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Day-tripping Phoenixville: The best of breweries, birding and the Blobfest

Welcome to Phoenixville, the artsy and relaxed Chester County town that offers a variety of shopping, dining and drinking options in its downtown area if you’re looking to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city. Take a stroll down Bridge Street any Friday and Saturday, and you’ll see the town out-and-about, stopping at small boutiques and art galleries along the way.

The town holds a unique history that starts with its old Colonial Theatre, a more-than-100-year-old movie house that anchors the town’s cultural center and hosts a yearly film festival celebrating a popular 1950’s movie that was filmed here. Just outside the main center of the town are a number of parks and recreational opportunities for biking, birding and exploring.

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the breweries in Phoenixville, especially the popular Sly Fox that’s been based there for more than two decades.

sly fox

Visit Philadelphia

How to Get There

The trip to Phoenxville from Center City Philadelphia is about 40 to 45 minutes, providing you don’t get stuck in traffic on the Schuylkill. Here’s a map of the route you’ll take:

Via SEPTA, take the Regional Rail to the Norristown Transportation Center and catch the 99 bus, or the Regional Rail to King of Prussia and grab the 139 bus to Phoenixville.

Cost

If you end up driving, costs for gas and parking should be minimal — there’s plenty of metered parking spaces and garages downtown where you can find a place to leave the car for the day. The rest of your costs will depend on how much you want to spend on shopping, food and drink.

What to do

Go to Blobfest

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Every July, cult film fans flock to the historic Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville for BlobFest, a three-day horror film extravaganza. (Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

Mark this one down on the calendar, folks: The weekend of July 10 will mark the 16th celebration of Phoenixville’s Blobfest, a weekend-long festival celebrating the 1958 horror film “The Blob,” which parts of were filmed in the Colonial Theatre, one of the cultural hallmarks of the town.

That Friday night in July for the last 15 years has been spent by a crowd in Phoenixville re-enacting a scene from the movie where masses of people run out of the front of the Colonial Theatre at 227 Bridge Street. Truly a sight.

This year’s “Run Out” is sold-out, but you can go to the area and watch it happen and take part in the rest of the weekend’s festivities, including multiple screenings of “The Blob,” an amateur film contest and a street fair. Find more information here. 

Get outside

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Courtesy of Schuylkill River Development Corporation

  • Schuylkill River Trail: Feel like running or biking a bit more than 26 miles to Phoenixville? That’s where the Schuylkill River trail that starts in Philadelphia ends. Bike past Boathouse Row, through Manayunk and end up here in Chester County.
  • Black Rock Bird Sanctuary: Into birds? Head just outside of town to 953 Black Rock Rd. to check out this 119-acre space where you can take an interpretive trail that educates about the local ecosystem.
  • Freedom Foundations at Valley Forge: Outside of town, visit this 52-acre sit that has one acre dedicated to every state, plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. Every Medal of Honor recipient is honored in the grove. Head to 1601 Valley Forge Road to check it out.

Check out First Friday

This artsy, low-key town comes alive on the first Friday of every month with live music, art, gallery openings and a mix of food and drink options in the downtown area.

From 6 to 10 p.m., take a stroll through the town and pop into art galleries and boutiques while enjoying street performances and the summer music series. More information on upcoming First Friday events can be found here. 

Top restaurants and bars

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J. FUSCO FOR VISIT PHILADELPHIA

  • Sly Fox Brewery: Located at 520 Kimberton Rd., Sly Fox’s brewpub has been operating in Phoenixville for more than two decades. The beer has been recognized on multiple occasions at The Great American Beer Festival and garnered numerous awards for beers ranging from IPAs to pilsners to lagers.
  • Molly Mcguire’s: This laid-back Irish bar at 197 Bridge St. has a relaxing atmosphere, live music and a long list of craft beer selections to accompany its menu.
  • Bistro on Bridge: Craft beer, burgers, live music and a casual menu can be found here at 210 Bridge St. Check out their beers: Bottles and drafts.
  • Steel City Coffee House: This place is both a cool coffeehouse and live music venue. Find it at 203 Bridge St.
  • Artisan’s Gallery and Cafe: Get a donut, a pastry or a “sconut” at this place and be surrounded by art and pottery created by artists from Chester County. It’s located across from the Colonial Theatre at 234 Bridge St.

If not of these restaurants and bars strike your fancy, take a walk down Bridge Street through the heart of downtown. The area is lined with places to grab a bite or check out wine tasting rooms.

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