Reporting Jay Lloyd
The idea of a Sunday drive in the country was to get away from the familiar yet stay within an hour of home and just enjoy a leisurely day of meandering. But having a destination in mind creates a bit of pleasant anticipation, especially for the kids. So, off we go starting with a spot that symbolizes the very beginnings of the “Sunday Drive.” – Jay Lloyd
A scenic drive on Route 73 as you cross into Berks County brings you to the picture postcard town of Boyertown. There’s a clock tower, an old movie theater and a streetscape that evokes scenes from “Back to the Future”. In fact, the borough recently held a Back-to-the-Future celebration complete with a couple of DeLorean cars. It’s not to say that the town is car crazy, but much of America’s early automotive industry was centered in this part of Pennsylvania. Speaking of, Boyertown is the site of the fascinating Museum of Historic Vehicles. Here’s a chance for the kids to see a rumble seat and imagine a Sunday drive in one. You’ll find an array of cars bearing names you never knew existed – many are one-of-a-kind – and the displays include an entire 40s era diner. Take a peek at boyertownmuseum.org for more information. Then, after a morning wandering the museum and strolling the town, take a country drive on Route 562, stop at farm stands and arrive for lunch at the Yellow House Hotel, an 18th century inn that still has a hitching-post if you arrive on horseback.
VALLEY FORGE NATIONAL PARK
As the Revolutionary War spilled over from 1777 to 1778, George Washington chose Valley Forge, overlooking the Schuylkill River, for his winter encampment. Today, many of the structures that housed Washington and his men have been restored and are open for visitors. A drive around the park’s periphery offers pristine countryside and views of the terrain Washington planned to defend. Parking is plentiful and paths through the encampment are ideal for cycling. There’s a convenient visitor center with displays of Revolutionary era artifacts and the terminal for a trolley service that moves visitors around the park without the need for driving. Get on and off at any of the key stops – Washington’s HQ, the Memorial Chapel and soldiers huts. There are spots here for picnic lunches, and King of Prussia and Phoenixville restaurants are nearby.
For a leisurely drive on country roads amid horse farms, manicured lawns, wineries, picturesque streams and history, it would be hard to find a more unspoiled piece of geography. You could spend a week and not absorb all this unique valley has to offer, but one of the most interesting is the Brandywine River Museum and its collection of Wyeth family art, including the iconic illustrations for Treasure Island and other classics. Longwood Gardens, the region’s highly regarded horticultural oasis, fills the eye with topiary displays and tropical growth, rare floral displays and frequent evening events from concerts to light shows. The Brandywine Battlefield takes us back to Revolutionary days and a stop at the Chaddsford Winery is a primer on the art of local wine-making. Nearby Kennett Square has become a restaurant hub. For specific directions to the many interesting spots in the Brandywine Valley, here’s where to look: www.thebrandywine.com/about/getting_here.html
RIVER ROAD – BUCKS COUNTY
You can’t talk about Sunday Drives without setting wheels on River Road (Route 32) in Bucks County. It follows the Delaware River right into the Lehigh Valley. Along the way, you’ll pass through the hamlet of Point Pleasant for picnics on the river bank. The Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville attracts couples looking for a romantic getaway. Here, they can stay overnight and enjoy river view dining and candlelit cocktails. The main event in this area is still the bustling borough of New Hope with its professional theater, The Bucks County Playhouse, a profusion of eclectic restaurants and a unique collection of boutique shops that are largely devoted to local art and crafts.
There’s a lot to explore off the beaten track on any of these Sunday Drives, and a GPS or smartphone will always get you back to a central point.