Philadelphia October

Weather in Philadelphia in October

October  is a good time to visit Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as the summer heat is gone and the winter cold has not yet arrived. The autumn colors usually peak here from mid-October to early November and the weather is ideal for most outdoor activities.

Early in the month, the afternoon temperatures are very pleasant, averaging in the lower 70s f (22-23C) with overnight lows in the mid to upper 50s f (about 14C).  A couple of days early in the month could even see temperatures into the lower 80s f (about 27-28C).  As the month progresses, daytime high temperatures will fall into the low to mid 60s f (17-18C) with overnight lows in the mid to upper 40s f (8-9C).

What to wear in Philadelphia during October?

October can range from mild to chilly here so a few sweaters or a light to medium weight jacket would be advisable for those chilly days or nights.

Skies will be clear or partly sunny on about 19-20 days with 11-12 days being mostly overcast.  Rain can be expected on about 8 days this month, however, significant rainfalls of 0.5 inch (about 13mm) or more occur, on average, on about 2 days.

Overall, the weather is great, so join us for our Independence Mall Tour or our Real Philadelphia Tour!

Philadelphia Love Park

Love Park Philadelphia

If you like to experience real Philadelphia, you’ll have to venture outside the Independence Mall area, and you will be rewarded with great sights and LOVE. The famous LOVE Park next to City Hall is a must-see! The park was formerly known as the JFK Plaza, which is the grand entrance to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, crowned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Rocky’s Steps). Countless tourists will pose in front of the sculpture and it’s a popular spot to propose, too! In addition to the scenic setting, there is tons of history about the park as well. Read on!


Creation of the Plaza

The plaza’s creation was unintentional circumstance due to struggle over traffic patterns caused with cutting a diagonal boulevard into William Penn’s original 1682 grid city plan. In 1917, the French urban designer Jacques Gerber was contracted to create this diagonal grand Beaux-Art Boulevard inspired by Champs Elysse in Paris. The boulevard would end at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (or the former water reservoir) on one side, and City Hall on the other end. The boulevard’s creation had a flaw: it created a challenging five-way traffic intersection on the city hall side for which the city needed to find a solution.

Philadelphian native and Cornell University graduate Edmund Bacon (yes that is Kevin Bacon’s Dad) proposed a drastic plan in his university thesis that involved demolishing City Hall and placing a park at the end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. When in 1952 Mayor Joseph Clark helped clean out the corruption of the previous Republican administration and appointed a stronger City Planning Commission, Ed Bacon became its director. Bacon reviewed his former Cornell thesis and saw the drastic errors of his youthful analysis, though he was able to see the potential of a park at the end of the Parkway to break up the five-way intersection. Thankfully he did not pursue the demolition of City Hall!

In 1962, the City Planning Commission invited Jacques Greber again to review the proposed plan and he approved. Sadly he died shortly after providing his approval. Construction was completed on the Plaza in 1965 and dedicated in 1967 as the JFK Plaza in honor of President John F. Kennedy.

In the 1960s the Plaza became a gathering place for the city’s kids to gather and play. The decision was made to better service the public by adding a round visitor center to the Northwest edge. Today, it is a location for many food trucks to gather, serving the local offices and business.  The park frequently host food truck events today.

Bringing the LOVE

The Love Plaza got its nickname “LOVE Park” thanks to the famous “LOVE” sculpture that was lent to the City of Philadelphia in 1976 by artist Robert Indiana to celebrate the Bicentennial of the nation. Robert Indiana credits growing up in a Christian Science Church and seeing a sign “God is Love” as an inspiration and influence for the piece of art. Indiana got fame in the Pop Art movement of the 1960s and being featured in a 45 minute film by Andy Warhol. The Museum of Modern Art asked him to design a Christmas card that LOVE was first seen in. Never anticipating its huge success, Indiana never copyrighted the image. Many major cities have a LOVE sculpture today as well, but the original and most well-known is located in Philadelphia’s LOVE Park.  The City of Philadelphia officially bought LOVE in 1978 and it has lived in the JFK Plaza ever since and thereby changing the Plaza’s name.

