Have you ever walked down the streets of Manhattan on an early weekend morning and savored the relatively peaceful atmosphere? If you did, then Philadelphia is your kind of town. It looks a lot like Manhattan: sporadically busy, as Manhattan would be on an early weekend morning, but in a much more calm and laid-back scene.
We left early in the morning to beat the traffic and arrived after lunch at the “Please Touch” Museum. Located in an expansive two-floor building, the museum boasts an “Alice in Wonderland” interactive exhibit, an over-sized pretend grocery store, an arts & crafts room, a giant model train table and a merry-go-round, among many other unique exhibits. Designed for children under the age of seven, the museum offers a variety of discounts. Four hours of pure fun at the museum ended with a parade all across the premises and four hungry people ready for dinner.
We dined at a charming little restaurant called Kanella. As soon as we walked in, the bright white-shaped arch entry made us feel as though we were on a beautiful Greek isle. The stunning, minimalistic décor, which included comfortable benches with blue and white decorative pillows, was an added touch. Kanella’s chef, Konstantinos Pitsillides, is originally from Cyprus and incorporates his mother’s Cypriot style of cooking into unique dishes. This translates into visually appealing food that is sophisticated, yet has a hearty, wholesome flavor to it. My dish, seasonal stuffed vegetables filled with rice, was a colorful feast, bursting with flavor, and was executed with an interesting use of vegetables and herbs. I was happy to learn that their meat & poultry is free-range and hormone-free.
The next morning we ventured into the Old City and headed to the Liberty Bell, located at Independence Hall. Next, we crossed the street and strolled around Independence Square enjoying the cool shade of the surrounding trees. We then roamed the streets of the Old City until we reached a picturesque little street, or rather alley, called Elfreth’s Alley. There is a museum on no. 126 and a gift shop on no. 124; these are the only houses open to the public – the other houses are private homes with families still living there. It’s hard to believe but since 1702, this has been the oldest continuously occupied group of homes in America. Next, we walked over to the Betsy Ross House. This is the house which belonged to the woman who purportedly sewed the American flag. We were delighted to see an actual woman portraying Betsy Ross and had an interesting chat with her about her life, as she was working in her upholstery shop. The kids had fun playing in the pretend old-style kitchen downstairs.
We worked up an appetite and headed to Reading Terminal Market for a late lunch. This vibrant indoor market is so eclectic, you can find fresh produce, dairy & meats, bakeries, flowers, crafts & gifts and restaurants, including typical Amish fare (check for hours before you go). After a long deliberation I decided on blackened catfish and Cajun fries at Beck’s Cajun Café – both which were outstanding. (Yes, I do write about health food, but this was vacation!)
After lunch and before driving back home, we meandered around the old city galleries and shops, vowing to return, sans kids, to check out the art museums, have more great food and stroll leisurely in not-so-busy streets.
Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall:
More pictures: (Betsy Ross’ House & “Please Touch” Museum)