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In just over two years, craft distilling has boomed in the Philadelphia region, helping to restore Pennsylvania to its once-prominent place in the national distilling conversation. Until Prohibition wiped out the state’s distilling industry, Pennsylvania housed the country’s densest cluster of homespun and commercial whiskey producers, beginning with some of the country’s earliest settlers.
In 2011, Pennsylvania’s government passed reforms that allowed distillers to offer tours, samples and sales on-site. These new laws opened up the craft to would-be distillers who now proudly produce and sell small-batch spirits from Philadelphia. Here’s a look at the region’s distilling pioneers:
A vacation isn’t a vacation without at least an hour or two of pampering built in. Philadelphia day spas and salons are equipped to answer the call, offering clients a variety of luxurious customized services to refresh both body and spirit. They feature the latest in body treatments, relaxation therapy and beauty services—from the most basic of mani-pedis to deeply transformative Thai yoga massages to rejuvenating facials.
- Sleek and serene, Adolf Biecker Spa/Salon offers a full menu of hair, nail, facial and body-care services and packages like “The Energizer,” including a Swedish massage, customized facial and lunch. The
One of the most delicious exhibitions ever to hit Philadelphia is tempting taste buds all around town. Chocolate: The Exhibition, on view at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University through January 24, 2015, uses interactive displays, special programs and tasting events to trace chocolate beginning with its rainforest origins. After learning the backstory on chocolate, visitors can sample the many ways that Philadelphia chocolatiers, mixologists, pâtissiers and others have transformed the cocoa bean into a delight for the senses.
- Those who share chocolatier Gail Warren’s philosophy that chocolate is a “necessary luxury” frequent Bridge Street
Every resident knows (and secretly loves) Will Smith’s Fresh Prince of Bel Air lyric “In West Philadelphia, born and raised … ” Not obvious from the 1990s theme song is the dynamic culture that thrives inside the large area—due to historic characteristics, large educational and research institutions and new developments and residents.
Separated from Center City by the Schuylkill River, West Philadelphia resembles a microcosm of the city itself, with a number of smaller, distinct neighborhoods inside it. Many of its attractions and events—community gardens, Ethiopian restaurants, offbeat performances and the like—were created to benefit the people living in the...
Graduate Hospital goes by many names (Center City South, South of South, G-Ho), which is fitting for a neighborhood that draws its personality from the people inside it: young transplants, born-and-raised neighbors, hip urban professionals, craft beer crowds and more. In recent years, the area stretching from Lombard Street to Washington Avenue and from Broad Street to Gray’s Ferry Avenue has accumulated a healthy dose of restaurants, bars, cafes, shops and markets that reflect the area’s residential and cool vibe.
Restaurants & Bars:
- Bob & Barbara’s Lounge – The Philly Special—a shot of Jim Beam and a can of
Literary roots run deep in Philadelphia, a city that has inspired countless authors and continues to nurture their legacies. Throughout the region, lovers of literature can connect with such classic authors as Poe, Whitman and Michener in the places where they lived, worked and created some of their most celebrated works. And with so many libraries, book collections and indie bookstores, literature lovers can delve deeper into the collected works of these and other favorite authors.
Of special note, 2015 marks the 150th anniversary since Alice first fell down the rabbit hole. To mark the sesquicentennial of Lewis Carroll’s...
From Center City to Bucks County, the Philadelphia region’s shopping neighborhoods are absolutely distinctive. Buzzing Old City in Historic Philadelphia has become renowned for its chic boutiques and mod galleries. Industrial and hip Northern Liberties offers shelter shops and craft galleries galore. In upscale Rittenhouse, refined and sophisticated rules at brand-name stores and owner-operated hotspots. And in New Hope, art-driven stores drive major foot traffic. One thing that’s consistent in every neighborhood in Pennsylvania: tax-free shopping on clothes and shoes. Here’s a look at what visitors will want to buy in each enclave:
Center City Shopping Districts:
- Old City:
Beyond the colorful Friendship Arch at 10th and Arch Streets lives Philly’s vibrant Asian enclave, settled in the mid-19th century by Cantonese immigrants. Stretching from Vine to Arch Streets between 9th and 12th Streets, the neighborhood is packed end to end with restaurants and stores that represent Hong Kong, Cantonese, Fujianese, Northern Sichuan and Taiwanese cultures, with a sprinkling of Korean, Thai, Malaysian, Burmese, Vietnamese and hipster thrown in for good measure. On any given day or night, Chinatown bustles with activity and authenticity, from the steaming platters of hand-stretched noodles to the seasonal street festivals...
When it comes to combining culture and retail, there’s no matching the selection at the museum shops of Philadelphia and The Countryside®. Just beyond the main galleries and halls of some of the most venerable institutions of Center City, Bucks County and the Brandywine Valley, in-house boutiques sell creations that could compete with the exhibitions. Artisan-made jewelry and ceramics, carefully crafted home and personal accessories, fairly traded goods and endlessly educational tomes are among the finds for shoppers. Keep in mind: Most museums promote seasonal deals on annual memberships that offer both free admission and discounts on merchandise....
