Day Trip: Philadelphia
When the travel bug hits, but for any number of reasons you can’t take a vacation, a day trip to a relatively close destination is always a good option. Recently, a friend and I chose Philadelphia since it’s only a three-hour drive away and we hadn’t been there in a while. We didn’t have time to visit all the places we wanted—I’d also recommend Eastern State Penitentiary, the Mutter Museum, and Chinatown, not listed here—but we had a great time and highly recommend Philly as a fun place to visit. Here’s what we did, ate, and saw on our Philly day trip.
9:30 am: We started the day at Reading Terminal Market to get breakfast at Dutch Eating Place in the Amish area of the market. There was a wait to sit down at one of the cramped counters, but it was a short wait and it was worth it. I ordered an omelet with scrapple, while my friend opted for a pancake and we shared an apple dumpling. The portions are huge so you won’t leave hungry and everything was delicious. The apple dumpling had been featured on the Travel Network so we decided to try it and it didn’t disappoint.
After a big breakfast, we headed out into the street on foot. Recently, a new Amy Sherald mural was unveiled at 1111 Sansom Street, so we walked off our breakfast to go see it for ourselves. Amy Sherald is the Baltimore artist who painted Michelle Obama’s official portrait.
11:45 am: While waiting for entry into Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens at 12:30, we stopped into Brauhaus Schmitz, a German pub that was playing the Germany v. Nigeria Women’s World Cup game. We only had time for a drink, but thanks to a bartender’s recommendation we discovered Schöfferhoffer Grapefruit, probably my new favorite beer.
12:30 pm: High on my list of places to see in Philly was Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Guests are allowed inside every half hour for a $10 admission fee and we got there in time for the 12:30 slot. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is an outdoor mixed media art environment filled with mosaicked pathways and stairways by the artist Isaiah Zagar. Mosaics are made of mirrors, tiles, bottles, bicycle wheels, and more, and the space includes a two-level outdoor sculpture garden plus two indoor galleries—it’s a very Instagrammable place.
1:30 pm: After Magic Gardens, we headed to Shofuso Japanese Gardens, which is a bit out of the way so we caught a Lyft. Shofuso is a 17th-century style Japanese house surrounded by Japanese gardens, including a large koi pond. Built in Japan using traditional materials and techniques, the house was reassembled in Philly in the 1950’s. Shofuso was a relaxing break to our fast-paced day. After paying the $12 admission fee, guests take off their shoes to enter the house and put them back on to walk the gardens. We sat for a while taking in the peaceful atmosphere before heading out for a late lunch.
3:00 pm: We chose to make a reservation for the British-style restaurant, The Dandelion, for afternoon tea. Afternoon tea takes place every day from 3-5 pm and there are four tea tiers to choose from, including tea sandwiches, pastries, or a mix of everything. Each tier can be split between two people, so we chose “A Royal Occasion” which included a mix of everything, plus a pot of tea.
The food was good, especially the scones, but the decor in The Dandelion is reason enough to go. Dark wood, fireplaces, embroidered upholstery, and cute pub details make the restaurant very photo-worthy.
5:30 pm: Next we headed to the waterfront for a drink with a view. Morgan’s Pier is a partially-covered beer garden that overlooks the Delaware River and Camden, New Jersey on the other side of the water. We decided to go there because we thought it was more of a boardwalk-style pier with multiple bars and shops, but this worked out well too. We had a drink, people-watched, and listened to the DJ, and then left to walk to the next stop.
On our walk, we passed by Elfreth’s Alley. Elfreth’s Alley is the country’s oldest residential street and a National Historic Landmark. All of the houses on the street were built between 1728 and 1836 and people still live in them to this day.
8:30 pm: We had a dinner reservation at Talula’s Garden, known for its fairy-lighted outdoor dining area. Since we had to make sure we didn’t miss the bus back home and there was a long wait to be seated outside, we opted for an indoor table instead. Owned by the same restaurant group as The Dandelion, the experience was still a great one. We started with a cheese plate, then I ordered the braised lamb pappardelle, and we finished with a shared order of sugar donuts. Unfortunately, our day was over so we rushed to catch the Megabus and headed home full, content, and tired.