If you’re looking for the best day trips from Philadelphia, this guide is perfect for history buffs, nature and art lovers, families and more!
Philadelphia, the birthplace of American independence, is a city full of history and energy. From the cobblestone streets of Old City to the towering skyline of Center City, Philadelphia’s diverse neighborhoods showcase a unique blend of historic charm and contemporary vibrancy.
While visiting Philadelphia, consider a day trip outside the city! You can explore more of Pennsylvania, and even venture into neighboring states like New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware.
Day trips from Philadelphia can take you up to New York City or down to Washington DC, two of the USA’s most iconic cities! Alternatively, you can opt for a quieter destination like the pastures of Amish Country or the forests of a state park.
Experience coastal life on the Jersey Shore, or learn about the history of chocolate in the town of Hershey. There are truly so many amazing things to do in and around Philadelphia!
Table of Contents
- 17 Amazing Day Trips From Philadelphia
- 1. Longwood Gardens
- 2. Gettysburg
- 3. Washington DC
- 4. New Hope
- 5. Harrisburg
- 6. Valley Forge National Historic Park
- 7. Asbury Park
- 8. Brandywine Valley
- 9. Atlantic City
- 10. Hershey
- 11. Ocean City
- 12. Ricketts Glen State Park
- 13. Baltimore
- 14. Washington Crossing Historic Park
- 15. New York City
- 16. Lancaster County Amish Country
- 17. Trenton
17 Amazing Day Trips From Philadelphia
From touring the museums and gardens of the famous Du Pont family in the Brandywine Valley, to seeing the location of Washington’s famous crossing, here are some of the best day trips from Philadelphia!
Check out our 3 Days In Philadelphia Itinerary for some inspiration while you’re in the city.
1. Longwood Gardens
- Distance from Philadelphia: 36 miles
- Driving Time: 50 minutes
Longwood Gardens, located in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, stands as one of the premier horticultural displays in the United States, captivating visitors with its breathtaking beauty and meticulously manicured landscapes.
Originally the private estate of industrialist Pierre S. du Pont, Longwood Gardens spans over 1,000 acres and boasts an extraordinary collection of gardens, fountains, and conservatories. Visitors are treated to a sensory feast as they wander through themed gardens such as the Italian Water Garden, the Rose Garden, the Topiary Garden, and the expansive Meadow Garden.
The highlight of Longwood Gardens is the stunning Main Fountain Garden, where choreographed water displays and illuminated fountains create a magical spectacle during the evening performances. Throughout the year, the gardens host a variety of events, including flower shows, concerts, and educational programs, making it a destination that offers both natural beauty and cultural enrichment.
Beyond its visual allure, Longwood Gardens also serves as a hub for plant research and conservation. The conservatories house an impressive array of plant species from around the world, providing a valuable resource for scientists, horticulturists, and botany enthusiasts.
The commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship is evident throughout the gardens, reflecting a dedication to preserving the natural world for future generations. Venturing out to Kennett Square to tour Longwood Gardens is definitely one of the best day trips from Philadelphia.
- Distance from Philadelphia: 141 miles
- Driving Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes
One of the top Philadelphia day trips for history buffs is the historic city of Gettysburg. Gettysburg holds a profound place in American history as the site of one of the most significant battles of the Civil War. The Battle of Gettysburg, fought from July 1 to 3, 1863, was a turning point in the conflict, marking the Union victory that halted General Robert E. Lee’s advance into the North.
The battlefield, now preserved as the Gettysburg National Military Park, stretches across picturesque landscapes and rolling hills, providing a poignant backdrop to the solemnity of the events that transpired. Visitors to Gettysburg can explore key landmarks such as Cemetery Ridge, Little Round Top, and the Peach Orchard, gaining a deep understanding of the fierce engagements that unfolded and the sacrifices made by both Union and Confederate soldiers.
