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Need "unique" itinerary ideas for 2 days in Philidelphia

Old Mar 25th, 2012, 12:30 PM
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Need "unique" itinerary ideas for 2 days in Philidelphia

My husband, sister and brother-in-law, and I are taking a a 10 day trip to the east coast. We will be spending May 20-23 in Philidelphia. We have one day reserved for seeing the necessary history-related attractions, and another for driving to Lancaster to see the Amish. While I am not sure that seeing the Amish will be super fun, I think it will be an interesting experience. That leaves us with 2 days to fill in, and I am not quite sure what we should do.

We are all in our early thirties. My brother-in-law is a sommelier at a wine bar and a chef. My husband brews beer. We all enjoy good drinks and food, but aren't interested in the clubbing/partying scene. We won't have a car, but are willing to rent one if necessary. Not super interested in Museums.

Can anyone suggest some unique things to do while we are in Philly?
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Old Mar 25th, 2012, 12:48 PM
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this recent thread has lots of ideas
http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...-mid-april.cfm

I would emphasize the Magic Garden and South Street, Reading Terminal and the Italian Market descriptions on that thread.

Food ideas
http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...iladelphia.cfm
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Old Mar 25th, 2012, 12:52 PM
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I'm guessing you are renting a car to go to Lancaster to "see the Amish". You could also see Valley Forge and some of the Philadelphia area beyond the reach of public transportation.
You can ride on a SEPTA train or Amtrak to get to Lancaster.
You could also ride the NJ Transit train from PHL to Atlantic City and back.
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Old Mar 25th, 2012, 03:23 PM
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My favorites would be:

- another vote for Reading Terminal Market, especially on Wed. thru Sat. when the Amish vendors are open - my favorite by far is their apple dumplings. But RTM is worth a trip even if Sun. - Tues.
- if you like to walk, just walk around all our "squares": Rittenhouse Square, Washington Square, Logan Circle, Franklin Square. This gives you a good feeling for center city. You can easily get from one to another by bus or taxi.
- if you like theater, theater tix at the Arden Theater in Old City
- a mural tour if you have time, our murals are so varied and interesting, all over the city! I believe you can do these on foot or by bus, if you're interested and want a link or two, let me know.
- Italian Market - mostly for the vibe, but for the food my favorites are Isgro's bakery, Claudio's for fresh mozzarella cheese, Sarcone's for bread. There's also a lot of good Mexican there now, too!
- While you're in the historical district, stop by the Dream Garden mosaic in the lobby of the Curtis building at 6th and Walnut. Often overlooked but quite spectacular and only takes a few minutes.
- City Hall, even if only the outside, quite unique
- I too like the Magic Garden on South St., but I don't particularly recommend the rest of South St. anymore

I don't know what your plans are for your "necessary" history related attractions, but I'll say that if you're only spending one day on this, personally I'd skip the Constitution Center, especially since you said you're not particularly museum people.

Also, I love the food thread link you were given, but don't agree with some of the entries on the other thread that would take you out of the city again during your two free days. There's more than plenty to keep you busy right in the city.

I think for your Amish country day, you'd be happier if you rented a car. Much of the beauty of that area is just driving around the back roads. For your other days, tho', I agree that no car is necessary. Even if you decide to explore the Chestnut Hill area (our farthest northwest corner of the city) or Wissahickon, they're easily accessed by public transportation.

For restaurant recs, chowhound thread searches will give you more than you'll know what to do with. Your meals are worth spending some time on, we have many great restaurants. We're known for our byob's, so have fun with that!
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Old Mar 25th, 2012, 06:07 PM
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You have some great recommendations above, and the links should be very helpful.

I'd probably do a day of colonial history from Penn's Landing to 6th street, including oddities like the National Liberty Museum (lots of Chihuly amidst the varied human rights collections) and some walking around Head House/Society Hill; South Street diner has a great smoked salmon/bagel combo in that area. Maybe this could be your day to explore the Italian Market, too. Then a day further uptown, going in the area of Reading Terminal, Chinatown, City Hall, and on down the Parkway to the Waterworks. (If you're good walkers, it's a great walk!)

While you're in Lancaster, a more active approach than "seeing the Amish" (ouch) is to visit the Pennsylvania Dutch (German) living history museum that is Landis Valley: http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...-lancaster.cfm

You might want to check out Monk's Cafe: www.monkscafe.com for the brews.

