Socially-Distant Fall Day Trips for Philly Families
Get out of town for some socially-distanced family fun!
Since we’re not planning any big trips anytime soon (thanks, coronavirus), we have been planning day trips this fall. And what better time to escape to some wide-open spaces than in the gorgeous autumn season? Here are our picks for socially distant escapes you can do in a day!
80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton, NJ
This incredible destination is not just an outdoor art experience, but also an arboretum—you can even take a self-guided tree tour—so it’s a great way to view the changing fall colors while experiencing hundreds of pieces ranging from more traditional sculpture, to lifelike installations that feel like you are becoming part of the art, to some really abstract and avant-garde pieces (my personal favorite was in the Forest of the Subconscious). We recently went after they reopened and had a blast just wandering around the 42-acre sculpture garden—we liked the art, our 6-year-old preferred discovering “secret magic caves” and other forest surprises. Either way, we all got some much-needed outdoor time, and loved exploring the landscape.
After hours of exploring we had lunch onsite at Rat’s Restaurant, overlooking the Monet-inspired bridge and pond. We loved the option for outdoor dining, cocktails, and the fact that they had a kids’ menu (and a plate that separated everything into its own little compartment perfect for the pickiest of eaters). We even found some more sculptures there, so even if you aren’t eating there during your visit, stop by so you don’t miss all the art!
Advance timed tickets are required to ensure social distancing. Masks required when social distancing is not possible or in high traffic areas while passing other guests. This includes the front gate at entry, restrooms, and parking lots. Parents are encouraged to follow CDC guidelines regarding the use of masks for children over 2. Note that due to COVID-19, indoor spaces and galleries are currently closed and paper maps are unavailable (but you can access an interactive map on your phone).
Peddler’s Village, New Hope
Peddler’s Village is a charming spot for dining, shopping, and playing all year round, but it’s especially fun in the fall when they host their annual Scarecrows in the Village (now on display through October 31). Safety measures are in place, and admission and parking for the Scarecrows in the Village display are free. Tip: while walking around the cute shops, don’t miss JaZams for toys, books, and more unique finds.
Due to COVID-19, instead of their Apple Festival they will host the two-week AppleTime in the Village featuring apple-themed food and beverages every day in Peddler’s Village restaurants, and live entertainment on weekends.
Giggleberry Fair—an indoor play space with obstacle courses, rides, and arcade games—has reopened with safety measures in place. Expect masks, temperature checks, social distancing, and lots of extra cleaning.
Aside from Peddler’s Village, there’s more fall fun in New Hope. Go apple picking in the beautiful Solebury Orchards (reservations are required on weekends, and masks are required at all times). Or hop aboard the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad for a ride on an old-timey locomotive, and scenic views of the countryside. Better yet, make reservations for a Trick or Treat train ride, a 45-minute ride including live reading of Spookley the Square Pumpkin, seasonal sing-alongs, and the opportunity to trick-or-treat around the station platform for more treats and surprises with costumed characters.
Cape May, NJ
Peak shore season is over, but Cape May great to visit year-round with its charming small town feel and rich history. Grab a Family Treasure Hunt packet, which includes a clues sheet and map that will take you on a self-guided discovery tour of the town, and highlight its history and architecture. The Emlen Physick Estate has grounds to explore, plus a Scarecrow Alley for the season! While you’re soaking up all the historical landmarks (the entire town is a National Historic Landmark), climb the Cape May Lighthouse.
Plus, it’s also home to the Cape May Zoo, which is little but free! And from October 24 through Halloween, come in costume and take part in their pumpkin scavenger hunt—and take lots of pictures! You can even enter a virtual costume contest for Boo at the Zoo.
Where to even begin? First off—trains! The Strasburg Railroad is a must-do, especially when they have Thomas and Friends events, where you can take a 45-minute picturesque train ride pulled by the fully operational steam Thomas the Tank Engine. There are a bunch coming up in October and November so be sure to grab tickets in advance. Not enough trains? Head to the Choo Choo Barn— a 1,700-square-foot model train layout with over 150 hand-built animated figures and vehicles and 22 operating trains. Sadly, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania remains closed at this time.
Lancaster is also home to so many great farms and dairies. A family favorite is always Cherry Crest Adventure Farm for their famous corn maze, as well as pick-your-own fruit, wagon rides, farm animal encounters, games, and more fall fun. Note that they are closed on Sundays, so don’t plan your day trip for then! Make reservations online, and be sure to wear your mask and use lots of hand sanitizer!
With Halloween still kind of up in the air, it doesn’t feel much like a regular fall. Well, we are here to help get you into the spirit–we’re talking hayrides, pumpkin patches, apple picking, you get the idea. Like everything else, this will look a little different this year. You may need a reservation—and you’ll definitely need a mask—but it’s worth the drive to get those fall feels. Over at Main Line Parent, we break down our favorite spots in the Western Suburbs, plus their COVID safety policies and tips.