The Incredible Bushkill Falls in the Poconos

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Bushkill Falls

This was one of the most pleasant surprises on this 14 day road trip.  If you haven’t been and are within easy shot of this place, do yourself a favor and go see it.  Bushkill Falls will not disappoint you.

We weren’t quite sure what to expect but we arrived and found easy parking for our motor home.  It is advertised as the Niagara of Pennsylvania and while it isn’t like Niagara Falls, it certainly was beautiful and definitely worth a visit.  I mean really, where can you find water falls in Pennsylvania?  I didn’t know until this trip.  There is a collection of buildings that actually makes for an interesting day out.

There are a collection of buildings all offering something to do or to eat at Bushkill Falls.

There are a collection of buildings all offering something to do or to eat at Bushkill Falls.

Our expectation was far less – we thought it was just the falls.  We got to the box office and bought our tickets to go in.  I was a little concerned about the trails and how much time we’d spend there but it is easy enough to spend as little or as much time as you’d like.  This is exploring the Poconos of Pennsylvania at its best.  A totally unplanned stop and see.

This fun creature greeted us in one of the exhibits at Bushkill Falls in the Poconos.

This fun creature greeted us in one of the exhibits at Bushkill Falls in the Poconos.

If you really enjoy hiking, this is a great place.  If you enjoy walking through nature without a whole lot of exerting yourself and still see incredible beauty then this is for you also.  There’s a variety of trails and no matter what you do it is well worth the price of admission.

Here's the way down to the falls at Bushkill Falls in the Poconos of Pennsylvania.

Here’s the way down to the falls at Bushkill Falls in the Poconos of Pennsylvania.

We walked but I wouldn’t say it was a lot.  I wouldn’t do it with a boot on my foot but if you’re able to walk a few blocks you shouldn’t have any problems if you don’t opt for the longer trails.  There are several options to choose from and you can even venture down some and return without going too far.  There are some excellent photo opps and it was fun at one watching everyone taking their selfie at the falls.

There are a lot of paths along the water at Bushkill Falls and so much beauty to soak up.

There are a lot of paths along the water at Bushkill Falls and so much beauty to soak up.

After experiencing the falls, you walk back and the collection of buildings offers food, mini golf, mining activities for kids, an Indian museum, a taxidermy collection and more.  This is far from high brow entertainment but it was good clean fun and we really enjoyed it.

The actual falls are incredibly beautiful and surrounded by nature itself.  Bushkill Falls is really breathtaking.

The actual falls are incredibly beautiful and surrounded by nature itself. Bushkill Falls is really breathtaking.

There are also pavilions, paddle boats and a small lake and there’s lodging nearby.  It would make a fun weekend trip.  The web site for Bushkill Falls is very well done and has a lot of information on it should you want more information to visit.

One of the pedestrian bridges at Bushkill Falls, Poconos, Pennsylvania.

One of the pedestrian bridges at Bushkill Falls, Poconos, Pennsylvania.

 

RV Road Trip Note:

This is part of the series of blog posts on a fourteen day road trip from St. Petersburg, Florida to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania with stops along the way north and south with no real planned itinerary.  We did this trip in our 30 foot class A motorhome in late July/early August with two bicycles strapped to the back.  We traveled up here from Delaware Water Gap and were headed out on US Route 6 to visit the Poconos even more.

 

Intercourse PA

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Intercourse PA

Having lived in the Harrisburg area and left when I was going into graduate school, I never really got the opportunity to play tourist in Lancaster County much and do the whole Amish Country scene.

Well let me tell you it is a wonderful experience and such fun.  Sure there is some commercialization of the scene but overall it is a great experience and appeals to all ages.  There are ample hotel rooms and campgrounds in the area and no shortage of things to do for all ages.

We ended up driving our RV up to Intercourse from Coatesville, PA and spent the day there.  We easily parked in a free parking lot and unloaded our bicycles and rode around exploring the town.  It is fairly compact and well suited to visitors with amenities.

Intercourse is a village that is easily done on foot or bicycle.

Intercourse is a village that is easily done on foot or bicycle.

You never really know what the prime attraction is for an area until you experience it for yourself.  For me, the tourist attraction in Intercourse PA that I couldn’t find anywhere else but here was a market called Stoltzfus Meat and Deli.  The store is a treasure for anyone who enjoys food.  There are things you won’t find anywhere else and they are all fresh and delicious.  If you’re in the area, you owe it to yourself to stop in here.

The meats at Stoltzfus Meat and Deli in Intercourse PA are simply incredible.

The meats at Stoltzfus Meat and Deli in Intercourse PA are simply incredible.

It is on one of the side streets and not on the main street of Intercourse but it is well sign posted.  We bought bacon and sausages as well as cheese and other things.  I can’t imagine having this place within driving distance of my home – I’d be as large as a house.  They also do the New Castle, Delaware Farmers Market for anyone who lives within easier range of that town.  And to make this even better, it is across the street from the Intercourse Canning Company - another thing to not miss when in town!

