+ Michael Schulson’s Sampan
Chef Michael Schulson’s Sampan (124 South 13th Street) is an oasis of contemporary Asian small plates located in the heart of Center City, Philadelphia’s hot Midtown Village neighborhood. A dramatic back-lit wall mural sets the scene for Chef Schulson’s artful food, emerging from the restaurant’s centrally located open kitchen. while a carefully curated selection of wine, beer, sake and cocktails complement guests’ experiences. The restaurant is also home to Graffiti Bar, a private all-weather patio.
+ Pizzeria Stella
Steeelllllllaaaaaa! No, not talking streetcars here, just exclaiming the love Philadelphia has for the new hotspot, Pizzeria Stella. Pizzeria Stella is the newest Stephen Starr gem with a boisterous and family-friendly atmosphere. The menu is limited, but if you’re in search of seriously yummy thin-crust pizzas with a nice house red wine, you’re in luck.
The pizza bar is a fantastic place to sit with two or three people and watch the chefs do their work. When visiting with four or more, grab a table and order family style, because there is no way to choose which toppings you’d like.
The margherita pizza, loaded with fresh basil and just the right amount of cheese, is a fantastic place to start. More adventurous diners should try their feature “tartufo” pizza, made with black truffles, fontina, parmesan, and topped with a fried egg. End your meal with the secret family recipe house-made gelato, everything from olive oil to chocolate, and presto, you’re good to go!
+ Melograno- Rustic Italian BYOB with room for all
Philadelphia is known for its BYOB restaurants. The only downside is that many BYOB restaurants are small and cramped. While some may enjoy the small rustic charm, others like to eat without elbowing their neighbor. Melograno located in Rittenhouse Square offers authentic Italian cuisine in a spacious atmosphere. If you have a larger party to accommodate, this is definitely the place to gather friends with copious bottles of wine. Chef Gianluca Demontis expanded Melograno to their location on 20th and Spruce for business, and in return created a more desired dining atmosphere with an expanded menu. From snail soup to classic Italian dishes like Carbanora, every dish is unique with a touch of Roman flare. For the full menu visit www.melogranorestaurant.com
Insider’s Tip: Like many Philadelphia BYOB restaurants, Melograno is closed on Mondays. They only accept reservations on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings- Fridays and Saturdays are walk-in only. 215.875.8116
+ Creperie Beau Monde/L’Etage: French Food, European Night Life
Off the beaten trail, and nestled in South Philadelphia this French sensation offers an experience unlike any other. A savory lunch or dinner at Creperie Beau Monde is something unique. From hearty buckwheat crepes to sweet crepes, mouthwatering salads to flavorful cheese plates Beau Monde is a foodies dream. The fresh vintage setting brings a feeling of France to the intersection of sixth and Bainbridge. On top (literally) of all of the wonder that is Beau Monde is L’Etage, where the French flare is illuminated into the night. There you can find a DJ pumping beats in a cozy cabaret setting well equipped with a dance floor.
If you are looking for a night of dinner and dancing or a memorable luncheon, Beau Monde/ L’Etage has it all under one roof. The Creperie is open Tues-Fri:12-12, Sat:10-11 and the cabaret upstairs runs Tue-Thu,Sun 7:30pm-1am; Fri-Sat 7:30pm-2am.
Insider’s Tips: L’Etage offers special nights for live cabaret, music, film and Djs.
+ Garces Trading Company- A Unique Concept
Located in West Washington Square, Garces Trading Company offers a dining experience unlike any other. Whether you are dining at home and looking for a gourmet touch, or looking to dine out-Chef Jose Garces has created a one-stop shop. Food Network’s newest Iron Chef has joined forces with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and opened Garces Trading Company, a cafe, wine shop and on-site bakery. Not only can you go in and purchase a bottle of wine to take home, but you can also buy a bottle with no markup price to accompany you at your table as an afforable asset to your meal. Along with a phenomenal menu for diners, customers can also purchase artisan cheeses, charcuterie, breads, desserts and much more. Although the restaurant is in the middle of the market, the ambience is charming and does not lack an ounce of rustic flare. This unique concept in a Philadelphia original and definitely worth a trip.
Insiders Tip: Check out the vingegar bar, where you can find a plethora of choices to dip your bread in before dinner. The pomegranate balsamic vinegar is delicious! Yum!