 

Skateboarding

Bacon’s design of LOVE Park included a swooping circular staircases around a central fountain and various stone benches and ledges. In the 1990s, the skateboarding scene in Philadelphia exploded since those features made it a perfect setting for skateboarding and jumps. Skateboard pioneers like Ricky Oyola and Roger Browne, Fred Gall and Matt Reason began to explore the park. Then the city of Philadelphia let Skaters use LOVE Park as they would like. Top skaters had received much less coverage in videos and magazines than spots like these in California, and by using Love Park, Ricky Oyola and other original skateboarders were able to put Philly on the map. Extensive parts of the videos of world renowned boarders like Bam Margera, Stevie Williams, Josh Kalis and Philadelphia’s own Kerry Getz contain footage of them at LOVE Park.

Unfortunately as the skateboarding community grew and LOVE Park gained a respected reputation for boarding the City’s Managing Director in 1994 passed a ban on skateboarding in the park. This was loosely enforced. In 2000, then Councilman Michael Nutter passed a provision to expand the ban on skateboarding to all Philadelphia public spaces.

Almost in an act of defiance, in 2001 ESPN XGames hosted the skateboarding competitions in Philadelphia LOVE Park. This was a center piece of the whole games and brought global attention to Philadelphia, LOVE Park and the skateboarding community. Based off the success of the games they chose to host the XGames in Philadelphia the next year in 2002, making it the only city to host the games twice. The fall of 2002 the city closed LOVE Park for a renovation to add features that would reduce the “skateability” of the Park. City youths hosted a massive protest against the renovation. Even the designer of the Park, Ed Bacon joined in the protest and skated in LOVE Park. He is was 92 at the time!

LOVE Park to this day still has skateboarders that define the rules. A skate park called Paine Park, next to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, was built since and many of the features of LOVE Park that make it perfect for skateboarding were reproduced. Another renovation is planned for 2014/2015 that will further remove the ideal skateboarding conditions. It is set to add more green space and cafes. LOVE Park is frequently the location of protests and in the winter a German Christmas Village with shops and crafts for the holiday shopping season.

+++Visit LOVE Park on our Real Philly tour and get a sample of the colorful and vibrant history of modern “City of Brotherly Love.”+++

 

Written/edited by Jennifer Hensell

Philadelphia Italian Market fruit

Visit the Italian Market in Philadelphia

Italian Market in PhiladelphiaAbout the Market

Come and visit the Italian Market in Philadelphia! The South 9th Street Market, often referred to as the “Italian Market,” has a rich palate of foods and cultural influences. It’s a “must-see” stop and very uniquely Philadelphian. Originally it was referred to as the 9th Street Market, with the Italian influence inferred since the majority of the residents were Italian decent. The “Italian” part was not made official up until 1970 – almost one hundred years after the market was created. If you stop to ask directions to the Market, please do not ask for “Little Italy.” Many locals are very proud of the name and its roots as an outdoor Market. You may get directions to New York City if you ask for “Little Italy”. This has been witnessed a few times by our guides.

+++On our popular Real Philadelphia Tour we will stop at the Italian Market as well!+++

Philadelphia Italian MarketThe Italian Market in Philadelphia is first and foremost a market with a wide range of specialty foods, spices and produce. Many local chefs come early in the morning to shop for their restaurants, so if you want to spot a chef in his or her “whites”, go to the Market early. Many shops actually close around 3 or 4pm since they open so early to cater to the chefs.

You might be surprised by how inexpensive everything is compared to other supermarkets or specialty food stores. This is a bit of a “best-kept” secret of Philadelphians and above that, the Market helps fuel the growing food scene, of which locals are very proud as well. Since many of the vendors go early each morning to procure the food items they sell directly from the distribution center, so there is no middle-man and the overhead costs are literally the cost of the awnings they stand under.

When to go?

This Market can get very crowded on weekends, so if you intend to do some serious shopping go early or during the week. Even though the Market is outdoors, it does run all year round and many vendors and a few brave shoppers will keep warm at the oil drum bonfires (an old habit that has become almost a tradition at the market).

Philadelphia Italian market visitor centerBathrooms?

