EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA: A STATE RICH IN CULTURE & HERITAGE

 

ITINERARY AS EXCERPTED FROM KAREN BROWN’S E-BOOK:

Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is full of historical charm and conveniently close to Philadelphia. Our suggested routing begins in this delightful area, extends your journey along the Delaware River as it winds its way north, and ends in the Pocono Mountains. Each segment of the trip is different but together they make for a few days’ enjoyable excursion in this part of Pennsylvania.

Recommended Pacing: Spend a leisurely day exploring the byways of Bucks County, the scene of much historic interest, overnight at one of its charming inns. On the second day drive along the Delaware River traveling north into the Delaware Water Gap. Spend a third day in the Pocono Mountains and return south to your starting point on the fourth. If time is available, consider a multi-night stay in any of these three areas for each is worthy of a vacation in and of itself.

From the city of Philadelphia (for sightseeing suggestions see Philadelphia Itinerary), it is an easy drive into Bucks County taking I-276 to Route 611 north into the heart of the county. This is an area where the weekending crowds from the neighboring cities flee to tend their gardens, mow their lawns, and enjoy life in the country. Scattered about are picturesque towns and villages of great charm with old stone-built homes, some dating back into the 18th century. Here and there are great antique shops and restaurants.

Spend a day meandering pleasurably through Doylestown and New Hope with time for antiquing, for a leisurely lunch, and perhaps for attending a performance at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope. A short stroll across the bridge in New Hope takes you into Lambertville, New Jersey, which provides great browsing opportunities for a delightful afternoon. Doylestown is particularly charming with its Federal houses and proud Victorians. The architect, archaeologist, and ceramist Henry Chapman Mercer built three buildings now open to the public-Fonthill, his castle-like home (215-348-9461), the Mercer Museum, with its collections of pre-industrial artifacts (215-345-0210), and the Spruance Library at the museum with its collection of historical and genealogical records of the county. Also interesting to visit in Doylestown are the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works (215-345-6722) and the James A. Michener Art Museum (215-340-9800). History buffs can visit the Washington Crossing National Park, where George Washington was said to have crossed the Delaware River, and other monuments marking events in the Revolutionary War.

There is nothing more charming than the drive on Route 611 alongside the Delaware Canal and the Delaware River. This is countryside at its best-winding roads force you to take a slower pace, mature trees hang their branches low toward the street and the water, all is green and lush. Opportunities abound to pause to take a photograph, to walk, bike, or run along the old canal, and to stop at one of the many inns for lunch or an overnight stay. From New Hope there is a 2-mile mule-drawn barge trip in the spring, summer, and fall months-a delightful way to relax, to see into the lives of those who live along the river, and to listen to the songs of the history of the canal.

Route 611 winds its way north into Easton, a college town and also the home of the National Canal Museum and the Crayola Factory. For young and not-so-young alike a tour of the Crayola Factory where one can see crayons being made is just plain fun. Exhibits are oriented toward children and are creatively designed to stimulate their imagination in the world of color and design.

From Easton continue north on Route 611 to Stroudsburg and then along Route 209 and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Here you find recreational activity of every available type year round. Whether you enjoy fishing and boating on a lake, skiing on a mountain, whitewater rafting on a fast-running river, hiking, biking, horseback riding, or camping, all these and more are available in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and nearby Pocono Mountains. (Easy access to the Poconos may be had via the I-80 from Stroudsburg.) And if you want none of these activities, there is beautiful scenery at every turn of the road as well as credit-card activities like shopping and antiquing. For specific visitor information, contact Visitor Services at the Pocono Mountains Vacation Bureau. (800-762-6667www.poconos.com)

When you arrive in Milford on Route 209, turn west on I-84 to Scranton and then south on I-476 back to Allentown and Philadelphia. Better yet, take as many back roads like Route 447 into the heart of the Pocono Mountains for as many hours as you can find so as to maximize the pleasure of your visit to this region. Following are some activities in the area that may be of interest to you.

Steamtown National Historic Site: Lackawanna Avenue and Cliff Street, Scranton. A visit here will acquaint you with the history both of steam engines and the coal industry. (888-693-9391www.nps.gov/stea)

Eckley Miners’ Village: Off Route 940 East, 9 miles east of Hazleton. A model coal-mining town with an interesting visitors’ center.

Bushkill Falls: 2 miles west of Route 209 on Bushkill Falls Road. The waters of the Bushkill and Pond River Creeks rush through a rock canyon creating eight falls.

By the time you return to the City of Brotherly Love, you will have had the opportunity to see much of the best of Pennsylvania-its towns, its back roads, its history, and most especially its charm.

 

 

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