The baby goats were adorable at the Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse PA.

The baby goats were adorable at the Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse PA.

Kitchen Kettle Village is another place we visited.  It is loads of fun and we actually spent some time at the little petting zoo they have there with some of the most adorable baby goats.  And it was free.  There are horse and buggy rides that are conducted from here though we didn’t do it.  We saw plenty of them coming and going interspersed with the Amish people and their buggy’s.  The merchants are well worth exploring too.

Don't miss  going into the smaller shops in Intercourse.  Every place has something worth looking at and eventually buying.

Don’t miss going into the smaller shops in Intercourse. Every place has something worth looking at and eventually buying.

Kling House Restaurant is at the Kitchen Kettle Village and is a great restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating.  It is popular and for good reason.  The food and service is excellent.  I can highly suggest the pretzels and mustard on the appetizers menu.  Soft and delicious with excellent mustards.   The sweet bolgna sandwich really took me back to childhood and I wish I could have one every week!  The salads are beautiful and everything is fresh and delicious with a taste that is unique to Lancaster County.

The pretzels at the Kling House Restaurant in Intercourse PA are absolutely delicious.

The pretzels at the Kling House Restaurant in Intercourse PA are absolutely delicious.

There are other smaller shops up and down the main boulevard with homemade Amish or otherwise items and they are at very reasonable prices.  So anyone interested in furniture or linens would also find plenty of interest here.  And of course you can buy coffee cups, magnets and lighters that say Intercourse.  Those are made in China.

Shops along the main street carry something for everyone.  This shop was an interior decorator's dream in Intercourse PA.

Shops along the main street carry something for everyone. This shop was an interior decorator’s dream in Intercourse PA.

There is a merchants association in Intercourse with a good web site to give you a further idea of what there is here.  It is a small town but you can base yourself here and spend as much time as you’d like exploring the towns of Lancaster County PA and really enjoy it.  As with all tourist destinations that are well developed, there are outlet malls should you tire of the more authentic experiences.

You will see Amish buggy's along the streets of Intercourse PA.

You will see Amish buggy’s along the streets of Intercourse PA.

Nearby are the villages of Gap, Blue Ball, Paradise, Mount Joy and of course the City of Lancaster.  If you live within several hours of this destination and haven’t been lately, you owe it to yourself to get away to the Lancaster area.  It really is a joy.

 

RV Road Trip Note:

This is part of the series of blog posts on a fourteen day road trip from St. Petersburg, Florida to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania with stops along the way north and south with no real planned itinerary.  We did this trip in our 30 foot class A motorhome in late July/early August with two bicycles strapped to the back.  We traveled to Intercourse, Pennsylvania from Coatesville and from there we went to Dillsburg which is near Harrisburg. 

 

The Incredible Beauty and History of the Delaware Water Gap

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Delaware Water Gap

This wasn’t something that was on our list of things to do on its own.  But the region ranked up there and it was part of our circle tour of the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.  Being in the tourism industry, I found it particularly fascinating from that aspect as it was once one of the greatest inland tourist destinations in the United States.

The Deerhead Inn, home of Jazz in the Poconos.

The Deerhead Inn, home of Jazz in the Poconos.

It is easy to see why it was so popular in the earlier 20th century for it is a place of incredible beauty and the small town is charming.  From here it is easy to see much of the Poconos in day trips.  The town didn’t have a railway station until 1903 though it did have excellent hotels for visitors during the Victorian era when it first became quite popular.

The Shawnee General Store is just one of the many charming places you'll encounter in the Delaware Water Gap region of the Poconos.

The Shawnee General Store is just one of the many charming places you’ll encounter in the Delaware Water Gap region of the Poconos.

Don’t expect grand hotels that you might find in the old Victorian spa town of Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary) in the Czech Republic.  This is still a fairly rural feeling place and it is hard to imagine the town with thousands of tourists in another century. Nearby in Minisink there is the Minisink Hotel which I believe is more of a pub and restaurant and has a great reputation – another reason to return!

Lots of history in the Delaware Water Gap including this structure which is one of the old inns and still operating in the area.

Lots of history in the Delaware Water Gap including this structure.  The area is home to an incredible amount of historic tourism infrastructure.

The Historic Castle Inn is located right in the heart of the small town and, while it isn’t operating as an inn these days, you should see it.  Built in 1906, it is now home to antiques and ice cream and a whole lot more.   The Deer Head Inn is the oldest continuously running jazz club in the United States and also offers accommodations.

The Minisink Hotel is one of the many places you pass while on the Delaware Water Gap trolley tour.

The Minisink Hotel is one of the many places you pass while on the Delaware Water Gap trolley tour.

Despite all this the borough of Delaware Water Gap has less than 1,000 residents.  So don’t expect a big town when you visit.  I would have loved to learn more about where these hotels once were and a bit more about the history of the area.  The first hotel dated to 1829 and was built by Antoine Dutot, the town’s founder.

