Friday, August 11, 2017

Old City Eats

Old City Philadelphia is an area commonly explored by day time tourists and local office friends. But more and more, Old City is a place to stay and hang around after 5pm! Old City Eats is a great way to explore the area and the myriad of drinking and dining options, many in unique and fun settings.  Interested in a bar with 120 bottles of wine - on tap? Try a 5 wine tasting paired with a gold and red beet salad at Panorama. Love a cozy British atmosphere with some unique twists on England's classics? Go for a blue cheese stuffed date wrapped in bacon at The Victoria Freehouse.  Or, aim for classic American comfort food in a relaxing and fun atmosphere at  JJ Bootleggers, where you can enjoy a giant game of jenga while sipping one of their many moonshine flavors, straight from Gatlinburg, TN. 


The unique architecture and buildings of Old City create spaces that bring out the best in a bar and restaurant - owners and chefs that lend their talents to envelope you in an experience the minute you walk in the door. From Indian food at Karma (try the chicken 64!), to light fare at Continental, there is something for everyone in this neighborhood. The beauty of Old City Eats is being able to explore new places and foods at an affordable cost. 30 restaurants offer discounted drink and appetizer specials during hours. Once you try a place or two, this neighborhood will be a go-to place for Thursday nights through August 31st!

For the entire list of participating restaurants, check out http://oldcitydistrict.org/oldcityeats


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Monday, August 7, 2017

Port Discovery: KLUTZ: Amazingly Immature

This summer, immaturity returns to Port Discovery Children’s Museum! The new KLUTZ Amazingly Immature exhibit is based on the KLUTZ Encyclopedia vol. 1 and 2. There are 18 interactive activities that allow school age children (and any young minded adults) to discover some of the most basic laws of science with ordinary objects and lots of good fun. For, example, visitors to the museum can construct superfast airplanes out of paper and then launch them into air-all the while learning about aerodynamics!


Since 1977, KLUTZ has been producing activity kits for kids that help them discover their world using easy to follow instructions and a good dose of silliness. Children have a natural curiosity for their surroundings, and they are open to multiple uses for everyday tools. What child hasn’t desired to use their plastic spoon as a catapult? Well, at this exhibit, no care giver needs to worry about chastising their kid for being “silly”. Why, if silly isn’t happening, then you are in the wrong place!


The best part of this creative exhibit is that it allows one to have fun while learning about science. As parents, we strive to find new and exciting venues for our children to be awakened to the hidden truths that lie just beneath the surface of natural phenomena. At Port Discovery, only till September 4th, families and friends can come and make memories while having a solid educational experience. Are you Amazingly Immature?



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Monday, July 24, 2017

Philadelphia Sightseeing Twilight Tour

We recently rode along with Philadelphia Sightseeing Tours, learning loads about the city that we love so much and having the chance to see things from a new perspective atop their big double decker buses. It was super convenient and a ton of fun! We really enjoyed ourselves and would do it all again any day. Later, when we putting together our follow up piece on our experience, we were excited to discover that Philadelphia Sightseeing Tours also offers a Twilight Night Tour.  Same route except during the evening as the summer sun sets.  We immediately moved some things around on our schedule and headed out again to the see the sights!

The Twilight Tour leaves from outside Reading Terminal Market on 12th and Market, putting you within an easy walking distance of some of the city's best restaurants and eateries to grab a bite or linger over a meal before the tour leaves at 8pm.  Guests can choose to sit inside the bus or up on top, with the most popular choice being to climb the stairs and sit on the open deck and really get a good view of everything.  We suggest bringing a sweater or jacket - even on a hot day, the continuous breeze can get chilly as the sun goes down.

The tour itself was well-timed with the fading daylight including a look at Fairmount and the Museum's District explored right when there is still enough sun to see the details of the monuments and farther away buildings.  The Twilight Tour doesn't have the hop-on-hop-off stops offered during the day, but they did give us a few minutes at dusk in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art to climb the famous Rocky Steps and gaze down the Parkway.


