Head Out Of Philadelphia For These Scenic Road Trips

You could use a break.

Lambertville, NJ
Lambertville, New Jersey, and New Hope, Pennsylvania, straddle an exciting stretch of the Delaware River. | EQRoy/Shutterstock
Lambertville, New Jersey, and New Hope, Pennsylvania, straddle an exciting stretch of the Delaware River. | EQRoy/Shutterstock

As if all the tension accumulated over the last eight months weren’t enough, we are heading into the final months of 2020—a time of year when anxiety runs extra high and fuses feel extra short. Luckily, hopping in the car from Philly for even just an hour can take you to a new world. Whether you’re looking for a day trip and some fresh air or you’re dreaming of a weekend away, we rounded up some of the best Philly road trips in case you really need to skip town this week.

Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

Distance from Philly: 55 minutes

The beautiful and never-ending Longwood Gardens is open with limited, appointment-only availability, so plan ahead and make it the perfect day to get out of the city and marvel at the colors of autumn and the final weeks of the Chrysanthemum Festival. In the Kennett Square area, you can also check out Brandywine Valley’s tributary and historic downtown district, or take a 10-minute drive to Chaddsford Winery, where seasonal wines like Spiced Apple and Holiday Spirit (both of which are excellent warmed) are available for extra comfort. The winery is open for outdoor seating (reservations required) on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
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New Hope, Pennsylvania and Lambertville, New Jersey

Distance from Philly: One hour

New Hope and Lambertville are two riverside towns straddling the line of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, positioned as a quaint artist’s hideaway of quirky shops and outdoor riverside dining framed by a biking trail that takes you on a historical tour of the town. Though some essential spots are not currently in operation due to COVID-19, there is still plenty to explore. The newly opened River House at Odette’s is a hyper luxe daycation getaway for foodies and wine lovers, whether you stop in for dinner on the riverview deck or stay for a night or two and get cozy by a rooftop fireplace.  You can also mask up and check out the Ferry Market, wander through the Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, or check out the fall and winter festivities at Peddler’s Village.
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Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Distance from Philly: One hour, 15 minutes

Slow things down and spend some time in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Take leaf peeping to new heights with ziplining at Refreshing Mountain, where you can also bike ride through the region’s sprawling trails or even snag a cabin. Beginning Nov. 27, Refreshing Mountain will also be returning its 8 miles of holiday lights to marvel at (with CDC guidelines in place).For a more culinary retreat, hit up Down on the Farm Creamery for ultra-fresh cheese and ice cream with farm animal ambiance. You can also get a seat at Lancaster Brewing Company to try some microbrews.
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Asbury Park, New Jersey

Distance from Philly: One hour, 25 minutes

The shore during off-season is usually a peaceful escape for Philadelphians, so why not head north and explore Asbury Park, the eclectic seaside town known for Bruce Springsteen and eye-popping architecture. Though COVID-19 means you can’t take full advantage of the unique music venues that set this place apart, the beach and area restaurants have been slowly reopening to the public with strategic safety measures in place. Get a picnic table outside of Asbury Park Brewery or get an outdoor reservation at Porta for some comforting pizza and house-made burrata during these weird times. If you’re staying over, book a table at Salvation, the new rooftop bar at the Asbury Hotel.
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Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

Distance from Philly: One hours, 25 minutes

This teeny-tiny (and controversially named) town in the Poconos Mountains features trails, waterways, and fancy old trains, along with a slew of ultra-charming Inns and B&Bs, or campgrounds if you’re into that. Marion Hose Bar is a perfect spot for outdoor patio sips, offering a lovely view of the neighboring Victorian architecture and Mauch Opera House.
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Cape May, New Jersey

Distance from Philly: One hour, 35 minutes

Cape May, the shore’s southernmost beach town, feels even more idyllic and peaceful in the off season. You can still take in the ocean and colorful houses while opting for lodging that promises limited capacity and new safety measures—The Boarding House, Lokal Cape May, and Icona Cape May are just a few options. Take a drive over to Willow Creek Winery for a lazy vineyard day (reservations strongly suggested) where you can cozy up to a fire pit (and live music) every Friday night.
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Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania

Distance from Philly: Four hours, 25 minutes

Something about being cooped up in the city definitely makes us eager to take in the stars. Cherry Springs is known for precisely that, offering a dazzling panorama of the night sky. Neighboring the border to New York state, the park also features beaches now open at 75 percent capacity. You also aren’t far from the so-called “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania,” Pine Creek Gorge, a 47-mile gorge in the Allegheny Plateau.
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Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Distance from Philly: One hour, 29 minutes

Head to the Lehigh Valley for a taste of small town charm not unlike an episode of Gilmore Girls. Bethlehem leans deep into its name this time of year, offering a ton of holiday-centric (outdoor) offerings, including pop-up outdoor shopping and art displays at The Historic Colonial Industrial Quarter. ArtsQuest at the repurposed historic SteelStacks is also offering wonderfully curated new and classic films for outdoor viewing. Try takeout or patio seating at the Flying Egg for a seriously perfect (and way too filling) brunch.
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Marielle Mondon is a writer from Philadelphia. Follow her @MarielleMondon on Twitter and Instagram.
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