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historic clock doylestown pa pennsylvaniaEarly this week, I was called to report for jury duty in Doylestown, Pennsylvania — a town I’d never visited, even though it’s only about 40 minutes from my home. Of course, most of my day was spent twiddling my thumbs within the gray confines of the jurors’ lounge at the courthouse, but a 1.5-hour lunch break gave me a much-needed chance to escape the building and explore.

The courthouse is in the heart of Doylestown’s downtown district, with its handsome historic buildings and flower-bedecked iron lampposts. An hour and a half wasn’t much time to grab lunch and wander around, but my brief stroll was long enough to pass several intriguing sights — a used bookstore, a local brewery — which I filed away in my head for a future visit.

I ate lunch outside on the patio of Cafe Alessio, an Italian restaurant on the corner of Court and Main Streets, then whiled away the rest of my break in the small park next to the courthouse. This green, quiet space is dedicated to “Bucks County Hometown Heroes” — local soldiers who’ve died overseas in the last decade. (Among the photos was a man from my own home town, who died in Iraq at age 25.)

I’d stuffed a few travel magazines into my bag that morning to help me kill time, but here in the park I found myself less interested in glossy photos of exotic places than in watching what was going on right in front of me: people streaming in and out of the courthouse, a postal worker emptying a blue mail receptacle, a man setting up a ladder to work on the facade of a 19th-century building.

As I sat there, soaking in my surroundings and wishing I had my camera, I was reminded that traveling isn’t just about going far away from home. On a deeper level, traveling is a way of observing the world, of seeing and appreciating with fresh eyes — even just a few miles from your own home town.

What nearby places have you enjoyed lately?

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4 Responses to “The Accidental Adventure”

  1. Pemberton says:

    I have actually been to Doylestown, and it’s a lovely place. America is full of charming, historic small towns that, sadly, often get overlooked for the big city destinations. We so often miss the good things that are in our own backyard! Great story.

  2. Deb Budd says:

    Bucks County is full of great small towns with beautiful historic districts and thriving street life. There are so many small towns in Southeastern PA that are worthy of a day trip or weekend visit, not mention the countless historic sites in the area. So many of the latter are struggling due to cuts in State funding and grants, and survive on the efforts of ardent volunteers and visitor donations. I’d also recommend the Chadd’s Ford area for its many wonderful public gardens and art museums. I believe the Brandywine Battlefield is now closed, however. Sad, as it was a fantastic place to walk and enjoy a summer’s day.

  3. Martrese says:

    What a coincidence! I grew up in NE Philly and now live in Portland, OR, and was visiting my parents in Doylestown just this past weekend. On my list of things to do was see the Hollywood costume exhibit at the James A. Michener Art Museum, but what REALLY left an impression was their “Ellis Island, Ghosts of Freedom” photography exhibit. I didn’t know about this show and was blown away – I can’t recommend that gem of a museum enough. I wish I were able to attend the photographer’s lecture on 9/28. Also, Basically Burgers at 33 N. Main St. has one of the best burgers I’ve ever had (the “black and blue”).

  4. SeaMarmot says:

    I like Doylestown’s old-timey movie theater (non-profit, community based).

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