For our now second-annual springtime girl’s weekend (last year was Delaware), my two university friends and I elected Pennsylvania as our midway destination. We actually chose this about a week and half prior to our target weekend and did very little planning before showing up at our Holiday Inn in Lansdale, PA. With mutual goals of finding cute towns, being in nature and eating good food, there turned out to be no shortage of perfect things to do. Even though it was a rainy weekend in Pennsylvania, we once again pulled off a surprisingly awesome getaway in the seemingly random tourist destinations of Bucks County and Montgomery County, PA.
Our first stop on Saturday was Doylestown, PA. As we did some research the night before, we stumbled upon the historic legacy of Henry Chapman Mercer and without much thought decided to check it out. Mercer quickly went from some dude we had never heard about to one of the coolest and most interesting people ever in all of our books. We started at his Moravian Pottery and Tile Works factory where we took the $5 tour. I have never had an interest in tiles, but these were amazing. The factory is still in use today and of course, we raided the gift shop as well.
Next, we walked over to Mercer’s self-designed home, Fonthill Castle. I would 100% recommend anyone to visit this home. For architects: Mercer was inspired by European castles, yet he constructed the entire thing (and some of the furniture) out of concrete. For historians: Mercer’s home reflects his academic background, world travels and the man himself lived in a time where he was personally working to reject the changes of the industrial revolution. For linguists: Mercer spoke multiple languages and the house is riddled with inscriptions, poems, quotes and mottos from different languages. For anthropologists: Mercer was an archaeologist who then sourced artifacts and tiles from around the world to incorporate into his home, which has stayed untouched since his death. Really, I could go on and on about how amazing this place was and the $14, one-hour tour was definitely too short.
The town of Doylestown then fulfilled all of our cute, local shop wishes. We wandered around several stores and then relaxed with some coffee and gelato. The center is actually quite big and continued off in too many directions for us to explore. In addition, the houses right outside of town were beautifully historic-looking with beautiful gardens to celebrate spring.
Of course we had to then stop at a place called Peddler’s Village. We expected an all-year Christmas shopping outlet, but then found the combined little area of shops, as well as an arts festival on the lawn nearby. Needless to say there were many cute places and tents to dart in and out of. On the day of our arrival the Village was actually celebrating a Strawberry Festival. There were several strawberry themed booths, as well as a live band playing cover songs in the gazebo. Even with a little drizzle, the atmosphere was lively, fun and it was well worth the detour.
When I was younger, my dad took me to New Hope on a day-trip to go antique shopping. Needless to say this was not a fond childhood memory. Fast-forward about 15 years and my friends and I were attracted to visit New Hope for the antiques. In addition, one must-see stop was The Creeper Gallery—an eerie shop of miscellaneous objects that you would most likely find in your great-grandmother’s attic.
With an impending downpour, we walked through town and then took refuge at the Bucks County Playhouse on the back porch with a private view of the Delaware River. Unfortunately, we there learned that we had just missed the morning’s big Gay Pride Festival and therefore, the town was now empty. We took a long break from the rain, but soon ventured out to get soaked on the way to dinner. With a few minutes to spare, we ducked inside The “A” Space Gallery to be friendlily welcomed by the artist, Saul Lyons, himself with wine, snacks and a personal tour of his work.
Finally, we ended the jam-packed day of adventure with a vegetarian dinner at Sprig & Vine. This cozy restaurant was delicious with complex meals and healthy drinks, such as loose-leaf tea and kombucha. My jasmine rice cakes and asparagus with a sesame-ginger sauce were amazing!
Skippack was originally the inspiration for our visit to this area of Pennsylvania, but the town itself was a bit smaller than the others we visited on Saturday. We enjoyed a nice diner breakfast at Mal’s American Diner. The town itself was spread along one busier road and so it felt a little less cohesive.
The best part of Skippack for us was our hike in Evansburg State Park right nearby. The woods felt wonderfully refreshing for three city girls. We spent about 2.5 hours total walking down a trail and back, enjoying the serenity of the green trees and the small creek on one side. Of course, we did need to spice up our walk with some tunes, as well. Despite the impending rain, the State Park was full of people an even offers horseback riding along the trails. I think the highlight for us may have been seeing two women with a 3-week-old puppy. First the puppy greeted us and then bounded down towards the creek to have its first experience discovering water 🙂
Our last stop before departing was Phoenixville, a slightly larger town full again of local businesses. On our drive in, a large pub with outdoor rocking tables immediately drew our attention. We followed our hearts there and had a nice, classic meal at The Great America Pub to enjoy our last moments together. Of course, we spent a lot of the meal swinging back and forth and praying for the rain to hold off a little bit longer.
All of a sudden, the weekend was over and it was time to make the trek home. This area of Pennsylvania is nicely located a little under 2 hours from New York City, making it a really easy weekend trip. Not only was the pace of the area a nice contrast from the big city, but also the area is beautiful between the quaint towns and gorgeous, historic homes. After two weekends now with some same two friends when it’s rare for us to now all be together, I have fully learned the following lessons:
- A weekend is as long as you want it to be.
- Never be deterred by a rainy forecast.
- Travel with friends who have similar interests (for us—be outdoors, smaller towns, coffee shops, good food and good nights of sleep).
- Share your itinerary and be flexible.
- Enjoy the time together first, then the location is just a bonus.
Now, on to my next international adventure– stay tuned for Argentina and Colombia!