The 15 Best Day Trips from Philadelphia

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Philadelphia is an incredible place with more things to do than you could hope to do in a lifetime. However, whether you live in the city and are looking to get out or are visiting and want to explore the area outside of the city, there are a ton of great day trips from Philadelphia that are worth taking.

Having spent more time exploring the city and the area around it than just about anyone, I thought I’d put together a few of my favorite spots to check out.

All of the places listed here are located in Pennsylvania (There are great day trips in New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland, but this is Uncovering PA) and can be reached within a two-hour drive from the city under normal traffic circumstances (which sadly left out great spots like Gettysburg, Ricketts Glen State Park, and Scranton that were a bit too far). 

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That being said, here are a few of our favorite day trips from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

(You can also check out our favorite hikes close to Philly and our favorite waterfalls near the city.)

Doylestown – 45 minutes

Fonthill in Doylestown as seen on a day trip from Philadelphia

Doylestown is a charming borough and the county seat of Bucks County. The town is best known for its fabulous Mercer Mile, which is home to three historic European-style buildings all constructed by artist Henry Chapman Mercer. There is also a vibrant downtown filled with shops and great spots to eat.

What to Do:

  • Fonthill Castle – Completed in 1910, this castle was the home of artist Henry Chapman Mercer and displays many of his favorite tiles from around the world.
  • Mercer Museum – This castle-like museum houses an incredible collection of 19th and early 20th-century hand tools in a setting that looks like it was ripped from a Harry Potter film.
  • Moravian Pottery and Tile Works – See where Henry Chapman Mercer made his famous tiles in a workshop that is still operational today.
  • Michener Museum – This museum is filled with local art, but when you have so many famous local artists, it definitely feels much grander than a local museum.
  • Peace Valley Park – This park is a great spot for hiking, fishing, or boating.
Empanada Mama in Doylestown PA

Where to Eat and Drink:

  • Empanada Mama – This casual spot serves some of the best empanadas you’ll find anywhere in PA.
  • Maxwells on Main – Located in the heart of town, this restaurant features delicious food and a great beer menu.
  • Caleb’s American Kitchen – Located a short distance east of town, this small restaurant features some of the most incredible food in the region.

If you want to stay overnight:

Chadds Ford – 40 minutes

Longwood Gardens is one of the places you can see in Chadds Ford on a day trip from Philadelphia.

Chadds Ford is located only a short drive southwest of Philadelphia and features many bucolic places to visit. Whether you like art, history, or beautiful nature, there is something for you during this day trip from Philadelphia.

What to Do:

  • Longwood Gardens – One of the best botanical gardens in the country, Longwood Gardens features over 1,000 acres of gardens and dozens of fountains.
  • Brandywine River Museum of Art – Dedicated to the art of the Wyeth family, as well as other artists in the Brandywine School, this museum features some of the best American art you’ll see anywhere.
  • Brandywine Battlefield – The Brandywine Battlefield preserves the largest battlefield of the Revolutionary War. This was one of the most important sites of the early revolution.
  • Galer Estate Winery – A beautiful vineyard with delicious wine near Longwood Gardens. A great spot to relax after a long day.
  • Covered Bridges of Chester County – Chester County is home to 15 historic covered bridges, several of which are only a short drive from Chadds Ford.
Glen Mills Cafe in Chadds Ford PA

Where to Eat and Drink:

  • Glen Mills Garden Cafe – Located inside of Terrain, a greenhouse and garden store, this cafe features a menu filled with locally-sourced and fresh ingredients.
  • 1906 – Located inside Longwood Gardens, this high-end restaurant features exquisite food in a beautiful setting.
  • Victory Brewing Company – Located in nearby Kennett Square, Victory Brewing Company features tasty beers and great food.

If you want to stay overnight:

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area – 120 minutes

How to get to Raymondskill falls in the Pocono Mountains.

While adding the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area to this list pushes the day trips boundaries (and some of the spots mentioned here are over two hours from the city), this is one of the most incredible outdoor destinations in PA.

The Delaware Water Gap is home to incredible hiking, cute small towns, and the tallest waterfalls in Pennsylvania, making it a worthwhile day trip from Philly if you love the outdoors.