Enjoy your trip!
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Old Mar 25th, 2012, 06:18 PM
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PS: You might enjoy one of my favorite Philadelphia trip reports ever: http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...rip-report.cfm

Alas, Naked Chocolate is no more. That is a sad, sad thing.
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Old Mar 25th, 2012, 06:23 PM
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May not be everyone's cup of tea, but we found The Mütter Museum to be fascinating.
http://www.collphyphil.org/Site/mutter_museum.html
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Old Mar 25th, 2012, 06:56 PM
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I might be able to save you a day.
Lancaster is one of my favorite places to visit -- we'll be spending three nights there just this week -- but 90% of what's there not only has nothing whatsoever to do with the Amish, but is completely counter to everything they believe in. If you're going ONLY to "meet the Amish," then it may be quite a disappointment.

I do find it interesting to see people living a life not much different than was lived 150 years ago, one kilometer for a mega-outlet mall. But driving by a farm with a person on a horse plow is hardly a reason to make an all-day trip.

You CAN meet Amish face to face, but it will be no more interesting than meeting a clerk at a convenience store. The Amish have spend centuries trying to avoid interaction with "the English" (as they call us) and most have no desire for anything beyond selling you their goods. The Amish are not tourist attractions, museum pieces, people in a zoo, or part of a freak show -- they simply choose to live their lives a lot differently than we do. Two things in particular that they do NOT want you to do: discuss their lifestyle with them or photograph them. Do NOT ask for the latter!!

So, if you think seeing someone on an authentic horse plow is worth day trip, then go. If you like good food, shop-till-you-drop malls, and fine quality crafts; then make a day of it. But you won't be able to fill out a day if your only plan is to "meet the Amish." There's just not much of that to do.

Instead, I recommend seeing some hugely important historic sites, some fun neighborhoods, some great food, and high quality shows. You can do all that without a car.
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Old Mar 26th, 2012, 03:28 AM
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If you go to Reading Terminal Market on any other day besides Sunday, you will see the Amish working in their booths. Buy a whoopie pie or pretzel doughnut and you can say you experienced Amish culture.

Monks has some great beers but go early especially on a weekend. The place is always packed without very little room to stand.
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Old Mar 26th, 2012, 05:08 AM
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Allow me to speak in favor of seeing the Pennsylvania Dutch country around Lancaster. Here's something I posted on this forum back ca. a year ago, with minor edits:

========================================

Lancaster is a pleasant city with very attractive architecture (a walking tour is possible) and some nice attractions, some of which I have experienced (Central Market, Lancaster Quilt and Textile Museum, Amish Farm and House) and some of which I haven't (Wheatleigh, plus some attractions outside of Lancaster such as Ephrata Cloister, Hans Herr House, Landis Valley Museum, and such). Eating at a PA Dutch style eatery can also be enjoyable (I went to Good and Plenty, which was much liked). You're also not far from Hershey, Harrisburg, and Gettysburg, all worthwhile places to experience to varying degrees.

There are to be sure a significant number of strip malls and some attractions which sound a bit cheesier (Dutch Wonderland, for one) that can be found here. And I've seen the gripes from folks on this board who just hate the whole area and unilaterally dismiss it. Having experienced (and enjoyed) a respectable amount of what this area has to offer, I'm not one to say "stay away." The good is well worth experiencing, and the bad can be minimized with some research.

=====================

I was able to explore the area for a day taking Amtrak out and back from Philadelphia to Lancaster, then using local buses and walking, but it's likely more efficient if you use a car.
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Old Mar 26th, 2012, 05:33 AM
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I enjoy spending a day in the Lancaster area as well, with no need to disturb anyone's privacy. I just like wandering the backroads in the small surrounding towns, looking at the rolling hills, enjoying seeing people travel by horse and buggy and kids outside playing, in scenes that make me nostalgic for times that I'm mostly not nostalgic for. And ice cream at Lapp's Farm in New Holland certainly adds to the enjoyment.
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Old Mar 26th, 2012, 05:44 AM
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As go_laura stated upthread, Amish vendors are at the Reading Terminal Market Wednesday through Saturday.
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Old Apr 5th, 2012, 07:59 PM
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If you do drive to Lancaster, stop on the way back at Victory Brewing in Downingtown. This brewery started about 12 years ago, has grown by leaps and bounds and now distributes its beers all over the east coast. They brew some great beers, and have a restaurant at the brewery (bar food type menu) as well. It is barely 5 minutes out of your way on your way back to Philadelphia.
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