Water Gap Trolley

So wanting to learn more we boarded the Water Gap Trolley which is conveniently located and includes a small gift shop, snacks and waiting area grounds.  We easily pulled our RV into the parking lot and bought our tickets.  The trolley tour was interesting and took you out to some of the scenic vistas for which the area is so well known.

The Delaware Water Gap trolley terminus where it is very comfortable to wait for the next tour.

The Delaware Water Gap trolley terminus where it is very comfortable to wait for the next tour.

Our tour guide gave us a lot of information about various celebrities who once lived in the area and plenty of history.  People seemed to enjoy the leisurely ride and information.  It is an easy way to relax and get an orientation to the area so I would suggest the trolley if you have the time.  There is an information center nearby off the I-80 expressway which we didn’t visit but would be a good place to collect information on the Poconos or anywhere else in Pennsylvania for that matter before starting out on your own tour of the area.

The views of the region aboard the trolley are incredible in the Delaware Water Gap.

The views of the region aboard the trolley are incredible in the Delaware Water Gap.

The Region and Camping

It is easy to base yourself in this area and visit some of the places we’ve visited on this trip.  Jim Thorpe, Split Rock and Lake Harmony, Milford and the US Highway 6 are all nearby.  If you’re camping, we can suggest the KOA at Delaware Water Gap quite well as this is where we stayed.  It is a great campground, has a pool and plenty of amenities to enjoy.  It was a charming natural environment that could easily serve as a base for exploring the region or you can just as easily have a leisurely time camping and doing as little or as much as you’d like.

This charming house is just one of the random sights you will find while touring the area.

This charming house is just one of the random sights you will find while touring the area.

RV Road Trip Note:

This is part of the series of blog posts on a fourteen day road trip from St. Petersburg, Florida to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania with stops along the way north and south with no real planned itinerary.  We did this trip in our 30 foot class A motorhome in late July/early August with two bicycles strapped to the back.  We headed to Delaware Water Gap area after visiting Split Rock and the Jim Thorpe area.

An Indoor Water Park in the Poconos

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Split Rock and Lake Harmony

My parents used to hang out here when they were young.  It was a different era for sure but I wanted to come here to see the area and experience some of the same scenery my parents did.

We drove around Lake Harmony and into Split Rock.  I got an immediate feeling when we first went around a corner and I saw Lake Harmony.  It was a peaceful feeling and one that I can’t describe but I felt like my father, who passed away in 2004, was with me on this trip to see where he used to go boating.  We continued around South Lake Drive and I imagined the late 1950s and how this must have been absolutely exotic back then.

My mom and dad at Split Rock Lake Harmony in this vintage 1959 shot showing what is the front of the lodge near the waterfront.

My mom and dad at Split Rock Lake Harmony in this vintage 1959 shot showing what is the front of the lodge near the waterfront.

We continued into the Split Rock Resort and Golf Club which is a gated community that charges a dollar to access the road through it.  Our destination was the H20ooohh! Indoor Water Park.  This being summertime, it could well have been outdoors but we had to see an indoor water park and could only imagine how spectacular it must be when it is cold and snowing outside.

The Komodo Dragon is a really cool flow rider and its really entertaining to watch people give it a shot.

The Komodo Dragon is a really cool flow rider and its really entertaining to watch people give it a shot.

We had no problem parking our RV in the parking lot of the resort.  It is well in the mountains and affords great views.  It is definitely the type of place you’d want to stay if you were doing a trip to see the fall leaves changing colors.  The ambiance throughout the entire area was great.

The main vista as you enter the indoor water park at Split Rock in the Poconos.

The main vista as you enter the indoor water park at Split Rock in the Poconos.

So, having only ever done outdoor water parks, we were curious about this place.  It certainly isn’t like the large Florida water parks – and we certainly didn’t expect it to be.  But we were pleasantly surprised with just how big it is and how relaxing it could be.  It was plenty warm enough to go in and out of the water and there was a snack bar to serve guests a variety of basic snacks and drinks.

One of the pools at the H20ooohh! indoor water park at Split Rock Resort at Lake Harmony in the Poconos.

One of the pools at the H20ooohh! indoor water park at Split Rock Resort at Lake Harmony in the Poconos.

Watching people try their skill at the Komodo Dragon – which is the only indoor flow rider in the state – was a lot of fun.  I never did try it but enjoyed watching others play on it.  All ages gave it a shot and the staff appeared very good at working with each individual to give them a great experience.  It is the type of experience that you want to be sure your bathing suit is well secured though so if you plan on trying it prepare that in advance so there are no accidental wardrobe malfunctions!

The slides at the water park go outside at the indoor water park at Split Rock in the Poconos.

The slides at the water park go outside at the indoor water park at Split Rock in the Poconos.

The attraction also features a wave pool, some hot tubs and some long slides that wind their way in and out of doors which probably are extremely cool to experience in snowy weather.  They were great in the summer.  There’s plenty of splash zones for smaller kids and there were plenty of seats to be able to sit wherever you want.

This historical view of one of the cottages at Lake Harmony at Split Rock was taken in about 1959 and my dad used to spend a lot of time there.  I'd love for someone to identify where it is and what perhaps it looks like today, if it is still there.

