Last week on my blog I shared about plans to take a staycation for the week. I confess it was a bit tougher than I’d expected! Vacationing from home required a lot more intentionality so my husband and I didn’t slip back into our normal routines. Some days we just wanted to relax around the house, yet didn’t want to get sucked into any chores or other normal daily responsibilities.
In spite of lots of planning, I found this balance especially tough. On the upside, staying in the area afforded us the opportunity to explore places we love or were curious about near our home. My biggest takeaways were that just like when I go away somewhere, I need a balance of adventure and downtime, so it’s ok not to be doing something every minute of every day. However we did have several fun excursions. We live fairly close to Philadelphia and although we didn’t have time to visit the city this time around, here are a few of our favorite explorations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey!
Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve - This fun park in New Hope, PA included 134 acres featuring hundreds of species of native plants. I think spring would be a beautiful time to visit because more wildflowers would be in bloom, however late summer was a perfect time for butterflies to frequent flowers that thrive in the summer heat. Short trails meander around picturesque woodlands, meadows, a pond and a creek.
oWowCow Creamery - oWowCow is one of our favorite spots for ice cream. Everything is homemade and ingredients are sourced from local farms, plus the many amazing offerings change depending on the season! A few of my favorite flavors: cinnamon bourbon, chocolate covered strawberry and espresso… mmmmmm! With three locations in NJ and PA, you really need to try one of them if you’re in the area!!
Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery - Lancaster County is another favorite place my husband and I enjoy visiting. We decided to take a whole day to map out points of interest that we’d heard about, and even that was nowhere near enough time! This famous pretzel bakery in Lititz was a treat. The tour is simple, but you get to roll your own pretzel and try some fresh baked soft ones in addition to the most delicious crispy hard pretzels around. Our only disappointment was that we didn’t get to explore more of Lititz and its rich history.
Breakfast at the Pop Shop - OK, so you may have noticed that there are a lot of food highlights on here. Yes, I’m definitely a fan of eating, plus I was trying to avoid cooking this week! The Pop Shop is a fun 50s style restaurant with a modern twist! They are especially known for their soda fountain and ice cream treats, however their vast breakfast, lunch and dinner menu has lots of delish options too! My husband and I went there for breakfast and I opted for fried eggs in the center of sourdough bread, topped with smoked salmon, sour cream and chives. Don’t forget that side of blueberry pancakes! Yum!
Duffers - Later in the week we took a trip down to the Jersey Shore to visit some family. Duffer’s is an absolute must-stop location in Wildwood! Known for their huge portions of homemade ice cream, we like to visit here once a year during their brief summer season. The sundaes are easily as big as your head (I’m not even kidding) so don’t feel guilty about having ice cream for dinner.
Historic Cold Spring Village - This colonial style village in Cape May county brings to life the day-to-day activities of villagers living in South Jersey in the late 1700s and early 1800s. I loved watching artisans at their crafts, whether it was blacksmithing or basketweaving. Definitely one of those places you probably appreciate more as an adult ;) …nevertheless, there are lots of interactive, hands-on activities for kids too. My niece was especially excited to try the hand water pump. Meanwhile a recently converted barn turned brewery was my husband’s favorite part.
Paddleboarding on the Delaware Bay - I’m not a big swim-in-the-ocean kind of person—at least not up in NJ. The water isn’t nearly as clear as it is in Florida and the ocean floor tends to drop away abruptly as you wade out into the water. I think I get pounded by the waves more than anything! Venturing out on the Delaware Bay on the western side of the state was a much calmer experience, and perfect for my first try at paddleboarding! Although I wasn’t super-confident in my skills, it was fun to be out on the water and I got to see some nearby dolphins too.
There were so many fun memories from the past week, and the best part about these activities is many of them are close enough for us to enjoy them on a weekend or during the week. Above all, taking this staycation was a reminder to me how important it is to be intentional about how we choose to live and to make time for the things that we value most.