What to Do:

  • Raymondskill Falls – The tallest waterfall in Pennsylvania, Raymondskill Falls is only a short hike from the parking area. There are even some extra hidden waterfalls nearby to explore.
  • Dingmans Falls – The second-tallest waterfall in PA is located at the end of a handicapped-accessible path. Along the way, you’ll pass the impressive Silverthread Falls.
  • Bushkill Falls – While you have to pay admission to this site, there are eight waterfalls here connected by incredible paths.
  • Cliff Park Trails – A series of interconnected trails that feature some incredible vistas and a beautiful waterfall.
  • Columcille Megalith Park – Located just south of the Delaware Water Gap, this park features dozens of stacked rocks inspired by Celtic sites like Stonehenge.

Where to Eat and Drink:

  • Milford Dairy Barn – Featuring delicious homemade ice cream in Milford, this local institution is worth a stop.
  • Log Tavern Brewing – Located in Milford at the northern end of the recreation area, Log Tavern Brewing features delicious beers in a great setting.
  • The Cure Cafe – Located in Stroudsburg, this is a great place to grab breakfast or lunch to-go before heading into the Delaware Water Gap.
Harrington House in Milford, Pennsylvania

If you want to stay overnight:

Lancaster – 90 minutes

A buggy enters Zook's Mill Covered Bridge in Lancaster County PA

Located 90 minutes from the city, Lancaster makes for a perfect day trip from Philly. The city is primarily known for its large Amish community, but this is also an area filled with a thriving art scene, great breweries, and beautiful nature.

You can also take Amtrak from Philadelphia to downtown Lancaster if you’d rather travel by train.

What to Do:

  • Amish Country – While you can see Amish throughout the county, head to Bird-in-Hand and Intercourse, PA for the full experience.
  • Wheatland – Only one president was born in PA, and you can see the adult home of President James Buchanan in Lancaster and learn more about his life and career.
  • Covered Bridges of Lancaster County – No county in Pennsylvania is home to more covered bridges than Lancaster County. If you want to explore the countryside here, a covered bridge driving tour is a great option.
  • Strasburg’s Train Sites – Strasburg is home to three great spots for train lovers: the Strasburg Railroad, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, and the Choo Choo Barn.
  • Chickies Rock – One of several overlooks along the Susquehanna River, this spot is a great hiking destination and provides fantastic views.
Central Market in York, PA

Where to Eat and Drink:

  • Calabar Meat Co – This downtown Lancaster butcher features some of the best hamburgers, french fries, and sandwiches you’ll find anywhere in PA.
  • Central Market – This Lancaster institution is filled with incredible places to eat, get groceries, and see life in Lancaster County.
  • Shady Maple Smorgasbord – There are many buffets in Lancaster County, but none are more popular or famous that Shady Maple. If you want to stuff yourself on locally-inspired dishes, this is the place to head.
  • Spring House Brewing – There are several great breweries in downtown Lancaster, but few have as good a combination of beer and food as Spring House Brewing.

If you want to stay overnight:

St. Peters Village – 60 minutes

Hiking at St Peters Village

St. Peters Village is a charming community that began as a company town for a local mining company. Today, it’s a great spot for those wanting to get away and enjoy small-town charms and natural beauty.

What to Do:

  • St. Peter’s Hiking Trails – Located directly behind the village, there is a series of interconnected hiking trails that follow French Creek. Hikes of almost any length can be found here.
  • St. Peter’s Village – The small village offers several small shops, an arcade, a winery, and more for a leisurely shopping experience.
  • Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site – Located a short drive from the village, this spot tells the history of the area’s iron production.
  • French Creek State Park – This 7,500-acre state park offers miles of hiking trails, a lake for fishing and boating, and mountain biking trails.
Inside St Peters Bakery

Where to Eat and Drink:

  • St. Peters Bakery – This artisanal bakery features incredible baked goods, desserts, and more. Their back deck is a great spot to relax for a bit.
  • The Inn at St. Peters Village – Want a nice sit-down meal? The Inn at St. Peters Village delivers with a delicious menu and a great setting.