This historical view of one of the cottages at Lake Harmony at Split Rock was taken in about 1959 and my dad used to spend a lot of time there. I’d love for someone to identify where it is and what perhaps it looks like today, if it is still there.

In all, it was a great experience and truly is a special attraction in the Poconos.  The area is filled with beauty and it is easy to see why the region has been such a tourist destination for years.  I can’t wait to return some day in the winter and then again in the fall and again in the summer and also in spring.  There is something magical about the Poconos that draws me to it as one of those special places that has a really good feeling.

 

 

 

Historic Small Town of Jim Thorpe in the Poconos

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Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

Where can you find an incredible historic town nestled in the mountains of Pennsylvania that is a tourism success story?  Look no further than the town of Jim Thorpe located in the Poconos of Pennsylvania.

There’s a lot of history here and this historic and charming small town could well be one of many old towns in this part of Pennsylvania that have all the basic infrastructure and potential but no tourists and no local attempt to create a tourist destination.  Jim Thorpe, once known as Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk, figured it out long ago and is a success story in tourism thanks in part to active historical preservation and the Mauch Chunk Historical Society.

The passenger train of the Lehigh Gorge Railway departs Jim Thorpe Station.

The passenger train of the Lehigh Gorge Railway departs Jim Thorpe Station.

Sure, it is surrounded by incredible beauty in the mountains.  Its small streets and mountain views combined with the Lehigh River below remind you in some way of a foreign land though the architecture is purely American.

The railway station at Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania is a wonderful structure.

The railway station at Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania is a wonderful structure.

What makes Jim Thorpe so special beyond these natural resources?  It has taken advantage of the natural resources and provided visitors plenty of things to do and plenty of reasons to stay here.  Let me start with the river.  There are a number of white water rafting companies operating in the area providing all sorts of options from the very basic and beginner experience right the way through to dam release opportunities for the more experienced.

The Lehigh River and pebble beach at Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania where you can see rafters and kayakers going down the river.

The Lehigh River and pebble beach at Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania where you can see rafters and kayakers going down the river.

Off the water, there are a lot of bicycle rental options as well and plenty of nature to ride around.  There are shuttles that pick you up as you ride mostly downhill or you can set off on your own through the trails in the area.  The Poconos even has its own website for biking.  You can’t go wrong if you’re up for a bit of exercise and Jim Thorpe is the perfect place to base yourself.

Historical buildings are everywhere in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.  This is directly across from the railway station at a nice green.

Historical buildings are everywhere in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. This is directly across from the railway station at a nice green.

Along with biking and rafting there are plenty of other things to do.  If seeing the regions natural beauty sitting down is your thing, why not pick up the train at the historic train station in the center of the town.  The Lehigh Gorge Railway offers tours of the area by rail.

One thing about Jim Thorpe is you have to look up, down, around and over to really find all the beauty, history and architecture in the town.

One thing about Jim Thorpe is you have to look up, down, around and over to really find all the beauty, history and architecture in the town.

There are no shortages of restaurants, bars and shops in the town and it is easily walked.  You can park your car at the main parking lot by the railway station and there is even room for RVs.  The cost is $5 and from here you can spend the day exploring the town or taking up one of the excursions whether it is cycling or rafting or taking the train.

Do not miss going down Race Street in historic Jim Thorpe, PA.

Do not miss going down Race Street in historic Jim Thorpe, PA.

We ate at an historic restaurant called the Molly Maguires Pub and Restaurant which is part of the Hotel Switzerland and is the town’s oldest pub.  It was easy to imagine the “good old days” in this pub as it is full of character.  We weren’t all that hungry and so I opted for the clam chowder and my partner wanted a kids meal which he wasn’t allowed to get per our waitress.  So he opted for something else.  We noticed a few NO signs around the pub and just figured it was more of a policy and procedures approach to service rather than a customer-focused approach.  It certainly wouldn’t cause us not to return – it was a great place, just not as service-oriented as it could be.

The Molly Maguires Pub and Steakhouse in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.

The Molly Maguires Pub and Steakhouse in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.

Looking to camp in the Jim Thorpe area?  We did.  The Jim Thorpe Camping Resort is located a few miles up the hill from the town and had everything we needed including a camp store, laundry facility and even a pool.  It was a nice wooded place and there were some seasonal sites here.  It is easily an area that is attractive to visitors.  We were there in July/August and the temperatures were perfect at night.  In fact, being from Florida, the reason we didn’t go white water rafting is we were too cold!  In our defense, it was unseasonably cold and was a low of 50 the morning we were planning on doing it.

 

The Jim Thorpe Camping Resort is a nice wooded place not far from the town though I wouldn't recommend bicycling it unless you do well on steep grades.

The Jim Thorpe Camping Resort is a nice wooded place not far from the town though I wouldn’t recommend bicycling it unless you do well on steep grades.