+ BONeJOUR – Fine Accessories for Our Furry Friends
All pets are rock stars says BONeJOUR, and we certainly agree – especially when Fluffy is wearing her skull and crossbones couture collar. BONeJOUR is Old City’s pet boutique, outfitting your pup or kitty in only the finest collars, leads and accessories.
If your pooch is a princess, this shop will outfit them in tiaras, barrettes and bows for any occasion. There’s also rhinestone pendants and glitter cat collars if you prefer our feline friends. And all of our furry friends will be lounging in style on the state-of-the-art animal beds.
BONeJOUR promises that they love your pet as much as you do, which means that they have taken extra care to make sure the treats are nutritious, the toys are durable, and the leashes will keep your pet harnessed, which makes Mommy and Daddy very happy.
+ Fab Vintage Finds at Lost + Found
There are many vintage shops, but a good one really stands out in the crowd. Look no further than Lost + Found in Philadelphia. This boutique sells gently used clothing at incredible prices that have made the likes of Lucky Magazine fans. Run by a stylish mother and daughter duo, they’ve mixed in the vintage with the new so you can walk away with an entire outfit that you just can’t find anywhere else.
+ Boyds – Dressing Philadelphia for 70 Years
Boyds is a clothing store in the heart of Rittenhouse Square that opened seventy years ago and continues to offer the finest and most exclusive clothing from around the world to its customers. Built on a firm foundation of customer service and attention to detail, Boyds is the go-to place for the finest clothing in Philadelphia.
Inside the mood is classy, with Oriental-style rugs, high ceilings, thick Greek columns and detailed crown moldings. Boyds has a men’s and women’s department that offers the best designers available, from Catherine Malandrino to Armani, Hugo Boss and Alberta Ferretti. Accessories, Boyds has it covered, with Manolo Blahnik’s straight out of SATC and classy handbags that beat the trend, like Lanvin and Gucci. The services department is unparalleled, offering free alterations from the best European tailors state-side.
Don’t worry about figuring out how to get there – Boyds has always offered free valet parking for store visitors. And if you get hungry while you shop, pop into Boyds’ cafe Raw for a soup and salad or some refreshing sushi. Because there is nothing wrong with a wasabi lobster roll on the side of your Ike Behar.
+ Open House – Gifting at its Finest
Open House, located in Washington Square West, is a one-stop shop for endless gift-giving possibilities! We’re not the only ones convinced Open House is the place to go for something special – Philadelphia Magazine voted this lovely shop Best of Philly 2009 for hostess gifts.
The shop features eye candy for the home plus much more, like specialty stationary, artisan jewelry, quirky maternity clothing and children’s toys. There are treasures to find in every nook of the store, chock-full of stylish, fresh and unique merchandise that caters to a variety of tastes. Highlights of the goodies: quirky greeting cards and stationary, an enormous candle selection, unique furniture, awesome earrings, and cool yet functional serving utensils. If you chat with the staff, they are always friendly and give great recommendations.
+ Once you [Absolute] POP! the Fun Don’t Stop
Warhol lovers look no further, because Absolute POP! is the mecca you’ve been looking for for all of your pop art needs. The shop is bursting with vibrant colors and patterns, making it a great stop when visiting Philly’s Midtown Village. Absolute POP!’s two main goals are to be the “go-to” place for affordable decorative art and, to make sure you have great gift options for everyone on your shopping list, both of which they are succeeding.
Absolute POP! sells a huge variety of “art blocks,” glicee prints set in frames that are made from sustainable hardwood grown in North American forests, as well as other art, like tin signs and fine photograph prints. For a unique gift or souvenir, pick up a photo print from the “Absolute Philadelphia” collection, which features quirky architecture and iconic Philly monuments from around town.
+ A World-Class Experience at the Pennsylvania Ballet
From Philadelphia’s yearly favorite George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker to world premieres of contemporary pieces, The Pennsylvania Ballet is always in the city spotlight. The Pennsylvania Ballet presents fourteen ballets in Philadelphia every year featuring classic favorites, new works, and commissioned pieces that always attract an audience.
If you’re looking for the classic ballet experience, visit the majestic Academy of Music on Broad Street during the holidays to see Nutcracker or in the summer to see Romeo and Juliet. The Ballet also performs at the Merriam Theater, which is getting up-to-snuff on the theater scene after having been taken over by new management.