If you want to stay overnight:

  • The Inn at St. Peters Village – This charming bed and breakfast is located in the heart of the town and is a great place to unwind.
  • You can also find places to stay on Airbnb.

Bethlehem – 75 minutes

The best things to do in Bethlehem PA

Bethlehem is located in the Lehigh Valley north of Philadelphia. While the city is known as Christmas City USA, it’s not just a great holiday season destination, but offers a bit of something for visitors to enjoy throughout the year.

What to Do:

  • National Museum of Industrial History – Located in a once-abandoned building in the Bethlehem Steel plant, the National Museum of Industrial History tells the story of industry in and region and throughout the country.
  • Hoover-Mason Trestle – This raised path offers incredible views into the abandoned Bethlehem Steel plant. Along the way, there are great signs that tell about the area.
  • Moravian Museum of Bethlehem – Learn about the history of the Moravians that founded Bethlehem, PA at this series of historic buildings throughout town.
  • Moravian Book ShopThe oldest, continually operating bookstore in the world, the Moravian Book Shop offers an incredible selection of books, as well as great gifts.
  • Martin Guitar Factory Tour – See how some of the world’s best guitars are handmade in the Leigh Vally on this free factory tour.
Christmas in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Where to Eat and Drink:

  • Fegley’s Brew Works – This Leigh Valley institution features great beer and delicious food.
  • 1741 Terrace – Located in the Hotel Bethlehem, this upscale restaurant is a great spot to eat within a historic building.
  • The Mint – This gastropub is located in an old bank and features some of the city’s best and most inventive food.

If you want to stay overnight:

  • Hotel Bethlehem – This historic hotel in the heart of the city is one of the best places to stay in eastern Pennsylvania.
  • You can also find places to stay on Booking.com and Airbnb.

Hershey – 100 minutes

Carousel at Hersheypark's Christmas Candylane

Hershey is one of the most well-known destinations in Pennsylvania and is home to several incredible spots for a Philadelphia day trip. Whether you are a thrill-seeker, are looking for things to do with kids, love great beer, or simply enjoy history, this is one of the best spots to check out near Philly.

What do Do:

  • Hersheypark – One of the top amusement parks in all of Pennsylvania, Hersheypark features many great rollercoasters and other fun rides for the whole family.
  • Indian Echo Caverns – Indian Echo Caverns is one of the state’s best caves and visitors to the region can take guided tours of this underground world.
  • The Hershey Story – The Hershey Story is a great place to learn the history of the Hershey Company and its founder, Milton S. Hershey.
  • Hershey’s Chocolate World – Hershey’s Chocolate World features many great attractions, some of which are free, that are centered around the company’s famous chocolate.
  • American Automobile Club of America Museum – One of the best antique automobile museums in PA, the AACA Museum features hundreds of historic vehicles and related items.
Harrisburg Beer Week is one of the best things to do in PA in April

What to Eat and Drink:

  • Troegs Brewery – Troegs is one of the largest and best breweries in Pennsylvania. In addition to great beer, they also offer fantastic food.
  • Hershey Pantry – The Hershey Pantry is an incredibly popular spot, especially for breakfast and brunch, but it also offers an excellent lunch menu.
  • Rotunda Brew Pup – Rotunda Brew Pup features inventive beers and a great menu.

If you want to stay overnight:

Downingtown and West Chester – 45 minutes

Hiking trails circle the lake at Marsh Creek State Park

Downingtown and West Chester are two towns located only about a 10-minute drive from each other. Since they are so close together, they make for a great day trip when combined together.

Visiting these two communities gives you the chance to explore some of the best sites and most beautiful outdoor areas in Chester County.

What to Do:

  • Marsh Creek State Park – Marsh Creek State Park is an 1,800-acre park located north of Downingtown. The park features miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as a large lake for boating and fishing.
  • Gibson’s Covered Bridge – Located directly along the route from West Chester to Downingtown, Gibson’s Covered Bridge is a beautiful and historic spot to check out.
  • American Helicopter Museum – Learn about the history of rotary flight at the American Helicopter Museum. The museum features an incredible collection and even some interactive elements.
  • West Chester Railroad – Possibly the closest excursion railroad to downtown Philly, the West Chester Railroad lets visitors ride on historic trains through the countryside of Chester County.
  • Antique Ice Tool Museum – The Antique Ice Tool Museum chronicles the surprisingly fascinating history of ice harvesting in the United States with thousands of antique tools.

