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A Closer Look at Skippack Village

August 31, 2012

Once a stop on an early 20th century trolley route, Skippack added village to its name in the 1990s, opened some antiques shops and restaurants, and waited for the people to come. They did, and 20 years later it has managed to keep its quaint look without letting the chain stores take over. I have always treated Skippack as an ideal half-way point to meet friends from Bucks County and Collegeville. The Skippack Roadhouse and Mal’s Diner are pleasant places to get a drink or have a relaxing meal, and the Hotel Fiesole (formerly the Trolley Stop) is as sleek and sophisticated as any big-city restaurant.

Until recently, I tended to ignore the dozens of little shops and art galleries tucked into buildings dating to the 1700s. But they are truly the heart of Skippack and what give the village its character and staying power. My advice: park for free near Hotel Fiesole and just start wandering. Here are some of things you’ll find: a covered bridge built by Amish carpenters, a tiny woodcarver and cabinet-maker’s house, a doll hospital, a 1920s-era fire station, and shops selling dreamcatchers, cupcakes, Wilbur chocolates, Vera Bradley bags, furniture made from reclaimed barn wood, organic strawberry wine, and cheese soaked in Yuengling.

Peeking in windows or pausing on all those inviting front porches is OK, even encouraged.

Piece of advice: Avoid Mondays because just about everything is closed, save for a handful of restaurants and the Village Irish Shop.



May 1, 2012

1. Historical nirvana. Trod on cobblestones older than the U.S. Constitution, worship in the same pews as the founding fathers, and stay in B&Bs that take their “George Washington Slept Here” signs very seriously.

2. Pennsylvania Dutch diners and BYOB (bring your own bottle) restaurants. More per capita than perhaps anywhere else in the country. And they’re almost all absurdly good.

3. Unique Museums: Places exquisitely dedicated to pinball, quilts, corpses, Civil War ghosts, and the Three Stooges.

4. Andrew Wyeth landscapes. Gorgeous, lush, and accessible by almost any back-road drive in New Hope, West Chester, and Berks County. Plus, the forests of the Poconos go on forever.

5. Cheesesteaks. No matter what they tell you, they just aren’t as good west of the Susquehanna.

I started this blog to coincide with the release of the second edition of Eastern Pennsylvania: An Explorer’s Guide. Both are aimed at anyone looking for cool and easy things to do in the Keystone State – with and without the kids.  I am a native Pennsylvanian who grew up near Valley Forge National Historical Park, lived in a corner of a converted sugar mill in Old City, Philadelphia, and got married in a historic 19th century church in New Hope, Bucks County. My blog posts will cover old favorites and new discoveries, plus tips on parking, hiking, eating, and other ways to make the most of your time here. Expect entries devoted entirely to pretzels, whoopee pies, used bookstores, and covered bridges. It’s a diverse and endlessly fascinating state, and I can’t wait to share my discoveries with you.

Thanks for dropping by!