Philadelphia Travel Guide
Just opened this year, Spruce Street Harbor Park includes a beer garden on the Delaware River
From big dogs like Victory and Yards to a handful of local craft brewers, Philadelphia's beer scene has long been on the national map. But what's quietly been brewing behind the scenes the past few years is the way the city serves its beloved beer to its people. Under the Ben Franklin Bridge. In front of the Art Museum. Adjacent to Independence Hall. Between Pat's and Gino's. On the banks of the Delaware River. These are just a few of the notorious locations you'll find one of the city's summer beer gardens.
Some of the beer gardens are privately run as an extension of a restaurant's catering service, but most of the pop-up variety are sponsored by the city and/or an organization. In total, over a dozen can be found occupying public spaces throughout Philly. A few are part of larger projects, like the one at the brand-new Spruce Street Harbor Park, a new public park at Penn's Landing. Others, like the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's Pop Up Garden, transform vacant lots by putting a literal spin on the term "beer garden."
As a kid, a close family friend played for the Philadelphia Phillies and I was fortunate to have spent a good chunk of my childhood a few rows behind home plate at Veteran’s Stadium. But that's not all. Spring breaks will forever be associated with Spring Training in Florida and I even got pulled out of school so I could attend the 1980 World Series. This early baseball exposure sparked a lifetime love for the sport.
Beyond the game, I loved our awesome post-game ritual---going to Pat’s King of Steaks, getting mobbed for autographs and scarfing down cheesesteaks on the rear tailgate of our friends’ Jeep Cherokee. Although I moved from Philadelphia many years ago, baseball and cheesesteaks are permanently tangled together in my childhood memories.
A few years ago, Jaunted conducted an ultimate Philly cheesesteak taste test which broke down the offerings at Pat's, its longtime nemesis, Geno's and Jim's. But there are even more cheesesteaks that deserve to be eaten.
We asked several friends with deep ties to the City of Brotherly Love to weigh in on their go-to cheesesteak spots. Here are five places to chow down on meat and cheese (nom nom nom) that aren’t Pat’s or Geno’s. (Jim's does make an appearance though.)
Enjoy, and don't forget to grab a couple napkins to wipe the drool off yer face.
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You guys don't like to hear this, but most of your complaints about TSA are kind of bullsh*t. Sometimes the stories are true but silly: it took an extra 5 minutes to get through line, the TSA agent didn't smile enough, etc.
Other times the tales come from conspiracy theorists who are looking for a way to finally prove that airport security is part of a secret plot to domesticate the American sheeple in preparation for a takeover by black United Nations helicopters. Those descriptions all but universally turn out to be questionable.
Then there's the story that's currently making the rounds, which has now reached legitimate news outlets like the Associated Press. Roger Vanderklok is a runner in his late 50s who was going through security at PHL two years ago on his way to a Miami half-marathon.
Naturally he was carrying energy bars and a sports watch, which he had wrapped in a PVC pipe so they wouldn't get crushed. Something happened at the checkpoint, he didn't like it, he asked to file a complaint, and he ended up arrested and in a holding cell for around 20 hours without being allowed to contact the outside world (including his wife, who couldn't find him).
A judge eventually dismissed the case, and of course there's a lawsuit in play now. That's not the interesting part.
On January 1st, the city of Philadelphia will host the 115th Annual Mummers Parade. That's well over a century of tradition taking place on a pretty high-profile day. But drive outside the city limits of Philly, and you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who understands the history behind the event. Even many local residents can't answer the question with confidence, resulting in a murky past that has most people scratching their heads.
And that might be one of the main reasons why the parade is dying. The Philadelphia Inquirer put out a grim report on the dwindling participation, attendance, and finances that were the core of the parade for the last century. This year, things are so bad that the route has been reduced by two-miles, cutting out the South Philly neighborhoods where the parade was born.
Philadelphia Travel / Art Travel / Historic Travel / Pennsylvania Travel / Mural Arts Program / → All Tags
Last fall, we explained why there are so many murals in Philadelphia and recommended one of our favorite tours to help you explore them. This spring, the city’s Mural Arts Program will debut several new tours that will give visitors a fresh taste of its infamous wall art. All tours are led by guides who explain the mural-making process, the neighborhood history, how the murals are made, and the stories behind them.
You can see all the tours and prices here, and below, we list the newcomers set to debut this spring. Each takes you through a different part of the city and focuses on the unique art history of the respective neighborhood:
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Traditionally, Philadelphia has been regarded as a blue-collar city filled with blue-collar people who like to drink beer, eat cheesesteaks, and, most infamously, throw snowballs at Santa Claus. When you imagine Philly, you think history, and maybe the fact that you can show up to dinner with a bottle of tequila and be taken seriously, but fine dining? Luxury? Not so much.
But lo and behold, smack dab in the middle of our Nation's Capital and the Big Apple, Philly has quietly spent the last decade undoing that image, replacing parts of its rogue reputation with pockets of sophistication and luxury. For example, did you know that Philly was awarded the "Best Hotel Scene of 2013" by our sis HotelChatter? Center City and Rittenhouse Square have become neighborhoods that can compete with almost any city in terms of its upscale offerings, whether it's a stay at a luxury hotel with a killer view, a fine dining experience at one of Stephen Starr's restaurants, or some happy-hour oysters at the impressive new A Bar, shown below.
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As if the shiny British Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner isn't cool enough with their service between Newark and London, new and especially exciting routes to more North American cities were just announced this morning.
Currently, British Airways only flies their 787s from Heathrow to Newark and Toronto. Beginning next year, however, two more lucky destinations will join the list: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport from March 3, and Philadelphia International Airport from June 5.
To score a seat on the 787, you'll want to book flight numbers BA 191/190 for Austin, and BA 68/69 for Philadelphia on or after the start dates mentioned above.
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.