Southeastern Pennsylvania. Home of Philadelphia, the Burbs, cheesesteaks, and Wawa. But what else is there to do beyond that? Well! I have just the list of recommendations for you! I've included the links to some of these places in their header if you want more information.
(For this article, SE Pennsylvania stretches as far north as Allentown, as far west as Lancaster, as far northwest as Reading, and as far east and southeast as the Delaware River.)
This first one is a bit of a hike. Located in East Earl, Lancaster county, Shady Maple is a god amongst buffets. If you love food, and who doesn't, then you need to go here and experience the culinary journey. When you're done eating, roll (yes roll) yourself downstairs to their gift shop. If you can stand the sight of food again, head out to their grocery store (located right next door) for some of the best fresh produce and meats!
Also know as "The Fish Hatchery," Li'l-Le-Hi has been a well-kept secret among locals. The Fish Hatchery is located in Allentown, just off of Fish Hatchery Road (hence the name). Here you can come see, and feed, all the baby fishes being raised to be released into the big wide world. Fun fact: my dad took my mom here for their first date, and they'll be married for 23 years this October. So, obviously there's some magic here.
Located in Kennett Square, Longwood Gardens is the place to go for all of my fellow plant fanatics out there. They have year round displays and tours to fit the season. Their summer flowers are gorgeous, but be sure to come back for their Christmas lights!
Everyone's heard of Valley Forge, but here's your chance to walk where George Washington once walked! Admission to the park is free. The park is located just off of routes 422 and 23, and has a beautiful scenic drive-through. The park also has a ton of picnicking areas and walking trails. You can also stop to look at some beautifully restored cabins from the Revolutionary War.
Located minutes from Valley Forge, this is by far my favorite place to take my out of state friends. While the Mall of America might be the biggest mall in the country, by square foot, KOP is the biggest in terms of retail by square foot. KOP is my favorite mall, not just because of all of the places to shop, but because I grew up going there with my mom and my aunt. I love taking my out of state friends there to create more memories at KOP.
Shoutout to my hometown for finally getting this project completed, and it looks beautiful! A volunteer crew has worked for 18 years to get this carousel up and running. The Pottstown Carousel is the second oldest wooden carousel in the country! How's that for a hometown fun fact?
This project's completion finished around the same time as the Carousel, though it didn't take as long. Rides stretch from Boyertown into and around the Pottstown area, and some even come by the Carousel! I haven't had a chance to take a trip yet, but it is on my hometown bucket list.
Pronounced SKOOL-kill, the Schuylkill river trail is a long 130-mile trail spanning from Pottsville to Philadelphia. I've only had the pleasure of walking part of the Phoenixville portion of the trail, but if the rest of it is anything similar, I can't wait to walk it all.
Speaking of the Phoenixville Schuylkill trail, just off of the river is the Schuylkill Canal. Although it no longer navigates shipping boats through to Philadelphia, the Canal still serves a vital role in keeping nearby Mont Clare and Phoenixville above water. There are some various picnic locations along the canal, and they make for a great afternoon.
If you're looking for some thrill, Dorney Park is the place to go. Personally my third favorite amusement park, Dorney is located in Allentown and has some of the coolest roller coasters and an awesome water park. Bonus points: if you love Snoopy and his gang, they're at the park waiting for you!
Built around the 1900s, the Reading Pagoda has been an icon in the northwestern part of our area. Located on Mount Penn, the Pagoda is an authentic 7-story Japanese pagoda with breathtaking views and a quaint little cafe on the top floor.
This is my favorite place in the area. I love coming here on nice summer nights and dipping my toes in the water of the lake. Located in, you guessed it, Green Lane, Montgomery county, the reservoir offers many spots to fish, boat, swim, and picnic. If you ask me, the best time to go is after dinner and ice cream at Longacres (see my next listing) when the sun is setting. The park is mostly closed and is so quiet and peaceful, it will melt your stress away.
Located just on route 100, Longacres has some of the best ice cream around. The farm and store have been family owned and operated since the 1920s, and all of their ice cream is made with farm fresh cream. If you're a sucker for a good cone, like me, you've got to try Longacres.
Also called Chester Springs Creamery, this is my other favorite ice cream place. Located on route 113, Milky Way Farm not only serves ice cream in the summer, but they also offer farm tours and fun fall activities! If I had to pick between Longacre and Milky Way, I would have to go with the one I'm currently closest too, they're both just that good.
Okay, so this one isn't so secretive, but out of all the things to do in the city, the zoo takes the cake as my favorite. The Philadelphia Zoo is the oldest zoo in the country and has a ton of cool exhibits. My personal favorite, as a big cat lover, is the Big Cat Crossing, where tigers, lions, and other big cats can cross over your head as you walk through parts of the zoo. The Philly Zoo is home to over 1,300 animals and has many species of rare and endangered animals too!