Right at the very heart of Bucks County is the charming and slow-paced city of Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
It has a unique cultural heritage and storied past that make it a haven for those who want to discover America’s history and immerse in the still-standing relics of bygone eras.
In addition, there are a lot of nature-related attractions near the city proper for those that love wildlife.
The art scene, local cuisine, and a welcoming community make it an ideal destination for the young and old alike.
So if you’re looking for a laid-back vacation that isn’t too far or isolated from major cities, then this borough is a great option.
Here are the 15 best things to do in Doylestown, PA:
Feel Like a Royal at Fonthill Castle
The most famous attraction in town is the Mercer Mile, a series of structures built by celebrated tile maker and archeologist Henry Chapman Mercer.
Fonthill Castle is the first stop, and it’s a truly regal and majestic sight to behold.
Upon arrival, you might think that you’ve been sent to one of the ancient castles used by England’s dukes.
Worry not; you’re still in the United States.
Fonthill Castle is not technically a castle, but the sheer beauty of its intricate facade, colonial architecture, and stoic ambiance will make you feel like you’re exploring the property of a monarch.
Mercer built the structure in the early 1900s, and it was the first building that used poured-in-place concrete, which was an innovation at the time.
Today, the 44 rooms are open for tours.
Join one and explore the expansive collection of Mercer, most of which come from his trips to various parts of the world.
Witness the Sights at Henry Schmieder Arboretum
Doylestown is the location of Delaware Valley University, and within the campus is the panoramic Henry Schmieder Arboretum.
Various species of healthy and verdant trees make this horticultural jewel a must-visit for all those who love nature and plant life.
The whole place is dedicated to research and education about the various local species planted here.
So not only will you get to enjoy the landscaped grounds and carefully curated trees, but you’ll also gain a deeper understanding of their importance and their biology.
The best time to take the self-guided tours is in spring, as most of the trees and bushes bloom together to create a colorful display that will enthrall every visitor.
Enter an Imaginary World at Mercer Museum
The next stop in the Mercer Mile is the Mercer Museum, a place that looks like it’s been taken straight out of a fantastical dream.
Outside, you might think that it’s a typical Mercer structure like Fonthill Castle, with its equally regal architecture weathered from decades of wind and rain.
But inside, you’re mind will be blown at the fantasy-esque displays in every corner you look at.
Floating hulls of ships, wooden wheels, carriages, and so many other curiosities hang from the ceiling and walls of the museum.
There are also colorful tiles creating mesmerizing patterns, figures, and motifs embedded in the concrete.
These are all part of Mercer’s collections, and they’ve been designed in a playful and magical manner that will leave every visitor awe-struck.
So make sure that it’s one the top of your itinerary—you won’t regret the experience.
Smell the Flowers at Peace Valley Lavender Farm
Sitting right next to the park is a privately owned farm that grows fragrant purple flowers.
Peace Valley Lavender Farm is a quaint stopover after your excursion in Lake Galena.
Here, the owners grow lush shrubs that produce sweet-smelling lavenders to turn into various products.
The garden itself is a sight for sore eyes—neat rows of light purple rods dancing in the gentlest breezes with a backdrop of the stocky barn standing on the other end of the farm.
You’re welcome to pick your own flowers to bring home!
The rest of the blossoms are harvested and turned into a wide range of products.
Soaps and lotions, culinary ingredients, and even pillows scented with the stuff are available in their barn.
Bring Home a Memorabilia From Moravian Pottery & Tile Works Museum
The last stop of the Mercer Mile is Moravian Pottery & Tile Works Museum, and it’s the most interactive one amongst the three destinations.
This “working history” museum is where Mercer originally worked to create his signature tiles, and today, it’s still a well-functioning facility.
With fine details and colorful designs, these handmade tiles are works of art by themselves.
They are created by artisans who still use molds developed by Mercer himself, resulting in precise and charming products.
You’re welcome to explore the facility and see how each piece is made.
There are also audio tours where you can learn more about the history of the location and its significance to the art movement in Pennsylvania.
Don’t forget to bring home a tile as a remembrance of your visit to the Mercer Mile.
Tour the Halls of Pearl S. Buck House
Pearl S. Buck House is a 67-acre homestead that has earned a title as a National Historic Landmark.
It was the home of celebrated author and Nobel Literature Prize winner Pearl S. Buck, the first American woman ever to win the prestigious award.
Today, her house has been turned into an important site to preserve her legacy and fund the nonprofit that aims to continue her humanitarian works.
It is located on a sprawling farm and has a design that serves as a prime sample of Pennsylvanian architecture during her era.
Join a tour of the home and see for yourself where Pearl worked on her masterpieces, as well as the many modifications she added to really make the house her own.
There’s a museum and a library containing some of her most important collections and notable items she owned, most of which allude to her background as a missionary who served in China.
Let the Kids Play at Central Park
Take a break from history and visit an open and spacious destination in Doylestown, the town’s own Central Park.
Located near the banks of Neshaminy Creek, this is the largest park of the borough, serving as the flagship of the Doylestown Park System.
The favorite attraction here is the Kid’s Castle, a portion of the park dedicated to children.
The large, castle-themed play structures make for a uniquely Doylestown experience, and your kids are welcome to have fun here all day.
And in a park as large as this, you can expect miles of hiking and biking trails that will bring you to shaded and isolated areas of the facility.
There are also fitness trails, soccer fields, and activity stations for those who want to get their blood pumping.
Buy Seasonal Produce at Doylestown Farmer’s Market
Looking for a place where you can find fresh vegetables, fruits, and other crops?
Doylestown Farmer’s Market is open every Saturday from April to November.
