Recreation, history, retail and the arts intersect in irresistible ways in the Valley Forge area. Located 18 miles west of downtown Philadelphia, it is most often remembered as the site of George Washington’s winter encampment of 1777-1778, where the army was transformed from a rag-tag band of soldiers into the fighting force that went on to win the American Revolution.
More information and photographs of local sites are available from:
Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau
Attn: John Golden, Director of Communications
1000 First Avenue - Suite 101
King of Prussia, PA 19406
Phone: 800.441.3549, ext 7985 or 610.834.7985
After hours only: 610.420.6337
(M-F: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST)
History Meets Art
Enjoy the tranquil beauty of Valley Forge National Historical Park’s 3,500 acres of rolling hillsides and sparkling streams. In the spring, flowering dogwoods, red buds and mountain laurel dot the landscape and, in the fall, the countryside explodes with yellow, red and orange.
Soldiers’ replica log huts and many monuments to the soldiers’ sacrifices are evident. A new interactive exhibit on Washington serves as the educational gateway to his original stone headquarters at the encampment – considered the Pentagon of its day.
Tucked away on Valley Forge Mountain is the Wharton Esherick Studio Museum. This former painter, furniture maker, and sculptor is heralded by the national art and design community as the “Dean of American Craftsmen” for his leadership in developing non-traditional designs, and encouraging and inspiring artists and craftspeople by his example. There’s also The Stoogeum, the world’s only museum dedicated to The Three Stooges.
Nature serves as the backdrop at Abington Art Center’s 27-acre sculpture park, where artists are invited to respond to the landscape with temporary installations that change throughout the year.
For groups of 15 or more, the American Treasure Tour is the area’s newest draw, offering a 90-minute guided tram tour of more than 100,000 pieces of Americana spanning every decade in the 20th century. It includes a magnificent collection of nickelodeons, all housed in an old B.F. Goodrich tire factory.
King of Shopping
King of Prussia Mall, the largest retail-shopping complex on the East Coast, features upscale items for the trendiest fashionistas. Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom’s, Neiman-Marcus, Tiffany & Co., and Williams-Sonoma – the list goes on and on. And just a few miles away is Philadelphia Premium Outlets with more than 150 outlet stores and savings of 25 to 65 percent every day on brand name designers. Irresistible Main Streets, like Ambler, Ardmore and Skippack Village, are full of eclectic shopping, excellent eats and entertaining evenings.
A Recreation Escape
Fifty-five miles of biking trails traverse the county and even connect Center City, Philadelphia to Valley Forge National Historical Park via the 22-mile Schuylkill River Trail. At the Park, 20 miles of multipurpose trails traverse rolling hills dotted with replica soldier huts. The 19-mile Perkiomen Trail leads north to Green Lane Park where visitors can rent boats and fish in the spring and summer and catch weekly concerts.
For adventure seekers there is Spring Mountain Adventures. Open year-round, Spring Mountain is an adrenaline addict’s dream offering skiing, snowboarding, zip line canopy tours above the treetops, rock climbing, geo-caching and even extreme biking. And new for 2012, the Woodside Lodge at Spring Mountain, a newly-remodeled 1920s era nine-room country manor.
John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove is this French-born artist/naturalist’s first home in America. Here he developed his revolutionary painting style, and a wire armature to capture birds and animals in naturalistic poses. The grounds are still much as they were when Audubon found them–a sanctuary for birds and wildlife.
More than 150 animals are featured in natural settings at the Elmwood Park Zoo, an area must-see. It is home to one of the largest open-air bald eagle exhibits in the country and visitors, especially young children, will marvel at bison and elk, wolves and cougars, alligators and the “Butterflies and Blossoms” exhibit.
And with over 40 public golf courses, there is no shortage of links from which visitors and locals can “hit it flush.”
A Sure Bet
A stone’s throw from where George Washington and his troops camped for the winter, the recently-opened Valley Forge Casino Resort offers 486 guest rooms among two hotels, seven dining spots, two retail outlets, a country music-themed nightspot, fitness center and spa.
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