Must-Do Pennsylvania Road Trips

Be sure to stop by Princeton University in the fall, when the stone buildings look particularly picturesque against the leaves
Be sure to stop by Princeton University in the fall, when the stone buildings look particularly picturesque against the leaves | © aimintang / Getty Images
Christy Taylor

Once you’ve tried to exhaust all that Philadelphia has to offer (tried being the operative word), there are an abundance of adventures to experience on day trips outside the city.

Not all tourist attractions are found in Philadelphia proper. An extensive history awaits you in Pennsylvania, it being one of the original 13 founding states of America. There are a number of road trips that will set you on the open highway and take you away from the city – and if you don’t have your own vehicle handy you can always hire one of these classy camper vans. Continue your American historical education at Gettysburg, or immerse yourself in a completely different culture in Amish Country. Alternatively, feel like a child again while stuffing your face with chocolate at Hershey Park, or take it slow sipping on wine in the greenery-filled Brandywine Valley. Read on for Culture Trip’s varied choices.

Amish Country

Arriving in Amish Country is like traveling back in time, when life was slower and simpler. That feeling is reinforced when you start to see horses and buggies trotting by you on the road and pass the tall windmills of the Amish farms. Stop by the village of Bird in Hand, where stalls and shops sell handcrafted Amish goods, such as quilts, candles, baskets and a local specialty: shoofly pie. In Lancaster, the Central Market is the state’s oldest continuously running farmers’ market, where you can learn about Amish life. There are a number of tours available, with options to visit Amish-run businesses, or even a homestead. Driving time is 75 minutes from Philly.

Hershey Park

A chocolate-themed amusement park – need we say more? Founded in 1906 by Milton Hershey, it was initially leisure grounds for the Factory employees. Today it’s an amusement park with rides, live performances, a waterpark and rollercoasters. Next door you will find Chocolate World: partake in a free chocolate-making tour, watch the 4D chocolate movie or create your own candy bar! Choose your ingredients and even design the packaging. Purchase your tickets for the park online. Entry to Chocolate World is free, but a timed entry pass is required. Driving from Philadelphia will take just under two hours.

Historic Gettysburg

In 1863 Gettysburg played host to a three-day battle where 51,000 lives were lost and the course of the Civil War was changed. Less than six months later Abraham Lincoln spoke at the dedication of Gettysburg National Military Park, a speech which became known as the Gettysburg Address. There are several ways to experience the park: self-guided by car with road markers or with an interactive iPad tour. Guided options include: licensed battlefield guide, segway, double-decker bus, bicycle or even horseback. If you take the guided option, plan for at least two to four hours. Gettysburg is around two hours and 30 minutes from Philly.

Six Flags Adventure Park, New Jersey

Six Flags is quintessentially American. There are 23 parks scattered throughout the US; this location became a Six Flags in 1977. Between rides, a safari park with animal feedings and live entertainment there is an array of options to keep you occupied. Tickets are bought online. The Flash Pass is a worthwhile add-on: receive an alert when it’s your turn and skip the line at the special Flash Pass entrance. You may add up to five people. Drive time from Philadelphia is 60 minutes.

Brandywine Valley, Delaware

Spend a day exploring the romantic Brandywine Valley in nearby Delaware. Sip on wine at one of the Valley’s several wineries. Ladenburg Winery was once even partially owned by Ben Franklin. Other than indulging in vino, other equally cultural options include the Brandywine River Art Museum and Pierre du Pont’s immaculately maintained Longwood Gardens.The Du Ponts are a prominent American family who made their fortune in gunpowder. Visit one of their many mansions and estates, including Nemours Estate – a French-style chateau that was once the home of Alfred Du Pont; or Hagley Museum & Library, the first Du Pont home and the original powder mills. There are a number of pretty cafes in the area to choose from when hunger strikes. A 40-minute drive from Philadelphia will bring you to wine country.

Princeton, New Jersey

Arrive in Princeton early to grab breakfast at PJ’s Pancake House and sample dishes such as chocolate-chip pancakes, then head over to explore the University of Princeton. Notable alumni of this Ivy League school include: Michelle Obama, Jeff Bezos and F Scott Fitzgerald. Tours of the university are led by current students who will take you through its distinguished history. Make sure to try to stop by in the fall, when the stone buildings look even more picturesque surrounded by a firestorm of orange foliage. Princeton is only a 50-minute drive from Philly.

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