Gettysburg National Military Park features a comprehensive museum and visitor center that further enriches the experience, housing artifacts, interactive exhibits, and educational displays that bring the stories of Gettysburg to life.
Beyond its history, Gettysburg has evolved into a symbol of national reconciliation and remembrance. The Soldiers’ National Cemetery, dedicated in November 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln, is the final resting place for thousands of soldiers and is home to the iconic Gettysburg Address.
The town of Gettysburg itself exudes a sense of heritage, with charming streets lined with historic buildings, museums, and antique shops. Today, visitors can participate in guided tours, witness reenactments, and explore the city in a horse-drawn carriage.
3. Washington DC
- Distance from Philadelphia: 139 miles
- Driving Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes
Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States, stands as a symbol of political power, historical significance, and cultural richness. It’s only 2.5 hours from Philadelphia, making it a fun day trip destination.
The city is home to iconic landmarks that draw millions of visitors each year, including the majestic Capitol Building, where the U.S. Congress convenes, and the White House, the official residence of the President.
The National Mall, a sprawling park flanked by the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, serves as a focal point for gatherings, protests, and celebrations. D.C. is also renowned for its world-class museums and galleries, many of which are part of the Smithsonian Institution, offering a diverse range of exhibits covering art, history, science, and culture.
The National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the National Holocaust Museum, the International Spy Museum, and the Museum of Natural History are just a few examples of the cultural treasures that enrich the city.
In addition to its political and cultural significance, Washington, D.C. is a city of vibrant neighborhoods, each with its unique character and charm. From the historic streets of Georgetown to the trendy atmosphere of Dupont Circle, the city offers a mix of historic architecture, upscale dining, and a thriving arts scene.
D.C. is also known for its cherry blossoms, which blanket the Tidal Basin in spring, creating a breathtaking spectacle.
With its rich history, diverse neighborhoods, and a palpable sense of national importance, Washington, D.C. is a city that encapsulates the essence of the United States and serves as a must-visit destination for those seeking a deeper understanding of the nation’s past and present.
Find more fun activity ideas on our list of the best things to do in Washington DC!
4. New Hope
- Distance from Philadelphia: 40 miles
- Driving Time: 47 minutes
Located on the Delaware River, New Hope, Pennsylvania, exudes a unique charm that captivates visitors with its quaint atmosphere, historic character, and artistic flair. Steeped in history dating back to the 18th century, the town’s well-preserved colonial architecture and cobblestone streets create a picturesque backdrop for exploration.
New Hope is known for its vibrant arts community, with numerous galleries, boutiques, and antique shops lining the streets. The Bucks County Playhouse, a renowned regional theater, has been a cultural cornerstone since the 1930s, attracting both locals and tourists with a diverse array of performances.
The town’s artistic spirit extends to its festivals and events, such as the annual New Hope Arts and Crafts Festival, showcasing the talents of local and regional artists.
Beyond its artistic allure, New Hope is celebrated for its scenic beauty and outdoor attractions. The Delaware Canal towpath provides a tranquil setting for walking and biking along the river, while the historic New Hope & Ivyland Railroad offers a nostalgic journey through the Bucks County countryside.
The town’s riverside setting also makes it a popular destination for river cruises and water activities. New Hope, Pennsylvania, continues to be a popular Philadelphia day trip. It’s perfect for travelers seeking a delightful blend of history, arts, and relaxation along the banks of the Delaware River.
- Distance from Philadelphia: 106 miles
- Driving Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes
Another one of the top day trips from Philadelphia is the state capital, Harrisburg. The city has a rich heritage dating back to the 18th century, evident in its well-preserved architecture and historic landmarks.
The State Capitol Building, a stunning example of Renaissance Revival architecture, stands as a centerpiece, offering guided tours that showcase its opulent chambers and the iconic Capitol dome.
The city is also home to the National Civil War Museum, providing a comprehensive and balanced perspective on this pivotal period in American history.