Jim Thorpe is called the Switzerland of Pennsylvania.  Having been to Switzerland a number of times, I kind of see how it can be called that.  It is more magical and special in some ways though as it is purely an American story steeped with American history and beauty.  I cannot wait to return!

Going uphill toward the Opera House, you'll pass beautiful restored houses as well as get some great exercise if you haven't got enough from the white water rafting, biking and hiking.

Going uphill toward the Opera House, you’ll pass beautiful restored houses as well as get some great exercise if you haven’t got enough from the white water rafting, biking and hiking.

The State of Pennsylvania offers a free guide to the state and it is very well done.  If you’d like a digital version or a printed version you can go to their website.  Enjoy your travels – you can’t go wrong with Jim Thorpe!

 

Coatesville, PA: Camping and Touring the Countryside

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The Brandywine Valley of PA

There is so much to see and do in this region of Pennsylvania but if you are passing through with an RV or looking for a camping experience and want to get a taste for the region, then do it.  We would like to come back and see the entire area at leisure and give a full report.  Until then, this is a brief look at our visit through the KOA and the countryside surrounding Coatesville.

Fields of corn and other agricultural scenes abound in the area around Coatesville, PA.

Fields of corn and other agricultural scenes abound in the area around Coatesville, PA.

Coatesville PA

The Coatesville area is a nice place to explore and is near West Chester and Downingtown.  It is north of Kennett Square which was one of the places we stopped at on the way.  The attraction here is the countryside to me though downtown West Chester most likely (didn’t visit) is well worth a visit.  We unfortunately we had just enough time to explore the back roads surrounding the town which has the Lincoln Highway going right through it so it should be easy to find.

This gorgeous historic structure is one of the many you'll see while driving around the Coatesville, PA area.

This gorgeous historic structure is one of the many you’ll see while driving around the Coatesville, PA area.

KOA West Chester

Located conveniently to Philadelphia and the Brandywine Valley, this KOA campground is perfect if you have a vehicle and can travel to the wonderful scenic countryside.  Another option is to get to the railway station in Thorndale  and catch a SEPTA or AMTRAK train into Philadelphia (the Paoli line) for a great urban experience or hop off at another destination and explore! Chester County’s towns have very good public transport though the campground is in the countryside.

One of the roads in the KOA Coatesville (West Chester/Philadelphia) with cabins in the distance.

One of the roads in the KOA Coatesville (West Chester/Philadelphia) with cabins in the distance.

The KOA has camping cabins and all the amenities you’d expect at a KOA.  The store was well equipped with all sorts of things and the pool looked inviting.  The campground was really hilly and gave you the feeling of being in the middle of nature.

The KOA in Coatesville has a wonderful camp store and terrific amenities for visitors including the pool at the Liberty Lodge.

The KOA in Coatesville has a wonderful camp store and terrific amenities for visitors including the pool at the Liberty Lodge.

Countryside of the Brandywine Valley

This is the area that shines around here in my opinion.  You can roam the back roads of this region and just take in the sights.  There’s small bridges, little creeks, historic homes, small towns, old mills, fields and fields of corn, farmhouses, stone houses, hills, flowers, and just magical scenery.

One of the many creeks and rivers we saw while prowling around the Brandywine area of Pennsylvania.

One of the many creeks and rivers we saw while prowling around the Brandywine area of Pennsylvania.

It is wonderful to drive over the hilly small roads in the area.  It seems that around every corner there is something historic and something interesting.  We stopped at one local market in one of the smaller towns (pretty much a cross roads) and found some incredible food.

The backroads of the Brandywine area are filled with amazing small towns and historic structures.  This is the Embryville Mill.

The backroads of the Brandywine area are filled with amazing small towns and historic structures. This is the Embryville Mill.

The Route 82, Doe Run Drive, is a scenic road that takes you through most of what we saw including the Triple Fresh Market which was at a junction that was just shy of a village.  It connects Unionville with Coatesville.  Alternatively, the Strasburg Road is another great road through the countryside.  The KOA is located off Embryville Road/Route 162 and that is also a pleasant back road – don’t miss the Embryville Mill which is on this road.

There were plenty of fascinating historic structures including this home in the countryside surrounding Coatesville, PA.

There were plenty of fascinating historic structures including this home in the countryside surrounding Coatesville, PA.

This is the type of area that you would like to get lost in knowing that you could find your way to wherever you need to be all in good time.  It is the idyllic Pennsylvania that I completely forgot existed.  I was happy to be reminded of it.

RV Road Trip Note:

This is part of the series of blog posts on a fourteen day road trip from St. Petersburg, Florida to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania with stops along the way north and south with no real planned itinerary.  We did this trip in our 30 foot class A motorhome in late July/early August with two bicycles strapped to the back.  We traveled to Coatesville, Pennsylvania near Philadelphia from Assateague Island in Maryland.  We drove through Delaware and made a stop in New Castle, Delaware as well as Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

 

Kennett Square: Mushrooms, Hills and History

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Kennett Square PA

This is a charming little town I remembered as a young kid.  We used to come through here on our way to the Jersey Shore (Sea Isle City) from near Harrisburg, PA.  The one thing I did remember was stopping for mushrooms here.  Phillips Mushroom Farms is still there and you can still stop and buy mushrooms there.  And remember the smell of them from when I was a kid.

