pennsbury manor

Day-tripping Pennsbury Manor: Check out Billy Penn’s summer home

Sometimes you just have to get away — but not that far away. Philadelphia is a three-hour drive or train ride from so many places. You can go, spend a day and come back that night. No hotel required. This summer Billy Penn will highlight the best places to go for these “Day Trips” every Friday.

Big fan of Billy Penn?

We are. Even if you’re not, the area where his summer home once sat north of Philadelphia is a gem along the Delaware River and a great fit for a day trip out of the city. Pennsbury Manor is 43 acres of land complete with a recreated estate from the 17th century, and guided tours are offered of the area. Expect Colonial-era re-enactors, exhibits and opportunities to learn more about the Quakers and their daily life hundreds of years ago.

Here’s all you need to know about day-tripping Pennsbury Manor:

How to Get There

It will probably take you about 40 minutes by car to get to Pennsbury Manor, so long as there isn’t too much traffic on I-95.

Cost

It costs $9 per adult for a guided tour of the house and tours are usually scheduled in advance by calling 215-946-0400. However, you can get a $2 discount if you come with a large group or have AAA. Also be sure to check out the Manor’s calendar of events ahead of time in case anything is coming up on the day of your trip.

Why you should check it out

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This place is filled with history. The estate was once the summer home of William Penn, the founding father who sits atop City Hall and overlooks Philadelphia — he was also incidentally a brainiac and once kicked some dude’s ass while studying in Paris. When King Charles II owed Penn the equivalent of a million dollars, he (instead of paying up) bestowed upon Penn a chunk of land in the New World. Pennsylvania was born, and Penn settled in Philadelphia where he wanted to create a place of religious and political freedom.

There’s now an exhibit at Pennsbury Manor, one of many things to do there, that lays out Penn’s life and his contributions to Colonial America. Called “William Penn: Seed of a Nation,” the exhibit features: “objects excavated from the foundations of William Penn’s original summer house and kitchen house during the archeological digs conducted at Pennsbury in the 1930s, a copy of the Charter of Pennsylvania, dioramas featuring life-sized models of early Pennsylvanians who lived and worked at Pennsbury Manor, and a number of fun and interesting activities.”

Much of the rest of Pennsbury Manor serves as a “living history” museum, meaning re-enactors recreate Colonial life across the estate. While the structures aren’t the same ones that stood in the 17th century, they’re replicas meant largely for historical and educational purposes.

There’s no good way to tell if the recreations are historically accurate, but archaeology and inventories of objects in the house allowed constructors of the property to get as close as possible. Three drawings of the estate exist and, according to Pennsbury Manor’s site, they all look completely different. Still, creators strive to make it as historically accurate as possible.

Here’s a look at what’s inside the manor house, ranging from the “great hall” to the “common parlor” to the “old kitchen.” Re-enactors there take on roles of people who were at one point at Pennsbury, including William Penn’s cousin, fellow Quakers and people who worked on the estate.

Where to eat afterwards

Once you’re done checking out the Pennsbury Manor, you have a few options for grub after:

  • Palermo’s II: Swing across the river to Roebling, New Jersey for highly-recommended pizza and tomato pies.
  • Under the Pier: One of your best bets for food nearby would be to head to Levittown. While there, you can check out Under the Pier, which offers a variety of seafood.
  • Kasdon’s Restaurant: Also in Levittown, this tavern has sandwiches and pub fare along with a full-service bar.
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