As visitors explore the cobblestone streets of downtown Harrisburg, they encounter a mix of dining, shopping, and entertainment options, creating a lively urban atmosphere.
Beyond its historical significance, Harrisburg serves as a hub for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. The scenic Riverfront Park along the Susquehanna River offers walking and biking trails, picturesque views, and recreational spaces for locals and visitors alike.
Wildwood Park is another highlight of the city, complete with wetlands, boardwalks, and educational programs. Harrisburg is a great day trip destination for those looking to learn about the state’s history and traditions.
6. Valley Forge National Historic Park
- Distance from Philadelphia: 23 miles
- Driving Time: 30 minutes
Valley Forge National Historical Park, located just a short drive from Philadelphia holds a significant place in American history as the site of the Continental Army’s winter encampment during the Revolutionary War in 1777-1778.
The park encompasses over 3,500 acres of rolling hills and woodlands, providing a serene backdrop to the pivotal events that unfolded during that harsh winter. Visitors can explore the reconstructed log huts where General George Washington and his troops endured the cold and privations, gaining a profound sense of the sacrifices made for the cause of independence.
The National Memorial Arch, a majestic monument, stands as a tribute to the resilience and perseverance of the Continental Army and the ideals they fought to uphold.
Valley Forge also offers a wealth of recreational opportunities and educational experiences. The park features miles of hiking and biking trails, providing a chance to explore the natural beauty that now graces the once bitterly cold encampment.
The Visitor Center houses informative exhibits, artifacts, and a theater that narrates the story of Valley Forge, adding depth to the visitor’s understanding of this crucial chapter in American history. For those looking for fun day trips from Philadelphia, Valley Forge National Historical Park serves as both a reflective memorial and a vibrant outdoor destination.
7. Asbury Park
- Distance from Philadelphia: 74 miles
- Driving Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Another one of the best Philadelphia day trips is heading east to the Jersey Shore! Asbury Park, situated along the east coast of New Jersey, has transformed from a historic beach town into a vibrant cultural hub known for its eclectic charm and artistic spirit.
With its iconic boardwalk, expansive sandy beaches, and lively entertainment venues, Asbury Park has become a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. The city gained prominence in the 20th century as a thriving seaside resort, and its historical architecture, including the grand Convention Hall, reflects the elegance of a bygone era.
Today, Asbury Park has experienced a renaissance, drawing in a diverse crowd with its eclectic mix of art galleries, boutique shops, and a dynamic food scene.
A hallmark of Asbury Park’s cultural identity is its association with the music scene, particularly as the birthplace of the legendary musician Bruce Springsteen. The Stone Pony, a renowned music venue, has hosted Springsteen and other iconic artists, solidifying Asbury Park’s status as a music destination.
The city also hosts a variety of events and festivals, including the Asbury Park Music and Film Festival, celebrating the intersection of music and cinema. With its unique blend of history, art, and entertainment, Asbury Park continues to evolve as a dynamic and inclusive community, inviting visitors to experience its vibrant energy along the scenic Jersey Shore.
Read next: The 13 Best Day Trips From Washington DC
8. Brandywine Valley
- Distance from Philadelphia: 35 miles
- Driving Time: 40 minutes
The Brandywine Valley, nestled in the rolling hills of southeastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware, is a region of unparalleled beauty and historical significance. It’s a quick and easy day trip from Philadelphia and is full of fun things to do.
Renowned for its picturesque landscapes, the valley is traversed by the meandering Brandywine Creek, which winds its way through charming villages and lush countryside.
The area is celebrated for its connection to American art history, with the Brandywine River Museum of Art being a notable attraction. The Brandywine River Museum of Art showcases works by the Wyeth family and other local artists who drew inspiration from the region’s idyllic scenery.
Visitors can explore the historic estates that dot the landscape, such as the Winterthur Estate which reflects the legacy of the Du Pont Family. The estate is also a world-class museum that showcases the unparalleled collection of American decorative arts assembled by Henry Francis du Pont.