Finding bathrooms can be a challenge. Many shops do not have one, since they are very small or because the staff often live above the store. However, the Market now has a wonderful and quaint Italian Market visitor center at 919 S. 9th Street and there is a public bathroom. Alternatively, if you ask nicely, Anthony’s Coffee or Gleaners’ Coffee shops will let you use theirs. The trick is be friendly!

Specialty Food Shops

Philadelphia Italian market If you are hungry, Philadelphia’s Italian Market is the place for you!! You may get overwhelmed by the selection and array of foods in the Market. Here are a few suggestion to help you get started and familiar with the Market:

  • Few realize how long the Market really is and many miss out by not venturing its full length. At the North end of the Market near Fitzwater, is Sarcone’s Deli – famous for their hoagies (sandwiches) – we recommend the Italian one.
  •  Just a few doors down is Ralph’s, the oldest family run Italian run restaurant in the country. If you want to stroll off 9th Street, you can head to Dante’s and Luigi’s on the corner of 10th and Catherine Streets, which is the oldest Italian Restaurant in continuous operation in the country and frequented by the famous Ecuadorian American chef Jose Garces!
  • Back to 9th street, you can go to Monsu or Sabrina’s for a nice sit-down meal.
  • If you want something sweet, head to 10th and Christian Streets to grab a cannoli at Isgro’s Bakery.
  • Philadelphia Italian market If you walk down 9th street again, you get into the heart of the Old School Italian shops with Lorenzo’s, George’s, Anthony’s Coffee shop and next door their chocolate shop, Claudio’s well known for their cured meats, and DiBurno’s original location famous for their cheese knowledge and featured on Anthony Bourdain’s “Layover Show” in Philadelphia.
  • If you keep heading south on 9th Street you will find a sandwich heaven called Paesano’s and which is across from the must-see kitchen wares shop Fante’s. If Fante’s inventory does not have a kitchen item they will find it or it does not exist.
  • At Washington Ave and 9th you find two of the oldest families’ shops in the Market, Giovanni’s Produce and Anastasio’s Seafood.
  • As you walk south, you suddenly leave the Italian market neighborhood and get the newest of neighborhoods, you are now walking in Mexico. This colorful street is getting new flavors from the growing Mexican and Vietnamese families moving in and they bring more spice to an already delicious Market.
  • If you have Pat’s and Geno’s on your travel itinerary they are at almost the end of the Market near Federal Street. If you make it this far, you will also most likely stop at a chocolate shop called Rim Café, run by an energetic French Gentleman, where you might have the best hot chocolate in your life!!

 

Market History

Philadelphia italian marketThe exact birth of the Italian Market is credited to the mid-1880s and an Italian Immigrant Antonio Palumbo opening a boarding house for the growing immigrant population. Philadelphia already had a Northern Italian community that the Sicilian community felt excluded from due to old tensions originated back in Italy. Many began to settle in South Philadelphia in the area we call today Bella Vista, to get away from those tensions and built their own community. The South 9th Street Italian Market runs along 9th Street from Wharton to Fitzwater Streets.

Palumbo’s boarding house became a cultural center of the Market as business rapidly sprouted up. As families settled and put down roots in the neighborhood, the boarding house changed into a restaurant, event space and concert hall. Many growing up there had their birthdays or Communions celebrations there. Famous performers of Mario Lanza, grew up in that neighborhood, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra all performed there. Tragically, it was burnt down in the 1990s and there is now a Rite Aid on the site.

Much of this community is Catholic and the first Nationally Church was founded in 1852, St. Mary Magadelene De Pazzi for this growing Catholic community. It happens to be next door to the Mario Lanza Museum. Each year, there is a Procession of the Saints on the 3rd Sunday of May. This is a wonderful time to see the Italian Market neighbors and locals come out in celebration. It is hosted by St. Paul Parish located next to Isgro’s Bakery. Parishioners and devout Christians will carry almost 20 different statues of the saints through the Market and into the neighborhood. Kids that have just taken their first Holy Communion will be part of the procession dressed in fine white clothes. One lucky girl will be chosen as the May Queen and given the privilege to crown the Blessed Mother during the 10am mass.

