By Cara O’Donnell Summer 2021
Let’s face it – we’ve all been cooped up for too long after a year of quarantine. Summer of 2021 is going to be a summer to explore and discover something new. And, of course, some of those treasures are right around the corner here in Pennsylvania. Hit the road and find incredible opportunities that may be just outside the well-known spots we know and love.
Begin your weekend the way Philadelphia’s elite did in Colonial days – step outside the bustle of downtown and venture to Chestnut Hill, just 25 minutes from Center City, but full of charm and green space. Germantown Avenue is the “Main Street,” where the cobblestone streets lead you to independent boutiques, galleries, gourmet shops, cozy bistros, and more.
At the center is Chestnut Hill Hotel (chestnuthillhotel.com), which has been on this spot since the 1770s and is the place for a romantic stay. The current structure was built in the late 1800s, and it has seen numerous renovations and restorations over the years. Most recently, renovations restored the hotel’s original grandeur.
Craft beer fans don’t miss Chestnut Hill Brewing Company (chestnuthillbrewingcompany.com) at the hotel – its pizza and beer menu is all local – beer brewed on-site; fresh, local ingredients; and a loyal clientele always willing to share menu favorites. For an evening that’s a bit more exotic, try the seasonal tasting menus at nearby Mica (micarestaurant.com), a small BYOB spot that turns local ingredients into incredible dishes. Grab a table in the library or outside on the patio for a romantic evening.
For day 2 of your getaway, be sure to stop by Market at the Fareway (marketatthefareway.com), just steps outside the hotel. Get there early; this historic market features fresh, socially responsible local foods from high-quality artisans, and it’s the ideal spot for supplies for the next part of the day.
Once you’ve bid farewell to Chestnut Hill, head west to the famous Valley Forge National Historical Park (nps.gov/vafo) and enjoy a simple picnic in the park with your finds from the market. The park is enormous, with 35 miles of designated, marked hiking trails and many more open areas to discover. It’s not unusual to walk down a quiet wooded path only to emerge overlooking a vast meadow with dozens of deer peacefully grazing. Among the fields and historic landmarks, you can’t help but feel a sense of peaceful solitude here – like it’s just the two of you.
Later in the afternoon, head to nearby Conshohocken and the George Washington Wood B&B (georgewwoodbnb.com), a grand 1882 home in the center of town that opened in 2019 as a B&B. Each of the five guest rooms provides a unique twist. The innkeepers also offer a variety of packages that include everything from a bottle of champagne to spa experiences to make your stay even more special.
For dinner, make it a casual evening at Coyote Crossing (coyotecrossing.com), a favorite spot for locals for traditional Mexican dishes from old family recipes and fantastic cocktails (tip: try the prickly pear margarita). Sit on the patio and enjoy the summer evening before heading back to the inn for the night.
It’s about an hour from the GWW to your next destination in scenic Erwinna, but take your time and explore. Heading into Bucks County will bring you into some gorgeous countryside. Take the afternoon to visit some of the area’s romantic covered bridges for a perfect photo op, or stop by Sand Castle Winery (sandcastlewinery.com) along the way for a tasting and tour. Check out the Johannisburg Dry Riesling; it’s perfect for a summer day.
By afternoon arrive at the Golden Pheasant Inn (goldenpheasant.com), which recently reopened after a grand renovation. Each room at this historic inn is decorated with a blend of antique and updated furnishings, with special getaway rates offered through the end of August when you reserve a suite.
It’s been a long day of exploring, so enjoy the fantastic French cuisine on-site at the Golden Pheasant, where you can savor fine dining in the main dining room or the lighter Brasserie for more casual fare. Either way, the dishes are spectacular, from classic moules frites to roast duck with lyonnaise potatoes.
After a gourmet breakfast, complete your getaway journey with a drive through the countryside, try some kayaking along the Delaware, or head to nearby New Hope for some small-town charm and elegance. Take your time. Relax. It’s a gorgeous time of year in the countryside.