Day Trip: Celebrating the Arts and Culture in Montgomery County

-Brenda Hillegas

A perfectly planned day trip can be created just outside of Philadelphia! Montgomery County’s Arts Montco Week returns- today through September 25th- to celebrate the over 200 attractions, live music venues, theatres, museums, arboretums, and family friendly activities that exist just a short drive away from where you live!

Last weekend, I took a quick trip through Norristown, Audubon, and King of Prussia. This small itinerary was put together for me courtesy of the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board and I learned so much in so little time. You can easily plan three or four stops in a day (make room for a coffee or cocktail break too). Here’s what we did…

First stop, Charles L. Blockson Exhibition at Norristown’s Centre Theater

Charles L. Blockson is a life-long Norristown resident who has a very extensive collection of books, letters, photographs, artifacts and memorabilia on African American history. As a child Blockson’s teacher once told him that Black people have no history. He set out to prove her wrong. Blockson is the author of 13 books and considered to be a leading expert on the Underground Railroad as well. The exhibition also features art by local Black artists, a chair Rose Parks sat in, and a small gift shop with plenty of children’s books and games on notable Black figures in history. The Centre Theatre was recently renovated and includes a large performance space and plans to open a cafe soon. It’s a wonderful place that will be able to celebrate local artists and give the community the opportunity to enjoy live theatre (it’s also steps away from Theatre Horizon and you can see their upcoming season here).

Second stop, The John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove in Audubon. 

It’s easy to spend all day here! The John James Audubon Center honors its namesake’s legacy by celebrating the conservation movements he inspired. He arrived in the US from France in 1803 and resided in the farm house on the property (tours of this space are available as well). Here, he developed a unique technique for drawing birds and became one of the world’s best-known wildlife artist. His portraits (which were always to scale) were so popular, he inspired the formation of the National Audubon Society. The site also includes nature trails along the Perkiomen Creek! The Center is a perfect stop for anyone who loves nature or art, or wants to learn more about birds and wildlife conservation. This is a super kid-friendly spot too and I look forward to bringing my toddler here to enjoy the large outdoor space, playground, zipline, slide, and even an indoor space for rainy days.

Third stop, lunch at J. Alexander’s in King of Prussia
There’s no shortage of restaurants and breweries in Montgomery County! The menu features American fare with a seasonal menu that’s always rotating. The wine list is extensive too! Order online or make a reservation. I would also recommend J. Alexander’s for happy hour if you just want to grab a quick drink and lite bites before heading to a concert or play (there are plenty going on this week and in future months; upcoming Montco area events can be found here).

So…what will you be doing for Arts Montco Week?

NEW this year…
Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board also announced a new addition to Arts Montco Week this year with the first ever Montco Jazz Fest! Some of the nation’s most celebrated jazz musicians will perform across the region with concerts, jazz brunches, and more. A kick-off event takes place September 21st at Rivet Canteen and Assembly in Pottstown.  If you are interested in the Charles L. Blockson exhibit I mentioned above, you can access it before a performance with Erich Cawalla at the Centre Theater for Jazz Week on Friday, September 23rd. Event and ticket info can be found here.

All of this and more can be found via the Visit Valley Forge mobile app or online here where you can search categories, download this year’s guide, and see participating venues. Enjoy your time and #MakeItMontco!

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