It was easy to park along the side of the road in Kennett Square, PA with our motor home.

It was easy to park along the side of the road in Kennett Square, PA with our motor home.

This time, I didn’t smell them. but it was nice to know you could still buy mushrooms at the same place we used to pull into when I was a kid.  I was tempted to stop and get my mother some to see if they were sold in the same cartons that I remembered.  My treat was getting the box once the mushrooms were gone so I could put toy soldiers and things in it.

I thought this tree on the side of a house was so interesting at Kennett Square, PA.

I thought this tree on the side of a house was so interesting at Kennett Square, PA.

Today, Kennett Square is a charming historic town that has plenty to see and do.  I can’t imagine driving through it without stopping.  There’s plenty of parking in the town if you don’t mind walking a few blocks.  We had no trouble parking our thirty foot motor home and taking the bicycles off and riding around.  And you can buy mushrooms in the town!

More shops and sidewalk cafes occupy the streets of Kennett Square, PA.

More shops and sidewalk cafes occupy the streets of Kennett Square, PA.

It is very hilly with the main “square” of the town at the peak of all the hills.  So you want to be select about where you go with your bicycle because if you go down, you eventually got to go up.  But it isn’t all that bad and you can stay on mostly level ground and still see much of the town.

Kennett Square's streets have some charming scenes with sidewalk cafes and boutiques.

Kennett Square’s streets have some charming scenes with sidewalk cafes and boutiques.

In the town there are lots of shops and plenty of great places to grab a bite to eat or something to drink – anything from beer and wine to coffee.  There is at the one end of the town a small supermarket at Liberty Square.  It is actually a number of vendors that together make for a nice market.  There’s ample parking and this is a good place to start a walking tour of the downtown if you were interested in doing that.

This wine shop with tastings is just one of the charming places that are visually appealing as well as tasty in downtown Kennett Square, PA.

This wine shop with tastings is just one of the charming places that are visually appealing as well as tasty in downtown Kennett Square, PA.

We stopped in and grabbed some soda and went on our way but there is a lot to tempt you here.  It isn’t a big store but there is ice cream and some gourmet foods.  We toured around the downtown – again, mostly the two main streets – Union and State Streets.  There’s all sorts of activities downtown too in addition to it just being charming there are events such as art walks and festivals.  It would be nice to time a visit with one of these.

There are plenty of interesting historic homes surrounding the main commercial streets in Kennett Square, PA.

There are plenty of interesting historic homes surrounding the main commercial streets in Kennett Square, PA.

Nearby is Longwood Gardens and if you have time, this would be a great place to stop in addition to the town visit.  We didn’t have time this trip but it is perfect for a several hour stop if you have the time.  For us, its just another reason to visit this quaint town and explore some more!

 

RV Road Trip Note:

This is part of the series of blog posts on a fourteen day road trip from St. Petersburg, Florida to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania with stops along the way north and south with no real planned itinerary.  We did this trip in our 30 foot class A motorhome in late July/early August with two bicycles strapped to the back.  We traveled to Kennett Square from Assateague Island near Ocean City, Maryland.  We first stopped at New Castle, Delaware before Kennett Square.  We eventually continued on to West Chester, PA where we stayed at the KOA.  All in it made for a fun day of travel between bases.

 

Real Colonial History: New Castle, Delaware

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Historic New Castle, Delaware

I suppose you don’t always appreciate what you have when you live somewhere.  I had never thought of visiting New Castle, Delaware until I started reading about what to see and do in the northeast.  And I lived there for many years up through graduate school.

Historic homes on the Green in New Castle, Delaware.

Historic homes on the Green in New Castle, Delaware.

I have to tell you that I’ve visited Williamsburg and, while it is fantastic, New Castle is more real.  It is rich in colonial architecture and feel and doesn’t feel made up for tourists.  It feels like a real working town that happens to be every bit as rich in history as Williamsburg.

The historic court house in New Castle, Delaware.

The historic court house in New Castle, Delaware.

And I can’t believe how convenient it is to just about everything in the region.  If you live within an hour of here and have never gone, you owe it to yourself to visit.  We parked our motorhome at the end of the main street where there is a circle on the water for easy turnaround.   There were other areas along the waterfront where parking would be pretty easy too should this area be taken.

The old Dutch house in historic New Castle, Delaware.

The old Dutch house in historic New Castle, Delaware.

We pulled our bicycles off the motor home and toured around the fairly compact town on our bicycles.  What a pleasure it is to see this town.  The architecture and feel of it is completely colonial.  The cobblestones on some of the streets seemed like they were during the colonial era.

The historic Amstel house in New Castle, Delaware.

The historic Amstel house in New Castle, Delaware.

