Escape Plan
Perfect places and stunning spaces to unwind and recharge
by Bob Craig

Whether it is work, family or even just the stress and strain of the daily grind, everyone needs a break once in a while. If you find yourself longing for a personal escape, even if you don’t have a full week of vacation to spare, you’re in luck because the region is bursting at the seams with destinations for A-plus getaways. Enjoy a romantic few days with your significant other or just pack up the whole family for a relaxing extended weekend. On the following pages are spaces and places that represent some of the more enticing and eclectic retreats at which to recharge your batteries, each with its own distinct character.

Alpenhof Bed and Breakfast
The first thing to catch your eye when pulling up to this bed and breakfast will probably be the beautiful gardens surrounding the building. Among the many hotels located in Media, Alpenhof Bed and Breakfast is a relaxing alternative to the usual crowds parading through giant hotels. If a quiet escape in Delaware County is what you are looking for, Alpenhof will be more than happy to take on the job. Alpenhof accommodates five guest rooms and one private cottage. Rooms include beautiful decorations and unique art, comfortable beds and, above all, superb hospitality. Guests can also catch a show at the Media Theater for the Performing Arts, check out a gallery at the Pennsylvania Veterans Museum or just walk the beautiful streets of historic downtown Media, which is always bustling with street fairs and special events. 2001 N. Ridley Creek Road, Media, 610-891-8222,

Bridgeton House
This unique bed and breakfast is situated along the Delaware River, 20 minutes north of New Hope. Bridgeton House features moderate rooms, deluxe rooms, suites, a penthouse and, most notably, its Boat House, a private one-bedroom cottage with a courtyard and view of the river. Similarly, the penthouse suite is the largest among the suites within Bridgeton House, spanning 900 square feet with a wall of windows directly overlooking the river. With more than 30 years of history under its belt, courtesy of owners Bea and Charles Briggs, Bridgeton House specializes in romantic escapes, small weddings, commitment ceremonies and corporate meetings. The Briggses’ commitment to sophistication and luxury is truly what makes Bridgeton House so special. 1525 River Road, Upper Black Eddy, 610-982-5856,

Gables Bed and Breakfast
The Gables Bed and Breakfast, winner of The Historical Society’s “Outstanding Preservation Award,” was designed by acclaimed Philadelphia architect Willis Hale, who originally built it as a family residence. The Gables was not officially a bed and breakfast until 1993, when current owners and innkeepers Don Caskey and Warren Cederholm transformed this Victorian style home into the beautifully preserved inn that it is today. Guests of the Gables Bed and Breakfast are accommodated with traditional amenities, which include breakfast, exceptional hospitality and a comfortable atmosphere. Just blocks from Gables, guests can attend the many local activities and attractions scattered throughout University City. 4520 Chester Ave., Philadelphia, 215-662-1918,

Golden Pheasant Inn
The family-owned and operated Golden Pheasant Inn is perfect for a quiet and scenic weekend getaway. Located between the Delaware River and Canal, it is recognized on the National Registry of Historic Places. Within its restaurant, the Golden Pheasant serves fresh and local dishes within its restaurant, imagined by chefs Jon Ramsay and Blake Faure. After many years of culinary experience, Chef Faure received her culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu in 2004, before returning to Bucks County to co-own and run the Golden Pheasant Inn with her two sisters, Brittany and Briar. (The sisters inherited the inn from their parents, who operated the establishment for more than 20 years.) Lodging includes the Delaware Suite, Tinicum Room, Tohickon Room and Stover Room, all equipped with antique furnishings and beautiful views of the water. Of course, complimentary breakfast is served each morning in the dining room. 763 River Road, Erwinna, 610-294-9595,

