Fun day trips from Philadelphia when you want to get out of the city

Itching to get out of town? Hit the road with our guide to the best day trips from Philadelphia.

Photograph: Courtesy Do AC

Looking for day trips from Philadelphia but aren’t sure where to go? You could visit some of the surrounding Philadelphia parks, like the Wissahickon, which feel miles away from the city, but why not journey a little further afield to the Pennsylvania countryside, New Jersey and Delaware to explore what it is that makes this region such a popular travel destination. Spend a day getting to know these nearby retreats, each of which offers its own distinct history, geography and appeal that perfectly complement the Philadelphia attractions and sites that make our city famous. We’ve even given you lodging options if you decide to extend your stay, and tips on where to eat and drink—including some spots that could sit right alongside some of the best restaurants in Philadelphia. So hit the road. Go beyond the city limits and discover new day trips from Philadelphia—or return to an old favorite with our handy guide in tow.

Best day trips from Philadelphia

Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

Located in Chester County, Pennsylvania, roughly 45 miles from Philadelphia, Kennett Square is a picture-perfect historic village surrounded by exquisite gardens and working farms. The drive takes about an hour and a half, but upon arrival visitors feel a world away from city life. State Street, the town’s main drag, is a walkable strip populated with independently owned specialty shops and boutiques. Kennett Square is also known far and wide as the Mushroom Capital of the World, as the area produces 65 percent of all mushrooms consumed in the United States. The town celebrates its claim to fame at the annual Mushroom Festival every fall.

Eat

A gourmet food shop and casual café by day, Talula’s Table takes on a new identity after closing each night. Dinner here means a sumptuous eight-course, farm-to-table meal that’s one of the hardest-to-get reservations in the region. To satisfy a sweet tooth, Michoacana Ice Cream dishes out ice cream, water ice and popsicles in unexpected flavors like avocado, tamarind, corn and rice pudding.

Drink

Kennett Brewing Company serves up an artsy vibe alongside a wide variety of original beers, live music and a crowd-pleasing food menu. Don’t worry, there are also housemade sodas and a kids’ menu for the under-21 set. Paradocx Vineyards in nearby Landenberg operates a tasting room in the Market at Liberty Place, where drinkers can sample wine and cider by the glass or in bottles, Pennsylvania craft beer, and locally made chocolates and cheeses. Located just behind Longwood Gardens, the Galer Estate Vineyard and Winery (pictured) pours its award-winning varieties and features live music, art shows and educational workshops.

Do

One of the region’s most popular attractions, Longwood Gardens delights visitors with eye-catching horticultural displays including a Mediterranean garden, an indoor children’s garden, serene and colorful fountains and a tropical terrace reminiscent of a rainforest. The land, which was once owned by William Penn, is home to more than 11,000 different kinds of plants. For unique home goods, clothing, accessories and art, head to WorKS, a retail space featuring works by more than a dozen local artisans. Readers can easily get lost inside Macaluso Books, where shelves are stocked with everything from rare, out-of-print volumes to vintage almanacs and maps.

Stay

Located in Kennett Square Historic District, Bancroft Manor Bed & Breakfast is just a few blocks from a wide range of shops and restaurants. J. Bancroft Swain, founder of the area’s mushroom farming industry, built the Queen Anne-style property in 1909.

If you do just one thing…

Stop into the Mushroom Cap on State Street for any and all things mushroom—from snacks to cookbooks to home décor.

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Princeton, New Jersey

Princeton, New Jersey

Best known as the home of its eponymous Ivy League university, Princeton, New Jersey is a convenient, low-key getaway just an hour-and-a-half drive from Philadelphia. The town boasts a long and fascinating heritage: Princeton played an important part in the American Revolution and even served as the nation’s capital for a few months in 1783. Today, the area features a thriving retail scene, iconic cultural attractions, a network of hiking and biking trails and innovative gastronomic concepts that incorporate ingredients from the area’s many nearby farms. Enjoy a day exploring, but make sure to leave your University of Pennsylvania gear at home; Princeton is our Philly school’s chief sports rival.

Eat

Breakfast in Princeton is all about PJ’s Pancake House, where the line for a table can stretch all the way down the block on weekends; but the meal is well worth the wait, with indulgent dishes like strawberry and cannoli cream French toast, Oreo pancakes and eggs benedict served over crab cakes. The debate over Princeton’s best ice cream shop is hotly contested, but you can’t go wrong at the Bent Spoon, where house-made cookies and cakes complement the menu of artisan frozen treats. At Elements, visionary Chef Scott Anderson takes diners on a culinary adventure with every bite. The intimate fine-dining destination offers views of the open kitchen, where patrons can see the magic happen as their taste buds are tantalized.

