During the pandemic, we haven’t done what we would typically do during the weekend. I don’t think we’ve eaten inside a restaurant in over a year. We would often go out to restaurants and coffee shops during non-pandemic times, because we both like to eat and travel. In fact, some of our favorite places to go are in Wilmington/Newark area in northern New Castle County, Delaware for a good meal or visit to a museum.
For a time, there was a mandate in Pennsylvania for anyone coming in from out of state to either have a negative COVID 19 test prior to coming in or quarantine for 2 weeks upon arrival. This would also apply to any Pennsylvania resident unless it’s work-related travel. So, during that time, we did not leave Pennsylvania at all, even though we live in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware tri-state area. We’re even pretty close to the Maryland border. Considering that we were avoiding doing anything for fun indoors outside of our house and trying to do our part, we spent a lot of weekends just driving and enjoying the scenery. Here are some of our favorite places to go on long drives in the area that we’d recommend.
Brandywine Valley Scenic Byway:
The area surrounding Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is surrounded by quaint suburban towns and winding backroads through hills and many forested areas. This is in Delaware, Chester, Montgomery, and Bucks Counties. Some of our favorite drives in our area are the Brandywine Valley Scenic Byway as described in this link. This drive is full of winding roads through forests and hills along creeks and rivers. The Brandywine Valley Scenic Byway actually connects to a byway in Delaware of the same name.
On the Delaware side, this drive would take you to some of the places we posted about in the blog including Winterthur and Nemours Mansion and Gardens. On the Pennsylvania side, it takes you toward Longwood Gardens and West Chester, Pennsylvania. West Chester has many restaurants and neat small shops. Route 32 goes through New Hope, Pennsylvania, which is also a neat little town. West Chester is a college town but New Hope is a more bed and breakfasty kind of place but it also has a lot of restaurants and shops.
PA State Route 32 to Route 611
The Pennsylvania State Route 32 to Route 611 drive goes along the Delaware River from Morrisville, PA to Easton, PA. It is one of our favorite drives to do because it’s a short drive from the city and yet has some of the nicest views. In just a short drive, you feel like you’re transported into another place. Easton is also home to PA Bacon Fest, which already makes it worthy of mention, but I digress.
Easton is part of the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania which also includes Allentown and Bethlehem, PA. This area has a lot of history in the US steel industry. The area had a bit of a downturn after the steel mills closed but in the recent 10-20 years, there has been a lot of revitalization efforts in the area and there is quite a bit to see and places to eat and drink. You can see elements of this in some of the old remaining infrastructure during your drive-through it.
The Delaware Water Gap:
If you go further north on Route 611, it takes you to Delaware Water Gap, PA, which I think has some of the most scenic parts of this drive. This is close to Pocono Mountains so as you’re driving along the river, you can see the stunning rocks, cliffs, and mountains surrounding the river. Along the same lines, and for an even cooler view is when you cross into the state of New York (not to be confused with NYC) is along the Delaware River in an area called Hawk’s Nest in Port Jervis, NY. It’s not related to Route 611, but it is an honorable mention as it is something we recommend doing if you’d like to see an unforgettable sight. We did this after the out-of-state travel restrictions stopped, in case you were wondering. I would add a picture, but I would recommend searching it to see some nice videos to get a better view of it.
Route 209 Near Jim Thorpe:
Though not quite in this area, another really cool drive is through Jim Thorpe, PA. This town is nicknamed The Little Switzerland of America. I think it’s called that because of the architecture on the main street which is called Broadway. You can also see the mountains in the backdrop. State Route 209 along the Lehigh River is also quite a sight to see with the river and surrounding mountains.
Also, when you get into northeastern Pennsylvania, where many of the places on this list are featured, you’ll get some of the best views of mountains that you can see in the eastern part of Pennsylvania. This is the area surrounding Stroudsburg, Pottsville, Hazleton, Wilkes-Barre, and Scranton, Pennsylvania. It covers a lot of land area and makes for a really enjoyable drive. We’ve done a lot of driving in this area during the pandemic. I don’t remember all the route names but I generally did these drives by avoiding interstate highways and staying on state routes and backroads.
We hope this post was helpful! If you do go on any of these drives, let us know what you think!