In less time than it takes Washingtonians to escape to the Chesapeake and New Yorkers to hit the Catskills, adventurous East Coasters can drive out easily to Montgomery and Valley Forge County for a weekend of relaxation and rest. Though the area is famous for its dramatic war history, Valley Forge is more than a lesson in Americana. Colonial architecture, farm-fresh meals, landscapes, and charming towns make for a low-key retreat throughout the year.
There is no talk of this town without mentioning the winter endured here by the continental army of George Washington and no visit to this area is complete without visiting the Valley Forge National Park where it all happened. The scenery here is absolutely serene: rolling hills, fishing along the Valley Creek and Schuylkill River, as well as 20 miles of biking, running, and hiking trails, make this historic park a great place to spend the day. There is an encampment trail that is accessible by a car hitting all the major landmarks, including Washington’s Headquarters and National Memorial Arch.
Grab a sticky bun at Alice Confectionary and Bakery if you are feeling puckish. Here the sweet and short Main Street welcomes visitors with a movie theater. Or you can visit the Merrymead Farm to indulge in a hand-dipped ice-cream and meet the farm’s fleet of cows, peacock, pig, and a flock of sheep.
Check into Normandy Farm when it is time to refresh. This 113-room conference and hotel center is located on a 288-year landmark. This property which was once a local inn before undergoing renovation balances modern amenities with old-time charm (historic buildings and farmhouse-inspired architecture). Other facilities include a full-service restaurant, an 18-hole golf course, and virtually everything you need to make you comfortable during your stay.
After a well-deserved and slow morning, ease into the day with a breakfast sandwich and coffee at Be Well Bakery and Café. Follow that with a stroll along Bryn Athyn’s manicured grounds. This impressive Gothic building was funded by the Pitcairn family. The former home of the family just about 100 feet away is now the Glencairn Museum which is home to a variety of artifacts from both Western and Eastern cultures. The great hall of the museum is the only room accessible to the general public, so you will have to reserve a tour to explore the collection of medieval pieces here.
For lunch, head to Spring Mill Café at Conshohocken for a lavish spread. This ancient property was once the general store of the town and still has a great deal of the original furnishings. In 1978, it was turned into a restaurant when chef Michele Haines started serving French country fare for family and friends in what was her dining room then. Now, classics like boudin blanc, escargot, steak fries, trout almandine, peach and beet salads, cheeses, and pate fill the tables of the farmhouse next door, patio, and dining room.