As the sun faded completely, it was the perfect time to drive past the well-lit skyscrapers of Center City, see the huge lobby of the Comcast Building, and admire the spotlights pointed at William Penn up on City Hall.  We turned down Broad Street and made our way through the Avenue of the Arts getting the full effect of the Wilma Theater's neon lights and the gas lamps of the Merriam Theater.  We braved the low branches in the quiet streets of Old City before slowing down to get a good look at the beautiful lights on the Independence Seaport Museum ships and hanging from the trees at Spruce Street Harbor Park.



The whole tour is about an hour and a half, and we have a to give major props to our guide for keeping a running commentary of fascinating Philly facts going the entire time (as well at the driver for safely passing through tiny streets without hitting anything!). Having experienced both the daytime and nighttime version of the tour, we would have a tough time picking which is our favorite. While the daytime offers the opportunity to get off and on at different points of interest, we really enjoyed the relaxing, post-dinner Twilight Tour around town as well.


For a guaranteed spot on a Philadelphia Sightseeing Tour,
purchase tickets ahead of time!

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mirror Maze at The Franklin Institute

This summer, The Franklin Institute has been privileged to be the very first travel destination for a brand new special exhibit put together by the Museum of Science and Industry Chicago. This exhibit takes the everyday things we see out in the world and brings them under the microscope to examine their exquisite natural patterns. Mirror Maze: Numbers in Nature not only allows visitors to look closely at different kinds of patterns from different angles with a room full of interactive screens and displays, but it also invites them to step directly into one with the astounding 1700-square foot maze!

We often think of patterns as man-made or simple accidental sequences, but the amazing truth is that the natural world is a design made up of uniform shapes and angles that seem almost surreal the more one is aware of them.  From honeycombs and dragonfly wings to fans of coral and spots on giraffes, the mathematical patterns are both precise and beautiful.  Every part of the exhibit is factually fascinating as well just plain fun to interact with.  There is a futuristic feel to the touchscreens and the layout that juxtapose nicely with the natural elements on display.  We really enjoyed the whole thing and spent a lot of time at each station.

Obviously, the biggest draw of the exhibit is the Mirror Maze itself. Quick Tip: Don't go too quickly or you will discovered what a bird feels like when it hits a window.  (We now know why it is so hard to catch the bad guy in all those movies when they wander in a fun house during a chase.) With the angled set up of the mirrors, everyone's reflections seem to be everywhere at once or suddenly no where depending on where they are standing.  For awhile we thought we were following a guy in front of us, who suddenly stepped out behind us!  Added to the maze are extra exhibit facts and finds that only show up if you happen to wander close enough to where they are.  The whole Mirror Maze is loads of fun and best experienced with someone else to venture in with you.

Mirror Maze: Numbers in Nature will be on display through September 4th.


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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Storyland at the Please Touch Museum

How often do we wish we could step between the covers of a good book and spend a day within its pages?  We read and reread the stories, setting the characters into motion along beloved plot lines and through familiar settings, thinking how fun it would be to tag along beside them. Storyland: A Trip Through Childhood Favorites, the current special exhibit at the Please Touch Museum, allows visitors to do just that with some of the most cherished children's books found in libraries, on nursery shelves, and open on caregivers' laps all over the world.


Delighted kids (and delighted parents - let's face it) will be thrilled with the fun and hands on approach to Storyland with timeless favorites like Peter Rabbit and The Snowy Day coming to life with vegetable gardens to explore and paths of snow to crunch in.  The sing-song lines of Chicka Chiicka Boom Boom become even more fun when you help to send the letters up to the top of the coconut tree (with lessons about the alphabet thrown in to boot!).  Each book gets its own unique area as you jump from exploring New York City with Abuela to making mischief in the kitchen of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. We also loved how the each part managed to capture the feel of the book it was meant to represent like the hushed tones of Tuesday where the images tell most of the story to the simple boardbook-esque blocks of Where's Spot.

Every area of Storyland had not only the actual book to reference and many sections directly from the story's pages, but also a little bit more added for pure fun. Our favorite parts included climbing the huge letters of the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom beach, listening to all the different languages singing together on Abuela's city tour, wandering among Mr. McGregor's giant vegetables, and following in Peter's footsteps as he explored The Snowy Day. Storyland is also a bilingual exhibit with everything available in English and Spanish.  There's also lots of early learning concepts to practice and have fun with!


