The Best Road Trips From Philadelphia

by Rachel on August 16, 2012

The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

Dubbed the “City of Brotherly Love,” Philadelphia is famous for its rich revolution-era history, its architecture (modern landmark skyscrapers and historic brick buildings sit side-by-side), and its truly fanatic sports fans (the Phillies, Flyers, 76ers, and Eagles all play here). And although plenty of tourists flock here to taste a slice of Americana, Philadelphia’s residents may be eager to escape — even if just to another metropolis. So pack your bags, crank up the A/C, and hop in the car — we’ve got some miles to cover.

Road Trip #1: Philadelphia to Atlantic City, NJ

  • Total Driving Time: 1 hour, 8 minutes
  • Distance Covered: 61.9 miles
  • Take This Trip If: You’ve got cash to spend — and not a clue where to start spending it.

Casinos are arguably AC's biggest draw. (Pun intended.)

The (aptly-named) Water Club at the Borgata offers several serene indoor havens like this.

Resorts has an Art Deco vibe -- which we find to be very chic.

Unlike other Northeastern beach destinations like the Hamptons and Cape Cod, Atlantic City (located on the Jersey Shore) is described as the Las Vegas of the East Coast, and with bright flashing lights dotting the boardwalk, big events (concerts, boxing matches), big gambling options, and boozed-up visitors, it’s clear the reputation is deserved. During the warmer months, expect to see guests soaking up the sun beachside during the day, then mingling over chic cocktails or gambling during the evening. Make sure to stroll the boardwalk and pick up some salt-water taffy, too — the city’s most celebrated treat. Stay in a resort along the oceanfront boardwalk to be closest to the action, or in the marina if you’re looking to feel a bit more secluded. A fantastic luxury option is the Water Club at the Borgata, an 800-room modern and exclusive escape from the bustle of Atlantic City. Guests have access to the casino, restaurants, and nightlife of the attached Borgata Hotel — but have their own exclusive amenities, too, including five adults-only heated pools and the serene two-story Immersion spa. For those looking to spend more green on gambling than on room rates, check out the Resorts Casino Hotel Atlantic City, which has its very own “Roaring Twenties” vibe — thanks in large part to the hit HBO series Boardwalk Empire. Rooms here lack modern amenities such as duvet covers and flat-screen TVs, but there is an indoor/outdoor pool, and nightlife options — including Prohibition, the city’s first gay club — which are all pretty solid.

Road Trip #2: Philadelphia to New York City

  • Total Driving Time: 1 hour, 56 minutes
  • Distance Covered: 93.3 miles
  • Take This Trip If: You’re looking for a real “big city” experience.

Bright lights, big city: New York is always buzzing.

The St. Regis is the ultimate manifestation of Manhattan glamour.

The bar and lounge at the Four Points by Sheraton is suprisingly chic.

It’s not that we hate Philly as a metropolis [Ed. note: I lived there for four years, so I'm not entirely biased...], it’s just that New York City is just bigger and better in almost every way. Although summers can be steamy at times, tourists from around the globe head to the Big Apple for top-notch shopping, world-class dining, and some of the best entertainment around. Plus, each of the many neighborhoods offer their own distinct vibe and sub-culture; from the tony Upper East Side to the artsy Chelsea district. Throughout the city, expect to pay a premium for cramped rooms — a cozy 200 square feet is about the norm. For a supremely luxurious  stay, book a room at the St. Regis New York. With butlers on-call 24 hours a day, a top restaurant from renowned French-born chef Alain Ducasse on site, chandeliered guest rooms, a 5th Avenue location (the better for shopping), and a stunning Beaux Arts lobby, the St. Regis is a opulent, but still classic, pick. Value-minded travelers who are just looking for a bed should check out the Four Points by Sheraton Manhattan Chelsea, which delivers the basics and then some — you also get free Wi-Fi; printing; a gym; business center; and room service. It’s near the Chelsea art galleries, restaurants, and ample subway lines, too.

Road Trip #3: Philadelphia to Morris, Connecticut

  • Total Driving Time: 3 hours, 49 minutes
  • Distance Covered: 187.2 miles
  • Take This Trip If: You’re looking for a seriously one-of-a-kind escape.

The Winvian boasts its very own farm amidst its 113 acres of land.

The Main House offers cozy seating options as well as games like billiards.

The Greenhouse Cottage's living room is incredibly open and airy.

Listen, we’re sorry in advance that we’re not offering a budget lodging option, but this unique luxury hotel is too cool to pass up — or offer an alternative to: The Winvian sprawls across 113 magnificent acres of countryside outside of the tiny town of Morris, Connecticut. Its 18 individually decorated cottages all have a feel of understated, rustic elegance with the convenience of modern amenities, including Bose surround systems, flat-screen TVs, and Nespresso coffeemakers. All units have working fireplaces, large bathrooms with separate walk-in showers and jetted tubs, and unique, mind-blowing design features; one cottage has a helicopter shell that doubles as a living room. The outstanding spa and the wonderful restaurant serving a tasty farm-to-table menu are just some of the highlights. But this kind of luxury doesn’t come cheap, and the themed decor might not be to everyone’s taste. Also, it’s very secluded, but that’s probably why most guests are looking to stay here.


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