More Drops in the Bucket
Have a “bucket list”? The Philly suburbs’ infinite bounty may make you revise it
by Bill Donahue

We’ve all got one: a bucket list—things we want to accomplish before we “kick the bucket,” so to speak. For some, it might include swimming with great white sharks off the African or Australian coast, completing a marathon in less than three and a half hours, and sailing around the world … or at least part of it. For others, it’s all about retiring at 50, buying the shore house of their dreams in Cape May, and “investing” in a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy. (If “hogs” are your thing, check out one of the area dealerships in Langhorne, Media, Norristown and Sellersville.) Considering the variety of things to do, places to see and culture to absorb in the Philadelphia suburbs, you just might want to make some changes to your bucket list before having it laminated. Following are 10 on which to get started.

Take Flight. Locally based outfits—Skydive Philadelphia ( in Perkasie, for example—offer skydiving adventures, giving a perfect view of the suburbs from two miles up. Better yet, learn how to fly a plane by enrolling in flight school at Doylestown Airport in Doylestown or Chester County Airport in Coatesville. Not quite your speed? Consider soaring above the treetops in a hot-air balloon, courtesy of Paoli-based Air Ventures ( or Richboro-based Endless Mountains Hot Air Balloons (

Tramp the Wine Trails. Nothing against certain parts of California, but the southeastern corner of Pennsylvania has established itself as a legitimate producer of some truly exciting wines that deserve a home in any collection. Wineries throughout the region craft consistently exceptional reds and whites on beautiful and, in some cases, historic grounds. Most of the wineries offer tours and tastings, and will explain why the local soils and weather make this part of the world conducive to wine production. Visit and for directions to some of the finest wineries in Bucks and Chester counties.

Make a Haunt of the Most Haunted Town in America. It’s right in our backyard: New Hope, whose rich history and artistic nobility make it an ideal setting for a diverse cast of graveyard spooks. A rather famous phantom—Aaron Burr, vice president to Thomas Jefferson in the early 1800s—is said to haunt the area, including the borough’s most storied landmark, The Logan Inn. In 1804, Burr fled to New Hope after murdering political rival Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Burr’s ghost allegedly sometimes appears in the inn’s halls or along a nearby mule-tramped towpath. Other spirits said to frequent New Hope include late 19th-century primitive artist Joseph Pickett; piglets from a long-since-shuttered slaughterhouse; and a blond hitchhiker who reportedly died while thumbing for a ride late one night. Visit for more.

Lounge down the River. Several local firms including Delaware River Tubing ( and Bucks County River Country ( offer an experience straight out of an old-school Country Time Lemonade commercial: tubing, canoeing or kayaking lazily down the Delaware River on a warm summer day. Be sure to pull over in time to visit the “famous” River Hot Dog Man for good eating, even while on the river. (He offers veggie burgers for non-carnivores.) But don’t fill up entirely on hot dogs and burgers; after a few hours on the Delaware, end the day in one of New Hope’s finest restaurants, which are just a few minutes’ drive downriver along scenic River Road.

Go “All In” at a Southeast Pennsylvania Casino. With the much-ballyhooed arrivals of Parx Casino in Bensalem, Harrah’s Chester and SugarHouse in the city, with the potential for others to follow, southeast Pennsylvania has become something of an extension of Atlantic City, N.J. Just once, park yourself at a table and put everything (well, maybe not everything) on red or black, then roll the dice and see what happens.

Immerse Yourself in the Arts. Local museums such as the Michener, Mercer and Fonthill in Doylestown or the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford give art, history and architecture a grand stage. In fact, the Michener is among the most popular tourist destinations in all of Pennsylvania. Also, the area has seen a rise in the number of art galleries speckling the landscape, including The Silverman Gallery in Buckingham (see Suburban Life—March ’11, p. 37) from distinguished arts supporter Herman Silverman. 

Push Yourself to the Limit. For beginners, this could mean completing a charity 5K, while for others it’s all about “finishing well” in a full-fledged marathon or an adrenaline-stoked endurance race. From April through October, competitors can choose from an almost obscene number of runs, triathlons, cycling events and adventure races throughout our area. Outfits such as Malvern-based Mid-Atlantic Multisport ( and Berwyn-based Devon Fitness ( can help you accomplish your fitness and endurance goals, whatever they may be.

Tour the Local Breweries. Suds lovers in the Philadelphia suburbs cherish the finer attributes of a cold craft beer. In addition to the area’s many excellent brewpubs, at least two local breweries—Victory Brewing Co. ( in Downingtown and Sly Fox ( in Royersford—manufacture a number of delicious craft beers right on the premises. Take an afternoon to tour the breweries and learn how these pale ales, lagers, pilsners and porters are finely crafted, and afterward imbibe any number of them to wash down the well-paired dining offerings served in the on-site brewpubs.

Cross the Covered Bridges. Other than Madison County, Iowa, perhaps no other part of the country is more famous for its covered bridges than the Keystone State’s southeastern corner. Pennsylvania reportedly has more covered bridges than any other state, with dozens located throughout Bucks and Chester counties. These historic bridges make for great photo opportunities or, simply enough, provide the perfect excuse to slow down and take a ride to nearby destinations you probably haven’t visited before. Visit for locations and details.

Climb the Walls. Learn how to scale rock walls at our area’s premier outdoor climbing destination, High Rocks Vista in Pipersville’s Ralph Stover State Park. The sheer argillite and shale cliffs offer plenty of routes, from the beginner to the technical, all overlooking the meandering Tohickon Creek, which, incidentally, provides a challenging course for kayakers when waters run high. Eastern Mountain Sports ( in Warrington and REI ( in Conshohocken both offer guided tours of the cliffs. Not quite ready for scaling the bluffs? Head to Doylestown Rock Gym ( in Doylestown or Philadelphia Rock Gym ( in Oaks to learn how to “boulder,” conquer an overhang and belay your fellow climbers, all with the built-in comforts of air conditioning and padded floors.