Inn at Bowman’s Hill
New Hope has always been known for its marvelous scenery, art galleries, museums, historical sites and acclaimed shops and restaurants. However, New Hope’s best-kept-secret comes in the form of a charming resort-style bed and breakfast known as the Inn at Bowman’s Hill. Its claim to fame is that they are “the bed and breakfast for all seasons.” The Inn at Bowman’s Hill is the perfect place to celebrate any season. Summertime guests, for example, can lounge by the heated pool, similar to a resort, sans the crowds. While guests are relaxing, they might want to get a massage in their own suite, courtesy of the inn’s licensed therapy staff. Accommodations include four guest rooms and two suites. 518 Lurgan Road, New Hope, 215-862-8090,

Inn at Lambertville Station
As Open Table’s “Diner's Choice” winner of 2012, the Inn at Lambertville Station—just across the river from New Hope—not only provides guests with a historic riverside vacation spot but also dishes out some of the best American cuisine in the area. The Lambertville Station restaurant is situated within a restored 19th century train station and features signature dishes such as Chesapeake lump crab cakes and Dijon-rosemary-encrusted rack of lamb. In addition to the outstanding menu, the inn’s accommodations include luxurious bedding, fireplaces (suites only) and contemporary furnishings. Of course, the majestic views of the river are what keep guests coming back time and time again. 11 Bridge Street, Lambertville, N.J., 609-397-4400,

Joseph Ambler Inn
Twelve acres of beautiful countryside serve as the backdrop for this destination hotel and restaurant. Spanning five historic buildings, this inn features an award-winning restaurant, 52 bed-and-breakfast-style guest rooms and facilities for corporate events and parties/weddings. The newest addition is the JPub, a full-service bar highlighted by a light-fare menu, extensive wine list (with by-the-glass options), a wide range of draught beer selections and happy-hour specials. Before heading to the bar, however, be sure to check out the beautiful scenery surrounding the inn—and there’s always something to do nearby. 1005 Horsham Road, North Wales, 215-362-7500,

La Reserve Bed and Breakfast
La Reserve is rooted in the heart of Philly’s historic district just three blocks from Rittenhouse Square. Spanned between two four-story townhouses built in the 1850s, this cozy and conveniently located bed and breakfast has a traditional home-like ambiance that is sometimes difficult to find in the city. Although the inn is a four-story building, there are no elevators due to its construction and historic architecture. With accommodations ranging from standard to deluxe rooms, studios and executive suites, La Reserve is just a few blocks from Rittenhouse Square, where guests can partake in some of the city’s best restaurants—namely, the Continental Midtown, Lacroix and Parc, for starters. 1804-1806 Pine Street, Philadelphia, 215-735-1137,

Morris House Hotel

When it comes to luxury and excellence, Morris House Hotel has all bases covered. Morris House Hotel, situated in a national historic landmark, was built in 1787 and integrates the hospitality of a bed and breakfast while maintaining upscale service in this exemplary locale. Featuring the self-proclaimed “best happy hour in Center City,” the adjacent M House Restaurant offers incomparable prices for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Located by Washington Square, Morris House Hotel and M Restaurant offer the only formal garden for outdoor dining within the city. Amidst a sea of historic landmarks, the Revolutionary-era lounge in the hotel brings guests to a different time. What better escape than that? 225 S. 8th Street, Philadelphia, 215-922-2446,  

Mountaintop Lodge at Lake Naomi
Just minutes from 277-acre Lake Naomi, nestled in the heart of the Poconos, is the Mountaintop Lodge. This beautiful bed and breakfast, originally constructed in 1928, is close to attractions such as horseback riding, whitewater rafting and zip-line courses, as well as golf courses, water parks and casinos. Guests of the lodge can choose from traditional rooms, suites and Jacuzzi cabins, all with luxurious beds, private bathrooms and serene woodland views. In addition to these indulgent accommodations, guests are invited to use the amenities of the nearby Lake Naomi Club recreational community, which owns and operates the lodge. With a tennis center, golf course, outdoor pools, beaches, trails, a community center and lakefront clubhouse, the club is an inclusive family alternative to sending just the kids off to summer camp. Visitors can sample everything the area has to offer through a stay at the lodge and, once they fall in love with the lifestyle, choose to rent or buy a house in the community for as long as they would like. 2137 Route 940, Pocono Pines, 570-646-6636, |