The 1,000-acre estate features a magnificent 175-room mansion surrounded by lush gardens, woodlands, and meadows. The gardens, designed by du Pont himself, offer a stunning backdrop with seasonal blooms, reflecting his passion for horticulture and landscape design.
The valley is also home to Brandywine Creek State Park, a popular place for outdoor enthusiasts. Brandywine Creek State Park, with its many hiking trails and scenic vistas, invites hikers and nature lovers to immerse themselves in the region’s natural beauty.
Wineries, craft breweries, and farm-to-table dining experiences further contribute to the area’s allure, making the Brandywine Valley a multifaceted destination that seamlessly combines history, art, and outdoor recreation in a captivating blend.
9. Atlantic City
- Distance from Philadelphia: 61 miles
- Driving Time: 1 hour
Atlantic City is another excellent day trip on the New Jersey shoreline. Known for its iconic Boardwalk, which stretches along the Atlantic Ocean, the city is a playground of activity, offering a diverse array of attractions.
Visitors can explore the numerous casinos that line the waterfront, test their luck at the gaming tables, and enjoy world-class entertainment ranging from concerts to comedy shows. The Steel Pier, a historic amusement park extending into the ocean, adds to the city’s allure with its classic amusement park rides and family-friendly atmosphere.
Beyond its reputation as a gaming destination, Atlantic City has a rich history and cultural heritage. The city’s historic district showcases well-preserved architecture from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, providing a glimpse into its storied past.
The Absecon Lighthouse, New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse, offers panoramic views of Atlantic City and the coastline. With its mix of entertainment, history, and seaside charm, Atlantic City continues to be a popular day trip destination for those seeking a lively and diverse coastal experience on the East Coast.
- Distance from Philadelphia: 95 miles
- Driving Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes
One of the most popular day trips from Philadelphia for the whole family is Hershey, affectionately known as “The Sweetest Place on Earth”. The charming town has a rich history centered around the legacy of Milton S. Hershey, the founder of the Hershey Chocolate Company.
Visitors to Hershey can explore Hershey Park, an expansive amusement park that offers thrilling rides, live entertainment, and a water park, providing fun for visitors of all ages. The Hershey Story Museum delves into the fascinating history of the chocolate industry, detailing Milton Hershey’s vision, philanthropy, and the evolution of Hershey’s iconic products.
Hershey’s Chocolate World is a must-visit as well. Guests can embark on a free chocolate tour and even try making their own candy bar as they tour the iconic factory.
In addition to its chocolate-themed attractions, Hershey offers a range of recreational and cultural experiences. The Hershey Gardens showcase stunning botanical displays across 23 acres, featuring a breathtaking rose garden and a butterfly atrium.
Sports enthusiasts can catch a hockey game at the Giant Center, home to the Hershey Bears, the oldest team in the American Hockey League. The town’s commitment to community and education is reflected in the Milton Hershey School, a philanthropic institution founded by Milton Hershey to provide education and support for children in need.
From going on amusement park rides at Hershey Park to sampling chocolate at the famous chocolate factory, Hershey will entertain young kids and adults alike!
11. Ocean City
- Distance from Philadelphia: 151 miles
- Driving Time: 2.5 hours
Ocean City, Maryland, is a popular coastal destination that beckons beach lovers with its pristine sandy shores and a lively, family-friendly atmosphere. Stretching along the Atlantic Ocean, the city’s iconic Boardwalk is a bustling hub of activity, featuring amusement parks, arcades, shops, and eateries.
Visitors can take a leisurely stroll or rent a bike to explore the three miles of wooden planks, enjoying the sound of crashing waves and the aroma of salty sea air. The beach itself is a haven for sunbathers, surfers, and water enthusiasts, offering a picturesque backdrop for relaxation and recreation.