If you have never attended a ballet, the Pennsylvania Ballet is a world-class experience. The dancers are beautiful, the full orchestra is enchanting, and being in a 153-year old theater (Academy of Music) where thousands of people have seen hundreds of ballets before you is quite the feeling.
+ Expand Your Scientific Knowledge At The Franklin Institute!
Looking for something fun yet educational?
Visit The Franklin Institute, one of the oldest centers of science education and development in the United States, dating to 1824. In the spirit of inquiry and discovery embodied by Benjamin Franklin, the mission of The Franklin Institute Science Museum serves to inspire an understanding of and passion for science and technology learning. Among other exhibits, The Science Museum holds the largest collection of artifacts from the Wright brothers’ workshop.
The Institute is full of interesting and interactive exhibits, both permanent and traveling. Some of the permanenet exhibits are:
Kid Science, Space Command, The Train Factory, The Franklin Airshow, The Giant Heart and Changing Earth.
The traveling Exhibit, Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, runs until April 7, 2013. This exhibit contains more than 300 legendary artifacts conserved from the ship’s debris field, offering visitors a poignant look at this iconic ship and its passengers. The 15,000 square foot exhibition takes visitors on a chronological journey through the life of Titanic, from the building of the legend to life on board.
Click here for more information.
+ Animal Kingdom
Not too far from Philly!
Animal Kingdom boasts one of the most extensive wild animal collections in New Jersey. Many of their animals are endangered species, which is why the zoo is so important. Their mission is to educate visitors about the importance of preserving the environment and, as a result, the animals that live there. Animal Kingdom’s large collection of animals, some free roaming and others caged, have traveled from six continents to make their home at Animal Kingdom.
Unparalleled Primate Collection
Animal Kingdom boasts one of the largest collections of primates in the United States. Among their honored guests, they have the Mandrill Baboon with its stunning blue face, exotic Japanese Snow Macaques, three species of lemurs and fifteen other species of primates.
Giraffes in New Jersey
At Animal Kingdom, they have several giraffes, many of which are babies born right there in New Jersey.
Animal Kingdom has Tapirs!. Their Tapirs are from South America and are cousin to the horse.
One hump or two?
…The camels at Animal Kingdom have one! Did you know that the camel’s hump is used to store fat, not water? Camels are from Asia and are at home in the desert. There isn’t any desert here at Animal Kingdom but we give them a large pile of sand in the summer to lay on.
+ Swim with sharks at Adventure Aquarium
So you think you’ve got guts? Well, come on down and go for a swim in Adventure Aquarium’s Shark Realm. They will brief you on what to expect, teach you about the animals you will encounter and give you a quick snorkeling lesson. Once you’ve gotten your nerves under control, you’ll enter the Shark Realm where you’ll come within inches of sandbar sharks, nurse sharks and barracuda. Once you’ve gone around the perimeter of the Shark Realm, you’ll enter the Stingray Lagoon where you can swim with and feed dozens of stingrays. You can even have your picture taken to prove to everyone that you actually did it. In addition, you’ll receive admission to the Aquarium, an adventure t-shirt, souvenir snorkel and mask, and memories to last a lifetime. (All gear except bathing suits, towels, water shoes and toiletries will be provided.)
+ Plan an Urban Adventure in Philadelphia
Exploring a new city can be overwhelming. Fortunately, sites like ours can help give you the inside tips for Philly hotspots. However, sometimes it is nice to have someone take you by the hand to help you really experience the city. Philadelphia Urban Adventures provides a knowledgeable fun team that offers a variety of tours. Every vacation deserves a few beers, so what not learn something along the way? The Philly On Tap Tour, run by Philadelphia Urban Adventures, takes you to the city’s most unique, friendly, and eclectic watering holes. The tour runs from 5pm-7pm, providing an unforgettable happy hour. Enjoy staple Philadelphia beers; learn about local breweries and the history behind popular drinking establishments in the city. You’ll quickly find out why Philadelphia is one of America’s best beer cities, and be ready in time for a night out on the town! Visit www.philadelphiaurbanadventures.com to book your tour!
Insiders Tip: Tours are unavailable on Sundays and Mondays, so keep that in mind when planning your next Philadelphia trip!
