Escape from the city, carless Philadelphian edition
August 11, 2014 10:21 AM   Subscribe

What fun, cheap, PUBLIC TRANSIT OR BIKE ACCESSIBLE day trip can my friend and I take from Philadelphia this week?

My friend and I have matching days off, for once in our lives, and we want to take a day trip together. We have one serious constraint though; neither of us has a driver's license. Quick google searches for 'day trip from Philadelphia' turn up a lot of suggestions that assume access to a car. Much as we'd both like to go to Longwood Gardens or New Hope, that's not gonna work here.

Things we'd be into; pretty gardens or parks to walk around in, a cute walkable downtown or walkable standalone restaurant with reasonably priced lunch, relaxing, non-city feel. Maybe a museum or historical site if the admission cost is free or low. I have to be back in Philly by six; assume we meet up around 9, get to our destination by 10 or a little after, and turn back between 4 and 5 depending on how far out we are and whether we're biking or SEPTA-ing.

Things I'm thinking about:

-Mercer Museum: This looks awesome, but the admission price plus lunch and a round-trip ticket to Doylestown is a little more money than we were thinking.
-Hike in the Wissahickon; we both love doing this and will do it again if we can't think of anything else, but we've been here a bunch before.
-Bike ride to Valley Forge on the Schuylkill River Trail. We're both good but very slow cyclists. My main worry here is that we wouldn't be able to go out and back in time for me to be back in the city by six. Maybe a more modest ride?
-A bus-accessible Jersey Shore town. Potentially awesome, but same concerns about the timing.

Any other can't miss things I haven't thought of?
posted by ActionPopulated to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Come to Collingswood!!!! Great little downtown, restaurants, coffee shops. May be tough to fill a day though. Newton Creek park is nearby, you can fish if you have a license. No museums unfortunately. Patco is reliable and the train ride from Collingswood to 8th and Market is about 15 minutes. If its a Saturday we have a killer farmers market.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:31 AM on August 11, 2014

Currently live in suburbs of Philly and Biking/hiking the wissahickon is my fav thing to do.
You could potentially take the Schuylkill River trail one way and take the train back Conschohocken/Norrsitown train stations are very close to the trail.

If you wanted to go farther for day trips, there are buses that will take you to the jersey shore, Atlantic city or rehoboth etc and bring you back the same day and leave from the city.

As far as bus trips go, Baltimore and NYC are well within day trip of mega bus that day and back.

Memail me if you want more information.
posted by radsqd at 10:46 AM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

There are about 40 gardens, arboretums and the like in the Philly area, so its easy if you are into that sort of thing. For instance, you can take SEPTA to Swarthmore. The college campus is adjacent to the train station and is an arboretum.

Personally, I'd stay in Philly and visit the Independence Seapot Museum and the other attractions at Penn's Landing, 'cuz I'm into boats.
posted by SemiSalt at 11:56 AM on August 11, 2014

Do you have to stay in Philly? Amtrak or Acela to Washington, D.C. Or NYC can be done from 30th street station for a nice day trip - plus both of those cities have awesome public transit to get you where you want to go.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 12:03 PM on August 11, 2014

The Schuylkill River Trail is delightful. Valley Forge is okay. What I'm saying is that a day-trip bike ride to Valley Forge and back would be a dream, but 90% of the joy would be in the journey. Set yourself a goal of just riding to Manayunk or Conshohocken and then, depending on how you're doing when you get there, you can just push on to Valley Forge.

When you say "good, but very slow cyclists" do you mean that you have endurance but not speed? Because even an extremely slow cyclist should be able to do that Philly to Valley Forge and back in 6 hours easy. A fast cyclist could do it in 2.
posted by 256 at 1:51 PM on August 11, 2014

Amtrack to Atlantic City is only $10!(leave from 30th St). It's a little further than you were asking though (1.5 hours I think)
posted by bearette at 2:50 PM on August 11, 2014

Regional Rail (Chestnut Hill West) to Chestnut Hill (get off at Chestnut Hill West) or Mt Airy (get off at Allens Lane) is nice! You can also take the 23 bus from mt airy to chestnut hill or vice versa. There are pleasant shops, cafes, restaurants, and interesting architecture around. Also lots of trees.
posted by bearette at 2:52 PM on August 11, 2014

Princeton? Public transportation options, sculptures and beautiful scenery on the University campus, Princeton Record Exchange to pick through, plenty of places for lunch and ice cream.
posted by thirdletter at 4:48 PM on August 11, 2014

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