Ocean City also has a vibrant calendar of events and festivals, ranging from the annual Sunfest celebration to car shows, fishing tournaments, and kite festivals. The town’s fishing pier, extending into the ocean, attracts anglers eager to cast their lines for a chance at a bountiful catch.
Ocean City is also known for its delectable seafood, with numerous restaurants serving up fresh crab, oysters, and other coastal delights.
Whether it’s building sandcastles on the beach, enjoying the amusements on the Boardwalk, or savoring the delicious food, Ocean City provides a quintessential seaside experience for families and vacationers seeking sun, surf, and relaxation on the Maryland coast.
A great idea for a weekend trip from Philly is the magnificent Niagara Falls!
12. Ricketts Glen State Park
- Distance from Philadelphia: 142 miles
- Driving Time: 2.5 hours
Ricketts Glen State Park, located in northeastern Pennsylvania, is a breathtaking natural oasis known for its captivating waterfalls, lush woodlands, and scenic hiking trails.
The park is home to a stunning collection of 24 waterfalls, ranging in height from 11 to 94 feet, along the rugged and picturesque Falls Trail. The crown jewel, Ganoga Falls, stands as the tallest among them, showcasing the raw beauty of nature.
The park’s diverse ecosystems feature old-growth forest, moss-covered rocks, and a variety of plant and animal species, creating a haven for hikers, photographers, and nature enthusiasts.
In addition to its waterfall wonders, Ricketts Glen State Park offers over 26 miles of trails that wind through the park’s 13,050 acres, providing opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife observation.
Lake Jean, a 245-acre glacial lake within the state park, invites visitors to partake in boating, fishing, and picnicking along its scenic shores. The park’s commitment to preserving its natural beauty is evident in its designation as a National Natural Landmark. Ricketts Glen State Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a serene escape into the wonders of Pennsylvania’s natural landscapes.
- Distance from Philadelphia: 106 miles
- Driving Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes
On an exciting day trip from Philadelphia, you can tour one of Maryland’s most iconic cities! With a rich blend of history, culture, and a welcoming community spirit, Baltimore invites exploration and discovery at every turn.
Known as the “Charm City,” Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is a bustling waterfront district that serves as a focal point for both locals and visitors. The harbor is lined with attractions such as the National Aquarium, featuring captivating marine life exhibits, and the historic USS Constellation, a preserved Civil War-era warship.
Baltimore is deeply connected to its maritime past, evident in the cobblestone streets of Fell’s Point, a historic neighborhood with 18th-century architecture, charming shops, and a lively waterfront ambiance. Harbor cruises are a popular way to do some sightseeing on the water while visiting Baltimore.
Beyond its maritime heritage, Baltimore is also home to the renowned Baltimore Museum of Art, showcasing an impressive collection of artworks, including pieces by iconic artists like Henri Matisse and Andy Warhol.
Hampden, a quirky and eclectic neighborhood, offers a blend of independent boutiques, vintage shops, and diverse dining options. Baltimore’s culinary landscape is punctuated by its famous blue crabs, celebrated in crab feasts and local seafood joints. This is a great day trip destination for those who want a taste of city life outside Philadelphia.
14. Washington Crossing Historic Park
- Distance from Philadelphia: 33 miles
- Driving Time: 36 minutes
Washington Crossing Historic Park, situated along the banks of the Delaware River in Pennsylvania, holds a pivotal place in American history as the site where General George Washington and his troops crossed the icy waters on Christmas night in 1776.
This daring maneuver marked a turning point in the American Revolutionary War, leading to a surprise attack on the Hessian forces in Trenton, New Jersey. The park preserves this historic event with the iconic McConkey’s Ferry Inn, where Washington reportedly planned the crossing, and Bowman’s Hill Tower, which provides panoramic views of the river and surrounding landscape.
The park’s visitor center offers informative exhibits, artifacts, and educational programs, providing a detailed account of the critical role this crossing played in the fight for American independence.
