On the to-do list this week: Spend some time learning about the area’s history, influential artists, and impact on the world at one of the great museums just outside of Philly (which means most have parking!).

On my personal to-do list: I’m ordering myself some free COVID-19 tests.

📆 Need something to do this weekend or next week? We have an events calendar with 20+ things to do in Philly and outside of the city, too. See our full calendar, here.

We’ve collected our best Philly tips all in one place here. Stay healthy, stay safe, and get vaccinated.

Jillian Wilson

Winter toolkit

Weekend planner

Here is one highlight from our weekly events calendar:

🍃 Warm-Up Walk/Stroll by the River, Pennypack on the Delaware (Nature / in-person / free) Sometimes it takes having someone else organize a walk outdoors in order for you to get yourself — not to mention the kids in your life — outside. This one has time slots every 15 to 30 minutes, so you can drop by and sip a free hot cider with your nature tour. Registration requested but not required. All ages. (Free, Jan. 22, 1-3 p.m., 7801 State Rd., letsgooutdoors.net)

🔎 Find more of this week’s events, and we even have a kid-friendly events calendar, too.

Go here

A cold winter weekend is an ideal time to explore warm, heated museums. And those museums aren’t just within city limits — the towns surrounding the city are also home to museums, cultural institutions, and national parks that showcase the region’s history and culture. If you’re looking to mask up and spend some time outside of your living room this weekend, we have a guide to must-visit museums just outside of Philly.

Here are a few of my picks, along with some cool museum highlights.

John James Audubon Center

Highlight: The Wow Birds! Gallery includes a sound forest where you can listen to different birds from various habitats, an area where you can peek into an actual bird’s nest, and an interactive flyaway map where migration patterns of different species are tracked using bulb lighting.

📍1201 Pawlings Rd., Audubon, 📞 610-666-5593, 🌐 johnjames.audubon.org, 🕑 Wed.-Sun. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 💵 $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, $10 for youth (ages 6-17); free on Sunday mornings from 10 a.m.-noon.

Mercer Museum & Fonthill Castle

Highlight: One of the items that make the trip to the Mercer Museum worth it is the Lenape Stone. The first of the two stone slabs was found in Bucks County by farmer Barnard Hansell in the spring of 1872. A few months later, Hansell found the second and final piece in the same field where he discovered the first. On the stone is an image of an Indigenous hunting party tracking woolly mammoths.

📍Mercer Museum, 525 E. Court St., Doylestown, Fonthill Castle, East Court Street & Route 313, Doylestown 📞 215-348-9461, 🌐 mercermuseum.org, 📷 @mercerandfonthill, 🕑 Tue.-Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 💵 $15 for adults, $13 for seniors (65+), and $8 for youth ages 6-17

Valley Forge National Historical Park

Highlight: Among the John F. Reed Collection in the museum is a December 23, 1777 letter written at Valley Forge by General George Washington to the President of Congress, Henry Laurens. Washington goes into detail about the low morale of the Continental Army and his belief that if he didn’t address the Continental Army, there may be some deserters.

📍1400 N. Outer Line Dr., King of Prussia, 📞 610-783-1077, 🌐 nps.gov, 📷 @valleyforgepark, 🕑 Visitor Center, daily 9 a.m-5 p.m.; Park grounds, 7 a.m.-sunset, 💵 Free

» READ MORE: Insider’s guide to 19 essential museums just outside Philadelphia

Do this

Between the cold weather, circulating COVID-19 variants, and pandemic-induced problems, it’s a tough time for many folks. There are ways to help, though, thanks to the hard work being done by local organizations that are working to provide vulnerable communities throughout Philadelphia with the necessities they need. There are many ways you can support these groups by donating your time, your money, and new or gently used items.

Whether you want to donate some pantry items to a community fridge, volunteer to help a group organize their donations, drive food deliveries to those who need it, or donate money to a worthy cause, we have a guide to how to give back in Philly, no matter what that looks like to you.

» READ MORE: How to give back in Philly: Ways to volunteer, donate, and support local groups

Insta inspo

It’s hot chocolate season and any true hot cocoa fan knows that the best hot chocolate outposts have way more than just the classic flavor. A short drive away in Princeton, The Bent Spoon has plenty of hot chocolate options that may even make you excited for the cold weather. (Maybe?) They have hot cocoa in flavors like peppermint, white chocolate, mocha, heirloom habanero, and more — they also have vegan options for those who are dairy-free.

🤓 A fun fact

Thanks for reading! We’ll be back next week with more things to do this month. But in the meantime, here’s something to know:

It’s day one of Girl Scout Cookie season in Southeastern PA. Favorite flavors like Thin Mints (the biggest seller), Caramel deLites, Shortbread, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, and more are back, along with some new selections.