Thursday, August 27, 2015

Diner en Blanc Philadelphia 2015

Diner en Blanc: "Thousands of people, dressed all in white, and conducting themselves with the greatest decorum, elegance, and etiquette, all meet for a mass “chic picnic” in a public space...."
.... in the POURING RAIN!
The 2015 Philadelphia Diner en Blanc is sure to be remembered as one of the most exciting and unpredictable gatherings since Kayli Moran and Natanya DiBona brought this Parisian tradition to our city.  The evening started with a mist and heavy drizzle while thousands gathered in groups around Center City decked in their party white lugging their tables and chairs and picnic baskets along - determined to have a good time in spite of the weather.  The drizzle turned into a steady rain as the participants arrived at the secret Navy Yard location, and then erupted into a full out down pour as the elegant dining began.  Umbrellas and ponchos were the must-have accessory of the evening, but the added elements could do nothing to deter the 4.500 who had gathered for a lawn party with friends, acquaintances, and lots and lots of total strangers.  Our favorite people to watch were those who never bothered to shield themselves from the rain and continued to sit in full fancy dress, eating their baguettes and shrimp cocktails, making casual conversation as if there was absolutely nothing unusual about sitting in a storm to dine.  As the rain began to clear, the masses got up to dance, socialize, and shake off their wet clothes.  The meal ended with the raising of 4,500 sparklers to the night sky letting the city know that in spite of the weather, Diner en Blanc was still there, still having the evening of their lives, and still the envy of the 30.000 people on the waiting list who hope for a chance to attend in 2016 (we know we want to be there!).
The secret 2015 Diner en Blanc location: the Philadelphia Navy Yard

Guests arrive, set up their own places, and a napkin wave sets the meal in motion


People went all out on their table d├ęcor looking for that Best Centerpiece Prize


As the evening got darker, the rain got more intense, and the fun continued


 The beats from DJ Sabeel Chohan got everyone up to dance

The evening climaxed with a blaze of sparklers:


Au Revoir...until next year....
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Monday, August 24, 2015

Day Out with Thomas at Strasburg Rail Road

This past June, Daily Vacationer Jr got the thrill of a lifetime when we were able to attend one of the most talked about and anticipated childhood memory-making events of the year: A Day Out with Thomas at Strasburg Rail Road.  We absolutely love Strasburg Rail Road out in Lancaster County (tons of happy times were had there in our own childhood)!  A regular day at Strasburg is already loads of fun, with rides on historic steam engines and train cars through Amish farmland and lots of extra fun to do at the station from browsing the extensive gift shops and sampling the good eats to taking a spin on the hand-powered cranky cars and behind the Pint-Sized Pufferbelly miniature steam engine.  But when A Day Out with Thomas comes to Strasburg, it all becomes even more exciting - an absolute must for anyone with Thomas and Friends/train fans in the family.

One of the things that we liked best about A Day Out with Thomas was how well run it all was (no confusion and delay here, Sir Topham Hatt).  The overflow of parking was redirected with easy to follow signs to the Sight and Sound Theatre where buses were transporting visitors back and forth pretty much every five minutes.  There were no lines or huge crowds waiting even at the height of the weekend, and it was no big deal to run back to the car to grab something you forgot.  We also observed a distraught family who had missed their time slot to ride the Thomas train being assured that they would be able to get on the next ride and were quickly printed new tickets with a new time.  Everything was clearly marked and there were staff everywhere to answer questions and keep everyone safe with all the train comings and goings.  A Day Out with Thomas was probably was one of the smoothest run events we've ever been to - and for an event where the main audience is not even school-aged yet, that is saying a lot!  It was very clear that it was the staff's job to worry about all the details, and visitors were just expected to relax and have fun.

The highlight of A Day Out with Thomas is, of course, seeing the blue tank engine himself, and no matter how many times he puffed in and out of the station, there was always euphoria among the crowds as he went by.  Making things even better was the addition of his best friend, Percy, who was also available to ride behind ( and don't worry - we were informed that back on the Island of Sodor, James was taking care of Percy's usual job pulling the mail cars so he was able to come too).  Both engines talked and smiled as they entered and exited the station and then would stop to pose for photos with guests in between train rides.  We rode behind Thomas and Percy and definitely recommend going for the upgraded ticket to experience both (and you can always upgrade once you are there as we saw many families doing).