Where to Eat and Drink:

  • Victory Brewing Company – Victory Brewing Company has several locations, but their flagship brewery is located in Downingtown and features delicious beers and great food.
  • Root’s Cafe – Root’s Cafe is an organic, farm-to-table restaurant in downtown West Chester. They feature an inventive menu and some delicious food.
  • Éclat Chocolate – If you are looking for a great snack, look no further than Éclat Chocolate in West Chester. This is one of the region’s best chocolate shops.

If you want to stay overnight:

New Hope – 50 minutes

Shopping is one of my favorite things to do in New Hope ,PA

Without a doubt, New Hope is one of the most charming small towns in Pennsylvania. This quaint spot features great shopping, cultural activities, and tasty dining in a relaxed and beautiful environment along the shores of the Delaware River.

What to Do:

  • Shopping in New Hope – New Hope is one of the region’s best shopping destinations. Along the town’s streets, you’ll find small boutiques, antique stores, and food vendors.
  • Washington Crossing Historic Park – Located a few miles south of New Hope, learn the history of Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware River during the Revolutionary War.
  • New Hope and Ivyland Railroad – Take a train ride through the quaint countryside of Upper Bucks County on this historic railroad.
  • Bucks County Playhouse – The Bucks County Playhouse is one of the country’s most historic small town playhouses and features a regular slate of world-class shows.
  • Ringing Rocks County Park – Located north of town, the rocks in this boulder field ring like a bell when struck with a hammer. It’s an oddity that has to be heard to be believed.
The waterfall and the Bucks County Playhouse from a bridge in New Hope.

Where to Eat and Drink:

  • C’est La Vie French Bakery – Located along the banks of the Delaware River, this bakery and cafe features incredibly delicious sandwiches and sweet treats.
  • Triumph Brewing Company – A great place to grab a beer or a meal after a day exploring New Hope.
  • Italian Cucina – A highly-rated Italian restaurant that serves incredible food.

If you want to stay overnight:

  • Aaron Burr House – Spend the night in this B&B where Aaron Burr fled to after killing Alexander Hamilton. You might even meet Burr’s ghost!
  • You can also find great places to stay on Booking.com and Airbnb.

Harrisburg – 105 minutes

Harrisburg is a great day trip from Philadelphia

Harrisburg is the state capital of Pennsylvania and features some great historical spots to visit, especially if you want to learn about the history of Pennsylvania.

In addition to arriving by car, you can also arrive directly into the city on Amtrak’s Keystone Line, a journey of about an hour and forty-five minutes.

What to Do:

  • Pennsylvania Capitol Tour – Take a tour of possibly the most beautiful state capitol in the country and learn more about this incredible building and the history of PA.
  • State Museum of Pennsylvania – The State Museum of Pennsylvania tells the story of Pennsylvania from its geologic record and Native American tribes to its European settlement and the present day.
  • City Island – City Island is located in the middle of the Susquehanna River and is the home of a minor league baseball team, a riverboat, putt-putt golf, and more.
  • National Civil War Museum – The National Civil War Museum offers a fascinating look at the story of the Civil War and the lives of those that lived through it.
  • Midtown Scholar – One of the best bookstores in the state, Midtown Scholar features tens of thousands of new and used books in a cozy setting.
Breweries in Harrisburg: Millworks Brewery

Where to Eat and Drink:

  • Millworks – Millworks is a combination restaurant, brewery, and art gallery located in a renovated mill. They serve incredible food and beer.
  • Home 231 – Home 231 is a charming farm-to-table restaurant that features delicious and innovative cuisine.
  • Little Amps Coffee – Little Amps is one of the best coffee shops in Pennsylvania and features three locations in the city.

