There’s so much to see and do in Philly, but we get it: Sometimes you just need to get away. So good thing there are plenty of charming small towns scattered within two hours of this city that make for easy day trips or overnight stays.
Fancy feasting on delicious baked Amish goods? Head to Lancaster. Want to be wowed by incredible architecture? Definitely make a trip to the historic borough of Bryn Athyn. No matter where you choose to visit, these small towns all offer much to see, eat, and do.
Fun fact: This small town on the Main Line featured the first suburb location of Strawbridge and Clothier department store. Today, Ardmore features big box stores plus smaller, eclectic shops along the town’s main street of Lancaster Avenue. It’s also home to Tired Hands Brewing Company and the independently-owned Ardmore Music Hall, which has featured big acts like the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
2 Bryn Athyn
Come here for the history, stay for the architecture. This National Historic Landmark was established as a religious community in the late 19th century and is now home to architecturally significant estates and churches like John Pitcairn’s Beuax-Arts mansion Cairnwood and the stunning Bryn Athyn Cathedral.
3 Collingswood, NJ
The sole town in New Jersey on this list is Collingswood, a cute borough of Camden County. Up until 2015 this was a dry town, given its Quaker roots. Today, it has a mix of historic homes and a great retail and arts district along Haddon Avenue, which was once named one of the 10 Great Streets by the American Planning Association.
Downingtown has made a name for itself as a charming small town in recent years, much in part thanks to it being Victory Brewing Company’s home base. But even smaller retailers have set up shop here, such as Pyknic, and there are lots of antique shops to get lost in all day, too.
Welcome to Amish country. Lancaster is an incredibly scenic county in Pennsylvania that features a large Amish population in the surrounding countryside. Spend a day feasting on tasty Amish baked goods on the outskirts or enjoying the burgeoning restaurant scene downtown. Or, simply drive through the farm country—there’s a high likelihood you’ll get stuck behind a horse buggy. Kids might also enjoy a day playing at the theme park Dutch Wonderland.
6 Chadds Ford
This beautiful town just 25 miles west of Philadelphia is a mix of rolling hills dotted with wineries and historic sites like the Brandywine Battlefield. Don’t miss a stroll along the picturesque Brandywine River or a trip to the
7 Kennett Square
Hope you like mushrooms, because this town reeks of it. Kennett Square has earned the name Mushroom Capital of the World for the massive amount of ‘shrooms it produces each week. But besides the good food, it’s also home the always gorgeous Longwood Gardens.
This Delaware County town dates back to the late 17th century during the William Penn era. So like Collingswood, NJ, it has strong Quaker roots. That may explain its friendly atmosphere and plethora of community events like Dining Under the Stars. Media Theater is also known to put on some great community theater shows featuring the likes of resident and comedian Wanda Sykes.
This town is about 27 miles from Philadelphia and is known for being home to multiple works of Henry Chapman Mercer, including the epic Mercer Museum. But there are also opportunities to really enjoy the small-town vibe at the County Theatre, or wander among the corn fields where M. Night Shyamalan filmed the movie Signs.
10 New Hope
New Hope has become a hot spot for artists and creatives—Travel & Leisure once named it one of the coolest suburbs to visit. In addition to the eclectic shops and galleries, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy a walk along the Delaware Canal Towpath or meander through the Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve.
This borough was originally settled in 1732 and called Manavon. During its heyday it was an industrial iron and steel mill boomtown. Today, it’s experienced a renaissance and is home to quirky festivals like Blobfest. Why? The marquee of the Colonial Theater was featured in the hit movie the Blob .
12 West Chester
This cute town is in the heart of the Brandywine Valley. It was established in 1712 and is now has a popular restaurant, retail, and arts scene. In addition to its historic homes, the National Register of Historic Places district also features an impressive amount of Greek Revival architecture.
13 Greenville, Delaware
If you’re in Kennett Square you might as well make the short drive across the PA border to Greenville, Delaware. This small town is home to the epic Winterthur Museum, Garden, & Library, once the home of the DuPont’s, the family behind the chemical engineering giant. If the beautiful mansion isn’t enough, there are 60 acres of gardens to stroll through.
If you find yourself in the Lehigh Valley, head over to Bethlehem, a Moravian community in 1741. Home to the former Bethlehem Steel Corp.—which produced the steel for the Golden Gate Bridge—, it’s now the Steel Stacks, a popular music venue and baseball stadium.