Four delightful highlights of Philadelphia

TRUTH TIME: I didn’t really like Philadelphia when I went down there for a day last month. I was all set to write a piece on how weird it is when I, a self-proclaimed City Girl, don’t like particular cities – and I still might. But for now, I want to inject a little bit of positivity into my memories and present four things that I found to be delightful, despite not loving Philly as a whole. Unsurprisingly, half of these things are food.

The history

Independence Hall, PhiladelphiaIndependence Hall, Philadelphia

The first thing I did after getting off the bus was tour Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Touristy to be sure, but it was so cool -at least to this history buff – to be standing where George Washington and his peers once stood and hashed out our freedom.

The architecture

Philadelphia City HallView from One Liberty Observatory Deck, Philadelphia

The observatory itself left much to be desired, but I can’t deny the beauty of Philadelphia’s architecture, both old and new.

Reading Terminal Market

Philly cheese steak at Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia

This food market – the oldest in the United States – is like Chelsea Market times 100. As soon as I walked in the door, my senses were assaulted and I was overwhelmed with choice for my lunch. I obviously settled on a Philly cheese steak (it was better than it looks!), but even then there were multiple booths to choose from! As a foodie, this place was heaven on earth – I even returned in the late afternoon to pick up donuts for the ride home.

Happy hour at Brü

Happy hour at Brü, Philadelphia

I passed by this bar in the afternoon. It was 95 degrees outside and I still had hours to kill before my bus, so I was drawn in by the happy hour specials and spent two hours at a table by myself, eating a pretzel and drinking local beers. I even pulled out my Kindle and did my community group reading for the week!

I do hope to return to Philly one day and do it “right” (I think some of my dislike stems from my own mistakes in planning). What should I see and do next time around?

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Elfreth’s Alley, Philadelphia

If there’s one thing Philadelphia is known for, it’s history. The city played a crucial role in our nation’s early years, and when I popped down for a day last month, I was really excited as a history buff to learn as much as I could.

What I didn’t quite expect was that so many of the historical places are still open and thriving today! As much as I loved seeing things like Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence was signed) and the Liberty Bell, I also adored wandering Elfreth’s Alley, the USA’s oldest – and possibly cutest – residential street.

Red shutters in Elfreth's Alley, Philadelphia

Built in the early 1700s, Elfreth’s Alley occupies about one block in the Old City neighborhood and has been home to a diverse group of Americans over the centuries.

Elfreth's Alley, PhiladelphiaYellow shutters in Elfreth's Alley, PhiladelphiaAmerican window in Elfreth's Alley, Philadelphia

I was in town just a couple weeks before the Fourth of July, but I like to think this little street is this patriotic year-round.

Red door and shutters in Elfreth's Alley, PhiladelphiaElfreth's Alley, Philadelphia

Elfreth’s Alley has a museum which was closed, because I visited on a Monday (not my best planning job, I’ll admit). But one young (I assume…) resident had written up some facts about the street and displayed it in a  window!Purple shutters in Elfreth's Alley, PhiladelphiaLamppost in Elfreth's Alley, PhiladelphiaElfreth's Alley, Philadelphia

I sort of assumed it would be expensive to live here, but then I saw a woman about my age come out of one of the buildings and go about her day, so the dream is alive! Which house would you want to occupy? I’m calling dibs on the one with the yellow trim!

Visiting One Liberty Observatory Deck in Philadelphia

Y’all know me well enough by now to know that I’m borderline obsessed with observatories (see: New York, Boston, San Francisco, New York again and again). So I’m sure you can imagine my sheer delight at discovering Philadelphia’s One Liberty Observatory Deck, which opened just last year. How perfect for my one-day adventure last month!

View from One Liberty Observatory Deck, PhiladelphiaView from One Liberty Observatory Deck, PhiladelphiaView from One Liberty Observatory Deck, Philadelphia

Except… it wasn’t. One Liberty is my least favorite of the observatories I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. It felt dark – whether it was the windows themselves or the carpet and walls, I can’t say. It’s structured so you can’t get right up against the windows, and frankly, there’s not much to do besides look out the windows. I strongly believe that if you’re going to charge someone to go up high in a building, you should provide more than views – there were a handful of displays with random facts about Philly, and two areas with about two-minute informational tracks on repeat, but that was it. I stuck around for over an hour taking photos just to feel like I had gotten my money’s worth.

