We all love living in Philly, but sometimes you just need to get away. When a week-long vacation isn’t in the cards, a quick weekend trip will have to do the trick. Here are The Mike McCann Team’s top five weekend getaways!
- Charlotte, N.C. – One of the most up-and-coming cities in the country, flights to Charlotte from Philly are a manageable hour and 35 minutes – and cheap. Snag a round-trip ticket for less than $100. Charlotte has a solid handle on promoting things to do, so experience some of that Southern hospitality at:
- Epicenter, an eclectic mix of clubs and bars in Charlotte’s Center City district. Hang outside at Rooftop 210, sip champagne at Bubble, or let loose at Howl at the Moon. Charlotte also has many breweries and distilleries at your disposal. Visit Dragon Moonshine Company or take a “brews cruise” to several local breweries. Public tours run on Saturdays, and start at $49 per person, while private tours can be scheduled at other times and will run you $54 per person.
- It’s not a trip to Charlotte without braving the rides at Carowinds. Fury 325, for one, features an 81 degree drop. If you’re not the rollercoaster kind, try the adjacent Carolina Harbor Waterpark. For more outdoor fun, try Freedom Park, home to a 7-acre lake, batting cages, multiple ball fields, and walking trails.
- Levine Center for the Arts is a cultural hub in Charlotte. Don’t miss the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts & Culture. Grab a two-day pass known as the Access Ticket to experience these and the Mint Museum for only $20! The Access Ticket is good for the Mint’s Uptown and Randolph locations.
North Carolina is known for its BBQ, so sample the local flavor while you’re in town. Trip Advisor has created a list if you can’t decide which restaurant to choose.
- Boston, M.A. – Head north to Ben Franklin’s other home. The drive will take several hours, but flights are a speedy hour and 15 minutes. There is something for everyone in New England’s largest city so when you get into town, consult the Boston Calendar for hundreds of events happening in and around Boston. A few ideas to consider:
- If you can make it a long weekend, drop by the Institute of Contemporary Art, which is FREE after 5:00 P.M. every Thursday. You’ll want to leave an entire day to explore the Museum of Fine Arts. Across the Charles River in Cambridge, Harvard University’s Museum of Natural History features collections ranging from fossils to more modern finds. Speaking of Harvard…
- Hop on the subway, known to locals as the T, and head into Harvard Square. Walk through Harvard Yard, where you cannot pahk the cah, as you’ll see. Circle back to the square to enjoy local favorites like Harvard Bookstore (not affiliated with the university, but a Harvard Square staple nonetheless). When you’re finished, grab a bite to eat at Clover Food Lab, Tasty Burger, or the legendary Otto. If you schedule your trip for the weekend of October 20, a limited amount of tickets are still available for the Harvard/Princeton football game. Don’t miss it!
- Don’t leave Boston without exploring the famous harbor. Visit the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum for an interactive revolutionary experience, or ferry over to the Boston Harbor Islands. You can’t spend a weekend in Boston without trying a lobster roll, so make a reservation at Legal Sea Food’s Harborside Location.
Before you head back to Philly, stop by the most famous brewery in Boston for a drink and a tour.
- Baltimore, M.D. – Want to venture across state lines without going too far? Consider Baltimore for a weekend trip. Depending upon the time of day, you can make it there in less than two hours by car. If you’d rather fly, a non-stop flight is a mere 45 minutes from Philly International to BWI. Head down to Maryland this weekend and experience everything Baltimore offers:
- The Inner Harbor is what Baltimore is known for, and with reason. This is the place where you can eat, shop, visit the renowned National Aquarium, and stroll along the waterfront. Not to be outdone by the aquarium, The Maryland Science Center features three levels of exhibits, an IMAX theater, and a planetarium. No matter what your interest is, you’ll find it at the Inner Harbor.
- If you don’t know what a wine trail is, it’s time to find out. Like an upscale version of a pub crawl, wine trails abound in Maryland. The Piedmont Wine Trail encompasses 8 vineyards in Harford and Baltimore counties. Tour the vineyards and take your favorite bottle of red or white back to your Airbnb. Make sure you’re on the lookout for special events held by specific wineries on the trail!
