Thursday, April 26, 2012

FROM THE ALOTT5MA TRAVEL AND LEISURE DESK:  Commenter lisased just asked:
The husband and I are taking the kids to Philly for Memorial Day weekend. It's our first trip to the city; we are already planning on visiting Independence Hall and the Please Touch Museum and eating some cheesesteaks. Any other recommendations? Specifically, (1) the best brewpub around and (2) any place/event that might distract an 11-year-old bookworm and an 8-year-old ball of energy.
(1) Brewpubs ... Craig Laban's list here is a good place to start. Khyber Pass has the advantages of being (a) kid-friendly and (b) right near all the historic stuff, so I'd go with that. Also: bacon-grease popcorn.

(2) All the museums have good stuff for kids that age; an additional one I'd recommend is the Rosenbach Museum and Library, which has a wealth of Maurice Sendak stuff and other kid-friendly book exhibits. (Also: same block as the Winthorpe/Valentine house in Trading Places, as well as Jimmy Smits' in the much-missed Sh*t My Ghost Lawyer Dad Says.)  For the eight-year-old ball of energy, Smith Playhouse.


  1. Also: Franklin Institute, Adventure Aquarium (lovely, scenic Camden), or the Zoo not bad choices, either. Still mulling…

  2. I started from the assumption that they knew about the Franklin, Academy, and Art Museum.  The aquarium is a pretty damn nice one.

  3. I'm not sure how kid-friendly it ultimately is, but the National Constitution Center is quite well done.

  4. There's some interactive stuff there that I think Lisased's kids would both get and enjoy.

  5. It would be silly for me to opine on Philly, what with all the natives here, so I'll just say that, a few years back, Adam recommended this restaurant to me -- -- and it was EXCELLENT.  I've been back once or twice.  Unless any of the Natives tell you that it has declined, I'd strongly consider it.

  6. Anonymous12:42 PM

    It is still awesome!

  7. It has not.  You could totally take an 8 and 11 year old there, esp. on the early side.

  8. isaac_spaceman12:56 PM

    There's also the Philly Crowd Museum, where you can punch a stuffed Santa in the face and a hologram of Adam will lead you in booing Mother Theresa.  All the drinks are served in bottles with Michael Irvin's head on the top, because they're twist-off.  Get it? 

    But it's much more kid-friendly than the Boston Crowd Museum today.

  9. Emily W1:05 PM

    Yes, still amazing. I've yet to have a bad meal at any of the Garces' restaurants. Distrito, in west Philly might be a fun atmosphere for the kids. 

  10. lisased1:17 PM

    As soon as Ward scored, I thought this might be a reaction. I'm sad to hear I was right.

  11. lisased1:20 PM

    I didn't know about the aquarium, and now it's on the list.

    I see the CityPass covers most of these sites, plus on/off transportation on the trolley and bus. It looks like a good deal.  Is there any downside to using the CityPass? Do you think it would be possible to hit three of these places in two days?

  12. Tosy and Cosh1:49 PM

    We did the aquarium with two 8-year olds and a 4-month old in February. Very nice, with a good shark tunnel, a hippo exhibit with very personal, possibly ADD hippos who bobbed up and down in front of the glass over and over, penguins, a squid, devil rays and sand sharks to pet and more. Bring your own food though - the cafeteria was wretched even by expected standards.

  13. Totally doable.  I have no experience with the trolleys, though, as to reliability.  For the Aquarium, you can take the ferry across to Camden.

  14. lisased2:23 PM

    There's a ferry? You just made the 8 year old's day.

  15. lisased2:24 PM

    Thank you, everyone! This was a big help. And thanks for setting aside a thread for me.

  16. bristlesage2:26 PM

    Excellent, excellent.  My husband and I are talking about heading to Philadelphia for the NABC there this summer, so I will follow this thread closely.

    If anyone has suggestions for two adults, good walkers, excellent eaters, that would be swell.

    Oh!  Any chance of day-of-game tickets for the Phillies, or should I buy them as soon as we decide if we're going?

  17. We have many recommendations; narrow down the food preferences.

    Phillies games are pretty much all sold out; I'd stubhub it as soon as you decide.

  18. bristlesage3:04 PM

    <span>Looks like there are still some tickets available for the stand that we'll be there, but yes, we'll decide sooner rather than later, thanks for that.  
    I'll eat pretty much anything, but my husband's not wild about southeast Asian food of any stripe.  Cost is not a particular issue, though we probably won't have/make time for lunches of more than an hour or so or dinners longer than an hour and a half, two hours tops.  The bridge event is being held at both the Marriott on Market (where we will likely stay, because we like things easy) and the Convention Center, so places close to there would be particularly appreciated.</span>

  19. You are right next to Reading Terminal Market, where you'll want lunch every day.  Dinner will have a ton of options which we can review later.

  20. bristlesage3:12 PM

    Awesome.  I cannot tell you how we love a market, so that is the perfect thing. 

