I can't hear the term "family vacation" without immediately stressing myself out at the thought of resort reservations, packing emergencies (where did the suitcases go?!), and soaring airfare prices. But lucky for me, I grew up with parents who embraced the art of the weekend getaway, often shuttling my siblings and I into far but beautiful corners of the midwest. Some of the best family stories we find ourselves telling over and over again came from the hours of driving together (and OK, also from annoying each other), and nowadays I envy the ease of piling into the car with a few essentials and heading out for a new adventure.
In the spirit of embracing the fun of family road trips, we joined forces with the 2017 Ford Escape to put together your guide to the best day trips and weekend getaways for the Philadelphia area. Get all the info you need by checking out our favorite locations and attractions below, then pack up the car and hit the road so you can start making some lasting family memories of your own.
Fall foliage lovers will be living their best life during a weekend in the Poconos, which is just over 100 miles from Philadelphia — or roughly two hours and 15 minutes. Set out on a fishing trip or set up camp at the beautiful Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, or stay at the Great Wolf Lodge to take advantage of their massive indoor water park that families will love to take advantage of year-round. If you're planning a trip around Halloween time, definitely swing by the Old Jail Museum for a spooky tour of a location that's believed to be haunted.
The fall months are an ideal time to hit up our nation's capital, which makes an ideal weekend getaway at around 140 miles away, a roughly two and a half hour drive. While you're there, hit up the International Spy Museum (which, let's be honest, is cool anytime of year), or swing by the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden to tour some art and enjoy the fall leaves between monument visits. The Carousel on the National Mall also makes for a picture-perfect rest stop for the kids, and a fun excuse for adults to indulge their inner child, as well.
Coast lovers don't have to throw in the beach towel come fall — they'll just need to be a little more strategic with location choice. Cape May, New Jersey is just a little over 90 miles from Philadelphia, and with the free Cape May County Zoo, and the free Sunset Beach with beautiful (you guessed it) sunset views, this quick hour and a half drive makes for a perfect day trip. If you're interested in staying the night, look into booking a room at the Virginia Hotel, which has a quaint historical vibe with plenty of modern amenities.
This hour and a half drive makes for a great day trip. Only an 80 mile drive from Philly, the town is home to attractions such as the Sky Zone Trampoline Park (yes, you read that correctly) and the Turkey Hill Experience, where ice cream enthusiasts will love hands-on, interactive exhibits that teach them all about the ice cream making process — with plenty of free samples, to boot. Guided Amish buggy rides are also available to book, which offer a glance at the Amish way of life, along with stunning views of the Lancaster countryside.
Clocking in at about two and a half hours from Philadelphia (or 141 miles), Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is just close enough to home to make for a perfect long weekend escape. The town is full of family-friendly activities, from seeing the battlefield and checking out civil war artifacts at Gettysburg National Military Park, to taking a tour through the Shriver House Museum, which still boasts its original 1860 decor. Families can also spend an entire day exploring the 10 miles of trails at the Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve, which is full of woodlands, ponds, and plenty of fall foliage.