Penn’s View Hotel
Located in Old City, Penn’s View Hotel is nestled among authentic landmarks that are a testament to American freedom and independence, namely the Constitution Center and the Liberty Bell. Originally a shipping warehouse upon its construction in 1828, the site has been transformed and expanded into a renowned hotel that accommodates 49 guest rooms and two suites. Penn’s View Hotel also features Ristorante Panorama and Il Bar, a trattoria-style dining haunt highlighted by a wine list of more than 120 by-the-glass choices. In fact, the Guinness Book of World Records deemed Ristorante Panorama home of the world’s largest wine-preservation and dispensing system. Front and Market Streets, Philadelphia, 215-922-7600,  

Spruce Hill Manor
Spruce Hill Manor brings calmness and comfort to hectic routine of city life. Located in University City, Spruce Hill is a bed and breakfast set in a quiet neighborhood of Philly, only a few minutes from the city’s best attractions. Set within an 1879 Victorian mansion, this bed and breakfast is surrounded by beautiful gardens and furnished with antique carpeting and linens to honor the antique woodwork and stained glass throughout. All rooms are individualized and unique, especially the Billie Holiday room, which commemorates the life and legacy of the late jazz vocalist in her native city. Guests can even visit her home while they’re in the neighborhood. All rooms feature private bathrooms, kitchenettes and wireless internet access. Other nearby attractions includes the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and a vast amount of diverse dining options. 3709 Baring Street, Philadelphia, 215-472-2213,

Sweetwater Farm
Originally a Quaker farmhouse, this luxurious and quaint bed and breakfast situated on 50 acres in Brandywine Valley has undergone many transformations since its inception in 1734. History thrives throughout the area, though Sweetwater Farm has its own story to tell. It served as a safe haven for the Underground Railroad, for example, and also housed the British after the battle of Brandywine in 1777. More recently, Sweetwater Farm has added an on-site winery. Grace Winery is a five-acre estate vineyard just off the Manor House. Guest accommodations include 14 unique types of rooms and cottages. Within the Manor House, sectioned between the 1734 Wing and the 1815 Wing, are seven suites featuring queen-sized beds and private baths. 50 Sweetwater Road, Glen Mills, 610-459-4711,

Wolf Sanctuary of PA

The Wolf Sanctuary of PA is perhaps the most unique getaway on our list. While simply lounging around a cozy fireplace with a good book feels is a luxury in itself, the Wolf Sanctuary provides events and tours year-round. Namely, the Wolf Sanctuary’s “By Light of the Moon” monthly tours provide guests with intimate night-time wolf tours that have a campfire atmosphere. The Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania has more than 10 packs of wolves living on premises. Daytime wolf tours are available on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday of every week, with prices ranging from $12 to $15. With historical on-site lodging available, the Speedwell Forge Bed and Breakfast accommodates visitors seeking a quick escape from the daily grind, romantic suites for couples and even a two-story private cottage for families. 465 Speedwell Forge Road, Lititz, 717-626-4617,

—Additional reporting by Sharon A. Shaw

Wine Language
Have a love of the grape? Check out one (or more) of the many award-winning wineries throughout the region. Here are some of the best.

Bellview Winery
The Bellview Winery hosts wine tastings from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. In addition, Bellview Winery features events such as “Jazz in June!” every Saturday in June from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and “Jammin’ In July!” every Saturday in July from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. 150 Atlantic Street, Landisville, N.J., 856-697-7172,

Chaddsford Winery
Chaddsford, the largest winery in Pennsylvania, has been locally cultivated since its inception in 1982. It features wine tours, tastings and special events throughout the year. 632 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, 610-388-6221,

Grace Winery
On the grounds of the Sweetwater Bed and Breakfast, the Grace Winery hosts wine-tasting events from 12 noon to 5 p.m. every Friday and Saturday. 50 Sweetwater Road, Glen Mills, 610-459-4711,