A Day Out with Thomas also includes many special extras around the train station that aren't usually there.  There's a fun photo op with the famous Sir Topham Hatt, a tent to get temporary tattoos, lots of Thomas and Friends toys, books,  clothing, and more to browse and buy, plus lots of activities.  We headed over to the Imagination Station where numerous train tables and piles of building materials gave everyone a chance to create their own Thomas story.  Nearby, a handful of Thomas power wheels were available for little ones to ride around the tracks.  A favorite spot among parents was the Storytelling and Video Viewing location - a great place to rest and regroup without getting bored.  Photo ops also abounded with big banners of Thomas and Friends characters hung low for smaller visitors to enjoy, as well as many places to stop and see Thomas and Percy puffing in and out of the station.

A Day Out with Thomas is already chocked full of special fun and activities, and Strasburg Rail Road manages to make it even better by continuing to run their normal steam train route, as well as all their regular extras around the station.  Different ticket combos allow you to enjoy some or all of the trains available to ride during the event (and  as always, train station extras are FREE with a train ticket).  Daily Vacationer Jr had an amazing time at A Day Out with Thomas at Strasburg Rail Road - and judging from the looks on the faces old and young around us, we were not the only ones.  Definitely take advantage of this awesome event and bring your Thomas and train lovers to meet their beloved tank engines face to face and make memories that the family will remember forever.
September 12 -September 20
November 20 - November 22

You might also like: Easter at Strasburg Rail Road
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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Summer at the Delaware River Waterfront

The Delaware River Waterfront is always an awesome place to enjoy in Philadelphia.  Refreshing breezes, the sound of lapping waves, and endless piers and walkways to explore give the Waterfront an exciting coastal feel.  And as fun as it is to experience during the rest of the year, nothing compares to a visit during the summer.  The Delaware River Waterfront outdoes themselves year after year with brand new renovations, pop up parks, concerts and live entertainment, exercise classes, seaport and boating fun, and much, much more - and almost all of it is FREE!
One of the best things to ever happen to the Waterfront was last year's success of Spruce Street Harbor Park, and this summer it returns for an extended season and even more of what made it so great last year.  Open from May 22 - September 27, Philadelphia's urban beach is the place to play during the day and relax into the night.  With hammocks strung under an amazing lights display, various games for every age (including an indoor arcade), and a great variety of tasty food options (we are loving having another spot to enjoy The Franklin Fountain's ice cream creations!), there's something for everyone.  The real show stopper is the floating oasis barge surrounding the peaceful water gardens - the perfect place to dig your feet in the sand or lay back on a comfy rope net over the river.
Photo: Delaware River Waterfront
Another must see location this season is the transformation of the wildly popular Winterfest into Summerfest (also open May 22 - September 27).  Turning the famous Blue Cross RiverRink from an ice skating rink to a roller rink was pure genius, and a welcome retro activity for children and grown ups alike.  Fortunately for us, rollerblades are available for rent as well as the traditional roller skates.  Another indoor arcade and tabletop games in the lodge provide even more fun, and we're loving the addition of the swing set.  The great Delaware River views and porch seating aren't the only good reason to visit - the food is also fantastic!
Along with SSHP and Summerfest, the Delaware River Waterfront now boasts nine different attraction areas each with it's own unique experience.  Festival Pier welcomes a variety of bands and shows all summer long, while Race Street Pier is the perfect location to rejuvenate with a free yoga session.  The Great Plaza at Penn's Landing has a schedule packed full of concerts. movies, and cultural events (many of which are free to the public).  The Delaware River Trail along Columbus Blvd is a tranquil nature path which includes stops at the newly renovated historical Washington Avenue Pier and the anticipated fishing location, Pier 68.  Penn's Landing Marina is the place for on the water fun with paddle boat, kayak, canoe, and row boat rentals, paddleboard yoga classes, boat slips, river cruises, and maritime discoveries with the Independence Seaport Museum, including going aboard historic ships like the USS Olympia and Becuna.

Bring the family, meet your friends, or just relax alone at the Delaware River Waterfront this summer - a location that continues to make Philadelphia stand out as a fun and forward-thinking destination.