With all the food and culture that the Italian 9th Street Market offers, every traveler to Philadelphia needs to make a stop to visit!

 

Written/edited by Jennifer Hensell

Philadelphia Liberty Bell

Tips for Visiting the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia

When visiting Philadelphia travelers flock to see the famous “Liberty Bell.” A symbol of revolution, birth of a nation and freedom for all mankind. Even the Dalai Lama thinks it is cool! To see the Bell in person it is easy with a few helpful tips and some patience.

Related Posts:

 

Tickets?

To set the record straight…you DO NOT need tickets for the Liberty Bell Center. Many travelers get confused with the Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall (for which you need tickets). You do need timed tickets for Independence Hall and you can read our blog on Visiting Independence Hall.

The Liberty Bell Center runs the length of 6th Street between Market Street and Chestnut Street. The entrance with security check point is located at the Market Street entrance behind the Presidents’ House. The waiting line forms on the East side of the building. We advise bringing an umbrella for shade since in the morning the sun does shine down rather hot in the summer.

The security checkpoint is just like Independence Hall. Before waiting in line you should make sure to use the restrooms since sadly there are none inside.

Restrooms

There are 3 restrooms located within a short walk of the Liberty Bell. One is at the corner of 5th and Chestnut Streets, another is inside the Independence Visitor Center on the North east corner of 6th and Market Streets. The bathrooms are located next to the gift shop just inside the entrance. The best and cleanest bathroom of the three is located inside to the Historic Philadelphia Center at the South west corner of 6th and Chestnut Street. The bathrooms are in the back. By the way this is also the same corner we meet for our Independence Mall tour, *hint*.

How to avoid the lines

If you do not enjoy spending your vacation waiting in line then we have some tips for you. The Liberty Bell Center is open 9-5pm through the fall, winter, and spring and then 9-7 during the busy summer season around July Fourth. You can check with the National Park Rangers at the Independence Visitor Center or the website, if you want to be double sure about the times.

Lines can be very long during the spring and summer with travelers and school groups. To avoid the crowds we advise getting an early start to your day. The Center opens at 9am but the line often starts to form at 8:50am so if you get in line early the wait is very short. The longest lines are from 11am until about 4pm. At 4pm the lines starts to shrink. They allow the last guests to enter 5 minutes before the close of the building. So for example if the Center closes at 5pm the last person is permitted in the building at 4:55pm.

What is inside? What is the History of the Bell?

Once you enter the building you enter a series of exhibit rooms discussing the construction of the bell, its place as witness to the birth of the United States, and how it grew into a symbol against slavery and eventually all civil rights causes. At the end of the exhibit spaces is a video screen where a 10 minute movie plays on a loop summarizing the Liberty Bell’s place in American history. Saving the best for last the Liberty Bell is showcased at the end of the building in front of a large window that you can see Independence Hall and the bell tower where the bell was originally housed. Note: you can take a wonderful photograph from outside the building after sunset if you stand outside that window. The Bell is lit from above and creates a beautiful halo effect.

The Liberty Bell was cast in the Whitechapel Foundry in the East End of London, when ordered in 1751 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Charter of Pennsylvania of 1701. It was brought across the Atlantic with 8 other bells ordered at the same time from the same foundry. They arrived in a ship called the Myrtilla that belonged to a Jewish merchant, Nathan Levy. The bell weighs 2080 pounds (943kg) and measures an impressive 12 feet (3.6m) in circumference around the lip with a 44 pound clapper, and the top was inscribed with part of a bible verse from a chapter of Leviticus, “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof.”

According to VisitPhilly.com the Liberty Bell is made of mostly copper and tin as well as a mix of lead, zinc, arsenic, gold and silver. The Bell is suspended from what is thought to be its original yoke, made of American elm. The yoke measures about 100 pounds.

But sadly, the first time the clapper was used, the clapper cracked the bell. Two local artisans, John Stow and John Pass, recast the bell two times, once adding more copper to make it less brittle and then adding silver to enhance its tone. The crack helped create the legacy that seals the Bell in the hearts of Americans and becomes a symbol for all. The crack is seen as a metaphor for the freedoms of humanity. In addition, there was no universally accepted way of spelling Pennsylvania agreed on, so on the Liberty Bell the state is spelled “Pensylvania”.

