Philadelphia Travel Guide
If you're like many visitors to Philadelphia, you're aware the city is known for its murals, but you haven't a clue why. Opening this week at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, a new exhibit called Beyond the Paint: Philadelphia’s Mural Arts is hoping to change that as the Mural Arts Program celebrates its 30th anniversary.
The story began in 1984 when then-mayor Wilson Goode started what was called the "Anti-Graffiti Network" in response to a growing spray-paint problem that was defacing buildings throughout the city. Goode figured that he would encourage the movement rather than fight it, creating community programs at rec centers and museums that allowed the youth to get involved in organized art projects. In December of 1984, Philly's first official mural was painted on the Spring Garden Bridge by a group of 100 kids that featured scenes of the city.
We know what you’re thinking: Cheesesteaks are really good.
True. But haven’t we been there, done that by now? Weve gone on our fair share of self-guided cheesesteak tasting tours, and we must say we are indeed ready for a bit of fresh air. And there’s good news: We found two sandwiches in Philly this week that might be better anyhow, one featuring an Italian chicken cutlet and another filled with roast pork.
Along with Pearl Jam, Green Day, the Offspring, and Rage Against the Machine, they both played during their early years at what is today arguably South Street's most historic bar: The Legendary Dobbs.
And we're not talking "they all played here" as in a large venue like Madison Square Garden where everyone and their mother have performed - we're talking about a place where you'd be lucky to legally fit a hundred people. The Dobbs opened in 1974 under the name "JC Dobbs," and apparently had a knack for grabbing the top up-and-coming talent of the 90s grunge era, both before and after they made it big.
Nirvana, for example, played the Dobbs in 1989, one year before Dave Grohl joined the band, and then once again in 1991 after the release of its infamous Nevermind album.
About six years ago, Philadelphia launched an interactive map that helped visitors locate and enjoy the 200-plus BYOB restaurants around the city. In that sense, the BYOB concept seems like old news, and we don't think we need to explain that BYOB means bring-your-own-bottle, aka bring-your-own-booze (but we did anyway).
In somewhat of an ironic fashion, Philly's strict liquor laws end up working out in the consumer's favor. Because there are only so many liquor licenses to go around and because there's no legislation that prevents people from drinking "free" booze in restaurants without one, the BYOB concept has spread like a plague throughout Philadelphia in a way unlike any other city.
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"Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay." It's a cute slogan, and believe it or not it comes from the tourism board of Philadelphia, PA.
The words are backed up by a new commercial following the "selfie" antics around the city by drag queen Miss Richfield 1981, all with the aim of driving Gay Travel to Philly. So what's the big deal? Well, this is actually only the third commercial by a US destination focused on the LGBT audience, and yet here we are in 2013.
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We know a good traveler has tons of travel horror stories to share, some of which are no doubt hilarious, but have you ever boarded the wrong flight? Jaunted Contributor Will McGough successfully failed recently in Philadelphia, finding himself on a flight to Orlando when he wanted to go to Denver. How can this happen? He gives his first-hand account:
In all honesty, I never thought it possible. I mean, really. Between the terminal and desk monitors, the ticket scanning, and general awareness, how the hell could you get on the wrong plane? So many things would have to go right, err, wrong, for it to happen.
Which is why I was so confused. Granted, I was running a little late, but I was on time. I checked the terminal monitors upon clearing security, and saw my flight, US Airways 483 from Philly to Denver, gate A10. Having only about 10 minutes until the gates would close (it was about 8:30ish, flight left at 8:55), I hustled up, slowing my pace upon seeing the flight information on the monitor behind the desk and a line still formed at the gate.
If you're going to be in Philly this weekend and are looking for something fun to take the kids to (or you just happen to really love train stations), then here's something to add to the ol' itinerary. 30th Street Station, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is one of 200 stations celebrating National Train Day this Saturday May 11th.
The theme of this year's event, which will be taking place simultaneously in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington DC (just to name a few), is "trains matter." Well, duh. We could've told you that!
Still, the event offers Amtrak an opportunity to bask in its own glory for a brief moment, and celebrate the 31.2 million passengers who used the national rail service in 2012.
Last year, Philly's 30th Street Station hosted a day-long event with model train displays, giveaways, and culinary demonstrations of meals served in Amtrak dining cars—so you can expect much of the same this year. Additionally, the station will be offering tours of private luxury railcars, in case you've never been in one of those before.
Regardless, 30th Street Station is a must-see train station, and one of our favorites that we've traveled through. Not only is it the second most active station in the entire US, its gorgeous main terminal is on par with that of Grand Central, in terms of soaring ceilings, giant windows, and the pleasant hum of commuters shuffling by all day long. There's even a KAWS statue at one end of the terminal!
Several hotel chains and tourism boards across the country are jumping on the Oscar bandwagon this week, but if you really want to immerse yourself in the world of a Best Picture nominated film, The Hotel Palomar Philadelphia has the package for you.
This weekend the Budweiser Made In America Festival kicks off on the Ben Frankin Parkway in Philadelphia's Fairmont Park and, surprisingly, there are still single-day and general admission passes available.
The concert will feature 30 performances curated by Jay-Z who is also one of the festival headliners. Other acts performing on Saturday, Sept. 1 and Sunday, Sept. 2 include Pearl Jam, Run DMC, The Hives, Chris Cornell, Jill Scott, Afrojack, and Drake.
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So you've checked into bookstores, bars, beaches and maybe even individual boats, but that's still not specific enough for the location-based social app Foursquare. Now, Pennsylvania, the state that was first to join up with Foursquare years ago has become the first to offer official art piece venues, meaning you can check into a masterpiece (and win something!).
The focus is on Philadelphia and its Museum Miles that encompasses the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation; these plus other Philly-area institutions have pinpointed a total of 12 works of art designated as official Foursquare check-in venues. Currently, the Seurat painting above is winning with most check-ins, but you've still got until September 1 to get in on the game.
Simply check into the masterpieces and push the checkin, plus the hashtag #withartphl, to Twitter to get in the running for the grand prize of a hotel night in Philly, tickets to the museums and a Barnes Foundation membership.
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Yesterday Jay-Z announced he will curate and headline the first-ever Budweiser Made in America Music Festival, which will take place from Sept. 1-2 in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park.
The festival will feature nearly 30 acts “that embody the American spirit”, and might even include President Obama.
Tomorrow, geeks from around the country will descend on Philly for the second annual Philadelphia Science Festival.
The fest, which runs from April 20 to 29, 2012, offers science-centric events and festivities for everyonefrom sports fans to foodies.
Below are a few of the this year's highlights: