Relax on the beach in Cape May, stroll through the romantic Longwood Gardens, hike through the Susquehanna River Valley or take the kids to Hershey's Chocolate World.
Or plan a fun day trip from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and experience the allure of New York City, explore the heritage of Washington, D.C., or bask in the glamour of Atlantic City.
1. Washington, D.C. (1 hour, 40 minutes)
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There is so much to see and do in the nation’s capital that it is impossible to see it all on a day trip. Visitors who limit their visit to a single neighborhood may choose among the classics – National Mall, Capitol Hill, and Downtown.
National Mall is the location of several historic monuments and revered museums. Capitol Hill is home to the U.S. Capitol Building and the Supreme Court, while Downtown runs from the White House to the Capitol Building. There are a number of upscale restaurants and high end shops in Downtown, plus world-renowned museums and the National Gallery of Art. Things to Do in DC
2. Day Trips from Philadelphia - Chanticleer Garden (40 minutes)
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Chanticleer Garden is 40 minutes outside Philadelphia in Wayne, Pennsylvania, and is known as one of the best gardens in the area. The estate itself dates back to the early 20th century, giving the space a historical feel, yet the colorful design of Chanticleer lends the garden a contemporary vibe.
Visitors will enjoy exploring eight distinct gardens and various themed wooded areas, such as the Asian woods. There is a meadow, a creek, and an orchard, along with elevated walkways amid flowers and plant life. Guests may also take classes and workshops or join guided tours.
780 Church Road, Wayne, PA, Phone: 610-687-4163
3.Doylestown (1 hour)
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Located an hour outside Philadelphia is the town of Doylestown in Pennsylvania. Visitors will enjoy hiking and biking along a 16-mile shared network of paths, roadways, and trails that also connect with two larger trail systems – 202 Parkway trail, and Bicycle Route “S”.
There are two museums in town, the Mercer Museum and Fonthill Castle, and the James A. Michener Art Museum. A historic shopping district features unique specialty stores. Doylestown has seven municipal parks on more than 80 acres of land, each distinct from the others. Some are neighborhood parks, some are nature focused, and some have athletic facilities.
4. Day Trips from Philadelphia - Baltimore (1 hour)
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Baltimore, an hour away from Philadelphia, is a city with extraordinary historical and cultural offerings. Themed tours abound, such as tracing the story of Baltimore and the National Anthem during the War of 1812, offered by the Baltimore National Heritage Urban Rangers.
Legends & Legacies Heritage Bus Tour highlights African American contributions to the city. Museums such as the Walters Art Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Art showcase permanent and temporary historic exhibits. Historical attractions such as the Edgar Allen Poe House offer glimpses of the past and visitors will also appreciate cultural experiences such as the Baltimore Symphony, led by Marin Alsop. Things to Do in Baltimore
5. Day Trips in PA: Longwood Gardens (50 minutes)
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In Kennett Square, PA, visitors will discover 1,000 acres of gorgeous Longwood Gardens. Stunning architecture, indoor and outdoor gardens, and water fountains give visitors many areas to explore while the formal, themed, and children’s gardens offer a little something for everyone throughout the gardens’ changing seasons.
Highlights like the green wall, which is reminiscent of a lush jungle, and the Silver Garden, an awe-inspiring vision in the moonlight, delight visitors. There is an open-air fountain show, an on-site cafe, and a fine dining restaurant. Beer gardens provide a place to relax after a day tour, workshop, class, or other activity. Things to Do in Kennett Square
1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA, Phone: 610-388-1000
6.Ricketts Glen State Park (2 hours, 35 minutes)
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Ricketts Glen State Park is one of Pennsylvania’s most treasured natural areas and has earned the distinction of being a National Natural Landmark. The number one activity here is hiking the Falls Trails System, where you can explore the park’s 22 waterfalls, including 94-foot Ganoga Falls. You’ll be surrounded by old-growth trees in this 13,050-acre park.
Other activities include swimming, boating, and fishing on Lake Jean; rustic camping; and exploring the park’s abundant flora and fauna. Mountain laurel blooms are particularly striking on the Grand View Trail in early summer. During winter, visitors can rent cabins, snowmobile, cross-country ski, ice fish, and snowshoe.
695 State Route 487, Benton PA, Phone: 570-477-5675
7. Day Trips from Philadelphia - The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
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The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg is home to one of the world’s most remarkable collections of railroad artifacts. The museum is dedicated to maintaining and understanding the vast impact the railroads had, and continue to have, on society.
