Corey from Havertown writes: This year, we can’t afford a long vacation. So instead, we’re looking to take several nearby day trips. Any suggestions?
Thanks, Corey. There’s nothing wrong with exploring and supporting our local habitat, and as you’ll soon learn, we have quite a few special destinations to savor.
Saint Peters Village
Just a few eateries and shops exist here, on the fringe of Chester County, yet there’s nearly a full day’s worth of fun. You can scale the ancient black granite boulders along the lush French Creek and then stop into the Inn at Saint Peter’s Village for a casual dinner or drinks on the canopied deck. A favorite of mine is the Saint Peter’s Bakery, offering light fare for breakfast and lunch, plus scrumptious dessert items. A few doors down, duck into the Village Scoop for some tasty ice cream. Saint Peters has a tiny shop that showcases old pinball machines, while another one gives ghost tours. A glassblower’s studio/shop is just down the road. This blink-and-you’ll-miss-it village offers quite a lot.
East Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia
My friends and I found a free parking space along 11th Street and walked a block to get to this much-overlooked slice of true Philadelphia (the neighborhood is clean and safe). On East Passyunk (the locals say “Pash-yunk”), we enjoyed what’s been touted as “the best pasta in Philadelphia” at the highly rated Le Virtù, along with potent margaritas at Cantina Los Caballitos and delicate Japanese maki rolls at Izumi. We finally ended up at Fond, a special little New American BYO, enjoying seared duck and the yummiest cannoli ever. Visit visiteastpassyunk.com.
Booth’s Corner Farmers Market
Located in Garnet Valley, Booth’s Corner is a total throwback—picture what 1960 was like, add a generous helping of Pennsylvania Dutch overtones, a dash of nostalgia, and you have this weekends-only stop for bargain hunters and chowhounds. The indoor marketplace is replete with gift and specialty shops. It also boasts an array of “simple foods” eateries and farm stands, including Dutch Country Twists (awesome soft pretzels!), Stoltzfus BBQ (the real deal), and Cajun Kate’s counter (arguably the most authentic New Orleans-style cuisine this side of the Mason-Dixon Line). Visit boothscorner.com.
Marsh Creek Lake
Our Southeastern Pennsy neck of the woods has its share of streams, creeks and ponds. To enjoy larger aquatic bodies, though, watersports fans are seemingly out of luck. Not true. Just northwest of Exton, Marsh Creek State Park offers a splashy slice of fun, thanks to one of the largest lakes in the region (535 acres). You can rent all modes of waterway locomotion: sailboat, windsurfer, kayak, canoe, paddleboard, electric motorboat. It’s all available during the day (April-October) and at affordable pricing. Or climb aboard the Lady Tour, a 12-person pontoon boat, to learn about the historical and environmental bounty of this attractive park. There’s also fishing, hiking, horseback riding, and picnicking. Visit marshcreeklake.com.
The Tiki Bar
The closer of the two Tiki Bars is in Schwenksville, but I recommend the one just west of Boyertown. At either one, though, you’ll find big grills to cook your own chicken, steaks, swordfish, elk, ostrich, alligator and other gamy cuts, while enjoying cold beers, margaritas and hurricanes. It’s an experience right out of a Jimmy Buffett song, shakers of salt and all. Visit tikibarpa.com.