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Top Day Trips On A Budget Near Philadelphia

Philadelphia-area residents have abundant options when it comes to getting away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. The great part is, there is no need to break the bank to break away from the hum-drum, as many of these destinations offer free or inexpensive entertainment choices. Conveniently located between urban hot spots like Washington, DC and NYC, Philly is also close to nature, with mountains, the countryside and the seashore just a hop, skip and a jump away. Whether you want a stress-free day of relaxation or seek thrills and adventure, you'll find it within an easy drive from the City of Brotherly Love.

American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024
(212) 769-5100

Just a couple hours from Philadelphia, New York City is the perfect destination for shopping, sightseeing and festive fun, and it's surprisingly quite doable on a budget. A number of popular destinations including The Museum of Modern Art, The New York Botanical Garden and the Bronx Zoo all offer free admission at specific times/days of the week. Popular tourist destinations include Times Square and Central Park, which are free of charge to explore. The American Museum of Natural History offers access for a "suggested" rate (you decide what you can afford), and many other popular museums offer similar discounts. An internet search before you go will help you find the least expensive parking options, or make the day special by parking on the New Jersey side and taking a ferry across the Hudson -- kids love it, and you'll be able to use the NY Waterway free shuttle buses to explore the island of Manhattan.

Related: Ask The Expert: Top Ways To Prepare For A Spring Break Staycation In Philadelphia

Cape Henlopen State Park
15099 Cape Henlopen Drive
Lewes, DE 19958
(302) 645-8983

An easy two-hour drive from Philly, Cape Henlopen State Park offers it all when it comes to a quick beach getaway. Nature abounds at this sanctuary for shore-birds, where visitors flock to enjoy biking and hiking along the park's trails. There is a WWII observation tower that offers up some spectacular views, and fishing is allowed in designated areas. Let's not forget the main attraction -- the beach! Sunbathers, swimmers and people-watchers alike will love the easy access to the park's clean, guarded beaches with easy access to parking, restrooms and showers. Then, once you've had your fill of fun in the sun and sand, just head out to one of the nearby boardwalk or shopping areas to round out the perfect day at the shore.

Philadelphia Trolley Works and 76 Carriage Company

1350 Schuylkill Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19146
(215) 389-8687

Check out Philadelphia as a tourist with "tickets to ride" from the Philadelphia Trolley Works and 76 Carriage Company. Package options for enchanting horse-drawn carriage tours through the historic neighborhoods of Society Hill, Old City and Independence National Historic Park are available in a number of options designed to fit your needs and budget. You'll love the views from atop a double-decker bus as you explore the City of Brotherly Love, and if you're in the mood for adventure at street level, Segway tours depart daily from Arch and 3rd streets. Walking tours that retrace the footsteps of our forefathers are a great way to experience Philly's rich history, and tours can be combined with special add-on options that include Duck rides or museum packages as well.

Smithsonian Institute
1000 Jefferson Drive SW
Washington DC 20560
(202) 633-1000

It takes just three hours to drive from Philadelphia to Washington D.C., and you can't beat the price of many of the attractions, like the Smithsonian Institute, where admission is free. Explore all this treasure trove town of history has to offer, from museums to the U.S. Treasury and White House. Snap photos of the landmark memorials and monuments, and enjoy a day checking out the animals at the world-renowned zoo. Getting around is as easy as hopping on and off the trains, but most of the main attractions are easily accessible on foot.

Related: Top Weekend Getaways In The Philadelphia Area

Tanger Outlets
311 Stanley K. Tanger Blvd.
Lancaster, PA 17602
(717) 392-7260

Pennsylvania Dutch Country is located in Lancaster County, not far from Philadelphia, and Tanger Outlets is a favorite destination. Take in the sights during your scenic drive through the picturesque countryside to this popular venue, and after some shopping, enjoy a tasty meal at one of the mall's restaurants or venture out to sample some tasty Amish cooking. If you crave adventure, family fun is easy to find at Dutch Wonderland or Hershey Park. Love exploring? Lancaster County is home to a number of quaint towns and villages, as well as vineyards, amusement parks and Amish marketplaces

Christy Ayala covers sports, recreation, the outdoors, and leisure activities in the Philadelphia area. She earned a masters degree in recreation administration from George Williams College and managed programs in the Midwest, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. Her work can be found on

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