They do this with displays of more than 100 locomotives, educational programs, tours, and special events. There is also a plethora of exhibits featuring railroad artifacts, art work, photographs, books, and other materials. In addition to the extensive exhibits, the museum also restores many unique locomotives that managed to survive their time, giving visitors a look at how designs have progressed.
300 Gap Road, Strasburg, PA, Phone: 717-687-8628
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8.Day Trips in PA: Lapp Valley Farm (1 hour, 20 minutes)
© Lapp Valley Farm
The Lapp Valley Farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, produces hormone-free dairy products and homemade ice cream. Visitors can walk the grounds, where bulldogs, peacocks, and cats roam freely, and watch how the farm’s Jersey cows are milked.
As a special treat, guests can pet the calves while they’re being bottle-fed. Visitors can enjoy a few scoops of creamy ice cream inside homemade waffle cones, or a rich milkshake at the farm’s Ice Cream Shop. Lapp Valley Farms also offers several dairy products to-go like butters, various types of milk, and a wide range of ice cream flavors. Things to Do in Lancaster
244 Mentzer Road, New Holland, PA, Phone: 717-354-7988
9. Six Flags Great Adventure (1 hour)
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Located in Jackson, New Jersey, Six Flags Great Adventure Park has more than 60 rides that cater to all ages, from kids’ rides like Bugs Bunny Ranger Pilots to thrill rides like Dare Devil Dive, which plummets over 15 stories at 60 mph.
There are numerous live entertainment venues throughout the park, like Looney Tunes Dance Party, which takes place at the Main Street Fountain, and Trainer Talks that feature feathered and flippered animals, their habitats, diets, habits, and more. Visitors will also delight in a wide array of fresh food and beverage options, from sit-down meals to sweets on-the-go.
1 Six Flags Blvd, Jackson, NJ, Phone: 732-928-2000
10.Gettysburg National Military Park (2 hours, 30 minutes)
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The Gettysburg National Military Park is located east of the Appalachian Mountains in the Piedmont Province of south central Pennsylvania on nearly 6,000 acres of land. This park contains woodlands, pasturelands, woodlots, streams, and agriculture fields providing habitats for various mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and flora.
It is well known for educating and entertaining visitors on the historical Battle of Gettysburg, the turning point of the Civil War. Here guests can learn about the various people and places that were a part of the battle through photos and other multimedia presentations as well as through reenactments and audio battlefield tours.
11. Day Trips from Philadelphia - Knoebels Amusement Resort (2 hours, 35 mins)
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Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pennsylvania, is the largest free-admission amusement park in the United States, with on-site amenities that ensure visitors never have to leave the grounds. Kiddie, family, and thrill rides offer a little something for everyone.
Fun carnival-style games, museums, theatres, animal habitats, a mini-golf course, and laser tag facilities appeal to a wide range of personalities, so no one in the family is ever bored. There is a swimming area featuring a sun deck, slides, a climbing net, and a kiddie pool. Families can also take advantage of a golf course, several restaurants, and resort lodging.
391 Knoebels Blvd, Elysburg, PA 17824, Phone: 570-672-2572
12. Atlantic City (1 hour, 10 minutes)
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Atlantic City is the Las Vegas of the East Coast, just over an hour outside Philadelphia in New Jersey. This resort and gaming capital welcomes nearly 30 million visitors a year, making it one of the most popular attractions in the nation.
It features several elite restaurants with world-renowned chefs, amazing casinos, hotels, and resorts, and extravagant spas. Atlantic City is also known for having A-list entertainment, high-end shopping, and championship golf. Visitors can walk the historic boardwalk featuring the bright lights and nightlife reminiscent of the strip in Las Vegas, with the added benefit of being beachside. Things to Do in Atlantic City
13. Battleship New Jersey (20 minutes)
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The Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial is the most decorated ship in the United States and provides visitors with a unique perspective into its glorious history. Guests get to climb aboard this 45,000-ton vessel and explore the various military artifacts and exhibits as they tour the ship.
The interactive museum lets visitors do more than look; they can actually lay down on sailor bunks, sit in Admiral Halsey’s chair, and learn how the guns were loaded into the gun turret. Visitors can choose from one of five available tours and can even choose to spend a night aboard the ship. Things to Do in Camden
62 Battleship Place, Camden, NJ, Phone: 856-966-1652
14.Lambertville (50 minutes)
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Lambertville, located just under an hour from Philadelphia, is the “Antiques Capital of New Jersey”. Founded in 1705, many of its buildings have been perfectly preserved as a reflection of the historical era. Victorian homes, federal townhouses, and Lambertville Station are a few standouts.
