Reporting Michael Barkann
While the drive from Philadelphia to Little Tinicum Island, in Delaware County, takes only 30 minutes, it provides travelers with hundreds of points of interest. It is the same route taken by Revolutionary War General Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau, who marched his French troops through Philadelphia to Baltimore to join forces with Gen. George Washington at Yorktown. The Delaware River Valley, once home of the Okehocking, a tribe of Lenni Lenape Native Americans, called “The Delawares” by English settlers, is the home to the first Pennsylvania settlement founded by Swedes, in 1638, prior to the arrival of William Penn in 1682. Today, visitors can experience everything from dinosaurs to a modern casino.
From Philadelphia, take I-676 East onto the Vine Street Expressway, keeping right at the fork and following signs for I-95 S/Chester/Philadelphia International Airport. Merge onto I-95 South and take exit 9A to merge onto PA-420 S/Wanamaker Avenue toward Essington. Turn left onto PA-291 east and take the first right onto Jansen Avenue a, then a left onto Front Street. Continue onto Poulson Avenue, which will take you to Essington, Pa. Little Tinicum Island is located in the Delaware River.
Little Tinicum Island
William Penn State Forest
Little Tinicum Island, part of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, consists of scrub forest and areas with a variety of vegetation, including wild rice, water hemp ragweed and Walter’s barnyard grass. It is ringed by tidal freshwater wetlands that are perfect for exploring. Don’t miss the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge and Gov. Printz Park, the site of the first permanent European settlement in Pennsylvania, which served as the capital of New Sweden in the mid-17th century. A bit farther up the river is Lazaretto, known as the Ellis Island of Pennsylvania. Camping is permitted on the island.
Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack
777 Harrah’s Boulevard
Chester, PA 19013
With 100,000 square feet of gaming space, Harrah’s Philadelphia offers guests classic slot machines, such as Wheel of Fortune, Jackpot Party, World Series of Poke and Electronic Blackjack. If classic blackjack or poker are your forte, Harrah’s offers a 35-table World Series of Poker room. Craps, roulette, baccarat and other table games are available. Take a break from the gaming tables to dine at one of the restaurants and bars, ranging from End Zone Sports Bar & Grill to the bounty of Temptations Buffet. The Cove offers a Tuscan-inspired dinner menu and a signature tapas menu at the Cover bar. A relatively new cuisine option is provided by Mien, which features Asian favorites such as Vietnamese pho soup and five-spice beef, along with entrees including Korean beef short rib and xo fried rice. After a satisfying and relaxing meal, take in harness racing on one of the fastest 5/8-mile tracks in North America. When dusk arrives, take in a live show featuring many of the country’s favorite comedians, singers and bands.
Dino Don’s Dinosaurium
1067 W. Baltimore Pike
Granite Run Mall (lower Level)
Media, PA 19063
Price: $5 adults, children and seniors/free children 2 and younger
Whether you’re a child or an adult, if you dig dinosaurs, you should visit Dino Don’s Dinosaurium in Media, Pa., where you may actually dig for fossils and keep what you find. The creation of Dino Don Lessem, the author of more than 50 books on dinosaurs and natural history, the Dinosaurium features skulls of tyrannosaurs rex, allosaurus, albertosaurus, deinonychus and velociraptor. The dinosaur skeleton collection includes a carnivorous, 30-foot yanchuanosaurus, a carnivorous 15-foot sichuanosaurus, a 17-foot carnivorous monolophosaurus, a seven-foot carnivorous velociraptor (made famous in the Jurassic Park movies) and two herbivores–a six-foot bactosaurus and an 18-foot yunnanosaurus. There are a number of interactive exhibits, including a touchable collection of dinosaur teeth and claws, the Dino Dig Pit, Dino Hunters Shooting Gallery for kids, and the Jurassic Park Dino, which includes tyrannosaurs rex, triceratops and stegosaurus.
221 Market St.
Marcus Hook, PA 19061
Aye matey, there be pirates in Marcus Hook. The mission of the Marcus Hook Preservation Society, which owns the Plank House, is to preserve the unique history of the area where the infamous pirate, Edward Teach (better known as Blackbeard) often anchored to visit his mistress, a Swedish woman named Margaret. While in Marcus Hook, visit the famous Market Square Park. Bring a fishing rod and try your luck off of a municipal pier.
Related: Top Pirate Weekends
John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
8601 Lindbergh Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19153
The refuge, named for the late U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, John Heinz, promises an ideal day outdoors. Established in 1972 to protect Tinicum Marsh, the last 200 acres of freshwater tidal marsh in Pennsylvania, the refuge, which will encompass 1,200 acres of varied habitat when land acquisition is completed, is home to more than 300 species of birds, including two American bald eagles, fox, deer, muskrat, turtles, frogs and fish. In addition to educational programs, bicycling, hiking, photography, canoeing (in designated areas) and fishing (also in designated areas) make this a great day out for the whole family. Even pets (on leashes) are allowed! Educational programs include bald eagle walks.
117 Timerlane Road
Clarksboro, NJ 08020
Price: from $38 to $48
A 20-acre family-owned and operated campground, this site includes both open and wooded sites. Its fishing pond is home to ducks and swans and is perfect for kids to play and enjoy the outdoors. Timberlane also offers a game room, a playground, a batting cage and swimming pools. Attractions nearby include the Delaware Valley Shoreline Museum, the Walt Whitman House, and other historical and cultural venues.
A Taste of Key West Bar & Restaurant
410 S. Swarthmore Ave.
Ridley Park, PA 19078
Located on the waterfront in Ridley Township Municipal Marina, A Taste of Key West captures the tropical atmosphere of Margaritaville. The Hideaway Bar and Restaurant by the water features an old-school, quaint, indoor and outdoor dining experience. Weekend live entertainment is provided on Beach Stage. The menu includes the Conch Republic Spicy Crap Soup and Islamorada Conch Soup, seafood appetizers, burgers, hot dogs, chicken and fish sandwiches, along with the Atlantic Shores Cheese Steak and the Hemingway Chicken Cutlet Sandwich.
246 Wanamaker Ave.
Essington, PA 19029
The legend of the stromboli dates back to 1898 with the birth of Nazzereno “Nat” Romano, in Aquila, Italy. After fleeing the Mussolini regime in 1927, Romano emigrated to the U.S. through Ellis Island. In the 1950s, after moving to Essington and opening a pizzeria, Romano created his secret dough recipe, filled it with Italian meats and delicious cheeses, rolled it up and baked it. While famous for the stromboli, Romano’s menu also features pizza, the South Philly tomato pie, salads, soups and dinner selections including spaghetti, capellini and linguine. Prices range from $7.25 for a boli to $23 for spaghetti with clam sauce and twin Maryland crab cakes.
Jeffrey B. Roth, has won numerous state and national news and feature-writing awards during his career. A well-known crime writer, investigative reporter and a feature writer, Roth writes for a number of magazines and newspapers. Listed in the Locus Index of SciFi and Fantasy authors, Roth is the author of a number of published short stories and poetry. His work can be found on Examiner.com.