Storyland: A Trip Through Childhood Favorites is open at the Please Touch Museum through September 10th and is included in the price of admission.

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Summertime at the Discovery Family Attractions

It's summertime, and the Discovery Family Attractions have a schedule absolutely packed with fun and exciting things to do all summer! All three locations (Garden State Discovery Museum, Paws Discovery Farm, and Kid Fit NJ) are hosting special seasonal events, camps, and deals following along with their "We Are Childhood" theme for 2017.

The Garden State Discovery Museum is once again hosting original shows in their Discovery Theater with "Little Red" on the schedule for July 4-29 and "Fearless" August 1-26 (all shows performed Tuesdays, Wednesday, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 2pm and are included with museum admission).  Come by during the summer weekends for different events and hands on activities including special crafts in Milly's Which Craft Art Studio by A.C. Moore, Karaoke in the Discovery Theater, and even a fun Carnival in the museum parking lot August 5th and 6th.

The newly opened Paws Discovery Farm is also hosting weekend events while maintaining their calendar of weekday on the farm type programs,  Both the Farm and the Museum are open late with extended summer hours, and the Garden State Discovery Museum has once again brought back its super popular $5 after 5pm admission Monday through Thursday!
Kid Fit NJ is keeping everyone up and moving this summer with awesome classes for children from 1 to age 12.  Practice those Ninja, Superhero, and Gymnastics moves at the place where running, jumping, and climbing is always pure fun.  Kid Fit Camp is also offered on Mondays and Wednesdays for a drop-off afternoon adventure for ages 3 and up.  Camp goes from 12pm to 3pm and includes action-packed play, a craft, snack, and story time.

Purchase a special summer Combo Ticket for admission to ALL THREE locations! 
(A savings of $9 per person!)




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Philadelphia Sightseeing Tours

In our many excursions into and through Philadelphia, we've often spotted the bright red, double decker buses making their way around Center City (they are pretty hard to miss!).  The more we saw them zipping around, the more we so wanted to be up on their top level getting a completely new and unique view of the city. In just about every temperature and weather, we have seen at least a handful of people braving the cold, heat, or rain sitting up above everyone else. Needless to say, we were thrilled when Philadelphia Sightseeing Tours gave us the opportunity to check out just why this particular bus tour is so appealing.

The Tours begin in front of the Historic Bourse Building on Independence Mall.  Same day tickets are often available for purchase, but we strongly advise buying them in advance through the Philadelphia Sightseeing Tours website to be guaranteed a spot. Guests have the option of One-, Two-, or Three-Day Passes which get you all the knowledge about the city and its points of interest that your tour guides have plus convenient hop-on-hop-off transportation around Center City. They also offer a Twilight Philly Night Tour (next on our list for sure!).

Driving around with Philadelphia Sightseeing Tours was a fantastic and convenient way to hit all the highlights. The route covers 16 miles of Philadelphia, providing guests access to 100+ attractions including spots in the Historic District like Elfreth's Alley and The Betsy Ross House, places in the Museums District such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Eastern State Penitentiary, and the attractions down by the Delaware River Waterfront.  One of our favorite of the 27 stops was right under the Beautiful Chinatown Friendship Gate.

We love learning all the extra tidbits we can about anything and everything around Philadelphia, so we were thankful for our tour guide, Pauley, who provided us with entertaining commentary throughout the tour.  He offered not only historic information but quirky and interesting Philly facts, like pointing out the "I see dead people...." house used in the filming of M. Night Shyamalan's "The Sixth Sense".  He was also a wealth of knowledge about the city's eateries, ice cream shops, and even a legendary speakeasy.  With the breeze in our hair and the streets of Philadelphia below us, we paid close attention (especially when he called out "Duck, Duck, Goose!" to alert us of any low hanging branches!).

Day, Night or Combination Philadelphia Sightseeing Tours are available at varying cost for adults, children and seniors.8 Tour commentary is conveniently available in multiple languages for international guests.  We now see why these bright red buses are so popular! Riding atop a double decker bus gives a great view of all the sites with a comprehensive 90-minute tour of Center City, and we loved the hop-on-hop-off option for making it super easy to take a closer look at any historic site, museum, or point of interest!
(kc)

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