We happened on a statue of William Penn and soon learned this is where he landed.  And the statue is on the cutest little green, or common, with stunning homes on both sides of it.  There are tours of some of the homes, such as the Read House Museum, which we didn’t do.  We wanted to really soak up the atmosphere and grab a bite to eat on our way to Pennsylvania from Maryland and this was the perfect timed stop for that day of travel.

This statue of William Penn stands at the Common (or Green as it's called here) in New Castle, Delaware near where he landed in the Colonies.

This statue of William Penn stands at the Common (or Green as it’s called here) in New Castle, Delaware near where he landed in the Colonies.

Lunch was at Jessop’s Tavern on the main road and just down from the square.  It is a cozy place with a fireplace and low ceilings.  The food is English pub food with a bit of Dutch and Swedish thrown in to represent the area’s history.  The Clam Chower I can attest to is excellent.  There is some nice history to the tavern and you can just imagine what it must have been like all those years ago.

Jessop's Tavern in historic New Castle, Delaware.

Jessop’s Tavern in historic New Castle, Delaware.

It would be nice to spend a leisurely weekend in the town – not possible in an RV I don’t think but we didn’t inquire about overnight parking.  There’s plenty to see and do and it is probably spectacular in the fall when the leaves are changing color and a sweater is required to wear.  But that might be the Florida in me speaking.  Still, I’d love to experience it so if you have the opportunity, definitely do it.

On the square in the town of New Castle, Delaware you encounter the most incredible colonial architecture.

On the square in the town of New Castle, Delaware you encounter the most incredible colonial architecture.

RV Road Trip Note:

This is part of the series of blog posts on a fourteen day road trip from St. Petersburg, Florida to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania with stops along the way north and south with no real planned itinerary.  We did this trip in our 30 foot class A motorhome in late July/early August with two bicycles strapped to the back.  We traveled New Castle, Delaware from Assateague Island in Maryland, near Ocean City.  It was one of two stops we would make enroute to West Chester/Coatesville Pennsylvania near Philadelphia.  

 

Camping with Wild Horses: Assateague State Park in Maryland

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Assateague and Chincoteague

We knew we wanted to go camping along the national seashore and be able to see wild horses and ponies.  So we set off trying to find out where can you camp with the horses along the beach.  We found two options.  The Assateague National Seashore offers camping as does the Maryland State Park Service.  We managed to find two nights in a row at the state park so that’s what we booked.  We were very excited to be able to camp here.  You do need to book up well in advance and keep looking even if you don’t find anything.

Camping with wild horses and ponies means you can't leave a lot sitting around your campsite that they can get into.

Camping with wild horses and ponies means you can’t leave a lot sitting around your campsite that they can get into.

We managed to find two nights in a row a few months before arriving in summer and booked online at the Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources and it was very easy.  However, be warned that not all sites have electric – even for RVs.  We didn’t realize this and when we checked in were told the rules of running a generator.

As night falls, the horses will still be active.  This one went directly through our camp site.

As night falls, the horses will still be active. This one went directly through our camp site.

We spend the first night with no electricity or running water – good thing we were in a self-contained motorhome but they managed to get us a site with electric the next night.  We like our air conditioning too much!  On the non-electric sites you can’t run your generator past 10PM.  It was breezy but it isn’t for everyone.  And the campground staff in the office couldn’t have been any nicer or more accommodating.  They were wonderful.

Horses were common to see just about any time.

Horses were common to see just about any time.

The thrill of seeing wild ponies and horses walking through your campsite is incredible.  These beautiful animals will bed down for the night near your campsite if they want to and they will wander through your site also.

The beach is the other main attraction to camping at Assateauge and it is fantastic and right over the dunes from your campsite.

The beach is the other main attraction to camping at Assateauge and it is fantastic and right over the dunes from your campsite.

We didn’t stop in Chincoteague on the way up and many people have said it is a great experience seeing the horses go between the islands so that might be a great time to include both.

The camp store also has a cafe with picnic tables right on the water (well, with dunes between you and the water).

The camp store also has a cafe with picnic tables right on the water (well, with dunes between you and the water).

But if that timing isn’t right, you really owe it to yourself to book a few nights at Assateague Island – either through the state park or national park.  The campground has a great cafe and camp store with picnic tables right on the water.  There is also a nature center for kids and of course the seashore.

Camp Store location at Assateague.

Camp Store location at Assateague.

At night it is quiet and peaceful and the stars are beautiful.  This is what camping is all about and it is a rare experience to be able to be this close to the ocean when camping.  Only the dunes separate you from the ocean.

Horses roaming freely with the campers at Assateague.

Horses roaming freely with the campers at Assateague.

RV Road Trip Note:

This is part of the series of blog posts on a fourteen day road trip from St. Petersburg, Florida to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania with stops along the way north and south with no real planned itinerary.  We did this trip in our 30 foot class A motorhome in late July/early August with two bicycles strapped to the back.  This leg of the trip was from Virginia Beach to Assateague via a nice stop in Berlin, Maryland and a pleasant drive up US 113/13 through farmlands and wonderful produce stands to stop at.