+ Fun Amenities at the Warwick Hotel
The Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel is in walking distance to two of Philadelphia’s finest locations, Avenue of the Arts and Rittenhouse Square. This stately beauty was built in 1926, but was recently modernized in style and in amenities, perfect for those who can’t sleep at night without their 32” plasma HD televisions and granite baths. And not only is there complimentary breakfast in the morning, but hors d’oeuvres in the evening as well.
If you haven’t caught on yet, Philadelphia loves dogs and they love them so much that the fancy Warwick Hotel hosts Yappy Hours for the furry friends. Nope, no typo there – Yappy Hours are happy hours for fuzzy pups and pup-parents. In the warm months, the Warwick welcomes guests of [literally] all shapes and sizes to enjoy some quality time together outside the restaurant, over cocktails and gourmet munchies for dogs and people.
For those looking for a great location and a ritzy hotel with a lot of personality, the Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel is an ideal accommodation.
+ Heart of History at Penn’s View Hotel
The Penn’s View Hotel, named after William Penn, is a boutique hotel nestled among the history of Old City. The intimate getaway is also home of the authentic trattoria Ristorante Panorama and Il Bar, which serves over 800 different wines a year and boasts an extensive Proprietor’s Reserve List of impressive wines by the bottle.
The staff is well known for its generosity and kindness, and the continental breakfast is overflowing with pastries, Belgian waffles and fresh-squeezed juices. The hotel is historic, but certainly not archaic – amenities like free WiFi throughout the hotel, convenient gas fireplaces and enormous jacuzzi tubs are available in all of the rooms. You can also enjoy a view of the Ben Franklin Bridge and the Delaware waterfront.
The Penn’s View Hotel provides all the amenities you could want, but if you do decide to venture out you are blocks from Independence Mall, The Liberty Bell, and an extensive amount of art galleries and boutiques.
+ Country Feel with Downtown Amenities at The Morris House
The Morris House has the luxury of a downtown boutique hotel with the quaintness of a bed and breakfast. Located on Society Hill, this hotel has fifteen exclusive rooms, each decorated in its own individual fashion. With its outdoor garden and cozy charm, this place could easily be mistaken for a countryside B&B, however, most farm ladies wouldn’t offer Godiva Chocolates or Norwegian Voss water upon your arrival.
Guests can enjoy not only a continental breakfast, but also afternoon tea, which are both included in the room rate. If the hotel’s pleasant, historic charm keeps you in for the night, try the Morris House’s M Restaurant, which offers a delicious extensive lunch and dinner menu and a reasonable prix fixe. Between the beautiful atmosphere and accommodations, this is an amazing place for any wedding or party, which you can easily book online.
+ Sleek Grand Opening of Le Meridien
What’s black and white and red all over? Philadelphia’s Le Meridien, of course! This sleek spot in the heart of Philadelphia’s business district is a new product from the luxurious Le Meridien hotels. This hot and posh hotel group has over 120 hotels in 50 different countries, so if anyone knows hotels, it’s these guys. In keeping with its worldwide tradition of upscale accommodations, Le Meridien has 10 stories of stylish rooms, a Grand Ballroom fit for weddings and meetings looking over Philadelphia’s magestic City Hall, and a chic bar and brasserie, Amuse, which offers traditional French bistro fare.
All the comfort, plus the award-winning concierge staff will guarantee that you have a great stay while in Philadelphia. Even though the place has it all, if you ever do happen to want to leave, it is less than a block away from the Convention Center and other Philly sightseeing to satisfy every need.
+ Sofitel Hotel is Synonymous with Luxury
Sofitel is a name synonymous in the hotel industry with prestige, luxury and elegance. The Sofitel in Philadelphia is right off of ritzy Rittenhouse, and carries the company’s signature blend of French and American styles.
The Sofitel notoriously houses some of Philadelphia’s most high profile visitors, including politicians and famous musicians (have you heard of the New York Philharmonic? I thought so). It is no surprise that the cream of the crop is staying here because the service is impeccable, having won Travel & Leisure’s Best Hotels of 2010 award.
The basic run-down of amenities is quite more than basic. Sofitel is pet friendly, and by that we mean the front of house staff will learn Fido’s name before they learn yours, and the hotel’s charming brasserie Chez Colette has received accolades over its lifetime for its French cuisine and stylish 1920s atmosphere.