Saturday, January 23, 2016

Longwood Gardens: Orchid Extravaganza

 
Orchids have been a tradition at Longwood Gardens since 1922, with the art of tending to this special flower being handed down from gardener to gardener until today.  The Orchid Extravaganza presented by Longwood Gardens every year could not come at a better time.  Beginning in January and running until the end of March, this event is a summer oasis in the middle of the coldest months.
 
 
From the moment when you first enter the Conservatory and look out over the vast displays, you feel a sense of calm and relaxation taking over.  It's warm, it's beautiful, and it smells like heaven.  Walk slow and give yourself time to take it all in.  One of the most wonderful things about the entire exhibit is how each new view is somehow more dazzling than the last.  Just as you've decided that the East Conservatory is the prettiest place on earth, you wander into the Main Conservatory and see the greenest, most perfect lawns imaginable.
 
There are a couple of specific things to take note of as you wander through the breath-taking exhibits.  The Orchid Meadow returns this year after its popularity during last year's Extravaganza.  We also loved the vibrant Phalaenopsis displayed beautifully within metal sculptures.  The amazing horticultural and artistic displays, including these two, will leave you enchanted at each turn.
 
The Orchid Extravanganza is an exhibit for everyone and every age, with nearly 4,000 orchids on display in the 4-acre Conservatory.  Don't miss your chance to step out of winter and into this tropical world.
 
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More PHOTOS from Daily Vacationer's 2015 visit.

More PHOTOS from Daily Vacationer's 2014 visit.

Admission and Visiting Hours Information.

OrKID Days - fun for the youngest visitors.

April Orchid Extravaganza Sale.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Local Destination: Winterfest and Blue Cross RiverRink

Every year the Delaware River Waterfront hosts the Blue Cross RiverRink - a wonderful place to skate with a fantastic view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and the Delaware River.  Last year, following the smashing success of the warm weather pop up Spruce Street Harbor Park, the Waterfront went above and beyond turning a fun Philadelphia tradition into an absolute must for everyone in the Greater Philly area by introducing  Winterfest.  With a lodge, bonfires, light shows, fantastic food, porches lined with rocking chairs, and the fun arcade, Winterfest can make anyone thrilled that it's winter in Philadelphia (and it's FREE!).

Winterfest is back again this year with some fun additions (including a fantastic menu from The Franklin Fountain and Winter Warming Cottages), and Daily Vacationer headed down to experience it all again.  The cheerful music had nothing on the mood of the holiday crowds.  We could have stayed up on the Chestnut Street overpass and watched for hours just soaking in the festiveness of the whole view.  And coming up on New Year's Eve, TWO fireworks shows (one at 6pm and one at midnight) hosted by Sugar Casino are scheduled.  Always a fantastic show and a very well organized annual event on what can often be a chaotic night in other places.   Even with the end of the holidays, Winterfest promises to be a shining light of pure fun during the dark, cold winter days.
 
Whether it's cheering someone on in the arcade, chatting around the outdoor fires, sharing blankets on the porches, skating along in the ice rink, or playing Jenga on the couches around the "fireplaces", every spot in Winterfest is the best place to make memories with friends and family.  And the food - THE FOOD!! We were already of fan of Garces Group, but a taste of their menu at the Lodge made us love them even more (the fries are a favorite of ours too!).  If burgers are not your thing (though with their selection of beef and veggie burgers, we don't know how you couldn't be), the Distrito Cantina Truck has a great menu of tacos, quesadillas, churros, and a fantastic Mexican hot dog.  The Fireside Café is also on the premises offering winter favorites like warm drinks, baked goods, soft pretzels, and s'mores kits for the firepits in the winter garden.  Enjoy Happy Hour from 5pm to 7pm Monday thru Friday on all seasonal beers.  Be sure and check hours before you visit.
 
Thanks to the fun and excitement of just being at Winterfest this year (did we mention the light shows every half an hour in the evenings?), one doesn't have to even ice skate to have a good time.  However, we highly recommend a spin around Blue Cross' RiverRink.  It's only $3 for a session on the well taken care of rink and skates can be rented for $10 (sessions do sell out, so purchase tickets in advance).  The lockers and benches are located right near the rink entrance making getting around easy.  RiverRink is also a great place for beginners to give it a try as the skaters are not as "on display" as other rinks.  Winterfest and RiverRink can be rented out for parties, events, and fundraisers with different packages available.   They also host a ton of their own events open to the public on most weekends.  Groups are also invited to register together to receive a discount.
 
Just like Spruce Street Harbor Park is during summer, Winterfest is THE PLACE to go during the cold months in Philadelphia this year.  Only open until March 1st, don't miss out on your chance to experience what everyone is raving about.   The Delaware River Waterfront has given the city a place to stay warm and have fun no matter how cold it gets.

DAILY VACATIONER JR SAYS: WINTERFEST IS A GREAT PLACE TO BRING THE KIDS! THEY WILL LOVE THE COIN OPERATED RIDES AND LIVELY GAMES IN THE ARCADE, MAKING S'MORES BY THE FIRE, AND TAKING A SPIN ON THE RIVERRINK.  CHILDREN'S MENU ITEMS ARE AVAILABLE AT THE REFRESHMENT LOCATIONS AND KIDS 4 AND UNDER SKATE FOR FREE!
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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Daily Vacationer Jr: Always My Baby Diapers and Wipes

Recently we were given the chance to check out the brand  new baby line from GIANT Food Stores (a fantastic chain in the Philadelphia area).  Always My Baby has products for all ages and stages.  Diaper sizes start at newborn and move gradually up to training pants as your child transitions into potty training. Traditional and flushable wipes are both available in varying size packages, so you can use them at home or easily stash them in something more portable.