Drink

Nicknamed “The Divey,” the Ivy Inn offers a relaxed neighborhood vibe, a hearty menu of snacks and sandwiches, a rotating selection of 12 beers on draft and 17 in bottles, and bar games like pool and darts. On nights when there’s no live music, patrons love choosing tunes on the jukebox. Be sure to sample the mead-of-the-month at the Alchemist and Barrister, where bartenders also dole out specialty cocktails, hot ciders, house-infused spirits and an impressive selection of wine and beer. The pub, housed in a historic building, also features an eclectic food menu with cuisine ranging from Mexican to French and everything in between.

Do

Explore the grounds of Princeton University, which features an impressive list of alumni that includes Woodrow Wilson, Michelle Obama and John Nash. The quintessential Ivy League campus bustles with activity, and student-led tours offer an insider’s glimpse into the school’s history. Spend time outside at Terhune Orchards, which caters to guests of all ages with everything from family-friendly holiday festivals to an onsite winery. Spring, summer and fall bring the opportunity for visitors to pick their own produce, with crops ranging from apples to asparagus, and the farm store is always stocked fresh pies and other irresistibly delicious baked goods to bring back home.

Stay

A storied history fuses with modern hospitality at the Nassau Inn, an elegant hotel established more than 250 years ago. Guests love dining on site at Yankee Doodle Tap Room, a popular gastropub that features a 13-foot-long Norman Rockwell mural behind the bar and a booth where former Princeton resident Albert Einstein famously carved his name.

If you do just one thing…

Stop at the Princeton Record Exchange, an independent shop that stocks more than 100,000 LPs, CDs and DVDs with prices starting at just $1.

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New Hope, Pennsylvania

One of the most popular destinations in Bucks County, New Hope is situated on the shores of the Delaware River about 35 miles north of Philadelphia. For decades, the area has drawn the attention of artists and performers, who come to enjoy the breathtaking scenery, arty ambiance and progressive vibe. New Hope has long been a haven for the LGBTQ community, and the town’s annual PrideFest each spring continues to be one of the region’s biggest parties. Whether you’re looking for romance, culture, outdoor adventure or a dose of history, you’ll find it in New Hope.

Eat

Marsha Brown brings the spirit and flavors of New Orleans to Bucks County, with an inviting atmosphere, intricate stained glass artwork and a menu with classic Creole dishes like gumbo, jambalaya and sautéed catfish. For an exotic meal alongside musical performances by headliners like Tim Reynolds and Dave Davies, locals flock to Havana. The food menu features an array of internationally inspired dishes ranging from guacamole to French onion soup, all accompanied by creative cocktails, including more than a dozen varieties of fruity mojitos. For a refreshing break from seeing the sites, Zero serves up Japanese-style waffle cones, Thai ice cream rolls and bubble and loose-leaf teas.

Drink

Wine, beer and whiskey take center stage at Nektar, an upscale bar where patrons sip drinks by the fire in the winter and imbibe al fresco on the patio in warmer months. Servers here are experts at recommending the perfect varieties to complement the menu of small plates, charcuterie, cheeses and desserts. Settle in for a pint and a show at John and Peter’s, the country’s longest-running nightclub dedicated to featuring musicians who write and perform their own material. The venue has been a Main Street staple since 1972, boasting appearances by the likes of Norah Jones and Richie Sambora.

Do

Spend an afternoon meandering into and out of New Hope’s vast array of art galleries, which feature works ranging from photography to paintings to handmade crafts. Each spot offers its own unique appeal, like New Hope Arts Center, which produces four major group shows each year, and Sidetracks, where pug Gramercy Star serves as the gallery’s official four-legged greeter. Catch a show at Bucks County Playhouse, where greats like Robert Redford, Grace Kelly, Bernadette Peters and Liza Minnelli have graced the stage since the famed theater opened in 1939. The venue is located right on Main Street, where theatergoers can grab a bite or a drink before and after the show. Feeling frisky? You could take in the scene from above on a Bucks County hot air balloon ride.

Stay

Steeped in history, the quaint Wedgewood Inn is set on the site that served as a campsite for General George Washington and the Continental Army in 1776. Today, the bed and breakfast boasts a striking blue exterior, eight guest rooms and two acres of private lawns and gardens with flower-lined walkways and picture-perfect gazebos.

If you do just one thing…

Hop aboard the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad, which winds through the landscape of Bucks County. Along the way, riders learn about the history of the region while ogling the area’s rolling hills, lush farmland and historic bridges.

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Wilmington, Delaware

Wilmington, Delaware

Set in the idyllic Brandywine Valley, Wilmington combines urban appeal, outdoor expanses and historic allure. Wilmington’s rich past is inextricably linked to the legacy of the du Pont family, whose wealth helped establish the city as an important destination for generations. In fact, many of the area’s museums and gardens were once part of the du Pont estate. Wilmington sits roughly 40 miles southwest of Philadelphia, making it an easy destination for day trips.

