Be Well Family: Fun Family Getaways Near Philadelphia
Every year, about this time — that is, after the winter’s done but before the true beach weather hits — we tend to get a little antsy, a little restless. Ready for an escape, ready to hit the road. Enter, the quickie weekend getaway: Something driveable, something fun, something simple, something that’s just not Philly. And that’s exactly what we’ve got here — four weekend getaways perfect for families who want to get the heck outta dodge (without a ton of effort or a plane ride).
Drive time: 3 hours, 15 minutes
Weekend getaways before kids were all about sleeping late, eating well, drinking a lot, and doing something adventurous during the day. Weekend trips with kids? Well, it’s a success if you can do just one of those things. At Woodstock, the odds are in your favor. The adorable town nestled in the hills of New York state offers hiking, biking, row-boating and tons of creeks for skipping rocks. (There are also a few animal sanctuaries that the kids will love.) But our favorite bit is the downtown, whose hippy vibe translates to great restaurants with healthy food, plus good beer virtually everywhere you go and plenty of juice bars. The shopping is quality, too, with fun toy stores, quirky antiques, and clothes and jewelry boutiques that are way better than the offerings in your average vacation town. (Psst … Fun fact: The eponymous concert was actually never held in Woodstock. The town brass balked after they heard how many people were expected and so it was held in a random field in nearby Bethel.)
Where to stay: Woodstock Way, an adorable set of refurbished cabins steps away from all the shopping and eating. Bring balls and bikes and outdoor stuff to do.
Skytop Lodge Resort in the Poconos
Drive time: Roughly three hours
The drive to the Poconos is quite pretty, but it’s nothing compared to the destination: Skytop is both gorgeous and huuuuuuge, with acres and acres of grounds to wander. And while the 1928 estate looks quite grand (Is it more evocative of The Shining or Dirty Dancing? Your call.), it’s actually a very laid-back place. Rooms are nicely appointed, but not so fussy or fancy that you’re afraid to actually bring your children. (They have cribs on loan, should you need one.) It’s a family resort in the most traditional sense, so the staff is used to kids running around, and there’s a big game room with mini-golf and arcade games, as well as an indoor pool, an ice-cream parlor, and two small outdoor playgrounds. There are bikes to borrow, a lake for swimming, tons of hiking trails, paintball, a zip-line adventure course, hayrides, tennis, golf, rock-climbing, horseback riding, naturalist-led nature walks, fishing … the whole deal. The main dining room at the resort is formal in the sense that there are no jeans, shorts, hats or t-shirts allowed (and men must wear jackets on Saturday nights), but there is also a more casual pub open for lunch and supper — and even in the somewhat upscale main dining room, servers are used to (and kind to) children.
Where to stay: You have a few options for accommodations. There is a main lodge (a massive, grand building) and cabins for rent. (We stayed in the main lodge, because we liked the easy access to the main desk, the game room and the dining!) But the cabins offer much privacy and more space, which is a nice option.
Princeton and Hopewell, NJ
Drive Time: Less than an hour
There is so much to love about this area of Central Jersey. First, it’s about as Americana as it gets, with rolling farmland, teensy post offices and kids playing on lawns. Next, Princeton is one of those picturesque college towns that makes even those who went to city schools nostalgic for the good old days. And third, there is a ton for families to do. There’s Terhune Orchards for pick-your-own and animal petting; there are walks and bike rides and kayaking on the D+R Canal; there’s walking and shopping on Nassau Street; there are awesome playgrounds and great places to eat, like Brick Farm Market and Thomas Sweet Ice Cream, where Oreos and cream is to die for.
Where to stay: The Nassau Inn and Peacock Inn are upscale but not formal, and both put you in walking distance of downtown.
Drive time: Roughly 5 hours
Okay, so no, Newport doesn’t immediately strike you as a place that screams “kid-friendly,” but the charming little seaside town provides more than enough family entertainment if we’re talking about a three-day weekend escape. There’s the famed Cliff Walk, a meandering, easy hike with gorgeous ocean views, and a nice way to wear out some little legs before nap time. The same could be said for running/picnicking/kite-flying on any of the many beaches — and Easton Beach in particular is great because in addition to the sand and surf, there’s the charming and kid-friendly Exploration Center and Aquarium, as well as a historic carousel. There’s also any number of boat rides that tour the harbor, including Save the Bay Seal and Nature Tours (which go for about an hour, and are great for littles and older kids alike). Downtown’s Thames Street is fun to walk and wander — there are a few ice cream parlors and an arcade to be found among the shops, and there’s also a handful of nearby pub-and-grill-type places that are perfectly suitable for families, mixed in among the more upscale spots. Speaking of upscale: If you’ve got the type of kids who’ll enjoy a mansion tour, Newport definitely won’t let you down on that front. (Word is The Breakers has an audio tour that’s especially engaging for children.)
Where to stay: The beautiful Hotel Viking is ideally situated in the middle of downtown, and it’s also family-friendly, with crib and rollaway bed options, coloring books for the kids, a game room, indoor pool, even a kid’s spa menu (!).
Be Well Family is a collaboration with Wee Wander, a site dedicated to helping Philadelphia parents navigate their city. See more in this series here, or keep up with all of Wee Wander’s tips, guides and Philly related parenting help on Facebook.
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