For a unique day trip from Philadelphia, book tickets on Amtrak for a rail adventure. Kids and adults will enjoy sights and attractions in nearby cities, including theme parks, boat rides, museums and historic sites. To start planning your getaway, here are the best Amtrak day trips from Philadelphia. For current train schedules and prices, visit Amtrak.com.
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Wilmington is only 20 minutes away from Philly on Amtrak. It’s a peaceful getaway with museums, gardens and mansions to explore. Use rideshare to reach the beautiful Nemours Estate (pictured above), the Delaware Art Museum and the Winterthur Museum and Garden. You can also visit the Hagley Museum, the site where the Du Pont family started their gunpowder business or take a stroll along the Wilmington Riverwalk.
For history and harbor exploration, plan a day trip to Baltimore. Travel time is about one hour on Amtrak. After you arrive, request a Lyft or Uber to reach the Inner Harbor or other top attraction, including to the National Aquarium, Fort McHenry and the B&O Railroad Museum. There are also several different boat tours for experiencing the city from the water. When you’re ready to eat, check out the great seafood restaurants for local crab and other dishes.
Head to Lancaster to experience Amish Country for a day. Take the kids to the Dutch Wonderland amusement park or explore historical sites including President James Buchanan’s home, Amish Village and the Amish Farm and House. The historic Central Market is also a fantastic place to buy local food (consider bringing a cooler or cooler bag with you on the train). To get around, rideshare is your best option. Travel time from Philadelphia is just over one hour.
New York City
New York City has endless things to see and do, including museums, fantastic restaurants and iconic landmarks. You’ll arrive at Penn Station’s new train hall, which has connections to the MTA subway and is in walking distance of the Empire State Building and Times Square. Central Park is especially lovely in spring and fall, boat cruises are fun in the summer, or go ice skating in the winter. Travel time is about 1.5 hours from Philadelphia.
The capital of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg is almost two hours away from Philly on Amtrak. You can visit the National Civil War Museum and State Museum of Pennsylvania, explore City Island Park (which has a playground, beach, mini-golf and riverboat cruises) and walk or bike along the Capital Area Greenbelt (bike share rentals available).
Spend the day at Hersheypark after traveling almost two hours from Philadelphia to Harrisburg. Use rideshare after you arrive — drive time is about 22 minutes to the theme park. If you book tickets on one of the early morning trains, you can enjoy the rides and the waterpark for about seven hours before heading back to the Amtrak station.
Washington D.C. is full of museums, monuments, year-round events and restaurants. Bike trails and tours are also great options for exploring the city. Plan your trip in March to view the cherry blossoms or in fall for great weather and fewer tourists. Travel time from Philadelphia is two hours and you’ll arrive at Union Station where you can transfer to the WMATA red line or get a ride with Uber, Lyft or a taxi.
Stamford, Connecticut is just over two hours from Philadelphia, and is a small city escape with a variety of things to do. You can explore the historic downtown and visit top attractions including The Beer Garden at Shippen Landing, the Stamford Museum and Nature Center (which has hiking trails, a mansion and farmhouse), Cove Island Park and the Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens.
George Washington considered Alexandria, Virginia his home town, and you can experience his colonial life in the well-preserved Old Town historic district. It’s a great place to walk around, shop and get something to eat. You can also rent a sailboat, kayak or standup paddleboard from the Washington Sailing Marina on the Potomac River. Or get on the water taxi to visit The National Harbor, The Wharf (pictured top of page) and Georgetown. Travel time from Philadelphia is 2.5 hours.
Top photo credit: Ron Cogswell (The Wharf in Washington DC)