 +++Learn more about Liberty Bell from your experienced tour guide on our famous pay-what-you-like Independence Mall walking tour.+++

Written/Edited by Jennifer Hensell

Philadelphia Tours

Tips on Visiting Independence Hall

We have all had a “Griswolds at Wally World” moment when on vacation. We have planned, prepared, and then planned again; seemingly every detail is laid out for a much anticipated and dreamed of vacation. All the stress and distance is worth it for the perfect family moments and memories. The anticipation builds and then you find out the highlight of your trip is closed or sold out! All of us have been there! Do not worry, we will give you helpful tips and walk you through the process.

Independence Hall Tickets

We advise reserving tickets in advance. Tickets are required for all guests entering Independence Hall from March to December. During January, and February you do not need tickets.

  •  Tickets are for specific time slots.  This is very important, if you miss your time you may not be able to get inside.
  • There are 80 tickets for every time slot. If the perfect time slot for your travel plans is sold out do not worry we have tips for that.
  • To reserve in advance at the National Park Services (NPS) website recreation.gov. Tickets are free but there is a $1.50 web procession fee.
  • You cannot reserve more than 10 per person. If you have a large family you can contact group sales at 1-877-559-6777.
  • All reserved tickets MUST be picked up a minimum of 45 minutes before the time of the ticket. For example if your ticket is for a 1pm entrance then you need to pick up your tickets no later than 12:15pm.
  • Tickets are picked up at the NPS desk inside the Independence Visitor Center (IVC) at the corner of 6th and Market Street. The desk is half way down the building.

Spur of the moment trip?

    If you are not a plan ahead kind of traveler do not worry, each day NPS holds aside tickets.
  • You can only get same day tickets at the NPS desk. Even if you have a reservation you can only pick them up the same day as your tour.
  • Same day tickets are FREE!
  • If choose same day tickets you may not get your first choice of time slots. If you need a specific time or have more than two in your group, here is a hint, wake up early! The IVC opens at 8:30am during peak season. You can line up outside at 8am and wait until the building opens and chances are you will be in line with only a handful of people.

Security? 

Yes, you need to go through security checkpoints to enter Independence Hall. This often shocks guests since it is Philly not New York or DC, but you are entering the birth place of our nation. We take its and your safety seriously!

What to expect?

  • You need to be in line for security 20 to 30 minutes before your time slot. For example, if you have a 1pm ticket you must be in line no later then 12:40.
  • You enter the line for the security checkpoint at the Southwest corner of 5th and Chestnut Street. It is between two brick buildings inside the tent.
  • GO TO THE BATHROOM FIRST! There are no bathrooms inside the secured area.
  • There are no metal detectors and you can keep your shoes on. This is not the TSA.
  • All bags need to be searched. So a smaller bag or one without a lot of pockets is best to get through quickly.
  • If you are wearing a jacket you will need to unzip and lift. They will ask you to twirl so they can see you have nothing concealed. If you carry your cell phone, camera, or wallet in your pockets it may be wise to remove them and place on the security table before the twirl.
  • NO GUM! They are very strict about this so do not try to hide it in your mouth, you will get caught.
  • Water bottles, sealed beverages and sealed food are ok. You are not allowed any open food but if it is sealed and you do not take it out during the tour you, are fine.
  • Cameras and video records are welcome. Click away it is beautiful inside.

Independence Hall Tour

  • independence-hallAll tours are guided through the building by NPS staff. You cannot wonder around on your own. Do not get any ideas of searching for any glasses like Nicholas Cage in National Treasure.
  • From beginning to end the tour is about 30 to 40 minutes.
  • All guests lead into a small building for an introduction by your Park Ranger Guide. Good news, you get to sit down and its air conditioned!
  • After the intro, the Ranger will lead you back outside to the next building. If you like to be up front for stuff you want to sit on the opposite side of the intro room since that is the side of the exit.
  • You will be lead into the main building and once everyone is gathered into the first room the Ranger will begin to speak about that room. If you have trouble hearing with background noise go to the front. The second room is across the way and the sound spell can be challenging for some guests to hear.
  • You will then be taken to the next room across the hall. This is the really important one, I will not give anything away. I do not want to ruin the fun.

