I have always had a weird relationship with Philadelphia. One big reason for this is because most of my interaction with The City of Brotherly Love has been through sports – not always a good thing if you’re a hockey fan.
National Hockey League playoff games between Canadian teams and the Flyers organization are legendary. Watching the Phillies can also be an exercise in intensity. In fact, the late pitcher Bo Belinsky famously said “Philadelphia fans would boo funerals, an Easter egg hunt, a parade of armless war vets, and the Liberty Bell.”
It goes without saying there is more to Philly than a few unruly fans, something that in fairness every city has. Philadelphia is a great city for sports but it’s also a destination teeming with history, jaw-dropping city views, a boisterous nightlife and award-winning restaurants. Still, as I began my journey to Philadelphia and Bucks County I was a little nervous before my trip. Were the people of this great city really that crusty? I hoped Bo Belinsky was exaggerating.
4 pm: Check into The Warwick Hotel Rittenhouse Square
220 S. 17th Street, 1-215-735-6000
Warwick Hotel Rittenhouse Square had a major redesign in 2014 and has recently changed ownership. Amenities include a business-class floor with private lounge, Nespresso machines, free high-speed Internet access throughout the hotel and a welcoming lobby. Warwick Hotel is located downtown, a short distance from several museums and attractions including The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens and The Liberty Bell. Rittenhouse Square, a pretty little park just a short walk from the hotel often has events going on.
6:30 pm. Dinner at The Goat’s Beard
4201 Main St., 1-267-323-2495
Our first stop was Manayunk, a thriving neighbourhood in the northwestern section of the city located on the banks of the Schuylkill River for some window shopping. Wonderful area if you’re looking for a place to pick up some stylish and unique gifts.
We enjoyed the culinary creations of Executive Chef Joel Romano at The Goat’s Beard. Chef Romano served up small plate after small plate of traditional American cuisine. Several delightful items can be found on the menu. I loved the lamb meatballs ($22), Steak Mac & Cheese ($23) and Cobb Salad ($15). For a true comfort food experience, look no further than their House Cut Fries and when finished, wash it down with a Fried Brownie ($8.50) and a glass of whiskey.
Day Two: Friday
Our next destination was Doylestown in Bucks County, a beautiful town located an hour drive north of Philadelphia and is bounded by the Delaware River to the southeast. Bucks County is an artistic and cultural gem with magnificent museums, elegant restaurants and interesting shops. It’s a perfect stop for people looking for unique and fun gifts or collectors items.
11:00 am Arrive
We stopped at Mercer Museum & Fonthill Castle. Anthropologist and archaeologist Henry Mercer’s concrete castle features 44 rooms, 18 fireplaces and more than 200 windows. Built between 1908 and 1912, The castle is a twisted labyrinth of tunnels and stairs, a living and vibrant testimony to an artistic – or mad – mind depending on how you look at it. Next door is Moravian Pottery & Tile Works, where eager students learn how to create tiles. There is a really nice gift shop here, where you can buy some tiny gift tiles for family and friends for reasonable prices.
3:00 pm. Check into Doylestown Inn
18 West State Street, Doylestown, 1-215-345-6610
A boutique hotel that home decorators will fall in love with. Doylestown Inn is a work of art with a wall of suitcase art in the front lobby and framed mirrors along the restaurant walls. I loved the lamps hanging over the bar of the Hattery Stove & Still that are designed to look like hats. Wonderful breakfast menu – try the Salmon Benedict ($13) or the Maryland Crab Omelette ($13).
Day Three: Saturday
12:00 pm: Lunch at The Lucky Well
111 E Butler Ave, Ambler, 1-215-646-4242
I was lucky to meet Food Network Star and restaurateur Chad Rosenthal, Chef and Owner of The Lucky Well. Rosenthal was kind enough to give us a tour of his kitchen, where we met the talented staff behind his critically acclaimed restaurant. Serving Memphis-style ribs, brisket and smoked wings, this Philly native has found his calling in the world of barbecue. Chad is well known in the region for opening The Lucky Well and Bánh Street.
If you love BBQ, you won’t go wrong with anything on this menu. Try the Local Beef Brisket (Half $17 or Full $32), the Smoked Sausage Half $10 or Full $19) or the The Well Burger ($15), with house-ground Brisket, short rib and pickle chips.
4 pm: Time To Go Home
After catching my flight home I reflected on my trip. Every restaurant, hotel and museum was a fine experience. Everyone was so nice. Even the taxi driver who drove me to the airport – yes, the stereotypical grumpy Philadelphia driver – was friendly, funny and engaging as we joked about sports and politics. He shook my hand with a beaming smile.
I miss the delightful markets, doll-house towns, flowing green landscape, boutique hotels, grilled lamb chops and that unique tile museum out in the middle of the country. Above all I miss the warm, creative and entertaining people of Philadelphia and Bucks County – even their boisterous sports fans.
For crying out loud don’t tell anyone I said that.
Editors Note: Philadelphia skyline picture at beginning of story / Credit: Photo by R. Kennedy for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®