6 Drivable Destinations Filled With History Near the Philly Suburbs

Love a vacation filled with history? There’s plenty to see at these hotspots less than three hours from the Main Line region.

Carpenters’ Hall

Marquee attractions like the Liberty Bell and the National Constitution Center make it easy to overlook Carpenters’ Hall on your Philadelphia itinerary. The building hosted the First Continental Congress in 1774 and was also home to Franklin’s Library Company, the American Philosophical Society and the First and Second Banks of the United States. After a fire broke out in the basement, restoration is in the works to gear up for the hall’s 250th anniversary this year. 320 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, (215) 925-0167, carpentershall.org.

Carpenter's Hall
Adobe Stock/ Zack Frank

New Castle Historic District

Founded by Dutch settlers in the 1650s, this riverfront town is a lesser-known gem with ties to our nation’s pre-Revolutionary beginnings. An audio walking tour is available online, so grab your headphones and begin your route in the garden of the Amstel House. The narrator provides directions to over 30 historic stops. 30 Market St., New Castle, Delaware, (302) 322-2794, newcastlehistory.org.

New Castle
Adobe Stock/ spiritofamerica

Washington Crossing Historic Park

Over 500 acres serve as a memorial to the site where George Washington crossed the Delaware River, a major turning point in the Revolutionary War. Reenactments happen every December, but visitors are welcome to explore the many historic homes and buildings year-round. 1112 River Road, Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, (215) 493-4076, washingtoncrossingpark.org.

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Historic George Washington
Adobe Stock/ Tony Baggett

Ephrata Cloister

Conrad Beissel came to Lancaster County in 1732, looking to live as a hermit in pursuit of his religious ideals. Nearly 80 celibate men and women called his cloister home in the 1750s, prepping for a heavenly existence with white robes, a sparse diet and little sleep. Wednesday–Sunday, guests can tour the modest structures on site. 632 W. Main St., Ephrata, Pennsylvania, (717) 733-6600, ephratacloister.org.

Ephrata Cloister
Adobe Stock/ World Travel Photos

Ellis Island

Beginning in 1892, over 12 million immigrants came through New York City’s immigration station. Accessible by ferries departing from Manhattan and New Jersey, Liberty Island is home of the Statue of Liberty and its museum, along with the Ellis Island National Immigration Museum. New York, New York, (212) 561-4588, statueofliberty.org.

Historic Ellis Island
Adobe Stock/ iofoto

Tenement Museum

Get a taste of where working-class immigrant families spent their new lives when they first came to America with a guided tour of two historic buildings. The new A Union of Hope: 1869 exhibit shares the story of Joseph and Rachel Moore, a Black couple who lived in a Lower Manhattan tenement in the 1800s. 103 Orchard St., New York, NY, (877) 975-3786, tenement.org.

Tenement Museum
Photo by Yan Layhiff

Related: Your Guide to the Main Line Area’s Museums, Theaters and More

Our Best of the Main Line Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!