Here, you’ll find the agricultural heritage of the town in full display: seasonal produce, hundreds of vegetable and fruit cultivars, and fragrant blooms are sold in the numerous stalls along Hamilton Street.
Aside from produce, the market has space for local businesses offering handmade furniture, home decor, and baked goods.
Take your time and see all that the friendly community has to offer.
Don’t forget to mingle with vendors and locals so you can make friends during your trip.
See the Stunning Pieces at Michener Art Museum
Aficionados of the visual arts will have an amazing time exploring the grand halls of Michener Art Museum.
It’s another historic facility that serves as the home for artworks by some of Pennsylvania’s most prolific and talented artists.
But before seeing these pieces, you have to explore the grounds of the museum itself.
Courtyards, pavilions, outdoor gardens, and landscaped terraces add a serene and castle-like ambiance that adds to the experience.
Within the halls of the facility are more than 2,700 paintings, photographs, sculptures, and other visual art.
These showcase the different artistic eras of the state as well as the notable artists during these periods.
Reflect and Meditate at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa
The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa is a Polish-American Roman Catholic shrine built in 1953.
Thousands of people flock to this church daily to pay their respects to the Madonna, pray for blessings, and ask for guidance to whatever challenge they are facing.
So if you’re a spiritual person who wants to visit solemn places of worship, then spend a few hours here to reflect and find peace.
But even those who aren’t religious will have an amazing time exploring the grounds and structures of the complex.
The shrine itself is a view to behold: a large sculpture on the altar with delicately designed angels all pointing towards the painting of the Black Madonna.
Outside the sprawling grounds, there are stone sculptures like Archangel Michael, the Blessed Mary, and Jesus Christ standing on key places.
Of course, the facade of the church itself is a sight to behold, with a classical design that perfectly encapsulates the Polish origins of the shrine.
Have a Fun Family Day at Peace Valley Park
Unplug from modernity and unwind at the gorgeous destination that is Peace Valley Park.
Located on the northeastern borders of Doylestown, this 1500-acre park offers more than 14 miles of trails, verdant grounds, thick forests, and the beautiful Lake Galena.
It’s an ideal site for fishing, sailing, paddleboarding, and kayaking, with an often calm surface that’s perfect for beginners and those who want a relaxing adventure.
During winter, the whole lake freezes over, turning it into a favorite ice skating park for locals and visitors alike.
Adjacent to the lake is Peace Valley Nature Center, which offers tours, educational programs, and other activities that let you learn more about the park and its local wildlife.
Lots of animals and plants call this place their sanctuary, and there are even some closed routes and areas where they can be left undisturbed.
But you can still go birdwatching and explore the many trails for a chance to encounter this curious fauna.
Go Restaurant Hopping Downtown
No trip to Doylestown would be complete without trying out the local favorites.
There are many restaurants downtown, particularly on Main and State Street, so make sure you arrive with an empty stomach, so you’ll have room for savory delights.
Honey is a Doylestown institution, serving dazzling and innovative dishes such as glazed ribs, “Black Velvet” oysters, and boar and escargot skewer.
Another well-known dining establishment is Lilly's Restaurant and Catering, and they have artisanal sandwiches, gourmet salads, and brewed beverages.
Pennsylvania Soup & Seafood is also recommended for those who want to try fresh seafood, savory sandwiches, and of course, a wide selection of soups.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Once you’re done exploring all the attractions of Doylestown, why not drive to these other nearby destinations?
Stay Awhile at Nockamixon State Park
Less than 30 minutes away from the city proper of Doylestown is Bucks County’s most visited outdoor destination, Nockamixon State Park.
And while a lot of people come to this place daily to enjoy the scenery, it has more than 5200 acres of space, so there’s plenty of room for every visitor.
The most prominent attraction here is Lake Nochamixon, a beautiful body of water sitting at the very heart of the park.
Surrounding it are forested areas, wooded nature trails, and spacious clearings where you can stay and commune with nature.
Other activities to try include boating and kayaking on the lake, but swimming is prohibited.
There are also plenty of picnic benches, campgrounds, play structures, and cozy cabins where you and your family can stay for a while.
If you’re feeling adventurous, the forests are occasionally open for hunting, with game such as deer, pheasants, and turkey roaming within the park.
Cruise the Thrilling Neshaminy Creek
Neshaminy Creek is a fast-moving body of water that offers thrilling adventures and lots of gorgeous sceneries.
And while it still lies right on the borders of Doylestown, the main launch point for kayaks and rafts is at Covered Bridge Park in neighboring New Britain.
So board your chosen mode of transport and explore the meandering creek and all its hidden wonders.
There are places that go under scenic bridges, calm and deep areas for fishing, and shallow, turbulent rapids that will challenge your paddling skills.
But if you don’t want to get wet, you can simply follow the trails running parallel to the creek.
They are great for peaceful nature walks, wildlife encounters, and riverside photography.
Listen to the Boulders at Ringing Rocks County Park
If you’re looking for an unusual natural destination, then make a stopover at Ringing Rocks County Park.
As the name implies, the park has an 8-acre field filled with diabase boulders, unremarkable except for the fact that they can produce music.
Bring a hammer and strike the stones to produce resonant notes similar to that of a xylophone.
It’s a rare phenomenon that exists in few other places in the world, so it’s your chance to experience it while visiting the region.
And since you’re already at the park, trek the route to Bucks County’s highest waterfall, the majestic High Falls, which is also located in the vicinity.
So if you have a few hours to spare, drive the 30-minute route from Doylestownto to this famous destination and get hammering!
Doylestown is brimming with attractions that celebrate both the achievement of its locals and the surrounding natural sceneries.
It’s a laid-back and relaxing destination with hidden wonders for those who are patient and curious enough.
Reference this list while planning your itinerary so you won’t miss any of these charming attractions!