One of the first questions you’re asked when meeting someone on the road is “where are you from?” This simple question can break the ice and help to get a conversation started. And every once and awhile you have that “small world” moment when the person you just met happens to be from the same town as you.
However, it rarely happens to Leslie and I and chances are its because we lie about where we are from. Instead of telling people we’re from West Chester we say we’re from Philadelphia.
We figure that people know more about Philadelphia than they do about West Chester (unless they know someone who went to West Chester University or they happen to be a huge Bam Margera fan). But the fact of the matter is we don’t know too much about Philadelphia ourselves. We grew up 30 minutes outside of the city and have only gone into the city on a few occasions (mostly for school field trips).
This week we decided it was time to learn more about the city “we are from”, so we took a day trip to explore Philadelphia. And apparently we aren’t the only ones thinking it is time to visit Philly.
PHILADELPHIA IS ALL THE RAGEPhiladelphia hasn’t had the best track record over the years, even if it is the birthplace of our country. According to GQ’s list of The Worst Sports Fans in America, Philadelphia sports fans are so vile that being named the worst fans isn’t enough (spoiler alert: we are the second worst as well). On top of that, using FBI crime data, Business Insider ranked Philadelphia as the 12th most dangerous city in America.
But times are changing! The New York Times recently ranked Philadelphia #3 out of the top 52 places to go in 2015 (which is highest ranked U.S. city on the list). Well Pope Francis must have read the NYT article because this September he will become the first Pope to visit Philadelphia since Pope John Paul II visited in 1979.
AN EARLY START
You know how people say “early bird gets the worm?” Well in Philly it gets you parking from 9:00-6:00 for $12! I don’t know if sitting through an hour of traffic and getting lost was worth it or not, but we did make it in time!
Our first stop was Independence Hall. We didn’t spend a ton of time here, but we did peer through the window to the Liberty Bell and walked around Washington Square Park. The historic district of Philly is beautiful, with brick pathways and old buildings.
We then walked east for about 20 minutes until we found Spruce Street Harbor Park. We’ve heard rave reviews, but we definitely caught it at an off time. At 11AM, it was still overcast, chilly, and a little damp. All of the food vendors were in the process of opening, and the little arcade around in the park was still closed. But with a little imagination, I could see how this park would be fun on a warm summer night. We will definitely be coming back!
The park has colorful seating
including plenty of hammocks hanging from the trees!
A BREAK FOR BRUNCH
When it came time to get something to eat we decided to follow the recommendation of a family member to get one of the “best brunches in town” at Green Eggs Café! We walked over to 13th and Locust and were immediately seated inside. We ordered and sipped on some coffee, because at this point we needed a little rejuvenation.
Brad ordered their Lambwich (braised lamb shoulder, vadouvan-raisin jam, harissa aioli, arugula, shredded carrots, red onions, served on toasted ciabatta) with a side of jalapeño and bacon mac&cheese. I chowed down on (square) pancakes with strawberries and blueberries with a side of extra-thick bacon!
APPRECIATING ART INSTALLATIONS
Next we hit up the Magic Gardens on South Street, which was a convenient ten-minute walk from Green Eggs. The Magic Gardens is an outdoor gallery space created by mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar. The space is covered top to bottom with a wide range of ceramic tiles, glass bottles, bike wheels and found objects. It’s a very popular Philly destination, but definitely worth checking out!
The unique gallery space has multiple levels
with several staircases that are great for photo ops
Our next goal was to make it to Eakin’s Oval, but along the way we stopped at LOVE park to get a few photos. This past week, the Oval was featuring an exhibit called Future Sensations. The exhibition celebrates the 350th anniversary of Saint-Gobain, a French multinational corporation that produces a variety of high-performance materials including the tubing used in Camelbaks!
The infamous LOVE Park sculpture
The exhibit started in Shanghai, China, before moving to São Paulo, Brazil. Today is the final day in Philadelphia, the only stop in North America, before moving on to the final stop in Paris, France. It features 5 different installations which could hold around 25 people at a time. Each one provided a “sensory journey” based on science, storytelling and art. Several of the rooms were pitch black, featuring bright lights and sounds, while another was an outdoor “merry-go-round” like space, featuring translucent walls of color.
CATCHING UP WITH AN OLD FRIEND
At this point we felt we had enough of the touristy experience, so we met up with a good friend of mine who lives in north Philly in the Port Richmond area. We grabbed some beers, relaxed and caught up at her apartment. She showed us a couple cool spots near her place – the graffiti pier, an urban garden and later that night, a couple of bars.
The barcade is a great place to grab a beer and play some of your favorite games from childhood
All in all it was a great day in the city! While we wish the weather would have cooperated with us, we still had a blast walking around town (14.09 miles of walking according to Brad’s Fitbit). We will definitely be heading back in the near future so we could use any recommendations you might have!
Have you been to Philadelphia before? What is your favorite thing to do in the city? Leave a comment below!