While Philadelphia is a worthy destination–there are hundreds of family-friendly things to see and do, events to check out, and beautiful historic sites—sometimes you need a change of pace. And the truly great thing about living here is that whenever we need an excuse to get away, there are wonderful things to see and do across dozens of cute towns and boroughs in the area.
With school out, and hours to kill, it’s the perfect time to take a quick day trip or perhaps even a weekend getaway. Looking to slow things down and indulge in tasty treats? Visit Lancaster. Want to experience a quaint small town vibe? Drive to New Hope! Or would you rather take in some historic sites and nature walks? No matter your ideal out-of-town destination, these 12 suburbs are our favorites, and sure to make for an awesome excursion for you and your family
This tiny town is worth checking out! The downtown area is a few short walkable featuring art centers, a theater, shopping, and a wonderful library. Knights Park and Park Playground are a combined huge outdoor play area for kids to burn off some energy. Bonus, you can drive or take a SEPTA regional rail line to Ambler.
Dubbed the “main street of the Main Line” Ardmore is a quick nine miles from Center City, and has amenities and activities for families to enjoy year round. For families with younger kids, check out Lulu’s Casita, an adorable indoor play space and café. Linwood and South Ardmore parks offer acres of outdoor and playground fun. Swing by pucciManuli for a well-curated collection of high-quality toys, games, and books. Adrmore is host to frequent festivals, so be sure to check out their events calendar when planning a visit.
Chadds Ford, PA
Visit Chadds Ford for the beautiful scenery, stay for historic sites, the amazing collection at the Brandywine Museum of Art, and make a full day of it with a visit to one of the local wineries. Check out Brandywine Battlefield State Park, the former headquarters for General George Washington and location for historical reenactments. If you have older kids, you can’t beat the antiquing in Chadds Ford.
For many Doylestown is known as the home to the works of Henry Chapman Mercer, including the Mercer Museum. But in my family, we know it as the town with the absolute coolest playground in the area: the Castle Playground. This alone is worth the drive for parents with younger kids, but the art and historic sites are also definitely worth checking out.
Enjoying ice cream in Lancaster
Lancaster is another great foodie destination. You’ve probably shopped some delicious Amish goodies at Reading Terminal Market or a local Farmers Market, but in Lancaster you can sample it all! While Lancaster has a cute downtown, this is farm country and you can see farm animals as well as take a trip to a working Amish Farm and see witness what it’s like for a culture that artfully refuses to take part in our modern mania (cars, social media, etc)! If you are in for some family-fun excitement, don't forget to check out Dutch Wonderland.
You could make a great weekend get away by spending one day in Kennett Square and the next in Greenville, Delaware. Home to the magical Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, once the home of the famous DuPont family. The Winterthur hosts tons of great family programming, so check the events calendar before planning your visit! Don’t forget to grab a snack and coffee at Brew Haha!
Jim Thorpe, PA
Jim Thorpe is definitely worth the drive for nature lovers! This is the place to visit for hiking, manageable even for younger hikers, there is a 7.5 mile loop that includes the stunning Glen Onoko Falls. Adventurous families can also take a trip down the river through one of the whitewater outfitters. One even caters to families with kids as young as 4.
Kennett Square, PA
It says something about Kennett Square that it has two claims to fame: it is both the Mushroom Capital of the World and home to the stunning Longwood Gardens. Even if you aren’t a fan of mushrooms, Kennett Square is a great foodie destination, with an adorable downtown featuring used book stores, boutiques, and more. Make sure to check out the programming at Anson B. Nixon Park, which hosts a ton of seasonal activities, including a Trout Rodeo, summer arts programs, free summer concert series, and more.
Kids love Peddler’s Village. Photo courtesy of C. Mooney
New Hope, PA
It doesn’t get more adorable than downtown New Hope, with their shops and galleries, and delicious ice cream. While you are there, take a classic train ride, or catch a show at the Bucks County Plahouse. While you are there, make sure to head to Peddler’s Village which has something for everyone: toy stores, clothing stores, Giggleberry Fair, and breweries. This town is definitely worth at least one overnight stay and The Golden Plough Inn has everything you need within walking distance for an enjoyable night.
West Chester, PA
This old town (established in 1712) has a wonderful dining and shopping scene. It’s also another historic site worth checking out. Families will love the Brandywine Picnic Park which features a gazing zoo, a moon bounce, softball and volleyball, a rock climbing wall and mini golf. The Stroud Preserve is another great reason to visit. This 9-mile wildlife preserve is great for nature walks and includes an option for horseback riding.
Nearby NJ Suburban Towns to Visit
Built in 1870, Clinton exudes charm. This is a town worth posting on Instagram! You’ll love the collection of local shops, including candy stores. Definitely check out the Red Mill Museum Village, an historic site which includes 12 historic buildings, including a mill and quarry. The town of Clinton does an excellent job of preserving their history with tons of workshops and lectures for the history buffs that want to learn more.
It’s so close to Philadelphia it feels like home. Collingswood is a charming town with a community feel and beautiful architecture. At Knight Park, they host movies and concerts in warmer months, and the annual Book Festival is one you won’t want to miss.