The best weekend getaways and overnights near Philadelphia

Hop in the car or on SEPTA and have a warm weather adventure in one or more of our region’s picturesque towns. Here are a few places where you can find small-town charm less than a tank of gas away.

Chester County

Have 40 minutes? The drive from Center City to Phoenixville is worth the trip. Like its mythical namesake, this little town is undergoing major changes. While the centerpiece of Phoenixville is the still-functioning Colonial Theatre, where scenes from the classic horror film “The Blob” were shot and the quirky BlobFest takes place every year, Phoenixville’s main street is buzzing with new cafes, shops and restaurants. Outdoorsy types can rent kayaks to experience the Schuylkill River in a whole different way.

Delaware County

Media, is small town with a big history. Credit: M. Fischetti Media is small town with a big list of things to do.
Credit: M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

At less than one square mile,Media packs a lot into its small size. Surrounding the town nicknamed “Everybody’s Hometown” are Tyler Arboretum and Ridley Creek State Park, great for outdoor fun. But State Street is all about shops, many of which specialize in handcrafted artisan wares, and restaurants offering international cuisines in upscale and relaxed settings. Another reason to visit this summer is the weekly outdoor Dining Under the Stars program.

Montgomery County

Ambler also covers less than one square mile, but despite its diminutive size it’s amazingly complete. Unassuming and unpretentious, the town has spiced up its 19th-century manufacturing heritage with decidedly modern shops, festivals, restaurants and arts activities. Case in point: The Act II Playhouse produces eclectic theater productions, and the renovated historic Ambler Theater features first-run, repertory and family films. Owner-operated shops offer unusual items and friendly atmospheres, making the town’s “shop local” mantra easy to stick to. You can also feast on international cuisines or sample locally made brews.

Bucks County

Fonthill castle. Credit: B. Krist Tour the sprawling Fonthill castle.
Credit: B. Krist

Only in Doylestown can visitors find a sprawling concrete castle embedded with thousands of tiles (Fonthill), the world’s largest collection of works by Pennsylvania artists (Michener Museum) and a giant whale boat hanging from a ceiling (Mercer Museum). Even more reasons to visit include independently owned shops and boutiques stocking items not found in the malls, along with restaurants that make foodies break every diet rule around. Add in tree-lined streets and picture-worthy architecture, and it’s easy to see why this must-visit town earned kudos from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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