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Journeys: Philadelphia

39.9526° N, 75.1652° W


Philadelphia
photo by Shutterstock

I have been fortunate to travel to over 35 countries around the world and every journey has something special and unique about it.  Often it is easy to perceive that one must travel far and foreign to experience something that is more intriguing or cultured.   But you would be surprised with what there is to discover when you simply venture out closer to home. For me Philadelphia was a hit!  For starters the city has great significance to the history of the US!  It is where the Declaration of Independence was signed at Independence Hall, and where you can get an in-depth lesson on several of our American founding fathers, like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. Philadelphia isn’t just living in the past though; their bustling food scene has been growing and gaining recognition and attention.  I found the city to be exhilarating and diverse in so many ways.  My sense of discovery kicked into high gear where I learned about the latest and greatest finds within, and there were plenty of surprises!

explore:

Liberty Bell & Independence Hall
N 6th Street & Market

I would suggest you begin the trip with a visit to the iconic Liberty Bell which symbolizes American independence and is situated right in front of the place where history was ratified on July 4, 1776 at Independence Hall.  After all this is where it all pretty much began.  Fortunately, the line moves quickly and there is no fee to view the Liberty Bell!  It shouldn’t take more than an hour with a glance-and-go approach.  Throughout the exhibit there are some key facts and highlights that will test your knowledge!  I am no historian here, but enjoyed learning more of the story behind this iconic relic.  (Liberty Bell)

 

The Barnes Foundation
2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Attention art enthusiasts, The Barnes Foundation is a MUST! It was founded in 1922 by Albert C. Barnes and is an art collection valued at over $25 billion.  The most recent structure which houses the collection was erected in 2012 and is both stunning and serene.  I was amazed to learn there were over 4,000 objects, including more than 900 paintings by the greatest Impressionists, Post-Impressionist and early Modernist masters of their time.   Of course, I did not get to see them all, but I did manage to hit every room to get a glimpse of everything possible. What I really enjoyed about the museum was the flow and format of presentation, where you easily move room-to-room and find a constant display of works from great artists such as Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso, all concentrated in intimate spaces.  Note to art museum goers with limited time, The Foundation is a short 5-minute drive to the Philadelphia Museum of Art so the two can be nicely combined in one day.  (The Barnes Foundation)

 

Philadelphia Museum of Art
12600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy


 

Living in New York and also having had the privilege to travel the world and visit some of the greatest and most famous museums, Philadelphia Museum of Art certainly holds its own weight.  It is actually the third largest art museum in the USA.  Its collections from the likes of Henri Matisse, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cy Twombly and Andy Warhol rival those from around the world. Also, worth visiting is their Rodin collection in a separate gallery.   Be sure to check out the website before your visit for a current list of exhibits (Philadelphia Museum of Art). 

 

Boat House Row
Schuylkill River

Boat House Row
                                                                                                                                                          photo by Shutterstock
Rowing has always been my sport, not to mention practice four days a week is an amazing workout.  On several occasions I was fortunate to compete with my team on the Schuylkill River.   Therefore one of my personal recommendations when visiting Philly is to explore Boat House Row, which has its own history dating back to the 1800’s and sets the tone for the strong rowing culture that still exists today within this great city.   Take in a regatta if visiting in season (Head of the Schuylkill takes place Oct. 27-28, 2018).  Boat House Row is magically lit during the evening hours and makes for a great photo opportunity.   (Boat House Row)

eat:

Zahav
237 St James Pl.

Zahav

There is no shortage of amazing, ethnic restaurants in Philadelphia with Zahav being one at the top of my list.  The James Beard award winning chef gives a modern take on traditional Israeli cuisine with influences from Eastern Europe to Persia and North America. Their different hummus selections are amazing, though I prefer the traditional.  Reservations are a must, or you can try the bar if you’re lucky.  It is usually packed and quite energetic (a.k.a. loud), but it certainly will not distract from a delicious dinner. Disclaimer: I may or may not have eaten for 3 people….I really can’t recall so I will blame it on the great wine list.! (Zahav).

 

Hardena
1754 S Hicks Street

Hardena
One of my top picks for lunch is Hardena. It serves up traditional, home cooked Indonesian selections, served cafeteria style on paper plates.  Rest assured the flavors are robust and tasty.  And if you like spicy food, this is the perfect spot for some of the best cheap-eats with a collage of flavors!  It’s a family run business that is both is welcoming and authentic from the heart.  A definite bonus was that my lunch only cost $12! 

stay:

Hotel Palomar
117 S 17th St

Hotel Palomar

I loved my stay at the stylish boutique hotel, Hotel Palomar. It is one of your best options for your stay in Philadelphia with its central location. The artwork throughout the building in itself gives this hotel its own spin. Not only is the design interesting and chic, but the rooms on the higher floors offer great views of the city!   Service is great and the hotel is also pet friendly on select floors!   Become part of their loyalty program as they offer a “raid the minibar” credit option so it helps justify the price of a bag of M&Ms when looking for a midnight snack.  They also have a complimentary hosted wine hour from 5-6pm.  (Hotel Palomar)

 

Lokal Hotel
139 N 3rd St

Lokal Hotel

For my next visit, Lokal Hotel is on the list for where to stay.  This smart and hip hotel keeps it simple & easy…their whole concept is to experience the city like a local with their "invisible service." All that you would want in your own home, like Apple TV and a full kitchen, but no on-site staff. Instead, they offer you an iPad fully equipped with apps where you just tap for hotel service or even order a Whole Foods grocery list.  It is located in a really hip part of town with some cool “local” restaurants, bars and retail shops all within close walking distance.  (Lokal)

shop:

 Boyds

1818 Chestnut Street

Boyds
This fourth-generation family run business, which opened its doors in 1938, offers the best of the best in both men’s and women’s premium, designer apparel.  From casual to formal….it is all here!  We are very proud to partner with Boyds where you will find a team of nearly 120 employees who are committed to providing exceptional service and take your shopping experience to the next level.  The staff is super approachable, and they know their stuff.  In fact it is where I learned about Hardena!   Simple note to self:  get recommendations from locals on what’s hot.  They often can provide some great insight that the guide books don’t cover. Go shop here!!!  (Boyds)

 

Art In The Age
116 N 3rd Street

Art in the Age

Art In The Age is one-of-a-kind; it is a home bar retail company and a tasting room all in one.  You will find unique selections of local spirits using recipes and ingredients drawn from the history of Pennsylvania.  It is a home-bartenders haven for sure!  The shop stocks bar tools, mixers, bitters and glassware.  They also offer some really fun group tastings and educational workshops.  You can host your own private events here and Art In The Age will certainly help take it to the next level.  If you are staying at Lokal Hotel, you will easily be able to stumble back to your room as it is pretty much across the street.   Be sure to check it out!  My bar is now stocked to the nines thanks to Art In The Age!  (Art in the Age)

 

Enjoy your adventures in travel!

Thomas