There’s a saying that sometimes, we’re sitting on our own diamonds. In this case, it’s true. There are many hidden gems around the Philadelphia area that can make staying around town for spring break a great way to vacation. Whether it’s discovering historic spots or trekking through some of the most beautiful countryside in the country, a Philly area stay-cation may be just what you’re looking for this spring.
1001 Longwood Rd
Kennett Square, PA 19348
Price: Adults – $18, Seniors (ages 62 and up) – $15, Students (ages 5-18) or any age with valid student ID – $8, Children (ages 4 and under) – Free
Hours: Click here for hours
Nothing says spring better than flowers! Longwood Gardens is known around the world and is located only about 30 minutes from Philadelphia. Its four acre conservatory features a spectacular display of orchids from around the world, as well as an International Orchid Show. Festivities at the gardens also include concerts from international artists and dancers. Spring tulips and marigolds bloom as colorfully at Longwood Gardens as they do anywhere in the world.
Valley Forge National Historic Park
1400 N Outer Line Dr
King of Prussia, PA 19406
Price: Park access is free
Hours: Daily, 7 a.m. to sunset
Before many of us can even begin to imagine, there was an encampment of dedicated patriots at Valley Forge. What better place to connect with the birth of America than by exploring more than 3,500 acres of bluffs, trails and monuments? This historic stay-cation adventure will keep you moving by bike, on foot or even by car as you retrace the history of George Washington and his troops. The park also links the Schuylkill River towpath to the Horse Shoe Trail, allowing Philadelphia to connect to the Appalachian Trail. This adventure will bring you eye to eye with native wildlife as well as a tall grass meadow and dense forested wetlands.
Fairmount Park at Valley Green
Valley Green Rd at Wissahickon
Philadelphia, PA 19128
Hours: sunrise – sunset
Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park is the largest big city park in the world, stretching from Center City to the Northwestern suburbs. The park features a gorge with the Wissahickon Creek at its base. There are hundreds of trails that attract mountain bikers from everywhere. Valley Green is located in the heart of Fairmount Park and is where the historic Valley Green Inn is found. A spring stay-cation within Fairmount Park will provide countless activities, including exploring the mysterious Cave of Kelpius, touring Centennial Hall and learning American history at Mom Rinker’s Rock.
Evansburg State Park
851 May Hall Rd
Collegeville, PA 19426
Hours: sunrise – sunset
Evansburg State Park is a local secret in central Montgomery County that’s situated between Skippack and Collegeville. The Skippack Creek flows through the center of the park and offers trout and bass fishing. There’s even a fishing dock along Lewis Road where you can drop a line. This stay-cation provides a hiking kaleidoscope made up of croplands, valleys and forests. There are four softball fields, a large barbecue pavilion and horseback riding stables. The park is also home to scores of blue jays and pheasants, so keep your eyes peeled.
Heinz National Wilderness Refuge
8601 Lindbergh Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19153
Hours: sunrise to sunset
The Heinz Refuge was established in an effort to protect the remaining tidal marsh in Philadelphia and was named after the late Pennsylvania Senator John Heinz. The refuge boasts more than 10 miles of trails, and biking is permitted on the main trails (but not on wood foot trails). The wildlife observation platform provides visitors with a stunning panorama and close-up views of wildlife that ranges from muskrats to bald eagles. The Heinz Refuge is also home to the Cusano Environmental Educational Center, which educates visitors on preserving the natural world in an urban center.
Darren Hunter is an author, lecturer, and freelancer covering travel and outdoors around Philadelphia. His third book, The Exile Project, was set in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park at Valley Green. His work can be found at Examiner.com.