View from One Liberty Observatory Deck, PhiladelphiaView from One Liberty Observatory Deck, PhiladelphiaView from One Liberty Observatory Deck, Philadelphia

In spite of this, I got some cool photos. And in the interest of staying positive: The architecture was incredible, and there was an offbeat sculpture of Benjamin Franklin the likes of which I’d never seen.

Benjamin Franklin at One Liberty Observation Deck, Philadelphia

To be honest, I’m sure you’ve already gathered that I don’t really recommend a visit to One Liberty Observatory Deck. But if you do want to check it out for yourself, tickets are $19 and are available online or in person (there was no line when I went, and now I can see why). And hey, if you go and have a different opinion – please tell me! I don’t like it when I don’t like observatories.

What’s your FAVORITE observatory?

Eating through Cold Spring

I spent a grand total of about two hours in Cold Spring, New York, and I managed to eat an absurd amount of food in that amount of time. Turns out hiking makes you hungry! Not only that, but everything was delicious. Here are my recommendations for a day in this small town – I can’t wait to go back and eat even more!

Brunch at Hudson Hil's Cafe, Cold Spring, New York

Hudson Hil’s

Our first order of business after making it off the mountain was obviously brunch. We went to Hudson Hil’s, were immediately seated (something a group of ten New Yorkers was definitely not used to) and ate our weight in food. I can definitely recommend the French toast – and, yes, that is a beer. I deserved it.

Cold Spring Candy Co. in Cold Spring, New York

Cold Spring Candy Co.

We then made our way to the Cold Spring Emporium, where a group of us was immediately distracted by the free fudge tasting! I left the candy store with a huge piece of peanut butter fudge, enough to last me a full week. This place is the definition of small-town charm – the owner is also a guitar dealer across the way, and pops back and forth between his shops!

Ice cream parlor in Cold Spring, New YorkIce cream parlor in Cold Spring, New YorkIce cream parlor in Cold Spring, New York

The Village Scoop

Conveniently located right next to the train station, this ice cream parlor made the perfect last stop on our day trip. The ice cream isn’t anything to write home about, but it was delicious enough, and the parlor is adorable. Also, they’re cash only – which reminds me, I owe my best friend five bucks…

 

Currently: June 2016

Breakneck Ridge, New York

Reading: I just started Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey for this new season of community groups!

Wearing: I’m in shorts and an old t-shirt from when my high school won the football state championships in 2012. It’s Sunday morning and I haven’t quite got my day started yet!

Buying: I finally picked out prescription sunglasses from Warby Parker, and they should be in the mail this week! That was my only major purchase in May. Looking forward, I’ll be booking flights to Texas this month for August, and I have my eyes on a pair of white Ked-style sneakers for summer.

Listening to: Nothing at the moment! Just the hum of my fan. (Didn’t even have to change that answer from May!)

Eating: I haven’t eaten yet today but I’m planning on chicken teriyaki with rice for lunch, followed by an afternoon of grazing on junk food at church.

Watching: Last night I rented Brooklyn from Amazon, after plowing through the book earlier in the week. I liked it! I was skeptical when it felt like it was 75% of the way through the book plot in the first half hour, but it all came together and it was definitely fun to see the words come to life.

Planning: Not much big stuff – little summer adventures here and there, and a potential weekend trip to DC (my DC friends were going to come here, but they just got a puppy!)

Excited for: All of the summer adventures! A big group is heading to the Yankee game tomorrow, and in general I’m excited for rooftop bars and picnics  and loooooong days.

Hoping: A lot of my hopes lately have come true (!) and I’m finding it hard to think of ways for life to be any better!

Books read: 21/52- ON TRACK

Trips taken: 6/12 – Thanks to a little getaway this month for reminding me of the spirit of this challenge, which is having adventures even if I only have a day to spare!

How last month’s challenge went: Horrifically bad.

This month’s challenge: One hour of screen-free time every day. So far so good!

And how is YOUR June going?