What else is there to see?
Since you went to all the trouble of getting searched you want to get the most from your time. Also inside the secured area is the Great Essentials Exhibit, original printed versions of our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Articles of Confederation. You can also enter Congress Hall for another guided Ranger tour of that building.

Woo! That was a lot of information but this is all to help you enjoy tour time while in Philadelphia and not have a tragic vacation fail. Also, to learn more about Philly, take one of our famous name-your-own-price walking tours.

 

Written/edited by Jennifer Hensell

Visiting Valley Forge

Located just 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia is Valley Forge, the historic military camp site used by General George Washington and his men during the Revolutionary War. Because of its close proximity to the city, Valley Forge makes for an excellent day trip out of Philadelphia.  National Park Service provide a number of great tours which bring to life the hardship faced by the soldiers stationed there. In addition, the Valley Forge Casino offers a fun escape for those less interested in a history lesson.

History of Valley Forge 

In the winter months of 1777-1778, the American Revolution was at its lowest point: the army was losing the war, supplies were being blockaded, and morale was at an all time low.  Because of the lack of food, supplies, and adequate medical care, thousands died of disease that winter. In fact, nearly 2,500 out of the 12,000 that first encamped would not survive the winter.

valley-forge-1777-300x181The army was saved by 2 things; Washington’s insistence that the Continental Congress see the state of his troops for themselves so that they could get adequate supplies, and by an unlikely German military officer.  Baron Frederich von Steuben was a Prussian military man who offered his services to the Continental Army.  Although he didn’t speak a word of English when he first arrived, he understood the situation that Washington was in and took immediate action.  He began drilling the soldiers, teaching them how to use their weapons, showing them military discipline, and how to be a professional soldier.  Baron von Steuben turned Washington’s rag tag army of patriots into an efficient, professional army that was capable of defeating the British.  Because of his service to the American army, there is a statue of him at Valley Forge.

Prayer at Valley Forge?

Many people associate Valley Forge with the painting, “Prayer at Valley Forge,” by Arnold Friberg. Though there is no historical evidence to suggest that Washington did not pray at Valley Forge, there is also no evidence to suggest that he did. The notion that Washington knelt in the snow and prayed for the safety and survival of his troops during those cold winter months only gained popularity after Friberg’s painting was done in 1975. The_Prayer_at_Valley_Forge_by_Arnold_Friberg

Accommodation in Valley Forge

  • Valley Forge Hampton Inn & Suites — An affordable option near Valley Forge Park.
  • Hyatt House — A great, mid-range option is Hyatt House, which offers clean rooms near shopping and the turnpike.
  • Valley Forge Casino — If you’re looking to splurge, consider staying at the Valley Forge Casino. It offers luxurious rooms and lots of fun activities for the whole family.

Getting to Valley Forge 

Valley Forge is most easily accessible by car. It takes a little over an hour if driving from Philadelphia. The National Park Service website has great directions. 

Things to do in Valley Forge Park

National Park Service offers a huge variety of programs and events at Valley Forge, most of which are FREE! Click here to view the full list. If you aren’t interested in taking a tour, guests are welcome to do a self-guided drive through of the park as well.

DSC00668-300x225Hours: The main historical park and Washington’s Headquarters are open 9-5 daily. However, during the months of January and February, Washington’s Headquarters are only opened on the weekends.

Tip: Admission is free, but if you would like to learn a little more about the history of the area, consider renting an audio guide from the Visitor’s Center for $15.

Things to do around Valley Forge

Valley Forge Casino is one of the biggest draws to the area. The casino features slots, game tables, an extraordinary nightlife, and a luxury resort. There are many different entertainment options for those who don’t gamble, as well as a relaxing spa.

 

Holiday Celebrations in Philadelphia

phillyxmas

The Holidays have come to Philadelphia and the City of Brotherly Love is ready and eager to embrace the Christmas spirit!  If you are visiting Philadelphia in December you have so many options for Holiday cheer, but we’ve put together a list of the best things on offer this year.  Unless specified, all are kid friendly and most are free!

