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A weekend in Philly

12 Aug

Where’s your favorite get-out-of-the-city weekend spot?
Answer our poll below!

Sure, Boston and D.C. get a lot of NYC weekender love, but Philly was by far my favorite of the three, highly underrated if you ask me. Here’s where I ate, stayed and hung out. Copy/paste this list in an e-mail to yourself, and bring it when you go!

Travel: Bolt Bus. I’ve written about it before, but the trip is seamless and the bus has free wi-fi and bathrooms. Book your tickets early, as they charge on a sliding scale, but you can easily get there and back for about $30. If you’re traveling with a companion, get in line early — people often aren’t so keen on moving to an aisle seat in the back row so you can sit by your honey.

Sleep: Lodging is typically the most expensive part of weekend bus trips, so remember that credit card points programs often pair with hotels to offer vouchers — check yours to see where you might stay and save. Bearing this in mind, I hit up the Historic Best Western Independence Park Hotel (235 Chestnut St.), right in the center of the action.

The Signer

Eat: A little hard to get to on foot, but Silk City (435 Spring Garden St.) is a fun ’50s diner vibe. Check out Campo’s (214 Market St.) and split an obligatory cheesesteak, and carve out an hour or two (and some room in your tummy) to sample the goods at the lively Reading Terminal Market (51 N. 12th St.).

Reading Terminal Market

Snack: Wine and cheese bar Tria (123 S. 18th St.) is a romantic place to sit outside and enjoy the finer things, while Shane’s Candies‘ (110 Market St.) arcane check-out system is worth suffering — for the chocolate, of course.

Gawk: Make sure your camera has plenty of battery before heading over to the Philadelphia Magic Gardens (1020 South St.). But speaking to friends after we returned, somehow no one I talked to who knew Philadelphia had ever been. What the what!

Classics: Even if you’re not a history person, Independence Hall (520 Chestnut St.), Betsey Ross House (239 Arch St.) and a stop at the Liberty Bell are musts. Take the tours (very affordable), soak up the history, Google the ticket details.

Drink: Nodding Head Pub (1516 Sansom St.) is a locals’ bar with plenty of space and seating. There are way worse things than ending up here for a few drinks after a long walk around the central city. Not a bad plan at all.

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Is the touristy stuff really worth doing?

30 Mar

I’ve advised before that everyone fortunate enough to live in New York City should never stop playing tourist. And everywhere you turn, there are people telling you what’s worth doing and what’s not. The ultrajaded types will tell you to skip almost everything considered “touristy,” but if you think about it—why do visitors ALWAYS go to the top of the Empire State? Because it’s worth it. Even better, YOU, dear reader, happen to live here! You’re not trying to cram everything into two days. Here are 10 popular stops and my take on them:

1. Pedi cabs: I agree this is a DON’T. Same goes for those black town cars who honk at you when it’s raining and you’re desperate for a cab. Rip-off city, folks.

2. Hot dog carts: I haven’t died yet. That said, the last pretzel and churro I had were cold and stale —and the pretzel guy was out of salt, wtf. Stick to the hot dogs these days!

3. Top of the Empire State: When I last went, the guy at the kiosk was like, “Where are you from?” From here, I said. “Then why are you here?” And I was all, “Wait, what?” Why would I not want to see this view just because I live here? Be prepared to wait in lines no matter when you go, but it’s all part of the fun. Embrace the tourists…breathe…embrace the tourists.

4. Cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery: The quintessential do! They are fantastic. Go when it’s nice out so you can sit across the street on the little park benches. Bring a bottle of water, because you’ll be dying of thirst after all that sugar.

5. Carriage ride in Central Park: Up to you. If you want to spend the money, go for it! This is your life, right? Not a dress rehearsal. And hey, you can always try to bargain with the guy — you never know.

6. Restaurants in Times Square: A probable don’t, with the possible exception of the on-the-rocks margarita from the bar at Applebees. Good view and a good value — you can fill the martini glass like four times (they give you the extra from the shaker). And I’ve always heard that it’s legit fun to hit up the Olive Garden. Aren’t we all a sucker for those breadsticks?

7. Comedy shows: A do if you’re a fan of jokes about grandmas having sex, and poop. Tends to be lowest-common-denominator, overpriced stuff. (Call ahead to find out the minimum food/drink purchase at ANY comedy show. Two $20 tickets can become a $100 evening quickly.)

8. Century 21: Tons of people swear by it. I hated it. Don’t! TJ Maxx and Filene’s are way better, less crowded and in a more convenient location. If you’re in Queens, the Ross out there is good too! Recently scored a $20 J.Crew-inspired dress.

9. The Meatpacking District: Do! It’s gorgeous down there with just the right touch of glamour. Dinner at Paradou followed by drinks and dancing at Gaslight is a perfect evening.

…Wait, a list of nine? What’s that about?

Fill in 10 for me in the comments. GO!

TV and Movie Sites Tour giveaway!

29 Mar

The kind folks at Screen Tours invited me to tag along on their TV & Movie Tour over the weekend, and little did I know how much fun I’d have! (WIN A PAIR OF TICKETS BELOW — an $80 value!)

It took me three years to lay eyes on this famous cinematic site! Can anyone ID it?

I’ll cop to pompously believing I’d know all about every site we’d visit, and all the trivia associated with it. Woah, dead wrong there! (Don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything in the words to come…)

Even those who have been in the city for years can learn something on this tour. It’s a great way to see the city, and steps above an MTA bus, to be sure. The buses are clean, cozy and (my favorite) have footrests!

Our pleasant tour guide, Kymberly Tuttle, made the experience delightful, even though it was rainy and cold out. Also a working actress, Kym was effortlessly funny and an expert guide. Three hours flew by, and we were never bored.

For a bus tour that could have been really cheesy, too long and not interesting, this was anything but. She even made me want to sing a few TV theme songs — and I’m not the type!

Want to win a pair of tickets to a Screen Tours tour of your choice? (These are also the people behind the Sex and the City, Gossip Girl and Sopranos tours.)

Rules for entry (DEADLINE IS FRIDAY, APRIL 2):

• 1 entry just for completing this form.
• 1 entry for following NewNewYorkers on Twitter.
• 1 entry entry for posting about this giveaway on your blog.
• 1 entry for tweeting this giveaway and sending it my way (@NewNYers)

GOOD LUCK!