Despite the Spiced Pumpkin Latte in your hand, or the school bus honking at the end of your driveway, summer is technically NOT over! Thursday September 22 marks the first day of Fall. So enjoy those last few official days :).
In spirit of the first week back, I wanted to answer the ever important first day of school question: What did you do this summer? Below are my Top 5 Philly Finds that were not listed in any tourist book.
Favorite Summer Hot Spot Find: Spruce Street Harbor Park… in the Mornings
I love how so many public spaces have become fantastic pop up gardens. One that is really close to us is Spruce Street Harbour Park. It’s known for its hammocks, its hanging lights, and during the evenings, it’s consistently buzzing with people of all ages. It’s perfect for grabbing a cool Franklin Fountain homemade ice cream (peanut butter = so good!), a beer, a funnel cake, or a Pokemon or two. For me though, my favorite time the to visit Harbor Park is in the mornings.
In the mornings, everything is closed. The lights are off. There’s typically no one here. As the city buzzes, I peacefully start my day walking along the boardwalk. The flags blow, the sweet smells of the night before linger, and the breeze cruises through at a perfect speed. It’s like everything is sleeping and I’m just sneaking through a forgotten dream. It’s such a peaceful space where I find myself almost every day of the week.
Favorite Physical Activity Find: Yoga… With Cats
Kitties and yoga sounds calming to me! Most days of the week, Le Cat Cafe is like many of the cat cafes that are popping up around North America: come on in, have a drink (no food here), grab a book, and enjoy the company of a bunch of cats. All of the cats are up for adoption, so you may end up going home with a take out adoption! On Mondays, the cafe is closed, except for a 7pm yoga class. As we walk in, we are rushed by 12 cats wanting attention. It’s the best thing ever! The yoga instructor is very pleasant, and offers us mats, as we cuddle with the kitties. The 50 minute class is a good beginner style class, which makes it accessible to most guests. The cats continue on in their normal cat fashion ignoring us, and sometimes, making their bed the middle of our mats. When it was over, I felt renewed from the yoga, and enlightened by the great cat therapy. Na’meow’ste!
Favorite Food Find: Dutch Donuts: WAY Better Than a Cheesesteak
Reading Terminal is a popular location for tourists and locals alike. The Terminal has become one of my favorite places because it reminds me of the St Lawrence Market in Toronto. Almost like an aftertaste of home. Diversity in foods, a hustle and bustle of people, and it’s a common place to meet, or bring friends. Walking around, you never know what you’ll find. On the outside aisle, we came across Beiler’s Hand Rolled Doughnuts. Canadians, you will never think of Tim Horton’s again after trying these. These doughnuts are hand made right in front of your eyes, they are decorated in about 25 different traditional and off the wall flavors, and most importantly, the taste validates the fat and sugar intake. Just looking at them I knew these would be the best donuts I had ever had the privilege of being in proximity with. So we got in line for 1 each. We left with 6. And we loved every single bite.
Favorite Find Out of Town: River Tubing Down the Delaware River
Often, when people leave the city, they head to the (Jersey) Shore, or to browse one of the many lovely little towns nearby. What no one told us about, but thankfully Groupon did, was Bucks County River Country (an hour upstream by car from Philadelphia).
Guests choose between a 1 hour, 2 hour, or a 3 hour float. We went with the 2 hour option. We assume this would be a guided group float, but instead, they keep it simple: We board a bus, drive a few miles, and they drop us off, saying “see you at the end”. We get in the water… and float. This float turned out to be the most relaxing and beautiful expereince we had this summer. The current keeps us moving, the water isn’t all that deep, and there are just enough (mild) rapids to keep it exciting. And in case you get hungry, there’s a floating hot dog stand along the way! How American!
Favorite Find to Find Again and Again: The Liberty Bell Center
Always a crowd pleaser, and (with reason) always high on visitor’s list, the L Bell Center is also a place I love going back to. It’s such a great place to really consider the realities of liberty and consider the cracks in it. Be sure to take time to read the slavery exhibit outside of the Center. Even after visiting 7 times, I find it grounding to reflect on what I’ve been given, what I’ve fought for, and what I have right in this very moment.
My Other 5 Fantastic Philly Finds:
- Playing Mini Golf at Ben Franklin Park
- Dining under the highway at the Night Market
- Roller Skating at SummerFest
- Beaching out in Cape May, and
- Cruising on a Segway Art Tour of Philly’s many (many!) murals.
So while you’re back at school, enjoy those last few days of summer! And hey, maybe you want to start planning next year’s summer vacation to Philly!
What was your favorite summer discovery, or summer memory? Have in enticed you to come check out Philly?!
Song of the Day: Summer Nights (Grease)