    I also like a well-made gin martini, if someone knows where a great one of those is hiding.

  21. Watts5:46 PM

    I'm fascinated - will you be competing in or observing the tournament?

  22. Rebecca6:23 PM

    I've never been there, but I work in booze, and every bartender I've ever met from Franklin Mortgage and Investment has had *serious* chops without many of the affectations that drive people crazy about people who make serious cocktail. They're genuinely fun, smart, boozehounds. There are maybe six bars outside of New York that I'd die to spend a week behind and The Franklin is one of them.

  23. I think Adam took me there a few years ago when I was in Philly, and I'll likewise vouch.  Really nice and eclectic food, and the tapas/small plates thing would definitely appeal to kids.

  24. bristlesage6:36 PM

    Watts, we'll be playing, but it's important to note that aside from certain events, NABCs are not invitational. We've only been playing about 2.5 years, so we're not very good. Still, we went last year to Toronto and had a great time. Plus, it knocks out more of our "visit every MLB park" plan.

    Rebecca, thanks for the tip!

  25. Oooh, definitely the Reading Terminal. My family and I were in Philly last 4th of July, and we stupidly didn't get there until the day we left. It was right across from the hotel, d'oh! My bro-in-law and I are still kicking ourselves for that one.

    We also went to the Oyster House on Sansom, which was really good. Our East Coast-based extended family always makes fun of us Midwesterners when we run to fish and seafood restaurants whenever we make it to the Eastern time zone. Yes, I know we get seafood in Chicago, but it still seems different on the East Coast. We also went to Cuba Libre, which was okay. I enjoyed the yummy rum drinks, but Cuban food doesn't do it for me.

  26. littleredyarn7:47 PM

    And if you're at the Aquarium, the Children's Garden is right next door and the Battleship New Jersey is only a short walk away.

    Oh, and the Camden Riversharks play at Campbell Field but they're not in town on Memorial Day weekend.

  27. Emily W8:17 PM

    There's been a lot of buzz recently about the block of S. 13th between Chestnut and Sansom. There are several yummy restaurants all owned by the same people. I've been to Barbuzzo, which definitely lives up to its reputation, and I've heard good things about the new tapas, Jamonsera. (There's also a mexican place that is BYOT.) All are within a 5-10 minute walk, tops, of the convention center.

  28. Watts8:24 PM

    I still think it's cool.  My grandmother was a very competitive bridge player (she liked games that had money involved). And a former coworker at the UT library was VERY into bridge. Good luck to you and the hubs.

  29. We went to Chifa, which is another one of Garces' restaurants -- a Peruvian/Asian hybrid.

  30. bristlesage9:49 AM

    Well, we don't play bridge for money, except as a joke with our bridge-playing couple friends--we're keeping a life-long track of the points at 1/1000th of a cent.  But it's a great game anyway.  We really wish more people our age played it; there's some concern about the game (literally, almost) dying out.  We need people to play with when we get old!

    Thanks for the luck!  And thanks everyone else for the suggestions, and sorry, lisased, for hijacking your post.

  31. Genevieve9:58 AM

    Watts and Bristlesage, if you haven't read it, I recommend the Louis Sachar book, The Cardturner.  Good MG/YA with tons of bridge.

  32. Sharon1:57 PM

    <span>I LOVED the Constitution Center!  I could have easily spent an entire day there, but my mom was about done after half a day. Sadly, something happened that made me despair of our educational system. As you can imagine, there were a ton of kids there on school trips. They have an exhibit with models of the Supreme Court Building, the White House and the Capitol Building. As I stood there examining it, I heard a grade-schooler ask the adult next to him (who had a nametag that said 'chaperone') which was the White House. To my horror, this person pointed to the Capitol!  Seriously!  As gently as I could, I corrected them, but how can any sentient adult American not know what the White House looks like?!</span>

  33. Anonymous4:05 PM

    If your kids are a little weird, there's always the Mutter Museum of Medical Oddities. Nothing quite tops the day like seeing a tumor with teeth.

  34. Anonymous3:24 PM

    It's hard for me to not eat every meal on 13th Street, I love it there so much. Excuse my late weigh in but I was in Paris for two weeks (despite not asking you guys for recommendations, I had a great time.)

    Marcie Turney went to Spain for a few weeks when they were doing the concept for Jamonera. It shows. They have flights of sherry there and despite never drinking sherry before going there, I found a flight to be delightful.

    Barbuzzo has, I think, the best dessert in the city-- the salted caramel Budino. It's so amazing that you can buy it in 6 packs.

    There's a lot of construction on 13th right now but it's still awesome. Do a little browsing in Open House, Verde, Paper on Pine, and Duross and Langel before or after dinner. And if you go anywhere besides Barbuzzo for dinner, I'd skip dessert and go to Capogiro for gelato instead.

  35. Christy in Philly3:24 PM

    I'm the guest commenting above. Still jet lagged from Paris!

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