I was invited to my dear friend's wedding in Philadelphia, the weekend of 9/16/17, so I decided to go for a quick weekend in the city. I stayed with friends and the wedding ceremonies (yes, there was more than one!) were my priority, but I still managed to do a bit of exploring!
This weekend getaway was not my first time in Philly, but I hadn't been since around 2009, and that first time I didn't' have a hand in the planning whatsoever. This time, I made sure to have at least a short list of potential activities and places to visit. Due to our short time there, I went for the more standard Philly sites and activities.
Our weekend began on Thursday night with a rather bumpy redeye flight, which arrived Friday morning around 6AM. We grabbed our little rental car and made our way to breakfast. Our friends had recommended a breakfast spot, but it didn't open until 8AM, so I consulted Yelp for another option.
Unfortunately, I absolutely loathed driving in Philly. I got honked at for stopping at a stop sign, got honked at for driving too slow, and there seem to be a lack of lanes within the city. It was all very stressful, so if you're planning on driving in the city, be prepared. While I can normally handle myself in the day to day aggression of LA driving, these Philly drivers were next level for sure.
After making it through the web of one-way streets, we ended up having breakfast at Cafe La Maude. I decided on this place almost solely due to seeing some kind of Eggs Benedict on their menu. At first, we struggled to find parking and completely missed the cafe, but after another go-around, we found street parking and excitedly entered the cafe. Please see my Jolene Eats in Philadelphia post for complete details on what I ate there!
After breakfast, we made it to our friend's place in Yorktown and crashed for a few hours before adventuring into the city. As the day progressed, the east coast humidity crept in and combined itself with the warm, summer air. The sun was not beating down on us like it does in California, but it was warm enough that I could wear sandals and not dare to touch a jacket.
Our first stop was Edgar Allen Poe's Philadelphia house. This old home is now a National Historic Site, and in my opinion, a very interesting place to visit. Poe lived there for a short time, but in that time he wrote some very famous works, including The Telltale Heart. The museum part is quaint, but informative, and admission is free. Hours are available on the website - please note the house is closed from 12-1PM. There are plenty of tidbits about Poe's life and the effect he had on so many writers. We visited on a Friday afternoon, so there weren't any crowds and we almost had the whole house to ourselves.
One of my favorite parts of the home was being able to go into the cellar. It was super creepy. If you are a horror connoisseur, you will surely appreciate this cellar. It was dark and stale, with little air circulation and a single staircase leading up to the house. This cellar looked like it had seen a lot. Of what, I'm not sure. But this was Edgar Allen Poe's house...
Next we grabbed lunch and had enough time to head off to the last destination I had my heart set on - Philadelphia's Magic Gardens. I'd seen photos of this place and was earnestly hoping our tight schedule would allow us even a short time to admire the handy work of artist Isaiah Zagar. Fortunately, we had time and tickets were available for an immediate time slot. Street parking was a bit challenging, but we got lucky once again!
Even upon entry to the ticketing office, I was already impressed by the mosaics across the walls and floor. We purchased our tickets and were welcomed by some staff, who are clearly enthusiastic about where they work. They were more than eager to give us a short background of the Magic Gardens before we saw it for ourselves.
In short, Philadelphia's Magic Gardens is stunning, to say the least. The space is not that large, but the details are so incredible that you can spend quite a while exploring the mosaics. There are lines of text that sprawl across walls, beautiful pieces of glass embedded into the walls, and plenty of intricacies to keep pulling your gaze into the crevices of the Gardens. The more you look, the more you discover, taking a peek into Zagar's colorful mind.
There are also many of his drawings displayed in a back room - a great escape for something visually different but still stunning, as well as an escape from the humidity. We didn't spend too much time as our schedule was tight, but I was ridiculously happy that we got to visit!
At 6PM we headed to the Nigerian Engagement Ceremony before calling it a night.
The remainder of my short trip was all food related, so please head over to my Jolene Eats in Philadelphia blog for more.
Until next time,