Have a couple of spare days in Philly? Fill up your itinerary with some of the best day trips from Philadelphia, PA. Within a couple of hours’ drive of Pennsylvania’s largest city, you’ll find a variety of interesting destinations, covering a wide range of interests, atmospheres, and opportunities for fun!
Just a short drive from Philadelphia, you can enjoy culturally enriching side trips to Amish Country, spin a roulette wheel in Atlantic City, relax in tranquil gardens, or even hit up the Big Apple. The vibrant area around Philly is full of possibilities, whether you’re traveling with family, friends, or on your own.
Looking to get out of the city for the day? Check out this complete guide to the top-rated Philadelphia day trips!
Top-rated Philadelphia side trips
Lancaster County, PA
An hour and 50 minutes west of Philadelphia, you’ll find the tranquil and historic Lancaster County. Otherwise known as Pennsylvania Dutch Country or Amish Country, Lancaster County will make you feel like you’re stepping back in time.
Start off your side trip with a visit to the Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum. Carve out time to enjoy this German settlement village, learning all about the old ways and how immigrants lived off the land.
Afterward, head to the red-brick Central Market Building for unique shopping and dining experiences. As it’s one of the oldest farmers’ markets in America, a visit to the Central Market Building is both historic and delicious.
RELATED: Best Things to Do in Lancaster, PA
Finish up your historic whirlwind tour of Lancaster County with a visit to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasbourg. Discover more about vintage trains, how the railroad was built, and the impact it had on the surrounding community. Not only is a visit here educational, but it’s also interactive; it’s a perfect stop for the kiddos!
Want to leave behind the old US capital city in favor of the current one? Drive two hours and 40 minutes southwest until you hit Washington, DC
Now, we all know that Washington, DC, is full of amazing attractions and historic institutions. So, how can you explore the best parts in just one day?
We’d recommend staying longer, of course. But if your itinerary only allows one day in Washington, DC, start at the Smithsonian. Wander the various museums, libraries, and galleries that live under the Smithsonian banner. Learn about the big blue sea, dinosaurs, literature, and much more.
Next up, feel like a VIP and get a snap outside The White House. Pro tip: the back view of The White House is the iconic one, so wander around to the backyard; you might even get to sneak a peek of the President!
Finish up your day in DC by visiting the Lincoln Memorial as the sun sets. Illuminated with imposing uplighting, the iconic statue of Lincoln looms even larger. It’s a poignant reminder of US history and the influence of this prestigious office.
Atlantic City, NJ
Traveling without kiddos and looking to let loose with your friends or your other half? Journey just over an hour into neighboring New Jersey and spin the wheel in Atlantic City. Play a hand or two of blackjack, relax on the beach, stroll along the boardwalk, or take in a show: It’s all possible in Atlantic City!
Start your visit to Atlantic City where all the action is: the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Take in the grandeur of the casinos, the fun atmosphere spilling out of the bars and restaurants, and the feeling of the salty air on your skin.
Get a feel for the uniquely Atlantic City vibe before going for a spin in one of the many casinos. Want to get your fill? Head to the largest casino in AC: the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa.
Check out the extensive calendar of events to see if there’s a show on while you’re there. From comedy to musicals to live performances by pop legends, you’ll find plenty of options.
Try and combine two activities in one and find a dinner performance. Enjoy fresh seafood from the New Jersey coast and be entertained at the same time!
Have a need to add some historic grandeur to your Philadelphia trip? Drive 40 minutes down the I-95 south to the beautiful city of Wilmington, Delaware. Home to some outstanding architecture and mansions, predominantly owned and donated by the du Pont family, Wilmington can feel like you’ve been transported to Europe!
Looking for culture and history? Visit Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, an expansive mansion that has been lovingly converted into a relaxing, educational, and inspiring space.
Discover new artists, smell the gorgeous array of botanicals in the garden, or uncover the quirky range of Americana. If your visit coincides with the holidays, you can enjoy huge Christmas displays all around the Winterthur estate.
Return to the city center and enjoy a leisurely ramble along the Wilmington Riverwalk. Take in the expansive views before settling down at one of the many bars, cafes, and restaurants in this area. With the sun dipping over the horizon, there’s no better spot to wind down after a long day exploring Wilmington.
Longwood Gardens, PA
Enjoy all things horticultural? Well, while you’re in the Wilmington area, head to Kennett Square and explore the outstanding Longwood Gardens. Only just crossing over from Delaware into Pennsylvania, this world-renowned botanical garden was the brainchild of Pierre du Pont. (Yes, another du Pont!)
Modeled after the renaissance period French gardens, such as Versailles, Longwood Gardens is a feast for all the senses, no matter what age you are. Start by wandering around the humungous gardens, stopping to take in the smell and read the informational plaques.
Move along to the seasonal discovery boxes, giving big kids and little kids alike the opportunity to interact with nature. Once you’ve had your fill of interactivity and discovery, wander towards the conservatory where musical performances happen throughout the year.
Finish your jam-packed day at Longwood Gardens by taking in the illuminated fountain after the sun sets. Seeing the light bounce off the spray of the fountain, surrounded by natural beauty, is the ideal way to conclude your day trip.
