For reasons unknown to me, I’ve always wanted to visit Pennsylvania. It had been on my travel to-do list since moving to America so many years ago. Yet it wasn’t until this summer that I was finally able to visit. And when I did, I unexpectedly fell madly in-love and decided to move here just a few months later.
Having lived in a lot of places in in the U.S. (Nashville TN, Bowling Green KY, Seattle WA, Santa Monica CA, Carmel by the Sea CA, San Francisco CA, Austin TX) and having driven across it twice, I can honestly say Pennsylvania is one of my favourite states and Philadelphia one of my favourite cities for a myriad of reasons:
- It’s very, very clean. The highways, the towns, the cities, the yards, the people. You hardly see litter and hardly see really rundown towns. There’s a lot of pride, which is so nice to see.
- The people are amazing; sincere, friendly, smart, personable, do their jobs with knowledge and service. So many people, even in the small of small towns, seem to have travelled or have knowledge of places.
- Scenery. I love stone homes and country landscapes. The seasons, particularly fall, are incredible. Rivers are clean and beautiful. Philadelphia has amazing and historic architecture.
- History. It all begins here. Everywhere you turn there’s a historic building, monument, moment. I am a history nut and freak out over it all.
- Lots of great things to do and most of them are affordable. There is a great art and music scene. Lots of pubs, local restaurants (gluten free eating everywhere), outdoor activities and shopping. It’s all here.
- Cost of living. Amazing coming from Santa Monica/Los Angeles or New York as a lot of my friends have.
- Access to great places – an hour by train to New York, a few more to Boston and cheap, quick flights to Europe. Heaven!
I’m fully aware that I haven’t been through a winter yet and that I have only summer clothes – something I have to rectify but a price I’m willing to pay because for now, Philadelphia is my home and I’m surprisingly content and happy here.
And if you find yourself curious about the city of Brotherly Love here are a few of my personal favourite to do’s:
1. Drive out along the Schuylkill River/76 or take the train from City Center to Chestnut Hill ( on any day but a Sunday). Germantown Avenue is the main street and has really charming shops, cafe’s and historic cobblestone streets. Take a walk down the side streets and around the train station to see historical Mansions from the 1800’s using Chestnut Hill Stone. My favourite florist is there and it runs the restaurant “Cake” which is a really pretty and great experience.
2. Drive/bike/hike along Lincoln Drive and Wissahickon Park. I have done this so often and always think of Walt Whitman poems when I do. Historic Rittenhouse Town (created in the 1600’s) has original buildings you can go in, stables as well as the oldest restaurant, The Valley Green Inn.
3. Drive along Kelly Drive which connects Lincoln Drive to the city center and goes along the river, past the row clubs and comes up behind The Art Museum. This is a beautiful area, rich in history, views, and things to do including an incredible above ground cemetery, Laurel Hill.
4. The Art museum is worth seeing as is walking down Benjamin Franklin Parkway into city center. So many museums around here including the Franklin Institute Science Museum, the Rodin Museum, the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Moore College of Art, and the Please Touch Museum for Children. Plus, it’s just really pretty and reminds me of a cross between London and Paris.
5. Love nature? Bartram’s Garden, the first botanical garden in the US and is beautiful, historical, and well worth a visit. During the warmer months, you can take a boat trip up.
6. Rittenhouse Square Park in the city center is great for dining, sightseeing, resting and the Farmers Market every Saturday Morning is not to be missed (it’s where I get my weekly Gluten Free cupcake that even gluten lovers will love). And I am biased but, right across on the square is Anthropologie which is housed in a 4 story 1800’s mansion with glass ceilings, spiral staircases and in one room , the ceiling has all the saints painted on it. It’s architecturally amazing!
7. From Rittenhouse Square Park, walk down Spruce street to view beautiful, historic brownstones and churches. You can walk straight down to the river and the beginning of the beautiful Fairmont Park.
- For fancy but organic, the Four Seasons Swan Cafe is absolutely amazing. Sometimes all I get iscoffee and dessert just to soak in the atmosphere!
- In 1889 the Reading Railroad built a beautiful terminal that is now the Reading Terminal Market that has amazing and inexpensive eats.
- Parc is right on Rittenhouse Square and I love it because their French food is incredible, the atmosphere always bustling and the service superb. It’s good to even just stop for a glass of wine int he afternoon.
- Cafe Luticia is a family run cafe on 23rd and Lombard Street that has the best coffee, amazing brunch and lunch. You can sit outside when weather is good and it’s a nice, easy, 20min walk from Rittenhouse.
- Rouge has a great tasting menu and wines. Very relaxing, comfortable.
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