At Daily Vacationer Jr, we were not just looking for diapers and wipes for hanging out  in at home (though they worked great for that too), but we needed to make sure that they would travel well.  After all, one of our favorite things to do is explore all there is to see in the Philadelphia area, and the last thing we want to deal with is a blow out or a difficult diaper change while trekking through an awesome arboretum, checking out a cool children's museum, or wandering through Old City. 

So we ventured out like we usually do and brought along a test subject who put the Always My Baby products through vigorous hurdles including being taken in and out of (and riding around in) a car seat, climbing, playing, and running, and public bathroom changes.  We really loved the way that the diaper was designed with extra folds and stitching to keep the important stuff in while keeping our test subject comfortable (there were absolutely no complaints about comfort).  The diaper held on longer than it normally would have to at home even with a highly mobile kid.  Diaper changes were quick and easy.  The Always My Baby diaper, with its soft materials and strong stitching, definitely holds up against the brand name competitors.

The product we liked the best were actually the Always My Baby wipes.  We loved the way the compact travel package fit in our bag, and our test subject was delighted with the whimsical packaging (we personally liked it too).  The wipes had a great subtle scent - vastly different from the chemical smell that we've noticed in other brands - and they came out easily one at a time (not always the case).  The standout feature of the wipes was definitely the pattern on each of them with deep grooves that made it possible to clean more in a less amount of time and with less wipes used.  Absolutely loved that quality feature (and our test subject enjoyed being able to get up and play again  quicker)!

Always My Baby diaper and wipes brand works for days at home as well as days out and about.  They are dependable during those times when everything is running smoothly, and, more importantly, dependable when you are trying to do a quick change before your timed ticket expires or you've gone somewhere that involves a lot of moving around or you are no where near home and NEED this diaper and last few wipes to do the job!  Head over to a GIANT Food Store and check out their new Always My Baby line - good quality diapers and wipes at a great wallet-friendly price.


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Friday, November 13, 2015

Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly

With almost 20 live species on display at The Academy of Natural Sciences' special exhibit "Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly", visitors have a chance to experience some of the world's most amazing creatures first hand.  Daily Vacationer absolutely loved this exhibit!  We managed to check off our list animals we've always wanted to see in person like the Chameleon and Gila Monster.  Each reptile on display boasts its own "wow-factor" from the unique way it gets around and hides to how it kills and eats.

As always with special exhibits at the Academy, Reptiles is a hands on learning experience with interactive facts and lots of things to touch on the Curiosity Cart.  Check out the schedule for talks with the Keepers and feeding demonstrations as well.  We're big fans of the massive Alligator Snapping Turtle, so seeing that big guy eating his lunch during our visit was a treat for him and us.  Another of our favorite parts was using some old-school technology to see how certain reptiles get around and learning once and for all what the difference between an Alligator and a Crocodile is.  Another thing that we really enjoyed about the set up was that half of the exhibit was entirely "snake free".  So for those of you interested in a seeing the turtles, lizards, and crocs, but have a small or large case of Ophidiophobia, you can still enjoy this awesome exhibit without fear.  However, those of you looking for snakes will be blown away by the variety and the crazy facts about these unique creatures (did you know you can "milk" a viper??).
 
Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly will only be at The Academy of Natural Sciences until January 10, so do not miss out on your chance to experience this amazing collection of species (save when you purchase tickets online):


Soft-shell Turtle
Snapping Turtle
Side-neck Turtle
Tortoise
Alligator
Crocodile
Veiled chameleon
Frilled leaf-tailed geckos
Gila Monsters
Monitor Lizards 
Green Tree Python
Mangrove Snake 
Monocled Cobra
Gaboon Viper
Tri-color Milk Snake 
Diamond-back Rattlesnake
Reticulated Python
 
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Friday, November 6, 2015

Daily Vacationer Jr: Discovery Theatre Presents Old MacDonald 2

 
"Old MacDonald had a farm -
E I E I O!
And on this farm he had a.....
Rocket ship? Castle? Dinosaur???..."
 

Join the Discovery Theatre at the Garden State Discovery Museum this month as they show want happens when a beloved nursery rhyme character leaves his home to explore the great wide world.  A tale that reminds us how hard it is to leave the familiar behind, how exciting it is to discover new places and friends, and how nice it is to come back home again.  Farmer MacDonald is certainly in for some laughs and surprises when his travels include a ballet class, traveling back in time, coming face to face with wild animals, and even exploring space!
 
As always, the Discovery Theatre shows are geared to delight and entertain the younger set (as well as their parents and caregivers).  The performance has lots of audience participation and moves at a fun, quick pace (thoughtfully put together for short attention spans).  With inventive props, quick costume changes, catchy songs, and endearing characters, a talented two-person cast brings each new adventure to life and engages the imagination of the audience.  Discovery Theatre never fails to put together entertaining and age appropriate shows, and Old MacDonald 2 is no exception.

Discovery Theatre shows are always included
in the price of admission.
 
Performances run 12pm and 3pm
November 5, 6, 7, 14, 21, 27, 28
 
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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 décor 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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