– Let’s start with the Christmas lights.  Every year Philadelphia outdoes itself with Christmas lights all over the city, from the Electrical Spectacle in Franklin Square, inspired by Ben Franklin, to the Rittenhouse Christmas tree to Boathouse Row.  The official Christmas tree is at Love Park.

boathouse

– Also at Love Park is Philadelphia’s Christmas Village, a German style Christmas Village that has shops, carolers, apple cider and Lebkuchen, or German gingerbread.  Admission is free and the Village is open from 11am every day for the month of December.

– For the Granddaddy of all light shows, head to Macy’s in Center City.  Every 2 hours starting at 10am, every day Macy’s lights up with more than 100,000 lights and a concert by the famous Wanamaker Organ.  This is free and not to be missed!!

– The brand new Comcast center also has a show called the Comcast Holiday Spectacular in its lobby on its state-of-the-art video screen, 7 days a week, every hour on the hour from 10am-8pm.

– Head to Elfreths Alley for one of the most endearing and enduring holiday celebrations in the city.  Elfreth’s Alley is the oldest continually occupied street in the country the first Saturday every December, they open their doors for Deck the Alley.  In addition to tours of the historic homes, you will see all sorts of Christmas decorations, seasonal refreshments, carolers and other merry-making.

elfreth

– Every Saturday in December Sister Cities Park in Center City has its Winterfest, which has different events each week but includes all kinds of Christmas cheer.

– Lastly, check out the Reading Terminal Market.  A must-see any time of year, the Market sets up 500-square-foot model railroad in its center court for the holiday season.  Grab some delicious holiday food at the market and enjoy this amazing train experience.

 

Rush Tickets at the Philadelphia Academy of Music

Visit the Philadelphia Academy of Music, which is the only surviving European-style opera house in America. Today, it is the home of the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Ballet; and for the past century, it was home to the Philadelphia Orchestra.

The building dates from 1857 and has a modest exterior; the builders ran out of money and couldn’t put marble facing on the brick, as they had intended. But the interior is elaborate, based on Milan’s La Scala, it has lavish carvings, murals on the ceiling, and a huge Victorian crystal chandelier.

Known as “The Grand Old Lady of Broad Street”, located at 240 S. Broad Street between Locust and Manning Streets in the Avenue of the Arts area of Center City.

RUSH TICKETS

(discounted tickets sold shortly before the event in order to sell remaining seats. Not guaranteed, but you can get great seats for an even better deal!)

Information on rush tickets at the Philadelphia Academy of Music are not provided in advance. Rush tickets go on sale at the box office two hours prior to curtain. The Philadelphia Orchestra, who owns the Academy of Music, do offer rush tickets but they don’t perform in the building any longer.

The Philadelphia Orchestra makes a limited number of PECO Power Hour seats available for $10.00 at the Kimmel Center Box Office between 5:30 PM and 6:30 PM the day of most subscription concert (11:30 AM– 12:30 PM for 2:00 PM performances). The seating will be throughout the hall and is subject to availability. Please note that the number of available tickets varies by performance and there is a limit of one ticket per person for each purchase.

Visit Community Rush for an updated weekly listing of available shows.

GROUP TICKETS

If you’re travelling to Philadelphia as part of a group, take advantage of great group rates. For more information click here or call 215.893.3121.

ADDRRIIANNN! A Guide to Rocky’s Philadelphia

I’ll be honest. I haven’t seen all the Rocky movies. But I have run up the Rocky steps so I think that counts.

Rocky Balboa is a character in a film, but with seven movies spanning his fictional live from the mid 1970s to 2006, he seems real. He even has his own Wikipedia page. And Rocky was an everyman from Philadelphia. The city has embraced this representative of their working class.

