Travel & Outdoors

Top Places To See Autumn Leaves In Philadelphia

October 6, 2012 7:00 AM

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(credit:  Phran Novelli)

(credit: Phran Novelli)

Every year, Pennsylvania hardwood forests erupt into a rich autumn color palette, from vivid yellows to deep crimsons. The state’s name, which translates to “Penn’s Woods” is apt, as evidenced by the abundant forests within an hour’s drive of Philadelphia. Whether travelers drive north, south or west for breathtaking mountain and lowland vistas, the whole area is decked out in nature’s fall finery. Bucks County is a favorite destination for nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike. A picturesque route that includes the 12 remaining covered bridges in the county, it’s a great way to see nature’s seasonal show.
Getting There

From Philadelphia, go west on Market Street to North Juniper Street/PA-611 north; turn right onto North Juniper Street; then left onto John F. Kennedy Boulevard/PA-611 north; turn right onto North Broad Street/PA-611 north; merge onto Vine Street Expressway/I-676 east/US-30 east; merge onto I-95 north at the left exit toward Trenton; take Street Road exit 37 toward PA-132; turn left onto Street Road (if you reach I-95 north you have driven about two miles too far). The Bucks County Visitors Center at 3207 Street Road, Bensalem, is a great place to get an itinerary map. Start the tour at the Memorial Building at Washington Crossing State Park.

Washington Crossing Historic Park
PO Box 103
Washington Crossing, PA 18966
(215) 493-4076
www.ushistory.org/

Price: $9 tour of Thompson-Neely House and Bowman’s Hill Tower/$5 individual tours

Washington Crossing Historic Park, located on the Delaware River, is where General George Washington and the Continental Army crossed the Delaware River by boat to launch the 1776 Christmas attack on Hessian troops encamped at Trenton, N.J. It’s also the perfect place to see fall foliage sans super-modern architecture. Stop first at the Memorial Building and Visitor Center, where you can get information about the park, view a documentary on the famous attack, and buy tickets for guided tours of the site. From the Memorial building, go north on Route 32 to Lurgan Road, turn left onto Van Sant Road, and then go right, traveling six miles to the Van Sant Bridge. This bridge is sometimes referred to as the Beaver Dam Bridge. The last bridge on the circular route is the Scholfield Ford Bridge, which crosses the Neshaminy Creek at Tyler State Park. A replica of the bridge that burned in the mid-1990s, it is the longest of the remaining covered bridges. Among the historic sites are the Durham boat house, which is a replica of the boathouse where Gen. George Washington obtained the boats that were used to haul iron at the time. View the McConkey’s Ferry Inn, which was the site of a river ferry operation during the Revolutionary War. Other historic buildings located nearby are the Mahlon K. Taylor House, the Taylorsville Store, the Hibbs House and the Frye House.

Related: Top Fall Festivals In Philly

Washington Crossing Inn
1295 General Washington Blvd.
Washington Crossing, PA 18977
(215) 493-3634
www.washingtoncrossinginn.com

From the late 1600s through 1834, Washington Crossing Inn was a ferry crossing business and the site of a tavern and inn for travelers. Its patio-garden makes it the perfect place to stay, dine and see the fall leaves. In the 1930s, the Haven family opened an inn at this location. The home was renovated and a lobby and ballroom was added. The Covered Bridge Room, which dates back to 1817, was preserved by the owners and serves as a public dining area. With different menu offerings on the breakfast, Sunday brunch, lunch and dinner menus, the inn offers dining locations in the Hearth Room, on the Patio-Garden; or it can cater a grand buffet for 200 guests in the George Washington Ballroom. The lunch menu features creamy crab and roasted four-onion and soup du juor, the signature Washington Crossing salad, and avocado, baby spinach and caprese salads, to name a few. Seafood offerings include oysters on the half shell, crispy fried calamari and shrimp cocktail. Or try a small plate of traditional lamb lollipops or a roasted corn cake.
Related: Jay Lloyd’s Getaway: The Freshest Seafood in North America

Tyler State Park
101 Swamp Road
Newtown, PA 18940
(215) 968-2021
www.dcnr.state.pa.us/

Tyler State Park encompasses 1,711 acres that include park roads, trails and other facilities. An original woodland and farm setting, the Neshaminy Creek cuts through park lands. It’s also a great place for a picnic, as the park provides picnic tables, restrooms and drinking water. The area features mowed grass and is open from sunrise to sunset. Pets are allowed but must be kept on a leash. The boardwalk picnic area is near to a variety of hiking trails and features a children’s playground. Visitors can also enjoy other picnic areas, including a miniature play barn and maze and a picnic area at Mill Dam. Boats with electric motors are allowed and fishing is available.

Tohickon Valley Park
High Rocks Scenic Overlook
Cafferty Road
Point Pleasant, PA 18950
(215) 348-6114 or (215) 757-0571
www.buckscounty.org

Tohickon Valley Park features beautiful vistas at High Rocks. From the top of High Rocks it is common to see owls, hawks and the pileated woodpecker, the largest of the woodpecker family. Raptors, such as turkey and black vulture and various hawks, take advantage of the thermals to soar high above the spectacular fall foliage here. The 200-foot-high cliffs are composed of red Brunswick shale. The area offers vertical cliffs for skilled climbers and is one of the favorite areas for rock climbers. Nearby is Stover-Myers Mill and the Tohickon Creek. Encompassing both meadows and woodlands, the area is home to numerous animal, plant, insect and bird species. Primitive cabins that sleep four are available from $65 per weekend. Family campsites are also available from $20 per day.

Crossing Vineyards and Winery
1853 Wrightstown Road
Washington Crossing, PA 18977
(215) 493-6500
www.crossingvineyards.com

If you’ve never seen fall while sipping wine at a vineyard, it’s past time you did. Owned by Tom Sr., Tom Jr. and Christine Carroll, the Crossing Vineyards and Winery opened its doors in 2000 and produced its first wine in 2002. The winery has won 120 medals for its products, including the World’s Best Chardonnay in Starwine in 2006. In 2008, the company opened the Crossing Vineyards Wine and Cheese Shop in the Mohegan Sun Casino at Pocono Downs. The vineyard’s label features the David Barton Taylor House, named for the son of Benjamin Taylor, who was part of General Washington’s troops that crossed the Delaware to attack Hessian troops encamped at Trenton, N.J., Christmas night, 1776. The house typifies the Federal architectural style and is listed in the Bucks County Registry of Historic Places.

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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.
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