If you want to stay overnight:

  • The Manor on Front – The only bed and breakfast in the heart of downtown Harrisburg is a fantastic place to spend the night.
  • You can also find great places to stay on Booking.com and Airbnb.

Valley Forge – 30 minutes

Visiting Valley Forge National Park in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

The Valley Forge area is best known for its Revolutionary War connections, but this area is also filled with great shopping, art, and other unique attractions.

It’s also one of the shortest day trips from Philadelphia that you can take.

What to Do:

  • Valley Forge National Historical Park – This park preserves the spot where the Continental Army spent the winter of 1777-1778. Tour the site and learn about the challenges they faced.
  • Wharton Esherick Museum – The Wharton Esherick Museum is housed in the studio of this famous artist and looks like something straight out of a Dr. Seuss book.
  • King of Prussia Mall – While this is a normal shopping mall in many respects, King of Prussia is the second-largest shopping mall in the country, which makes it an attraction on its own.
  • American Treasure Tour – Located in Oaks, PA, the American Treasure Tour features an incredibly large collection of Americana that spans nearly every possible topic and interest.
  • John James Audobon Center – Housed in the first home that John James Aubodon lived in in the United States, this site offers a wealth of knowledge about his drawings of birds and the impact of his life.
Inside while taking a tour of the Wharton Esherick Museum near Valley Forge, PA

Where to Eat and Drink:

  • il Granaio – Located in nearby Phoenixville, this Italian restaurant features some of the most authentic food you’ll find anywhere.
  • Chadwick’s – Great American food for a reasonable price.
  • Black Powder Tavern – Classic American food in a building built in 1746.

If you want to stay overnight:

Allentown – 70 minutes

Fun Things to do in Allentown, PA

Allentown is the third-largest city in Pennsylvania and the westernmost city in the Lehigh Valley. While this city often gets overlooked by travelers, there are a lot of great things to do here on a day trip from the Philadelphia area.

In addition to what’s listed here, Philadelphians might also want to make the trip out to see the Flyers’ minor league hockey affiliate and the Phillies AAA baseball team.

What to Do:

  • America on Wheels – America on Wheels is an antique automobile museum that highlights the history of wheeled transportation throughout the country, with a special focus on the industry in the Lehigh Valley.
  • Dorney Park – Dorney Park is one of the most popular amusement parks in Pennsylvania and features seven rollercoasters and dozens of other great rides.
  • Liberty Bell Museum – Did you know that the Liberty Bell was once hidden in the floorboards of an Allentown church? Find out this whole story at this small museum that features a replica of the bell that you can ring.
  • Allentown Art Center – The Allentown Art Center features incredible works of art from both the Lehigh Valley and around the world.
  • Mack Trucks Historical Center – Head into the old testing facility for Mack Trucks to see this large collection of vintage and modern trucks.
Eating at Yocco's is a must do thing in Lehigh County, PA

Where to Eat and Drink:

  • Yocco’s – There is no more iconic food in Allentown than the hotdogs at Yocco’s. This small local chain is known for hotdogs, fries, and pierogies.
  • Union and Finch – Union and Finch offers casual food with a twist in a bistro setting.
  • Fegley’s Brew Works – Located in the heart of downtown Allentown, Fegley’s Brew Works offers delicious beers and tasty food.

If you want to stay overnight:

Reading – 70 minutes

Visiting the Reading Pagoda in Reading, Pennsylvania

In Philly, Reading is probably best known as being the namesake for Reading Terminal Market. However, this city a little over an hour from Philadelphia features some neat spots that are worth checking out.

What to Do:

  • Reading Pagoda – Sitting high over the city, this authentic Japanese pagoda was built in the early 20th century to be the focal point of a hotel. Today, it provides commanding views of the city far below.
  • Reading Public MuseumThis museum features an excellent collection ranging from butterflies to mummies. This is a great spot for families wanting to cover a variety of subjects in a small museum.
  • Mid-Atlantic Air Museum – The Mid-Atlantic Air Museum features an incredible collection of historic military aircraft from the 1920s through to the 21st century.
  • Daniel Boone Homestead – Did you know that frontiersman Daniel Boone was born in PA? Tour what remains of his childhood home and learn more about his influential life.
  • Berks County Heritage Center – This historical museum tells the story of Reading and the entirety of Berks County. There is also a historic covered bridge on the property.
Beer at Chatty Monks Brewing in West Reading, PA.

