Summer is a great time for new experiences. While Philly is philled with opportunities for summer fun, there’s a lot to be seen, experienced, and eaten beyond the City of Love. Let me introduce you to some of my favorite summer day trips near Philly!
Valley Forge National Historical Park
Distance from Philly: 21 miles
Valley Forge National Historical Park is a personal favorite of mine when it comes to summer hangout spots. As a protected site on which a pivotal war was fought, this beacon of American antiquity is the place to be for any history buff.
Led by General George Washington, the Continental Army bedded down on these grounds for the winter of 1777. The park’s topography provided natural security from the British giving them the chance to train and recoup. Without this reprieve, American history as we know it would likely be dramatically different.
Take a ranger-led tour of the Valley Forge encampment to get the full spectrum of facts about the events that created the park’s significance. You can also see the park at your own pace by taking advantage of the 35 designated hiking trails and 19 miles of biking trails.
Personally, I recommend the 5-mile inner loop of the Joseph Plumb Martin Trail which trails along the highlights of the encampment. Pack a lunch and a blanket, and soak up the sunshine along this beautiful trail.
Distance from Philly: Around 40 miles
As the Mushroom Capital of the World, there’s no shortage of fun-gi to go around at Kennett Square. You’ll want to put Phillips Mushroom Farms on the shortlist for your Kennett Square visit.
Shop for any conceivable mushroom product you can think of and explore the Mushroom Museum. Also be sure to mark your calendar for the annual Kennett Square Mushroom Festival which spans over the weekend following Labor Day each year.
Kennett Square is also home to the renowned Longwood Gardens. The grounds are comprised of more than 1,000 acres of perfectly manicured flora from all around the globe. From garden chats and terrarium workshops to fountain festivals and live music events, Longwood Gardens is the perfect backdrop to your summer memories.
Round out your mushroom-filled day with dinner at Portabello’s of Kennet Square.
Cape May, New Jersey
Distance from Philly: Around 90 miles
You can make a day trip to virtually any portion of the Jersey Shore from Philly, but there’s a special place in my heart for Cape May. At New Jersey’s southernmost point, you’ll find a quaint beach town with plenty to do on a summer day aside from lounging on the beach:
- Explore Cape May Point State Park including the Cape May Lighthouse
- Stroll the shops at the Washington Street Mall.
- Take an educational wine tasting class at Cape May Winery.
- Sip the day away on a Cape May Cycle Cruise.
- Take a lantern-lit tour of Cape May’s many haunted locations.
If you’re looking for somewhere for dinner, I highly recommend Menz Restaurant & Bar just one town over in Rio Grande. My family has been eating here for nearly 30 years–it simply never gets old.
Distance from Philly: 100 miles
There’s nothing quite like spending a summer day at an amusement park, especially a chocolate-themed amusement park. For more than 100 years, Hersheypark has been serving up a sweet experience for visitors from all over the world in the name of supporting students of the Milton Hershey School.
For the price of one ticket, you’ll have unlimited access to:
- 70+ rides including 13 roller coasters.
- An 11-acre water park full of slides and water attractions.
- ZooAmerica®, home to 200+ animals.
- 60+ spots to grab something good to eat.
Along with all of the traditional amusement park delights, Hersheypark is also a hotspot for concerts and shows. Hersheypark Stadium, which is just steps from the front gates of the park, hosts major concerts headlined by some of the world’s most talented artists almost weekly. Enjoy the park by day and your favorite jams by night.
Distance from Philly: 100 miles
The hustle and bustle of Baltimore’s famous Inner Harbor is enough to keep the whole family occupied and entertained for at least a full day.
Arguably the most popular attraction in the harbor is the National Aquarium which houses an insane 20,000+ aquatic animals including fish, marine animals, and even water-loving birds. You can spend hours strolling the many exhibits on your own time, or you can get a unique up-close experience with a private reptile encounter session.
Baltimore is also great for history buffs especially those with a particular interest in maritime military vessels. Step into the USS Constellation, a living, interactive part of America’s history, and explore two centuries worth of impressively preserved naval history.
Be sure to carve out some time to grab something to eat. If seafood is your specialty, make it your main attraction on your visit to Baltimore by following the Maryland Crab & Oyster Trail. Six of the 45 total trail destinations are easily walkable right around the Inner Harbor.
The best part? You can hop from one end of the harbor to another in minutes with the help of the Baltimore Water Taxi. Get a ride and a unique view of the Inner Harbor at the same time.