In keeping with the town’s stunning architecture, visitors will experience quaint coffee houses, unique galleries, and a plethora of antique shops along the streets. Lambertville’s artists and craftsmen are as interesting as the picturesque Delaware River town itself. For those visitors on the lookout for rare finds, the Golden Nugget Antiques Market is held three days a week.
15.Day Trips in PA: New Hope and Ivyland Railroad (45 minutes)
© New Hope
Named one of “America’s Favorite Towns” by Travel + Leisure Magazine, New Hope is a small town 45 minutes outside Philadelphia with an old world charm. Among the town’s treasures is the Delaware Canal, where visitors can walk or bike along a portion of the 60-mile-long towpath offering scenic views of the canal and surrounding foliage.
The New Hope & Ivy Railroad offers visitors a 45-minute narrated ride aboard a 1925 steam train from New Hope to Lahaska. A walk down New Hope’s Main Street reveals an art gallery featuring local artists, independent shops, homespun restaurants, and a live summer theater.
16. Winterthur Museum and Country Estate (50 minutes)
© Winterthur Museum and Country Estate
Winterthur Museum and Country Estate, established by Henry Francis du Pont, is less than an hour from Philadelphia. It is most notable as a leading museum for American decorative arts showcasing the early life of the du Pont family and other early Americans.
However, there is also a well-known and stunning 60-acre garden with annual orchestrated blooms. The rest of the 1000-acre property consists of meadows, forests, and quiet streams. The estate has a decorative arts research library open to the public and visitors can indulge in various tours, educational programs and activities, and dine at the Visitor Center Garden Café.
5105 Kennett Pike (Route 52), Winterthur, DE, Phone: 800-448-3883
17.Hershey's Chocolate World (2 hours)
© Hershey's Chocolate World
Hershey’s Chocolate World is located two hours north of Philadelphia, providing fun for the whole family. Visitors can design and create their own chocolate bar and do a little taste testing in the chocolate tasting room.
Children will enjoy the 4D Chocolate Mystery, an interactive game that utilizes digital animation and special effects, inviting them to become part of the show and interact with the characters while they race to solve a mystery. History buffs can enjoy a guided trolley tour through the town that chocolate made, while foodies will appreciate the onsite food court and bakery. Things to Do in Hershey
251 Park Blvd, Hershey, PA, Phone: 717-534-4900
18. New York City (1 hour 30 minutes)
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New York City is 90 minutes north of Philadelphia. Five distinct boroughs – Queens, Manhattan, The Bronx, Staten Island, and Brooklyn – make up this vibrant city that offers a wide range of attractions for visitors. The shopping scene has everything from rare books and underground music to gourmet goods and the latest tech.
The museums are out of this world, from The Regal to The Met to various free museums featuring emerging styles like graffiti art. Broadway shows, the Brooklyn Bridge, grand skyscrapers, historic landmarks, the Empire State Building, and the Statue of Liberty are just a few of the additional wonders found in this city.
19.Susquehanna River Valley (2 hours, 40 minutes)
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Visitors to the Susquehanna River Valley may get the sense they’ve traveled back to a simpler time. The Covered Bridges self-driving tour passes through 17 covered bridges in three counties where you may share the road with Mennonite or Amish buggies. Other tours are Every Town a Treasure, which includes seven historic river towns; the Post Office Art and Architecture Tour; the historic Underground Railroad Tour; the Native Paths Driving Tour; and the Heritage Trail Tour. Susquehanna River attractions are nearly endless, from a paddlewheel riverboat ride to cave explorations to an alpaca farm. Biking, bird watching, fishing, and fall foliage touring are also popular.
20. Cape May (1 hour 40 minutes)
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Cape May is a seaside vacation destination located less than two hours outside Philadelphia. During summer, visitors can take advantage of wide, sandy beaches and cool waters where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. Surfing, boating, fishing, golfing, kayaking, parasailing, and boat cruising at sunset are a few of the dozens of activities on offer at the cape.
During cooler off-season days, the shops and restaurants of Washington Street Mall take center stage. You can catch a show at one of the local theater companies, visit a museum, or take a spa day. Cape May also offers seasonal activities like whale watching. Things to Do in Cape May
21.Tuckahoe-Corbin City Fish and Wildlife Management Area (1 hour, 15 minutes)
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The Tuckahoe River weaves through a salt marsh, six impoundments, and tidal creeks, making its way to Great Egg Harbor River and Bay. This area has an eight-mile, self-guided driving tour where visitors drive along a sandy gravel road among the impoundments, a hardwood swamp, and a pine-oak forest called Pine Barrens.
