I am one of those people who is always looking for a new adventure. I went abroad for a year and still didn’t quench my wanderlust. Luckily, F&M is located in Lancaster, a centrally and well-connected city, so if I’m a bit bored with Lancaster, I can hop onto the Amtrak to a number of places. After three years at F&M, I’ve certainly found some great weekend getaways, so here is some save and splurge ideas for if the travel bug is calling you!
Round Trip Amtrak Ticket: approx. $35
A Day Trip:
Hit up the Philadelphia Art Museum! They have a phenomenal collection and are only about a thirty-minute walk from the station. Along that walk, you will walk past the famous Love statue as well as the game piece park. Nothing is more satisfying than climbing the Rocky Steps and looking out over the river and the city of Philadelphia. Plus if you have time to spare you can check out the relocated Barnes Collection and the Rodin museum.
If art isn’t your thing, there are plenty other things to do including for you Pre-Med majors checking out the Mutter Museum, which has a collection of bones and organs. But don’t head here if you squeamish! Head to the Franklin Institute instead to remember why you love science from the start. For the History buffs, make your way to City Center and you can see such things as the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the Constitution Center. For you party animals, South Street is always a good bet and is filled with good food and fun stores. If you are like me and prefer things off the beaten path, a stroll through Philadelphia’s street could also do the trick.
Looking for food, try the Reading Terminal Market if you are near the art museums. It’s still a bit out of the way, but well worth it! Another place to check out is the blocks surrounding Rittenhouse Square, where you can find many popular chain restaurants and shopping. Also there is small Italian market of Philadelphia, where on the weekends the streets are bubbling with people getting slices of pizza or delicious Italian food. It’s a bit of a trek, but well worth it! Philadelphia has an amazing public transportation system if you do need to get around, but if you want to save some money, walk. A walk to City Center is about 45 minutes from the Amtrak station and most sites are within that radius.
To make it a weekend:
Check out some of the festivals or conventions Philadelphia has to offer! I once went to the Philadelphia Flower Show (while the ticket was 30 dollars), it was well worth it to see something new and exciting that I knew little about. Philadelphia also host a number of big and low key performers, as well as has a number of theatres. Find your favorite artist and plan a weekend away, without spending as much money to see them at a larger venue such as Madison Square Garden.
If you are looking for a place to stay, you can always go big and book a hotel, but an easy way to save is to find a friend who attends one of the local universities. Not only do you get free lodging, albeit it may include sleeping on the floor, you’ll also get to know new parts of Philadelphia and see your friend.
Round Trip Amtrak Ticket: approx. $120
Instead rent a car through Hertz and car pool with friends or take your own car!
You’ll save money and only have to pay about $10 to park right by the Harbor.
A Day Trip:
Stick to the Harbor area of Baltimore if you go for the day. The Harbor is beautiful, but also has tons of delicious restaurants and cool shops. Not only that, but you can go to the Baltimore Aquarium, climb the World Trade Center Tower, go to the Science Museum, or even go the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum! If you’ve seen the Harbor, try to take a trip to the Zoo or the Baltimore Museum of Contemporary Art.
To make it a weekend trip:
I can’t say I have much advice for extending your stay in Baltimore because I think it makes the perfect day trip, but if you want to head south and enjoy Baltimore, try taking on the Nation’s Capital for a weekend. While you will pay in travel and lodging (try hostelworld.com or airbnb.com to save!), you can save since most sights are free!
Round trip Amtrak ticket: approx. $120
A Day Trip:
A day trip to NYC is no easy task, but it can be done! Getting on the Amtrak super early and taking on a full day in NYC can be exhausting. So plan ahead and know that you are only going to tackle one or two things when you get to NYC. NYC is pretty walkable, but I’d suggest immediately getting a grip on the subway system if you plan to see a lot. If you are going to Time Square and to hit up shopping (especially the four story Forever 21), it’s best to walk since it’s only about 12 blocks away and more or less a straight shot from Penn Station.
If you are heading to Central Park to lounge around and see some of the museums, walking is a possibility, but I’d suggest saving that for the way back. Take the subway to the museum you’d like to visit (whether it be the MET, Guggenheim, Natural History, or the Historical Society). If you are a theatre fan, try booking a matinee show, which are typically cheaper.
To make it a weekend:
Splurge a bit on a hotel and make it count! Go see a Broadway show at night and roam around in Time Square afterward. Maybe take a trip to see the Statue of Liberty?
Closer to home day trips:
While some weekends I am sure we’d all love to pick up and go on a trip, reality sets in and we know Sunday we have to get school work done. So instead try these close to home trips.
You are sick of your friends back home asking you questions about the Amish, so why don’t you take a trip to the other side of Lancaster! There are a number of museums and experiences dedicated to the Amish Experience including the Amish Village or take a buggy ride!
If you need a musical kick, it’s well known that the Chameleon Club hosts a number of amazing artists, but if country is more your style, the American Music Theatre does small venues as well.
Just a short train ride away, our small capital has a lot to offer. Harrisburg is very small and you can easily walk across the city in less than 20 minutes. Check out the Whitaker Center to see what cool science exhibits are on display as well as check out the theatre housed there that often puts on amazing shows. If you want a casual lunch, head to the second story of Strawberry Square for pizza or Chinese, but don’t forget that Harrisburg is filled with great pubs and bars as well!
If you go in the late spring, walk across the Susquehanna and explore City Island, home of the Senators. It’s a nice walk and the Island is nice for views of the river. If you go to Harrisburg in January, they often host a free shuttle ride to the PA Farm Show, where you can see animals and drink delicious milkshakes. Not much into agriculture, usually Harrisburg hosts a few street fairs along the river when it’s warmer. A particular favorite is their art street fair. Check the calendar to see what else is being held or maybe even try to schedule a tour of the State House!
We are all familiar with the famous Hershey candy bar, so take a trip to where it all began! While it’s best to go to Hershey by car, it is completely manageable through public transportation as well! Check out Hershey Park and Chocolate world if you’ve never been, but if you’ve been before, head to the Hershey Story. There you can learn about the town, but also sign up for a Chocolate Lab where you can make your own chocolate bar. If you get a chance, step inside Founder’s Hall on the Milton Hershey campus. Standing in the stunning marble rotunda is well worth the five-minute stop.