Washington Crossing Historic Park extends beyond its historical significance, offering visitors a picturesque setting for recreation and contemplation. The park features scenic walking and hiking trails that wind through lush woodlands and open fields, providing a peaceful retreat along the river.
In addition to its historical monuments, the park hosts events and reenactments, allowing visitors to step back in time and experience the challenges faced by Washington and his troops during that fateful winter night.
Washington Crossing Historic Park serves as a living tribute to the resilience and determination of the Continental Army, making it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and those seeking a tranquil escape in a setting rich with patriotic significance.
15. New York City
- Distance from Philadelphia: 94 miles
- Driving Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes
New York City is undoubtedly one of the world’s most iconic cities, and you can easily visit the Big Apple on a day trip from Philadelphia!
Renowned for its towering skyscrapers that create the iconic Manhattan skyline, the city is a global hub for finance, culture, fashion, and the arts. At the heart of it all is Times Square, a vibrant commercial and entertainment district where giant electronic billboards light up the streets, and Broadway theaters showcase world-class performances.
Central Park, a sprawling oasis in the midst of Manhattan, offers a retreat from the urban hustle, featuring lakes, walking trails, and iconic landmarks like Bethesda Terrace and the Bow Bridge. At the southernmost tip of Manhattan, Battery Park provides panoramic views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the harbor.
The cultural tapestry of NYC is further enriched by its world-class museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.
The city’s culinary scene is equally diverse, with a plethora of restaurants representing cuisines from around the globe. With its electrifying energy, endless entertainment options, and a spirit of constant reinvention, New York City remains an iconic destination that captivates and inspires millions of visitors each year.
16. Lancaster County Amish Country
- Distance from Philadelphia: 63 miles
- Driving Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
One of the most popular and fascinating day trips from Philadelphia is Lancaster County, an area known for its picturesque Amish Country. The Amish, a religious community known for their simple living, traditional values, and rejection of modern conveniences, have made Lancaster County their home for generations.
The bucolic landscapes are dotted with charming farmsteads, horse-drawn buggies, and pristine fields, providing a serene backdrop that transports visitors to a bygone era. Tourists can explore the scenic backroads, visit Amish-owned businesses, and witness the craftsmanship and dedication to handcrafted goods that define Amish culture.
Lancaster County Amish Country offers a variety of authentic experiences, from guided tours of Amish farms and schoolhouses to sampling homemade treats at roadside stands and traditional markets.
The region’s rich agricultural heritage is celebrated at places like the Lancaster Central Market, the country’s oldest continuously operating farmers’ market, where visitors can savor fresh produce, handmade crafts, and local delicacies.
Beyond the Amish experience, Lancaster County also boasts a vibrant arts scene, historical landmarks such as the Ephrata Cloister, and a diverse array of family-friendly attractions. It’s a great place to visit in Philadelphia if you’re looking to broaden the mind and learn about other ways of life!
- Distance from Philadelphia: 33 miles
- Driving Time: 36 minutes
Trenton, the capital city of New Jersey, holds a significant place in American history and is known for its cultural heritage and diverse community. Situated along the banks of the Delaware River, Trenton played a crucial role during the American Revolutionary War, serving as the location for the pivotal Battle of Trenton in 1776.
Today, the city preserves its historical legacy with landmarks such as the Old Barracks Museum, which offers insights into the life of soldiers during the Revolutionary period. The New Jersey State House, one of the oldest continually operating legislative buildings in the country, stands as a testament to Trenton’s enduring political significance.
Beyond its historical sites, Trenton is a city that celebrates the arts and cultural diversity. The Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion showcases local art and history, while the Trenton War Memorial serves as a venue for concerts, performances, and community events.
The city’s vibrant street art scene adds a contemporary flair, with colorful murals adorning buildings throughout the downtown area. Trenton’s diverse culinary offerings, from traditional diners to international cuisine, reflect the richness of its community. Trenton invites visitors to explore its heritage and witness the ongoing transformation of this resilient capital city.
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