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Philly PHLASH and the Shark Connection Combo

 We have always been big fans of the Philly PHLASH (Ride all day for only $5 and receive discounted parking in prime locations?? Yes, please!), and we especially love having it available to ride every single day until Labor Day!  Getting around to see the sights, sounds, and tastes of Center City is never easier than with the PHLASH during the summer.  This year they have even added extra stops to make it easier to get to more cool locations like the Comcast Center and the Shops at Liberty Place.  Our favorite addition to the PHLASH, though, is the introduction of the Shark Connection Combo Ticket: receive all the benefits of the PHLASH (riding the Center City Loop plus getting the parking discount), PLUS a round trip pass for the RiverLink Ferry and admission to the Adventure Aquarium!

We have often heard from visitors and residents of Philadelphia how confusing and frustrating it sometimes is getting over to the Adventure Aquarium when you are already in Center City.  Now Aquarium goers can take a page from George Washington's book and cross the Delaware the old fashioned way - by boat!  A trip on the RiverLink Ferry is always easy and fun with prompt comings and goings from embarking locations on both the Camden and Delaware River Waterfronts.  A relaxing trip across is quick and convenient and takes away the guess work of maneuvering roadways, bridges, tolls, and parking.

The Adventure Aquarium is one of Daily Vacationer's favorite places to visit (we go year-round), and we are loving visiting right now as they celebrate the Summer of the Shark with an abundance of "jaw-some" shark encounters (like their famous and exciting Shark Tunnel)!  Their fantastic temporary exhibit, Dinosaurs of the Deep, has also been extended through the end of the summer, so visitors this season also get the chance to discover ancient sea monsters and come face to face with what used to lurk beneath the waves.  (And while you're along the Camden Waterfront, be sure and visit the impressive Battleship New Jersey and the playful Camden Children's Garden).

  • The PHLASH runs every 15 minutes between 10am and 6pm daily until Labor Day with 22 stops around Center City.  Purchase $5 ride all day or $2 one way passes for exact change at any stop or at the Visitor Centers or online.  4 and under and seniors ride for FREE.  PHLASH buses are stroller and handicapped accessible.
  • The RiverLink Ferry leaves the Waterfronts every alternative half hour between 10am  and 6pm (7pm Friday thru Sunday).  $7 roundtrip, $6 for seniors, and children 3 and under are FREE.
  • The Adventure Aquarium is open daily 10am to 5pm.  Adult admission is $29.95, children ages 2-12 are $18.95, and 2 and under are FREE with a paying adult.
  • Purchase Shark Connection Combo Tickets thru Labor Day at the Independence Visitor Center (or the satellite Visitor Centers) to combine all three for only $35.45 for adults and $27.45 for children!


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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Upcoming Event: Jazz Age on the Delaware

July is almost over, and we are getting really excited for what we consider to be one of the coolest events of the entire summer in Philadelphia.  If you have not yet heard of Jazz Age on the Delaware, it really needs to be on your radar, and if you have heard of it, we hope that you have purchased your tickets - they are going fast!  This much talked about 1920s lawn party arrives at the beautiful and historic Glen Foerd estate (we love this place!) right on the Delaware River on Sunday, August 1st from 11:00am to 5:00pm.  Daily Vacationer was lucky to get a sneak peek at their press preview, and what we saw there was pretty awesome!

This event promises to be an immersive experience into the world of the Roaring Twenties complete with music and dancing, food and drink, and games and shopping reminiscent of that era.  A variety of fantastic bands will be heating things up on the band stand while 20s dance styles will be burning up the dance floor (don't worry - they'll be teaching you the steps!).  Entertainment includes The Red Hot Ramblers with Chelsea Reed, The Gin Canaries, and Drew Nugent and The Midnight Society, as well as the dancing troupes The Minsky Sisters and Old Sister Sweethearts, while the master of ceremonies, Dandy Wellington, keeps the whole thing moving.
Bring your own picnic basket and purchase drinks and snacks from Jamie Hollander Gourmet Foods and Catering (limited quatities) or pre-order food with your event tickets.  Art in the Age and Hendrick's Gin spirits will be on hand for vintage-inspired cocktails.  Those looking for an even more memorable experience can purchase VIP tickets and enjoy a jazz-inspired menu in the tented pavilion, a private bar with three complimentary cocktails, and more.  Events of the day also include fun lawn games, mansion tours, vintage shopping, antique automobiles, and a pie baking contest.  Jazz Age on the Delaware will certainly be the bees knees of summer in Philadelphia, so don't miss out on this fun and fantastic experience.

(Children 12 and under are FREE)
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