Travel

Head Out Of Philadelphia For These Scenic Road Trips

From the mountains to the Main Streets.

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

Living in the city has been unquestionably harder than usual the last few months. With the blooming sweep of COVID-19 cases and the lingering need for quarantine, the perks of urban living aren’t quite as apparent. Who cares if you can walk to bars if none of those bars are actually open? Who knew you would be thirsty for any square foot of private outdoor space you could muster? With that in mind, it seems time to skip town for a bit. Luckily, driving just an hour outside the city can bring you to a new world -- one of fresh air and ample space. From slowly reopening seaside towns to mountain escapes to socially distant wineries, there are plenty of places to explore. Take a look at some of our top Philly weekend road trip picks -- just make sure to triple check safety procedures before hitting the road.

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 botanical realness. 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, which is operating at limited outdoor-only capacity for wine tastings and other special events perfect for small groups.

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 -- mask up and check out the Ferry Market, the gorgeous Landing Restaurant overlooking the river, or wander through the Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve.

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Distance from Philly: One hour, 15 minutes

Slow things down and spend some time in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Go for a nice, long, and socially distant bike ride through the region’s many sprawling trails, or snag a cabin at Refreshing Mountain. 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.

Asbury Park, New Jersey

Distance from Philly: One hour, 25 minutes

Head north for a beach town outside the typical Philly shore circuit 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 to get a little taste of summer in these weird times. If you’re staying over, book a table at Salvation, the new rooftop bar at the Asbury Hotel.

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.

Cape May, New Jersey

Distance from Philly: One hour, 35 minutes

The shore is the most tantalizing Philly getaway in the age of COVID-19, so be sure to take extra precautions if you decide to skip town. In the shore’s southernmost beach town of Cape May, 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. If you’re there when it’s overcast, try getting a seat outdoors at Willow Creek Winery for a lazy vineyard day.

Cape Henlopen State Park
Cape Henlopen State Park | Michele Dorsey Walfred/Flickr

Lewes, Delaware

Distance from Philly: Two hours

For a quaint shoreside town just a short drive from Philly, Lewes is a hidden gem featuring charming Main Street shops and a quieter alternative to busy beach towns. Plus it’s big on continuing to enforce social distancing and safety measures. Chill on the public beach or wander over to Cape Henlopen State Park for more beach and a 360-degree view from atop a World War II observation tower. And while you’re in the first state, don’t forget about the gift of no sales tax and shop till you drop.

Cherry Springs State Park
Cherry Springs State Park | Michael Ridall/Shutterstock

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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Marielle Mondon is a writer from Philadelphia. Follow her @MarielleMondon on Twitter and Instagram.