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GLBT Day Trips in
Philadelphia’s Countryside

Spend time visiting historic sites, strolling charming small towns or shopping.

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Philadelphia’s countryside boasts a welcoming array of fun and easy side trips, all within an hour’s drive or train ride from the city’s Gayborhood.

Spend the day enjoying lunch and a stroll along the Delaware River in New Hope, perusing the iconic landscapes of Andrew Wyeth at the Brandywine River Museum, hiking the miles of trails at Valley Forge National Historical Park or shopping for high-end goods at the King of Prussia Mall. (Don’t forget: There’s no sales tax on clothing or shoes in Pennsylvania.)

New Hope

Directions: One-hour drive on I-95 North

The Itinerary: This funky artists’ colony is also one of the region’s most GLBT-friendly spots and the site of an annual pride celebration in May. Start your visit with brunch or lunch at Havana or another sidewalk cafe along New Hope’s lively Main Street, or claim a table with water views at The Landing, one of the many spots on the Delaware River. Later, peruse dozens of owner-operated businesses, such as Farley’s Bookshop and Cockamamie’s Art Deco and 1950s lighting and furniture store, and decide whether dinner and some local nightlife are in order. Karla’s and Mother’s are longtime dining favorites, while The Ramada Inn offers a popular dance club, supper club and cabaret, the latter featuring nationally known acts. A trip to New Hope isn’t complete without a visit to The Raven complex, known for its cocktail bar, live music and piano lounge.

King of Prussia Mall

Directions: 45-minute drive via I-76 West/Route 202 North

The Itinerary: Satisfy your shopping jones in one upscale location with a visit to this sprawling 400-plus store complex. Fashionistas will find seven department stores, including Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Macy’s, as well as hundreds of specialty shops, such as Armani Exchange, BOSS store, Kate Spade, Kiehl’s and Tourneau. Take a break at one of 50 restaurants and eateries, including nationally known Legal Sea Foods and Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery and local favorites, like Blue Pacific Chinese Bistro and Sushi Bar.

Valley Forge National Historical Park

Directions: Less than a one-hour drive via I-76 West and Route 422 West

Run, bike or hike along the trails of this rolling, 3,600-acre landscape, where General George Washington and his troops endured the difficult winter of 1777-78 during the Revolutionary War. Be sure to check out Washington’s Headquarters and other commemorative sites, such as the recently renovated 1913 train station with an interactive exhibit. Consider bringing along a picnic lunch or visit the Washington Memorial Chapel Cabin Shop for light fare. Or you can dine in nearby Phoenixville, a former steel town whose downtown has been transformed by farm-to-table restaurants, such as Majolica; the cafe and performance space Steel City Coffeehouse, and Sly Fox Brewhouse and Eatery. Fans of the cult movie classic The Blob, take note: Phoenixville’s Colonial Theatre formed the backdrop for scenes from the movie, which was filmed in the area.

Chanticleer

Directions: 45-minute drive via I-76 West

The Itinerary: For anyone who’s ever watched MTV Cribs or yearned to be part of the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, a visit to the lush Chanticleer pleasure garden will make you feel like you’re lord of the manor, at least for the afternoon. This 47-acre oasis (35 acres are open to the public) features orchards, wildflower meadows and perennials nestled among stone ruins, and many spots to sit and take in the carefully cultivated landscape. The town of Wayne, one of the loveliest of Philadelphia’s famous Main Line suburbs, offers a bustling business district with well-regarded restaurants, notably Georges’, a global bistro run by famed chef Georges Perrier.

Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia

Directions: 30-minute drive via I-76 West and Lincoln Drive

The Itinerary: This leafy neighborhood offers a getaway from the urban bustle without leaving Philadelphia city limits. Begin or end your day with browsing and a meal at Cake, a full-service restaurant situated in a former conservatory, the Chestnut Grill & Sidewalk Café, or one of the more than 200 specialty shops and restaurants on Chestnut Hill’s stretch of Germantown Avenue. Don’t miss two other prime attractions: Morris Arboretum, a 92-acre Victorian-style park with a formal rose garden, majestic old trees and unusual plants from around the world. The Woodmere Art Museum specializes in works by notable local artists, such as illustrator N.C. Wyeth, stained-glass specialist Violet Oakley and Pennsylvania Impressionist Edward Redfield.

Longwood Gardens

Directions: One-hour drive on Route 1 South

The Itinerary: Over-the-top doesn’t even begin to capture the impact of Longwood Gardens, one of the nation’s biggest and most comprehensive botanical gardens. You can easily make a day of exploring the exotic flowers, cacti, ferns and bonsai inside the vast Conservatory and the facility’s flower garden walk and famous fountain gardens. In nearby Kennett Square you’ll find a must-visit site on every foodie’s map: Talula’s Table, a gourmet shop specializing in artisan cheeses, prepared foods and locally sourced produce that serves lunch or can stock a picnic basket. For dinner, Talula’s is booked one-year in advance for its nightly, one-table-only tasting menu.

Brandywine Valley

Directions: One-hour drive on Route 1 South

The Itinerary: Set on a nature preserve, the Brandywine River Museum offers artful views, as well as a trove of works by the area’s first family of art and illustration: landscape specialist Andrew Wyeth; his illustrator father, N.C. Wyeth; and Andrew’s son, Jamie, a realist painter. Pair a visit to the museum with a tour and tasting of the chardonnay and pinot noir at the award-winning Chaddsford Winery, which is also known for its summer concerts and other special events. For a casual meal, check out “Hank’s Place“http://www.hanks-place.net/index2.html:, a popular spot with the Wyeth family and other locals, while Bistro on the Brandywine serves upscale fare.

Doylestown and Peddler’s Village

Directions: One-hour drive on 611 North

The Itinerary: The Bucks County seat’s main attractions reflect the influence of two of its most famous native sons: Best-selling author James Michener, who endowed an art museum dedicated to Pennsylvania artists, the James A. Michener Art Museum and tile maker Henry Chapman Mercer, whose legacy is reflected in three sites: the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, where the iconic Mercer tiles are made; his fanciful concrete castle, Fonthill and the Mercer Museum, known for its collection of early American artifacts. Doylestown’s tree-lined streets offer many restaurants and shops, such as Honey, known for its small-plates concept, and the denim and sportswear-focused Shop Sixty Five, and are perfect for a stroll. For more shopping, particularly crafts, collectibles and gift items, check out the Colonial-style Peddler’s Village, which boasts 70 stores, nine restaurants and pubs and a 70-room inn.

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