An Illustrated Guide to Philadelphia

by Lydia Marie Elizabeth

Since moving to Philadelphia, thanks to my husband’s connections, I joined the PHLbloggers.  This week, a few of us have linked together to bring you our phavorite places in Philadelphia.

There has been some buzz around Philly as the new hot spot for New Yorkers looking to get away from the craze of “The City.”   I didn’t really believe this until my trip home from Martha’s Vineyard last month fated me next to a man who works in Manhattan during the week and weekends in Philadelphia. 
In the 1920s New York and Paris were once considered cheap to live, work, and play. These days, a $28 cocktail is not unheard of.  2015 showcases a vibrant Philadelphia as manageable and affordable.   I’m not saying you can’t get into costly situations in Philadelphia, heck, Steven Starr (famed Philadelphian resturanture) is serving up $100 Philly Cheesesteaks.  But most of the world will probably still agree you can get the best cheesesteak in Philly from either Pat’s or Geno’s.

So should you be visiting Philly, my friends, or in search of a way to spice up your Saturday,  I am giving you a full day of Saturday activities.  In terms of travel, Philly is pretty walkable.  Should you be looking for quicker transportation: septa is cheapest, uber is easiest, and Philly Bike Share is funnest.  

AM Coffee Stop: La Colombe Torrefaction
La Colombe was founded in Philadelphia in 1994, and has, arguably, the bestest coffee out there.
The first time I set foot inside their new headquarters I was knocked over. This is by far the coolest spot to stop for coffee—or! They serve a variety of pastries and food, and even beer and liquor if you wind up near one seeking a different kind of pick me up.
The Fishtown neighborhood was once rumored to have been named by Charles Dickens when he visited, but we’re (sadly) pretty sure that’s not actually true.  It was indeed a spot where German fisherman and bunch of Catholics dwelt around the turn of the 19th century.  This is a great spot to feel some of that Philly edginess, soak in some architecture while awaiting your latte, and appreciate some really great Philadelphian coffee.
Unknown and unofficial personal observation: Fishtown is also home of the largest population of hipsters outside of Brooklyn!
 If you’re an architecture junkie like myself, hop over to this interview with La Colombe about this space and to see where I got my historical facts.

Brunch is Necessary: Sam’s Morning Glory
While there are MANY fabulous brunch locations in the Philly, and many are popping up every day, my personal favorite is Sam’s Morning Glory.   You’ll need your coffee before heading over, it will be a long wait but it is worth it.  Don’t let anyone convince you that any hip brunch place in Philly doesn’t have around an hour or two wait on the weekends depending on your party size. I’m not even kidding. We just love brunch, okay?
 So! While you wait outside, make sure your whole party is there so you can chat and sweat (in the summer) or shiver (in the winter) together in their outdoor waiting area.   You must make sure you get their biscuits and try their homemade jam.  Sometimes its mango, sometimes it’s peach, or apricot…but it’s always incredible.  My favorite go-to here is a frittata, but you just can’t go wrong.

If you’re looking for an option that’s close to La Colombe, Silk City is also a good option.   I recently did this illustration of their location as a bridesmaid gift!

Shop, Shopping, Shopped: Rittenhouse Square at 18th and Walnut
During the spring and summer, Rittenhouse square hosts a Farmer’s market that is fun to peruse even if you aren’t looking to buy heirloom tomatoes today.  In June and September the park hosts a Fine Art show, which I absolutely recommend.  Someday I hope you will see me there, but for now, you’ll see plenty of authentic and beautiful items items of all kinds.  Design trend of 2016 is mixing in local and unique treasures you love with our other mass produced pieces.  Local and personal is in, guys. ::**cue personal plug: commission me for artwork!**::

Speaking of mixing unique with the mass produced, while I am a proponent of finding unique shops and great finds in new cities, I tend to be drawn to the same big names everywhere I go too. I’ve rarely met a J.Crew or Anthropologie I didn’t visit. (#confessionsofashopaholic)

Even if Anthro gets a bit bohemian for you, a visit to the Philadelphia shop is indeed a must.
Built at the tail end of the 1890s, this incredible building was residence to none other than Sarah Drexel Fell and Alexander Van Rensselaer. 
What’s that, you say? Can you convince your mother this is a historical and educational visit AND also snag a dress for dinner tonight?  Yes. Yes, you can.  May I recommend this dress
The flagship store has many stunning features including a first floor balcony overlooking their ground level stuffed with their home collection.   The room on the north side of the building is one of my favorites, as illustrated below.  The ceiling is crowded with portraits of Italian Princes encrusted with golden frames, hoisted above with the most magnificent crown molding. I bet Sarah took visitors in this humble room.
As you head downstairs into their home section, make sure you glimpse up the grand staircase to see the original Tiffany’s stained glass dome.
The last time I was there they were serving wine and cheese in the dressing room.
Yes, please. Thank you.