Heritage Station Winery
The tasting room at Heritage Station Winery is open year round from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week. Winery tours are held every Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. 480 Mullica Hill Road, Mullica Hill, N.J., 856-589-4474,

Penns Woods Winery
The Penns Woods wine tasting room is open Thursday through Monday between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. The winery also features multiple events throughout the summer, including free lawn concerts, festivals and “Yoga in the Vineyard.” 124 Beaver Valley Road, Chadds Ford, 610-459-0808,

Rose Bank Winery
The Rose Bank Winery in Newtown hosts wine-tasting events every Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It also hosts vineyard and winery tours every Saturday at 1 p.m. 258 Durham Road, Newtown, 215-860-5899,

Sand Castle Winery

The Sand Castle Winery features tasting events seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Sunday. Sand Castle Winery also hosts cellar tours and educational tours, as well as “Principles of Wine and Dine,” a tour that teaches how to pair wines with food. 755 River Road, Erwinna, 800-722-9463,

Family Circus
For those in search of kid-friendly fun, the Philadelphia area abounds with activities and destinations sure to be fun for the whole family.

Kiss the Sky
Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park (122 Mill Road, Oaks, 484-927-4433, is a place where everyone can truly embrace their inner child. With a warehouse full of trampoline courts and other surprises, Sky Zone is unique in comparison to other play parks, featuring a wide range of events and programs for children and adults. Programs for children include Sky Jam (ages 16 and older) on Saturday nights from 10 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Sky Mania (ages 11 to 15) on Friday nights from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Toddler Time (ages 5 and under) every Tuesday and Thursday morning from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. On select Wednesday nights, Sky Zone hosts Jumpapalooza, a two-hour event that includes access to Foam Zone, Sky Slam basketball and 3D Dodge Ball. SkyRobics and SkyFit are exciting if not untraditional ways to exercise, so adults in search of a fresh and fun way to work out need look no further. Also, Sky Zone has also recently announced their first-ever camp coming this summer.

Underwater Adventure
Across the river from Center City, Adventure Aquarium (1 Riverside Drive, Camden, N.J., 856-365-3300, is the fifth-largest aquarium in the country. It’s also the only aquarium in the country to exhibit great hammerhead sharks and the only aquarium in the world to house hippos. What’s more, Adventure Aquarium houses the East Coast’s largest collection of sharks, which ply the waters of the 550,000-gallon Shark Realm exhibit and a 40-foot suspended shark tunnel. A fun destination for families, the aquarium features KidZone, a play space for children ages six and up that presents interactive games and activities, exhibits and new and returning animals and touch species. In addition to the many featured exhibits—Penguin Island, Stingray Beach Club and Terrapin Tide Pool among them—Adventure Aquarium is equipped with a 4D movie theater, which shows educational films about aquatic wildlife, the world’s reef ecosystems and much more. Adventure Aquarium is open 365 days a year from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Acrobatically Speaking
Ever wondered how aerial trapeze artists leap between apparatuses so effortlessly? Even if you haven’t, you’ve got to admit it would be pretty exhilarating to try it for yourself. Look no further than the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts (5900 Greene Street, 215-849-1991, With a large variety of classes ranging from trapeze, lyra, tumbling, juggling, unicycling, tight wire and acrobatics, the school provides lessons for all ages (18 months and older, that is) and abilities, from “the complete novice to the aspiring circus artist,” says managing director Marc Miller. Participants will “work hard, sweat a lot, get strong and more flexible and improve your endurance,” Miller suggests, all while exploring the broad range of circus arts. The school functions as a social setting, too, forcing students to put their trust in one another as they explore duo and group work. But if groups frighten you more than the heights, the school offers private lessons for individualized training and specialized attention. Whether you are looking for a creative way to work out or meet people, or you are simply interested in learning about the circus arts, you’ll find what you’re looking for here.
—Additional reporting by Jocelyn Murray