It’s a bird watcher’s paradise due to the amazing diversity of birds and waterfowl the area supports. There are numerous pull-outs along the way that offer visitors hiking opportunities. There are no facilities here, but there is a boat ramp for large and small boats as well as a parking lot.
P.O. Box 402, Trenton, NJ, Phone: 866-337-5669
22.Belleplain State Forest (1 hour, 10 minutes)
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Belleplain State Forest is a quick way to trade in city life for a day immersed in nature. Visitors can go on guided nature walks with a park trail guide or set off on their own on one of the many trails that wind through the forest.
This is also a great place for mountain biking and horseback riding. There is even a fitness trail available for the hard core hiker. There are also a variety of interpretive programs for which visitors can preregister all year round. During summer, picnicking, boating, camping, and swimming are popular activities here. Winter sets the stage for ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling.
1 Henkinsifkin Road, Woodbine, NJ, Phone: 609-861-2404
23.Wharton State Forest (50 minutes)
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Wharton State Forest is not your typical outdoor recreational area. Within the forest, visitors will be dazzled by Batsto Village – an 18th century historic village – with 33 preserved structures including a general store, sawmill, gristmill, post office, and a blacksmith shop that provides live demonstrations.
There are also the Batsto Mansion and the homes of former village workers here. Even deeper into the forest is Harrisville Village, an abandoned mill town turned ghost town; it too is open for tours. The 1826 Greek Revival style Atison Mansion is also located in the forest and tours are available. Additionally, Wharton has everything you would expect from a recreational state forest.
31 Batsto Road, Hammonton, NJ, Phone: 609-561-0024
24.Long Beach Island (1 hour, 30 minutes)
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At 18 miles long and half a mile wide, Long Beach Island in New Jersey is a beach lover’s dream come true. Small towns like Viking Village, the island’s northern commercial fishing hub and home to Barnegat Light House, and the laidback neighboring seaside towns of Surf City, Harvey Cedar, and Loveladies give the island its charm.
Towns at the island’s southern end are the hip and happening yang to the northern end’s yin. Visitors will love the island’s two waterparks here as well as the fascinating Schooner’s Wharf shopping hot spot inside the hull of a tall ship. You can swim, sightsee, bike, shop, and dine on the island.
25 Best Day Trips in Pennsylvania
- Washington, D.C. (1 hour, 40 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of Felix Mizioznikov - Fotolia.com
- Day Trips from Philadelphia - Chanticleer Garden (40 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of ajamils - Fotolia.com
- Doylestown (1 hour), Photo: Courtesy of Jin - Fotolia.com
- Day Trips from Philadelphia - Baltimore (1 hour), Photo: Courtesy of modeh9090 - Fotolia.com
- Day Trips in PA: Longwood Gardens (50 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of Panitan - Fotolia.com
- Ricketts Glen State Park (2 hours, 35 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of demerzel21 - Fotolia.com
- Day Trips from Philadelphia - The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Photo: Courtesy of Pabkov - Fotolia.com
- Day Trips in PA: Lapp Valley Farm (1 hour, 20 minutes), Photo: Lapp Valley Farm
- Six Flags Great Adventure (1 hour), Photo: Courtesy of pixelfreund - Fotolia.com
- Gettysburg National Military Park (2 hours, 30 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of Refocus Photography - Fotolia.com
- Day Trips from Philadelphia - Knoebels Amusement Resort (2 hours, 35 mins), Photo: Courtesy of Aneese - Fotolia.com
- Atlantic City (1 hour, 10 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com
- Battleship New Jersey (20 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of KAZMAT - Fotolia.com
- Lambertville (50 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of Andrew Kazmierski - Fotolia.com
- Day Trips in PA: New Hope and Ivyland Railroad (45 minutes), Photo: New Hope
- Winterthur Museum and Country Estate (50 minutes), Photo: Winterthur Museum and Country Estate
- Hershey's Chocolate World (2 hours), Photo: Hershey's Chocolate World
- New York City (1 hour 30 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of FotoMak - Fotolia.com
- Susquehanna River Valley (2 hours, 40 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of chinkle - Fotolia.com
- Cape May (1 hour 40 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of eduard4us - Fotolia.com
- Tuckahoe-Corbin City Fish and Wildlife Management Area (1 hour, 15 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of watcherfox - Fotolia.com
- Belleplain State Forest (1 hour, 10 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of Pakhnyushchyy - Fotolia.com
- Wharton State Forest (50 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of Macier 3 Photography - Fotolia.com
- Long Beach Island (1 hour, 30 minutes), Photo: Courtesy of Andrew Kazmierski - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Andrew Kazmierski - Fotolia.com