We know you’re staying with us to work, but our communitiesin the Greater Philadelphia Area are conveniently located near popular entertainment and historical destinations. So put down your pen this weekend and play a little in Pennsylvania. Here are five of AVE’s favorite area attractions – all within an hour and a half of our communities.
Hike Hallowed Ground
After learning about George Washington and his troops’ six-month stay at Valley Forge, your visit will seem like a walk in the park. On December 19, 1777, the general marched his weary, cold and ill-equipped men into camp there for the winter. Despite experiencing heavy fatalities due to starvation, disease and exposure, the American Continental Army’s spirit was revived, and the men defeated the British army at the Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey.
General George Washington’s headquarters during the encampment at Valley Forge. The restored building is open to the public for tours. Photo courtesy of Valley Forge National Park.
Today, Valley Forge National Historical Park commemorates Washington and his troops’ commitment to the fight for freedom, experiencing victory in the face of adversity. Guests should start at the Visitor Center where they can pick up a park map and browse the museum where exhibits contain Revolutionary War artifacts and fossils from Port Kennedy Bone Cave. Every hour, an 18-minute film on the park’s historical significance is shown. Tour General Washington’s and General Varnum’s quarters, watch a live interpretation by rangers in period dress portraying soldiers and camp followers, step inside a hut to experience the common life of a Revolutionary War soldier and more. “Valley Forge is not only a historical site, it’s also a place for recreation,” says park ranger Adam Messinger. “It’s hiking, biking and the nation’s history all wrapped into one.” Valley Forge National Historical Park contains more than 28 miles of authorized trail that are popular for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Picnicking, bird watching and cross-country skiing are other popular activities.
Go to the Great Gardens
In 1906, industrialist Pierre du Pont purchased the land where Longwood Gardens now sits from the Pierces, a Quaker family who planted an arboretum there in 1798, to prevent the trees from being sold for lumber. The du Pont family had a long tradition of gardening, and Pierre turned out to be one of its greatest gardeners. He made the property his private estate and added extensively to it, including creating a 600-foot-long Flower Garden Walk, enlarging the original Pierce farmhouse and installing fountains that shoot as high as 130 feet and illuminate in a multitude of colors. Today, the 1,077-acre gardens boast 20 outdoor gardens and 20 indoor gardens known as the conservatory. Built in 1919, the conservatory shelters 20 indoor gardens and 5,500 types of plants. Reserve about an hour and a half for a leisurely stroll through the display areas. The outdoor gardens, overflowing with exuberant flowers and sparkling fountains, also takes about an hour and a half to enjoy. You can also visit Du Pont’s former home, which now contains the Longwood Heritage Exhibit, a comprehensive collection of historic photos, artifacts, home movies and videos that tell the story of land and its former owners. “Our guests appreciate the opportunity to relax and step away from the hustle and bustle of their busy lives,” says Patricia Evans, communications manager for the gardens. “At Longwood, you can disconnect from the real world and reconnect with the natural world. In addition to beautiful gardens, Longwood’s 1,077 acres includes meadows, woodlands, historic trees, more fountains than any other garden in the United States and a 4-acre conservatory.”
Trek the Wine Trail
Six years ago, a group of wineries located in the rolling hills of Chester County decided to join forces to create the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail. The seven vineyards, all located within an easy drive of one another in southeastern Pennsylvania, offer charming tasting rooms and barrel-aging cellars filled with premium wines that showcase the area’s unique characteristics. Guests can tour the vineyards, taste in their cellars and picnic on their grounds. While the wineries do not provide transportation, they do accept bus and limousine visits with prior reservation. There is a wine trail map provided on the website for easy navigation. “The Brandywine Valley Wine Trail is a great way to get to know the area and relax at the same time,” says Karen Cline, administrator for the trail. “We almost always have something going on over the weekends whether it’s a concert or a pairing.” On August 10th and 17th, Penns Woods Winery will be hosting Sunset Yoga in the Vineyard. Enjoy a 60-minute gentle yoga class with Merryoga in the vineyard followed by a wine tasting paired with flavorful and local gourmet cheeses.
Treat Your Senses
When the Hershey chocolate plant tour was no longer able to handle its large number of visitors every year, The Hershey Company built Hershey’s Chocolate World, a marketplace of shops and restaurants, all specializing in Hershey’s chocolate products. There are nine interactive attractions, the most popular being the Great American Chocolate Tour Ride, where guests follow Hershey’s cocoa beans on a journey from the tropical rainforest to Hershey, Pennsylvania, and watch them transform from beans to bars. Other sweet attractions include Hershey’s Kisses Packaging, where visitors become a factory worker for the day and package their own Hershey’s Kisses, and Hershey’s Dessert Creation Studio, where one can create their own dessert with Hershey’s ingredients. There are various shops on the campus selling Hershey’s souvenirs and chocolate, and several eateries. “Hershey’s Chocolate World attraction allows visitors of all ages and interests to discover the many wonders of chocolate,” says Todd Kohr,” marketing and publicity manager for The Global Hershey Experience. “We are packed full of one-of-a-kind experiences all centered on chocolate and Hershey’s.”
Shop Til You Drop
Peddler’s Village was opened in 1962 by the late Earl Jamison with a small number of shops and the flagship Cock ‘n Bull Restaurant. Today, it boasts 70 independently owned specialty shops, including Apricot Lane Boutique, a woman’s fashion boutique featuring upscale department store brands, and Skip’s Candy Corner, a confectionary offering all your favorite sweet treats like chocolate-covered pretzels to nostalgic ones like Flying Saucers and Mallo Cups. The village also offers six restaurants, the 70-room Golden Plough Inn, the Giggleberry Fair family entertainment center and 11 year-round festivals and events. “In 2012, Peddler’s Village celebrates its 50th anniversary as the premier shopping and dining destination nestled in the heart of historic Bucks County, Pennsylvania, just 40 miles north of Philadelphia,” says Eve Gelman, public relations and social media manager for the village. “Follow the winding brick pathways of the colonial style village throughout 42 acres of award-winning gardens for a unique shopping and dining experience.”