They also have great seating options for your Mister, if he's along for the trip.  So while you’re trying on that dress, you could simultaneously be pitching this sumptuous sofa to your husband.

Other spots to shop:
Some other big names that have recently hit Walnut Street include Madewell and Vince. Both great stops in case you're a minimalist.  Barney’s is also hidden on the same block as Anthro, and is great if you’re hoping to nab a Mansur Gavriel Bag that someone may have forgotten to pre-order six months out.
If you are wanting to spoil the man in your life you can drop by ToBox Shoes which is around the corner.  
Town Home is possibly the smallest and cutest little retail spot for some truly stunning jewelry! While they have been there for seven years, I've only just discovered them! What a great unique option for jewlery!
Open House is another local spot for great Philadelphia themed gifts. I got my husband some sphere ice molds there!

Sit and People Watch: If you studied city planning or architecture at any point in time you may already know that Philadelphia was in part modeled after Paris. Isn’t that so great?   This is most notable around the Rittenhouse Square area and along the Parkway.  So, I recommend you either go to Miel Patisserie for some macaroons, or Federal Donuts for a freshly fried strawberry lavender donuts! Take your treat to a park bench and envy everyone with a puppy.

Art Museum Time!!
From here, you must head over to the Parkway.  The Rodin is certainly a peaceful spot to pass an hour or two contemplating the human form and emotion in bronze.

 Up until recently, The Barnes Collection was the largest private collection of Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings (not to mention the textiles, ceramics, sculpture, and furniture.) What is so remarkable about this collection is that, Philadelphian and Penn graduate, Dr. Albert Barnes displayed massively important art unconventionally---in his own home.  His home was open daily to the public until just a few short years ago when the collection was moved
Since his death, the city of Philadelphia has been vying for the collection to be relocated into the city.  They finally won, and the new building was constructed along the Parkway, fairly recently, to house the collection. Many saw the relocation as a shame, but regardless, the collection is of tremendous importance and is absolutely a must see.    

Happy Hour!!! XIX Nineteen

My college friends and I used to brunch here while we were in school. (Okay, maybe only once.)
Needless to say I’ve been obsessed with it since I found it.

I know everyone is not the wife of a Phillie's player (including myself, ugh budgets!), but this is why there is happy hour:  From 5-7 you can get the classiest draft beers for $4, and Wine and Cocktails $6.
Need I say more? I didn’t think so.


Dinner: Some yum yums. You’ve got lots of options.

In case you bought a non-happy hour drink at XIX:  Head own to Little Pete’s their dinner specials are kind of insane.  Drink, Soup, Salad, Entrée, Dessert for between $9-$15. 

In case you just got a draft beer at XIX: Modo Mio
, If you still have a few Benjamins in your pocket head across the city to my favorite BYOB. Get the prix fixe menu, they usually give you their best.  Plan ahead and get a reservation if you want to actually get inside on a Saturday evening.  It's a popular spot for a reason.

After Dinner: The City Skyline
In case you need a teaser as why skylines are THE BEST, check our Cory J. Popp's video here.
Presuming you didn’t book a hotel at the Lowes Hotel, aka PSFS Building, Pretend you are staying there and waltz up to the top floor of the building. This is my favorite spot to view the city.
In the summer, presuming you need more cocktails AND want to a view, catch the sunset at R2L in the Liberty Tower.

Don't believe me just watch and mojitos: Cuba Libre
Every Saturday night Cuba Libre hosts salsa dancing from 11:00 to close.  Please drink a mojito for me.

Last stop: Bed...
or back to Little Pete's because it is open 24 hours a day and dancing makes us hungry.

Thanks for checking out my phavorite spots in Philly.  Did I miss your phavorite spot? Post it in the comments to share!
 Now everyone request a print or commission a painting from me so I can meet you at Nineteen for Happy Hour! 

Check out my PHLblogger friends phavorite locations as well.  Enjoy!!