As the summer heat begins to intensify, many Philadelphians are looking for ways to escape the crush of the city. Fortunately, there are lots of places to visit within two hours from the city center.
Top Day Trips from Philly
Check out these locales for a quick getaway. Before you go, be sure to check the health and safety restrictions in place at your destination and, as always, wear a mask to protect yourself and others.
Philadelphia and the surrounding area have a rich historical military history. The most famous civil war battlefield is remembered at Gettysburg National Military Park (2.5 hours from Philadelphia). The 3-day battle at Gettysburg was the bloodiest of the Civil War and cost the U.S. over 50,000 lives. Often called the “highwater mark of the rebellion,” it’s where Robert E. Lee lost his second invasion of the North. Today, the museum and visitor center are open 5 days a week (closed Tuesday and Wednesday) from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. It will be open at 50% capacity and advanced ticketing is required for certain programming. The Gettysburg Cyclorama painting and the film “A New Birth of Freedom” will be limited to 48 people per showing to maintain social distancing. The museum has 22,000 square feet of exhibition space filled with one of the largest collections of Civil War relics in the country.
The winter of 1777-1778 was cold and brutal for the Continental troops camped out at Valley Forge. Nearly 2,000 soldiers were lost that winter but, under Washington’s command, the survivors emerged more determined than ever. The Valley Forge National Historical Park grounds cover 3,500 acres, home to a variety of monuments and meadows that commemorate the brave Revolutionary soldiers that fought for our freedom. Washington’s Headquarters, a humble yet graceful brick structure, is one of the most popular destinations in the park. Perhaps a more visceral representation of the hardships of Valley Forge, the Muhlenberg Brigade area is a series of 9 log huts (a reconstruction built to Washington’s specifications) that were a powerful anchor in Continental Army’s defenses. It’s the area of the park where costumed reenactors help bring history to life for visitors. Only 30-minutes from Philly, it’s a great way to spend the day.
At the turn of the 20th century, Pierre du Pont was a highly regarded entrepreneur and philanthropist. His personal estate evolved into Longwood Gardens and it’s less than an hour from Philadelphia. The property encompasses more than 1,000 acres of manicured gardens, meadows, and greenhouses filled with exotic plants. The Longwood Conservatory houses 4,600 different species of plants and trees. Visitors can stand and revel at the intricate water features scattered throughout the estate. The Longwood Gardens care deeply about sustainability and ensuring a bright botanic future by offering an array of educational programs including a two-year, tuition-free horticultural program. Currently, the “Idea Garden” is in full bloom, a rush of colors and textures designed to stimulate creative thinking.
Nemours Mansion and Gardens
Only 45 minutes from the City of Brotherly Loves, lies one of the best examples of opulence from the early 1900s. Nemours Mansion and Gardens began as a gift from Alfred du Pont to his wife, Alicia, and is now a stunningly beautiful tourist destination in Delaware. The mansion was designed in the 18th-century French style. The 5-story, 77-room, 47,000 square foot mansion is palatial and filled with 16-century religious artwork including a clock that was meant to be a gift for Marie Antoinette but never made it to her. The gardens look like something out of a brochure for Versaille, large expanses of manicured lawns, striking reflection pools, and ornamental trees in perfectly straight lines. The estate is currently offering admission for half price and reservations are required for entry.
For a day of wholesome fun, Philly residents should head out to Lancaster and visit Pennsylvania Dutch country. The Amish (this is the oldest Amish community in the U.S.) live a plain lifestyle, buggies are still the main method of transportation. Shop handmade Amish furniture in the downtown market district, renowned for its durability and craftsmanship. The farmers’ stalls are full of fresh produce, organically raised meats, hand-churned butter, and local dairy. Tourists interested in architecture can visit the 25 different covered bridges famous in the area. Overall, the 1 hour and 20-minute journey can take visitors back in time to an era where humanity just took things a little bit slower.