- Sports fans: rejoice. Home to the Orioles, Baltimore is a haven for baseball lovers. Oriole Park at Camden Yards is an iconic, must-visit stadium, where Cal Ripken, Jr. broke the consecutive game streak previously held by Lou Gehrig. Tours are available 7 days a week during the regular season. Baltimore is also home to the NFL’s Ravens – visit M&T Bank Stadium on gameday now through December.
Consult Baltimore Magazine’s 50 Best Restaurants list before you go to get the best of the local food scene.
- Jim Thorpe, P.A. – A short hour and a half drive up the Northeast Extension will get you to Jim Thorpe, known as the “Gateway to the Poconos”. Named for the famous Native American Olympic athlete, the town was once known as Mauch Chunk, and many area attractions still bear the moniker. There is so much to do and see in Jim Thorpe, you’ll never fit it all into one weekend, but here are some things you can’t miss:
- If you’re outdoorsy, rent a ride from Pocono Biking and explore the Lehigh Gorge Trail. Check in at the company’s Jim Thorpe location and be shuttled to the trail. From there you can rent a bike for $9.99 per hour, or $29.99 ($39.99, including the shuttle) for a full day. The entire trail is 25 miles long, so it might be worth your time to leave a whole day open to experience all that the beautiful Lehigh River Gorge has to offer. Pocono Biking partners with Pocono Whitewater Rafting and Skirmish Paintball, so if you’re really adventurous, book a combo package. Pedals and Paddles features a trail ride followed by some whitewater rafting over the course of two consecutive days, and the rates include equipment and the shuttle. Get out and enjoy that fresh mountain air before you’re back in the city!
- History buffs will rejoice in Jim Thorpe, as there is no shortage of attractions. Perhaps the most famous is the Old Jail Museum, located in the center of town on West Broadway. Known as the home of the most stubborn handprint of all time, the Old Jail provides guided tours through October. Explore solitary confinement cells and see a re-creation of the gallows used to hang the alleged Molly Maguires in the late 19th
- After you’ve had your fill of the outdoors and local history, spend some time in the quaint downtown area of Jim Thorpe. There you’ll find tons of options for shopping and dining, and nearly all are independent businesses. The best part of the Jim Thorpe experience is the seamless blend of old and new. Retail establishments such as Soundcheck Records, Mauch Chunk 5 and 10, and Naturally Yours line Broadway, known for its ornate and antique architecture. Downtown also features plenty of restaurants, bars, and wineries, including Big Creek Vineyard, housed in the Hooven Mercantile Building.
Check out Visit PA for the wide range of accommodations available in the Jim Thorpe area, from B&B’s to hotels to campgrounds.
- New Hope, P.A. – Just an hour’s drive from Center City, New Hope is nestled in Central Bucks County. This tiny borough of less than 3,000 people is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Philly, and New Hope is known for its LGBTQ friendly environment. Here are a few ways to relax and enjoy small-town life:
- Stay in one of New Hope’s renowned bed and breakfasts. If you’re planning to get around on foot, there are plenty of options for lodging on Bridge Street, right in the borough’s center. Named for the famous duel partner of Alexander Hamilton who once hid in the town, Aaron Burr House promises comfort and convenience. Fox and Hound Inn and Olivia’s Bridge Street Inn are also centrally located to the main attractions of New Hope. Yelp is a great resource for finding a place to stay, no matter your budget. Once you have a place to crash…
- Plan to attend a show at the historic Bucks County Playhouse. To say this place has a long history would be an understatement! Originally a grist mill, the Playhouse was born in the 1930’s after being converted by a group of artists. Just a few of the famous names who have graced the BCP stage: Grace Kelly, Bea Arthur, Robert Redford, Liza Minnelli, Kevin Kline, and James Earl Jones. Consult the calendar to find out what show is playing during your weekend in New Hope.
- Shopping and a vibrant nightlife scene are in store if quiet is not your thing. Havana, a classic New Hope bar and restaurant, is a prime spot for live music. Stay in town and peruse independent shops like Love Saves the Day, or head down the road to Lahaska and wander through Peddler’s Village. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.
Be sure to make your way across the Delaware River to Lambertville, N.J. for even more small-town vibes!
While nothing can replace Philly, these towns and cities provide a great escape when you only have a few days. Whether you decide to head north, south, or out to the ‘burbs, you’ll be glad you took some time away. Although we bet you’ll also return with renewed appreciation for the city we call home.