In 1980, for Rocky III, a larger than life 10 foot tall bronze statue of the man himself was created and later donated to the city by Sylvester Stallone (aka Rocky). It’s at the base of the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. First, take a picture with him, before you’re sweaty, then…

RUN UP THE ROCKY STEPS

It’s only 72 steps, it’s definitely doable and you’ll seem many tourists, young and old, jogging up the stairs and pumping their first in the air in a triumphant celebration as they reach the top. In the movie, Rocky climbs the steps to the theme song, Gonna Fly Now. You probably don’t recognise the name, but you’ll recognise the song. Though, you’ll often hear people singing, or now a days pulling up on YouTube, Eye of the Tiger as they run up the stairs.

ROCKY’S APARTMENT

It still looks like it did in the 1970s, a tucked away little brick apartment on E Tusculum Street by Ruth Street. But keep in mind, this is someone’s home so we aren’t posting the actual address. If you’re a true Rocky fan, you’ll recognise it!

PAT’S KING OF STEAKS

We all know about the cheesesteak, and this Philly staple seen in the movie is still going strong. There is even a plaque which reads “On this spot stood Sylvester Stallone filming the great motion picture Rocky. Nov. 21, 1975″.

Pat’s have put together a step by step guide on ‘how to order a steak’ situated above the ordering counter. Take a minute to read it before placing an order as there is system.

Parking spots will be few and far between.

Pat’s King of Steaks
1237 E. Passyunk Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19147-5060

MIGHTY MICK’S GYM

The facade will look the same, but Mighty Mick’s never actually was a gym of any kind – the gym scenes were shot in LA. I think it’s a Dollar store now!

How to Get There (courtesy of totalrocky.com)
“Start by going down near Penns Landing at the waterfront (The Delaware River). Take North Delaware Ave. until you see Frankford Ave. Take Frankford Ave. straight past E. Girard Ave., keep going 20-30 blocks until you see East Norris St. Take a left or go to the next street that allows you to turn left, then go straight a couple of blocks to North Front St. Then take a right about two blocks and on the right is 2147 N. Front St., Mickey’s Gym.”

ADRIAN’S RESTAURANT

“Adrian’s” is a real cafe named Victor Cafe. It opened in 1930s and dedicated the Italian restaurant to opera, Located near the intersection of Dickinson and 13th Streets, this intimate Italian restaurant opened in the 1930′s and quickly became South Philly’s shrine to opera. In January, 2006, Victor’s was outfitted as both the facade and interior of Rocky Balboa’s Italian restaurant titled “Adrian’s”.

Victor Cafe
1303 Dickinson Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

(215) 468-3040 |

Getting Around Philadelphia: Public Transportation in Philly

Free Tours BY FOOT – obviously, we’re going to recommend that you walk. We’re walkers and think it’s the best way to see the city. But sometimes you’re just too far away, too tired, or if you’re like me – your foot is broken! Philadelphia is a great place to walk, but the public transportation in Philly has a reliable system of buses, trolleys, commuter rails to get you in, through, and out of the city.

BY FOOT

The historic City Center is still laid out the in the grid designed by William Penn. It’s only 25 blocks between the two rivers and they are easily navigated thanks to the naming of the streets. North and South streets are numbered and the East and West streets have tree names (e.g., Walnut, Spruce, Pine, Chestnut).

But if you did get lost, the city has kindly added Walk! Philadelphia signs throughout to help find your way.These are color coded depending on what area you want and highlight certain sites.

GREEN– Rittenhouse Square District

BLUE – Parkway Museum District

TEAL – Convention Center District

RED – Historic District

PURPLE – Washington Square District

And if you’re really lost, there is goodwill ambassadors wandering the streets who can help you find your way.

BY TROLLEY/BUS

SEPTA MapIn Philly, it’s called SEPTA. Numerous color coded bus and trollies will take you around the city. You can find bus stops by the poles or bus shelters, each will indicate which route is serviced at that stop. Buses will also display their number and name on the front of the bus.

If you plan on using them a lot, the best value is to purchase a pass. $11 for an individual gets you unlimited rides for one day. If you’re a family, you can get a $28 pass that is good for up to 5 people. Otherwise, it is $2 one way, exact change only.

The best way to use SEPTA is the plan your route ahead of time. Unless you’re adventurous, then hop on a bus and see where it takes you! There is a great map of the city center that displays the main attractions in Philly and which routes stop there or nearby.