Where to Eat and Drink:

  • Chatty Monks Brewing – Located just west of the city, Chatty Monks Brewing offers Belgian-style ales and delicious food.
  • American Coffee House – A quaint coffee shop that also serves sandwiches and salads.
  • Paraiso Rosel – Delicious and authentic Mexican food in the heart of Reading.

If you want to stay overnight:

  • DoubleTree by Hilton – Located in the heart of downtown Reading, this is a great spot to stay while checking out the city’s sites.
  • You can also find great places to stay on Booking.com and Airbnb.

Jim Thorpe – 90 minutes

Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania in Fall

Often called the “Switzerland of America” this quaint town in the Poconos is a great spot for those that love the outdoors or exploring small towns.

The town takes its curious name from athlete Jim Thorpe who is buried just outside of town despite having no connection to the area.

What to Do:

  • Downtown Jim Thrope – The heart of Jim Thorpe is filled with incredible shops and makes for a great place to spend a few hours.
  • Asa Packer Mansion Museum – The Asa Packer Mansion is a historic home that was the model for the Haunted Mansion at DisneyWorld. Tours are offered throughout the year.
  • Lehigh Gorge State Park – Lehigh Gorge State Park follows the path of the Lehigh River as it winds its way through the region. There are great opportunities for hiking, bicycling, and fishing in the park.
  • Old Jail Museum – This historic jail offers a fascinating look at the history of prisons and is said to be very haunted.
  • Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway – Take a train ride along the banks of the Lehigh River aboard historic trains.
Jim Thorpe from Flagstaff Mountain Overlook Park in PA

Where to Eat and Drink:

  • Molly Mcguire’s – This traditional Irish pub preserves the town’s history and provides delish food.
  • Tommy’s Subs – A hole-in-the-wall restaurant featuring great subs with some unique twists.
  • Stone Row Pub – A relaxing place to eat with a tasty menu that’s situated off of the main street.

If you want to stay overnight:

York – 105 minutes

Rainbow over courthouse in York, PA

When the Continental Congress fled Philadelphia in 1777, they headed to York, and you can too.

York is known as the “Factory Tour Capital of the World”, but visitors can also enjoy great history, quirky sights, and more in this historic city.

What to Do:

  • York Colonial Complex – The York Colonial Complex consists of both original and reconstructed sites that tell the story of the period of time when York was the capital of the United States.
  • Harley-Davidson Factory Tour – Ever wanted to see how motorcycles are made? Take a tour of the Harley-Davidson Factory and learn more about these classic American bikes.
  • Haines Shoe House – Just outside of York is a giant shoe that was built as a house. Today, you can get ice cream there and tour this strange building.
  • Martin’s Potato Chip Factory Tour – Take a tour of this popular potato chip maker and see how they make their delicious snacks.
  • Fire Museum of York County – Find out about the history of firefighting in this part of Pennsylvania inside this historic fire station turned museum.
Tutoni's is great if you are looking for where to eat in York, PA

Where to Eat and Drink:

If you want to stay overnight:

Have you been to one of these places or do you have a favorite Day trip from Philadelphia that we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments below.

Looking for even more places to explore? Check out the top free things to do in Philadelphia, the best PA State Parks for history lovers, and our PA bucket list.


Great places to stay in Philadelphia


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2 thoughts on “The 15 Best Day Trips from Philadelphia”

  1. As a proud native of Nazareth, I feel compelled to point out that the Martin Guitar factory is located in Nazareth, not Bethlehem. It’s about 20 minutes north of Bethlehem and worth the trip. If you do visit, I recommend grabbing a hoagie or sandwich at Ressler’s Market on Main Street. 🙂

    Reply
    • You are correct. In fact, many of the places listed in the entire guide aren’t specifically in the city that is listed. However, they are close to them, so they make easy trips from those cities, which serve as a great base from which to explore the areas.

      Reply

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