princeton. The park is open daily and bustles with people every Christmas Day during a reenactment of the famous crossing.
The home and studio of the late artist Wharton Esherick are part of an immersive museum where visitors can touch and interact with the wood sculptor’s designs. The buildings themselves, set deep in the woods of Chester County , are works of art created by Esherick in collaboration with Philadelphia architect Louis Kahn. Guided tours are available when scheduled in advance.
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