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Where to Go for Amazing Outdoor Adventures a Short Trip from Philly

Musikfest® | Ted Colgrove, courtesy DiscoverLehighValley.com

Everything’s better with some sunshine–as long as you can find a spot that combines the lovely weather with amazing attractions, whether natural or not. Fortunately, you don’t have to hop on a plane to experience the great outdoors, world-class music festivals, or some of the best breweries and wineries with outdoor seating on the East Coast. Only an hour from Philadelphia but full of wide open spaces, Lehigh Valley has become a hub for all of that — and more. Here’s where to head for your perfect summer trip. 

Easton Twilight Criterium | Adam Hoff, courtesy DiscoverLehighValley.com

Get Festive

Whether you’re more into biking or brews, Lehigh Valley has a festival for everyone. 

Cycling enthusiasts, families and casual spectators alike will want to catch the Easton Twilight Criterium, a high-speed, adrenaline-fueled cycling race through the streets of historic downtown Easton in late May. Post up outside one of Easton’s local bars or restaurants to see professional cyclists from around the world whiz by. 

In June, the annual Blues, Brews, & Barbecue festival in downtown Allentown brings together some of the best blues musicians from around the country to perform on multiple stages throughout one festive Saturday. As the name suggests, you can pair your music with a brew from one of Lehigh Valley’s local breweries — see below for some insider recommendations —  and indulge in tasty barbecue from local vendors. As an added bonus, the festival is completely free.

For a bit of theatre this summer, check out Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival for outdoor performances of “The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised] [Again]” on the campus of DeSales University in Center Valley. The family-friendly three-person comedy runs from June 28 to July 16. The Festival runs all summer long and features “The Tempest,” “In the Heights” and more. 

People from around the country fly in for Bethlehem’s famed Musikfest® each August, so Philadelphians are lucky to be an easy drive away. The largest free music festival in the country, the 10-day event features over 500 performances across 17 stages. In addition to the countless free acts, the Wind Creek Steel Stage also hosts daily ticketed headliners, showcasing some of the biggest names in music and entertainment. This year, you can catch Maren Morris, the Goo Goo Dolls, Walker Hays, Gabriel Iglesias and more. If you can’t make it to Musikfest®, check out the Levitt Pavilion Summer Concert Series, a free outdoor concert series that runs all summer long—set at the base of the iconic Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces.

Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor

Get Outdoors  

If the Easton Twilight Criterium inspired you to get active, there is no shortage of opportunities to soak up the great outdoors in Lehigh Valley. The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor (known to locals as “The D&L Trail”) offers an opportunity to hike, bike, paddle, walk and run alongside historic sites—spanning 165 miles in total (48 of them in Lehigh Valley.) You can even namasté on a stand-up paddle board at guided yoga on the Lehigh River. 

Or, try Hawk Mountain in Kempton, which has something for everyone, ranging from challenging rocky trails that reward you with spectacular views, to a new handicapped accessible trail suitable for wheelchairs and strollers. 

Clover Hill Vineyards & Winery

Get a Taste 

Designated as an American Viticultural Area, Lehigh Valley is home to more than 30 wineries, known for signature varietals such as Chambourcin, Riesling, Vidal Blanc and Cayuga White. Not sure where to begin? The five family-owned wineries that make up the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail are a good place to start. 

If brews are more your speed, Lehigh Valley has you covered there too with more than 20 craft breweries. If you’re an IPA-obsessive, make your way to Two Rivers Brewing in Easton for Colonial Left Eye IPA, or Yergey Brewing in Emmaus for Hoptileitious Double IPA.  Try Bonn Place on the South Side in Bethlehem for “Mooey,” an English-style pub ale, HiJinx Brewing in Allentown for Steal Your Face Stout, or Weyerbacher Brewery in Easton for Blithering Idiot. And if you’re looking for something a little more unusual, head to Taylor House Brewing in Catasauqua for Madame Fantome Belgian White and Fegley’s Brew Works in Bethlehem for Space Monkey. 

Round out your tipsy tour with a stop at one of Lehigh Valley’s unique local distilleries for handcrafted spirits. The region’s deep roots are reflected in Hidden Copper Bourbon at County Seat Spirits in Allentown, a nod to the city’s role in hiding the Liberty Bell during the Revolutionary War; as well as in the classic barrel-aged Applejack at Eight Oaks Farm Distillery in New Tripoli, made with locally-sourced apple cider. Other standouts include White Witch Spiced Rum made with vanilla, cinnamon, orange peel, anise and cardamom at Social Still in Bethlehem, and a barrel-aged rum at Triple Sun Spirits in Emmaus–a blend of molasses, oak, vanilla and Caribe fruits.