We love big cities, and 6th in the nation Philly, is a big one. It has the largest urban park (Fairmont), and the most outside murals and sculptures of any U.S. city. These folks are out running, biking and especially sculling on the Schuykil River, in chill winds and using the urban bike routes for commuting. Add the Barnes Museum (tiny! need reservations in advance!) in its’ new setting, and the 11 acres of exhibition space in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (reasonably priced, too), and you’ve got a city to embrace.
It also has the required, “defined ethnic neighborhoods”. Check out the Italian Market and Little Italy. It has an alleged “mob” restaurant, Deluca’s, perhaps like the former Patrissi’s in Manhattan…eg. don’t eavesdrop too closely on neighboring tables’ conversations as there have been three verified mob hits here. Of course, South Street seems to have every type of food, but locals and tourists alike line up down the street at Jim’s Steaks for a classic Philly CheeseSteak with Onion and Cheese Whiz on fresh soft and crusty rolls. Waiting in line in front of the cook station allows you to watch the mountains of lean, thin slices of beef, char on the grill next to carmelizing onions. The wait just whets the appetitite…then after eating, you want another, but are saved by the long line. Everybody vows to come back here again when they return to Philly, and it looks like most of those in line are a return audience.
We loved riding the 22 mile bike path along the Schuykil River as it is lined with charming boat houses from the 1920’s, modern sculpture, old bridges, and competitive sculling. This sculpture of champion oarsman Jack Kelly, father of actor Princess Grace of Monaco, commemorates three Olympic victories in individual and team competition in two Olympics.
You too can feel like a “Contendah” by hanging around at the Rocky sculpture at the foot of the Philadelphia Art Museum stairs. It really brings out the complete goofiness of the adolescent male, dancing, jumping around, pumping the air…including the 57 year old one that I hang out with.
How nice to wander among Colonial Architecture and Street Art, munching a hot salty pretzel slathered with hot spicy mustard, another Philly institution. When real food is called for, there are lots of taverns and gastropubs with fresh mussels cooked a variety of ways to match the extensive ale and stout collections. When you’re done, there is always one of the two rivers to stroll along…..and my artist sister Laurie, a lifetime resident here, to make recommendations and welcome us to town whenever we’re here.