 

A really really cool small town: Berlin, Maryland

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Berlin, Maryland

Every now and then you discover a place that you know you should have known about long ago.  Berlin is one of those places.  It was near enough to where I used to live but that was many years ago.  It was near Ocean City, Maryland too.  Regardless, I had honestly never heard of it until we drove up from Virginia Beach headed to Assateague.  It is a cool small town near both Ocean City and Assateague.  This region is known as Worcester County – Eastern Shore of Maryland – DelMarVa and possibly a few others but the regional tourist information can be found here.

Entering the tunnel portion of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.

Entering the tunnel portion of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.

We traveled here up US 13 and US 113 from Virginia Beach.  This is a beautiful stretch of road and of course crossing the Chesapeake is great – the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel is really quite a marvel still and there’s a nice pull-off area on the north side to really sit back and look at it and the beaches.  Really nice to do.

One the bridge portion of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel with beautiful views.

One the bridge portion of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel with beautiful views.

So without any particular place to go we took our time going north and eventually happened upon Berlin as a place to stop.  We passed by Snow Hill which I am annoyed I didn’t notice earlier as I have a cousin there I discovered and we both enjoy genealogy but next visit.  This is an area of the country right on the coast and is yet still not terribly populated and retains its charm.  Sure, I remember passing a WalMart or two which I found sad but there is lovely countryside to see and more than one roadside produce stand to stop at – which we of course did.

At the scenic overlook you get a great view of the beach and the bridge.

At the scenic overlook you get a great view of the beach and the bridge.

The farm fresh produce and stands along this stretch are well worth a stop or a visit if you’re anywhere nearby some weekend.  I never realized this was here when I lived in DC.  But it is definitely a nice trip for a weekend or even a day away.  So back to Berlin.   Since it is so close to Assateague and to Ocean City, Maryland, it benefits from tourists coming and going from here.

Banner at the town hall proclaiming Berlin the Coolest Small Town in America.

Banner at the town hall proclaiming Berlin the Coolest Small Town in America.

It is a very small town – under 5,000 residents – but is absolutely charming and hip at the same time.  It is billed as America’s coolest small town.  It is cool that’s for sure.  There’s plenty of parking as the town is small and the side streets that tend to be residential have parking on them if you can’t find a spot directly in the town center.  We had a motorhome and parked in a side street without any problem and the town was busy.

There is a very small welcome center with information on the town and the area and we popped in.  We mostly rode our bicycles around the town seeing what there was in the town.  Restaurants, cafes, cool little shops, a bakery, well just loads of things that can occupy your time for a great day out with yourself or friends and family.

The porch of the Atlantic Hotel is a great place to relax after lunch at the Drummer Cafe.

The porch of the Atlantic Hotel is a great place to relax after lunch at the Drummer Cafe.

We stopped at the Atlantic Hotel for lunch and sat on the porch.  The Maryland Crab Soup was delicious and just enough for me.  The food coming out of the kitchen did look incredible though.  It is Drummer’s Cafe that is located inside the hotel and the service and food is definitely something to recommend.   There is a special organic and vegetarian selection too for anyone that requires that.  And a sit down on the front porch of the hotel is great too – excellent people watching!

The town’s commercial district is about six total blocks in size including the side streets.  It is more of a compact town center than a linear one if that makes any sense.  It was nice to ride bikes around and go behind the town and see the houses – though it is a bit hilly.

There are plenty of charming cafes in the town of Berlin.

There are plenty of charming cafes in the town of Berlin.

There is public transport on the 431 or 451 bus in the area stopping at Pitts Street in Berlin according to Google maps, though when you go to the local transport authority’s website and search for how to go from Berlin to Ocean City it thinks you are trying to leave from Germany.  And I couldn’t find the schedules for these routes but eventually did find a map that showed the route existed albeit a someone circuitous route.  It seems all routes go through Salisbury so I will add that to my list of towns I must visit.

A gorgeous bakery is well worth your stopping in anytime in Berlin, Maryland.

A gorgeous bakery is well worth your stopping in anytime in Berlin, Maryland.

Back to Berlin, there are carriage rides and it is the type of town you could just stroll around for a good several hours and then have drinks or lunch.  So plan on a half day to really enjoy it.  You could easily spend the weekend though and I would imagine it is beautiful in the winter and fall though that may be an image in my mind more than anything.

The approach to the main shopping area in Berlin.

The approach to the main shopping area in Berlin.

The point is it is a great town worth discovering and its proximity to the popular Ocean City and Assateague make it quite accessible so don’t pass it over when going to or from those destinations.  Berlin is a destination in its own right.

 

An historic theater in downtown Berlin, Maryland.

An historic theater in downtown Berlin, Maryland.

 

RV Road Trip Note:

This is part of the series of blog posts on a fourteen day road trip from St. Petersburg, Florida to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania with stops along the way north and south with no real planned itinerary.  We did this trip in our 30 foot class A motorhome in late July/early August with two bicycles strapped to the back.  Berlin was a stop on the way to Assateauge.

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