Gettin’ Down in Philly

Philadelphia is special. Not just because we’ve been there now and realize how amazing the city is, but because it’s a part of a past we never knew. Liz’s great-grandparent’s moved to Philadelphia after imigrating from Italy, and lived there for over 25 years. Her great-grandparents owned a restaurant and convenient store below their apartment on the northside of town. It’s where her grandmother and mother were born. Even though Philadelphia is a part of our family’s past, we had never been there, and honestly had no idea what it offered other than Philly cheese steaks and what we saw in Rocky. We camped in the city about 20 minutes outside of downtown, and 5 minutes from “little Italy” (which is not the same location as when my family lived there), but still cool nonetheless. It gave us easy access to all of the fun parts of town, free festivals, and delicious restaurants.

Philadelphia has a very similiar vibe as Boston and much of the northeast. Cobblestone roads, old brick buildings, beautiful row homes rich in history. The only difference is that Philadelphia is widely underrated. The cost of living is low, basic goods (food, clothing, drinks) are all cheaper than other northeastern cities, and properties are a fraction of the cost as Philadelphia’s nearby more popular cities. Being in real estate we love looking at home prices when we find a neighborhood we like. Normally the prices are WAY out of our range but everytime we found an adorable row home brightly painted with budding flowers, we were shocked at how affordable it was! We also loved how accessible the city is. You can bike almost anywhere (without feeling like you’ll be hit and killed every turn), or drive around town with only minimal traffic for a city. Parking is, as always in a city, still a challenge.

Philadelphia is obviously known for it’s rich history and deep ties to our countries founding. We hate being tourists and often try to do things off the beaten path, more like a local, but sometimes you have to do the tourist thing. You can’t be in Philly and not have seen the Liberty Bell…I mean come on! Of course we went to Independence Hall, to see the Liberty Bell, and where the original White House stood. It’s pretty incredible to be standing in the same place as our founding fathers. To be in the same room where our declaration of independce was discussed, drafted, and signed. The two seats below were where the Vice President sat (for the first four terms before our capital was moved to Washington DC), and where the Senate met. The colors and decor is exactly as it was nearly 250 years ago (of course it’s been refurbished or replicas are put in place).

 We also went up the street to the The Carpenters Company which was where the founding father’s secretely met to discuss their original plans and ideas for the formation of the decleration of independence.

The city at night is spectacular. We did lots of walking and enjoyed seeing all of the lights on the beautiful old buildings. One day we attended a fall festival that had live music, art, food and drink vendors, and closed down several blocks of one of the neighborhoods for the festivities. It was super fun! We didn’t end up with any good pictures but had a blast!

Dennis had to try a legit Philly cheese steak while we were there. It’s one of those things you just have to do. Not all cheese steaks are considered equal. We decided to ask the locals on their recommendation of where we should indulge in cheese, steak goodness. We had several people recommend Jim’s to us. When we arrived, there was a really long line wrapping around the side of the restaurant. We felt this was a good sign. We were warned to know how to properly order when we got there. Some places will kick you out if you aren’t quick and to the point. You indicate if you want cheese, if so what type, and the type then with or without onions all very quickly and in one statement. For example, you’d say “one whiz with” if you wanted one Philly cheese steak with cheese whiz and with onions. I find it crazy that they still put cheese whiz on Philly’s, but hey, the locals claim it’s the only way to do it. Dennis gave it two big thumbs up and said it was well worth the greasy but delicious calories that day.

When we’re in a big city we take advantage of the great restaurants and local breweries. While this doesn’t show you nearly all of the stops we made during our stay, here are just a few. ARS is a super small brewery that just recently opened up in Little Italy. Just a few beers to choose from but all very tasty. No menu or food truck so we headed elsewhere when our appetite got the best of us. Yards is the more famous of the local breweries and was rather big. We got there about an hour before closing so we didn’t get to try all of their beers. What we did try were very tasty and we decided to leave with a shirt to remember them by! 2nd story brewery was probably our favorite, and had delicious food to accompany their beers (picture french fries covered in a brie cheese sauce….yes please)!

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