Valley Forge National Historical Park, PA
Interested in the Revolutionary War or just love reenactments? Just half an hour away from Philadelphia, you’ll find the Valley Forge National Historical Park. Spanning over 3,500 acres, this historically monumental park was formerly the site of the winter encampment that was commanded by George Washington.
Depending on your preference, you can drive, walk, or cycle around the Valley Forge National Historical Park. Simply download the park’s app. You’ll find plenty of interactive trails, routes, and maps to help you find your way while simultaneously informing you about the site.
Prefer a fully guided tour rather than exploring by yourself? Hop on one of the 90-minute trolley tours and listen as expert guides tell you the gruesome true tails behind this historical park.
Is battlefield talk not your thing? You can also enjoy nature-specific tours as part of the ranger program. If you’re traveling with little ones, sign them up for the junior ranger program and leave Valley Forge with a whole new set of skills.
New York City, NY
What is there to say about New York City that hasn’t already been said, written, or sung? Just under a two-hour drive away from Philadelphia, New York City is the perfect side trip or a great companion for a dual-city vacation.
Start your day trip to New York City like the immigrants of days gone by did. No, not by visiting Ellis Island, but by checking out the historic Battery Park. As the original first port of call for those moving to the US from Europe, Battery Park provides outstanding views of the Statue of Liberty, welcoming the huddled, weary masses.
After you’ve wandered the coastline and explored this historic park, head uptown to the beautiful and peaceful High Line. Get a birds’-eye view of the Uptown area from this former railway line that’s been repurposed, allowing visitors to relax and enjoy a beautiful green space in the heart of one of the most hectic cities in the world.
Looking for tasty food? Jump over the water to Brooklyn and hit up all the well-known hipster spots, including the iconic Tom’s Diner. Fuel up and head out for a night on the town in the city that never sleeps.
Swing by a Broadway Show, dance all night at the clubs, or hit up a concert at the iconic Lincoln Center. You can visit New York City a hundred times over and never see everything or enjoy everything that this incredible city has to offer.
Is one day in New York City enough? Check into one of the thousand NYC hotels dotting the boroughs.
Looking to enjoy some affluent small-town charm? Get a break from big city life and drive an hour away from Philadelphia to Doylestown, PA. Located in Bucks County, Doylestown is home to many historical sites and is where a lot of Pennsylvania’s elite used to reside. Full of elaborate mansions, galleries, museums, and boutique shops, Doylestown, PA, offers plenty to love.
Start off by imagining yourself living at the palatial, elegant Fonthill Palace. With gorgeous antique tile displays throughout, it’s an interior design fan’s dream. If you love a vintage look and a historic mansion, then you’ll be transported with a visit to Fonthill Palace. Enjoy the stories of those who’ve lived there, appreciate the decor, or marvel at the gardens outside.
All that opulence got you feeling parched? Get sipping at the beautiful Vivat Alfa Winery on the outskirts of Doylestown. Sit on the sun-drenched terrace or visit the quaint tasting room, reflecting on the calm and serene day you’ve had before heading back to Philly.
Marsh Creek State Park, PA
Looking to escape Philadelphia and spend some much-needed time outdoors in nature? Just an hour west of the city, you’ll find the serene wonderland of Marsh Creek State Park. If you need a moment to yourself or just want to explore somewhere wild and free, this beautiful park will be one of the best day trips from Philadelphia to add to your travel plans.
Marsh Creek State Park is best explored by kayak or paddleboard, both of which you can rent from the state park. The state park covers 1,705 acres of wetland, waterways, and marshlands. Start the day by taking to the water, enjoying the calm sounds of your paddle against the creek, and looking out for the local wildlife all around the area.
After indulging in a picnic lunch at one of the many picnic areas, grab or rent your fishing gear. With plenty of warm water fish species in the area, the park offers a great opportunity to sit, appreciate your surroundings, and catch some tasty dinner.
Traveling in the winter months? Marsh Creek State Park is home to some outstanding ice fishing; just remember to wrap up warm and bring a flask with a hot beverage!
Want to check out another iconic and historic city? Jump in your car and head down to Baltimore, Maryland, just two hours away. The birthplace of the US national anthem, Baltimore has a rich and vibrant history and is currently transforming itself through revitalization.
Commence your day in Baltimore with a stroll along the beautiful waterfront area. The shining jewel of Baltimore’s city center, the waterfront allows you to indulge in boutique shops, restaurants, and bars, as well as many of Baltimore’s major museums and galleries.
Once you’ve wandered around the waterfront, had your fill of retail therapy, or visited the science museum or aquarium, head to the instrumental Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine.
Get inspired by this historic battleground from the War of 1812. With reenactments, tours, and interactive learning opportunities, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is a great spot for visitors of all ages.
RELATED: Top Points of Interest in Baltimore
Finally, journey back into the city center to Russell Road. Here you’ll find both M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens NFL team, and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the home of the Baltimore Orioles. Catch a football or baseball game, enjoy some tailgating, or take a tour around these huge stadiums before heading back to Philadelphia.