Eat

American comfort food classics like meatloaf, crab cakes and chicken pot pie make up the menu at Buckley’s Tavern, a historic spot originally built as a private residence in 1817. Today, the perennial favorite, which also offers a popular prix-fixe Sunday brunch, features two dining rooms, an outdoor patio and rooftop bar. Seafood lovers rejoice at Harry’s Seafood Grill, where the menu includes everything from ceviche and sashimi to Mediterranean mussels and oysters on the half shell. For an upscale experience, Domaine Hudson pairs refined-yet-approachable cuisine with a world-class wine list.

Drink

A friendly staff welcomes patrons to Dead Presidents Pub, where the decor is inspired by America’s past Commanders in Chief. With a seemingly endless selection of beer in cans, bottles and on draft, it’s no wonder this popular watering hole is the place to be for happy hour in Wilmington. Open during warm-weather months, Constitution Yards beer garden features craft beers, frozen cocktails and classic lawn games like corn hole, badminton and bocce.

Do

Renowned for its impressive collection of British Pre-Raphaelite art, illustrations by Wilmington’s own Howard Pyle, and pieces from American artist John Sloan, the Delaware Art Museum has delighted visitors for more than 100 years. The museum’s outdoor Copeland Sculpture Garden is a particular highlight. Housed in the 175-room childhood home of Henry Francis du Pont, Winterthur Museum, Gardens and Library is a treasure trove of nearly 90,000 pieces of American decorative art; the attraction is set on a 1,000-acre reserve just 10 minutes from downtown Wilmington. Shopping is always tax free in Delaware, and the nearby Christiana Mall is the place to stock up on everything from clothing to electronics to home goods.

Stay

Lay your head to rest at Hotel Du Pont, which still drips with the Gilded Age grandeur that made the property one of the country’s most lavish hotels when it opened in 1913. Those who stay here join the ranks of notable past guests including John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt and Henry Kissinger.

If you do just one thing…

Spend time at Riverfront Wilmington. With jogging and biking trails, green spaces, loads of restaurants and first-class entertainment venues, the 1.3-mile stretch along the banks of the Christina River offers something for every type of traveler. The waterside expanse is also home to Frawley Stadium, where Wilmington’s hometown minor league team, the Blue Rocks, plays during baseball season.

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Atlantic City, New Jersey

Beaches! Casinos! Spas! Nightlife! Atlantic City has it all, and it’s easily accessible from Philadelphia along the Atlantic City Expressway. Even before gambling was legalized here in the 1970s, Atlantic City was a happening destination for vacationers. The area has seen its share of ups and downs over the years, but today the resort town is one of the nation’s biggest casino destinations—second only to Las Vegas. From the boardwalk to the blackjack tables, Atlantic City is a high-energy haven for sun worshippers, shoppers and, of course, high rollers.

Eat

Virtually every hotel in Atlantic City offers exceptional restaurants and celebrity chef-driven concepts, including outposts from some of Philadelphia’s favorite culinary masters. Michael Schulson, the chef behind Philly’s Double Knot, Sampan and Independence Beer Garden, serves sushi, sashimi and casual Japanese dishes at Izakaya at the Borgata. For stellar fish and chips, shepherd’s pie and other British classics, try Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesar’s Palace. After a night at the tables or on the dance floor, hungry visitors and locals enjoy pizza and Italian fare at Tony’s Baltimore Grill, which operates 24/7.

Drink

Grab a drink at Boogie Nights before showing off your moves on the lighted dance floor. This hot spot in the Tropicana brings the party, with celebrity impersonators, a disco ball and a soundtrack of chart-topping hits from the ’70s and ’80s. Who needs a name when you have a hashtag? A new addition to the lobby at Harrah’s Resort, #BarWithNoName is the perfect spot to stop in for original cocktails, craft beer, wine and a whiskey list with more than 200 options.

Do

Atlantic City is well known for its many hotels, casinos and spas, but there are plenty of other activities to engage travelers. Located right on the boardwalk, the Steel Pier is a wonderland of amusements, including a carousel, the adrenaline-pumping Freedom Flyer and loads of carnival-style games. For killer views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Atlantic City skyline, climb the 228 steps to the top of Absecon Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in the state. Shoppers rejoice at Tanger Outlets, where more than 100 brand-name stores like Coach, J. Crew and Michael Kors, offer deeply discounted merchandise.

Stay

Located off of the main drag, the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa features 2,000 spacious guest rooms, a massive casino, a 54,000-square-foot spa, a wide array of dining and nightlife options, and the Water Club, a hotel-within-the-hotel.

If you do just one thing…

Stroll down the famed Atlantic City Boardwalk, the beachfront wooden promenade lined with hotels, souvenir shops, confectionaries and boardwalk eats. Don’t leave without trying a piece of Atlantic City’s signature saltwater taffy.

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