Cheap Trips: Looking for One Last Place to Visit Before School Starts? Here are Some Ideas

The start of school is now just around the corner, but so are some fun places to visit that are "just around the corner" or at least close enough to qualify as "cheap trips".

Try one of these four trips you can enjoy on just one tank of gas—Jenkins Arboretum and Gardens in Devon, QVC Studios in West Chester, Dutch Springs in Bethlehem and William Penn Fire Tower and Reading’s Pagoda.

Address: 631 Berwyn Baptist Rd., Devon, PA
How Far From Your Patch: It's in Devon.
Admission Fee: Free

  • Grounds are open (365 days per year) 8 a.m. - sunset
  • Education Center is open 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. daily

Summary: Jenkins Arboretum and Gardens is a 40-plus acre site in the middle of a residential neighborhood that offers a nature-filled sanctuary with paths, ponds, a plant shop and a new education center. With more than a mile of paved walkways through lush gardens and wooded areas, Jenkins Arboretum and Gardens is a great place to learn about the plants, birds and insects native to the area, or to just take a relaxing walk. Special programs and classes are offered throughout the year for all ages. There is plenty of free parking.


Address: 1200 Wilson Dr., West Chester, PA
How Far From Your Patch About 15-30 minutes

  • $7.50 per adult
  • $5 for children ages 6-12

Tour Times: 10:30 a.m., Noon, 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tours are available seven days a week.
Reservations: Not necessary for parties up to nine people. Children younger than 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Groups of 10 people or more require a reservation.
Summary: You’ve heard about “The Shopping Channel” before, but did you know that you could watch all the action live at QVC Studio Park? Since opening in the fall of 1997, QVC Studio Park in West Chester has become a popular destination for thousands of visitors interested in seeing live television. Once there, you get a guided walking tour of the state-of-the-art broadcasting facility, and guests will see and hear how QVC products are sourced, tested, brought to life on air, and delivered to millions of QVC customers. There’s also a great view from the Observation Deck where guests may be able to watch QVC programs in progress and may even catch a glimpse of a favorite host or guest.


Address: 4733 Hanoverville Road, Bethlehem, PA
How Far From Your Patch:About 63 miles
Admission Fee: Aqua Park ranges from $10-$15 for children ages 5-9 and $19 -$24 for those 10 and older, depending on the day of week.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Summary: Dutch Springs is a family adventure park that includes an Aqua Park, 50-acre scuba diving lake and Sky Challenge rock climbing/high ropes course. Visitors can rent kayaks or paddle boats. There's a snack bar or visitors can bring their own food and picnic at tables with canopies.


William Penn Fire Tower and Reading’s Pagoda

Address: 98 Duryea Drive, Reading, PA
How Far From Your Patch? About 45 miles
Admission Fee: $1 donation to climb the Pagoda, donation to climb the Fire Tower
Hours: Pagoda is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday noon to 4 p.m., the Fire Tower is open the third Saturday of the month from noon until 5 p.m.
Summary: These two historic buildings on the top of Mt. Penn have been restored and opened to the public for touring. The Pagoda was built in 1908 as a luxury hotel, which never opened. The lights on the Pagoda were afterward used a Morse code for the residents of Reading. The Fire Tower was built as a fire observation tower in 1939, and from the top of the tower, there is a 60-mile panoramic view of the city of Reading. The two buildings are very close to one another and a fun afternoon.



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