Food Nerd Day Trips from Philadelphia

Staff Writer
When you need a break from cheesesteaks, venture outside the city for unexpected culinary delights.

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Philadelphia offers plenty for the food nerd in all of us, from unpretentious cheese steaks to progressive farm-to-table establishments.  But everyone needs a break from all that brotherly love at least once in while.  We've compiled a list of easy daytrips that allow you to explore the pastures of Lancaster and beaches of Delaware. 

Princeton, New Jersey

Princeton University

Maybe you never went to Princeton, but you can mingle with locals and at least pretend that you did.  Start off at Small World Coffee before making your way through the ivy-covered campus of one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious institutions. The stroll alone should up your I.Q. points. Visit Princeton’s Art Museum to gaze at some world-class art and you will surely get smarter. Afterwards, enjoy a pint of the Honey Blond, made with local wildflower honey, at Triumph Brewing Company. If you are hungry, the restaurant also serves an "epic" burger, topped with pork belly.  If you prefer more refined eating, try Elements for American cuisine with global accents. 

No matter where you eat, leave room for dessert at the Bent Spoon.  The artisan ice cream shop commits itself to seasonal, locally-sourced flavors.  Current offerings include chocolate Earl Grey and lemon poppy seed.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr/Bosc_D'Anjou)

Get there:  Approx. 50-minute drive


Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Lancaster County

While Lancaster is known for being friendly for families and antique aficionados, it can also a be a foodie’s heaven. 

Start off the day bright and early at the nation’s oldest publicly owned farmer’s market, the Lancaster Central Market.  Pick up some pastries for breakfast and do some shopping for tonight’s dinner.  Next, drive throughthe bridges of Lancaster County on the way to the picturesque town of Lititz.  At the corner of Broad and Main Streets is where you will find most of the small galleries, boutiques, and cafes. 

After all that shopping, stop for a snack and tour at the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery.  Established in 1861, it is the country's first commercial pretzel bakery.  Save some pretzels to accompany the European-style lagers and ales you’ll be drinking at Stoudt’s Brewing Company, up Route 222 in nearby Adamstown.

Get there:  Approx. 1-hour and 30-minute drive

(Photo courtesy of Flickr/Nicholas_T)


Brandywine Valley, Pennsylvania

Wine does not immediately come to mind when thinking about Pennsylvania's local products.  Be ready for a surprise when touring the valley’s wine trail.  Stop by for a quick snack at Mushrooms Cafe to fuel up for the vineyard visits.  In the vicinity of the town of Chadds Ford alone, you can find Penns Woods Winery, Chaddsford Winery, and Paradocx Vineyard.  In between stops, grab an elegant lunch at the Gables at Chadds Ford, located in a converted 1880s barn.

Get there:  Approx. 40-minute drive


Wilmington, Delaware

You could easily spend a whole day at the former country estate of Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969), known as Winterthur.  The impressive collection of decorative arts is displayed in the well-preserved 175-room house.  Afterwards, enjoy some natural beauty in the vast gardens, spread over 1,000 acres. 

Take advantage of the proximity to the Chesapeake Bay and eat some crabs at the Captain’s Catch.  Not a fan of seafood?  Opt for the turf with local cheeses, wine, and farm-to-table eating at the Stone Balloon Winehouse

Get there:  Approx. 45-minute drive


Lewes and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Dogfish Head Brewery

Priding itself as the oldest town in the oldest state, Lewes is a welcome alternative to the Jersey Shore.  Start at Notting Hill Coffee, a locally owned roastery.  As you browse through antique shops and artisans’ galleries, gaze at the charming colonial architecture.  Grab some cheese and other goodies at Lewes Gourmet for an impromptu picnic.  Enjoy the beaches and whale watching in warmer months, or hike through Cape Henlopen State Park.  Be sure to squeeze in a trip to the famed Dogfish Head Brewery, which offers tours and serves food at its restaurant.

Get there:  Approx. 2-hour and 20-minute drive

(Photo courtesy of Flickr/Bernt_Rostad)