Pet lovers are crazy about their animal companions and spend $61 billion a year in the U.S. on pet services and accouterments to prove it. For those who love to spoil their pet but hate to leave him behind while traveling, the Philadelphia region proves to be the “purr-fect” getaway. Pet-friendly hotels, restaurants and retail shops welcome visitors and their animals in all sections of the city and its suburbs. With canine-friendly parks to VIP (Very Important Pet) hotel programs, it’s easy to bring furry friends along for the ride. Here’s how:
- At the Four Seasons Hotel
Long known as the edgiest street in Philadelphia, South Street welcomes more than just hippies these days. Shoppers searching for a statement-making look, visitors hungry for a real Philly cheesesteak and music lovers who want to catch an up-and-coming band head to the storied boulevard. Ethnically diverse restaurants, bars that keep the party going long after dessert and galleries and performance spaces help make South Street the place where everyone meets. Over the past decade, the development of South Street’s east side has spread west of Broad Street, but the traditional definition of the district (depending on who you ask)...
Historical Sites & Attractions:
- Wannabe sailors can visit the nation’s most decorated battleship, the Battleship New Jersey, and take tours of the ship, ride the 4-D flight simulator, climb into the onboard helicopter and sleep in the sailors’ bunks as part of its award-winning Overnight Encampment program. 62 Battleship Place, Camden, (856) 966-1652, battleshipnewjersey.org
- America’s most famous flag maker greets guests in her interactive 18th-century upholstery shop at the Betsy Ross House. Visitors learn about Betsy’s life and legend from the lady herself. Summer brings a weeklong, annual Flag Fest celebration with free events every day. Also,
Style-wise, most cities are melting pots. But when it comes to menswear, Philly’s fashion mash-up comprises a dynamic dichotomy. At the one end of the spectrum are long-established—even historic—men’s clothiers. At the other resides a youthful, independent, urban movement toward retro street style and local indie brands. Sure, there’s a little in-between, but even Philly’s menswear middle ground is made up of mix: sporty yet sophisticated, tailored yet tattooed. Take a look across the landscape, from tony Rittenhouse Square to grittier South Philly to historic-yet-artsy Old City, and discover the distinctively dual dapperness of Philadelphia men.
Rittenhouse Square’s Tailored Traditions...
Used to be when a guy needed a shave or a haircut, he had to choose: Book an appointment at a unisex salon or take his chances at a grandfatherly barbershop. That’s not the case anymore—at least not for guys in Philly. These days, the city is full of tonsorialists—that’s vintage speak for barbers—who pull off skillful styles in old-fashioned shops. Execs seeking subtle shags, students going for a clean crop and grooms getting their first straight-razor shave can all rest easy, knowing they have a bevy of awesome Philly barbers from which to choose. Here’s where to start:
Situated amidst richly fertile farmland and home to innovative urban growing projects, Philadelphia is a market-goer’s dream. The open-air stalls dotting the city and countryside—from the bustling energy of the indoor Reading Terminal Market to the gingham-clothed tables of the Phoenixville Market—collectively connect consumers to freshly grown and produced food every day of the week. With many now accepting electronic payments, Philly’s growing roster of markets has made eating fresh, local food a way of life for its residents. Here are just some of the places to find seasonal goodies and support area farms:
- The only
Like its hip neighbor Northern Liberties, Fishtown has quickly become one of the coolest sections of Philadelphia, thanks to an influx of quality restaurants, inventive bars, impressive music venues and forward-thinking art galleries. Philadelphians have found new and innovative uses for the Fishtown section of the city ever since William Penn made peace with the Lenape Indians there in what’s now Penn Treaty Park. It’s the only place in the city where, in the same evening, someone can buy a custom-made guitar, drink craft beer while playing Tetris, eat stellar Yugoslavian food and visit the world’s only pizza museum. Fishtown’s...
Once considered working-class suburbs, the tree-lined South Philadelphia neighborhoods of Queen Village and Bella Vista have spent the past decade establishing themselves as some of the city’s most stable and vibrant places to live, work, dine and shop. Small, mostly historic townhouses and a mix of new and well-established businesses make up these side-by-side neighborhoods. Residents both new and old are passionate about maintaining pocket parks and patronizing independent merchants and restaurants. The districts’ busiest byways include the open-air Italian Market on South 9th Street and the mini neighborhood of west-to-east-running South Street.
Directly south of Old City and...
Craft beer is big business these days, particularly in Philadelphia, a serious beer town gaining accolades for its suds scene from notable publications like GQ, Draft magazine, Forbes, CNN Travel and others. So what makes the Philadelphia region’s beer scene so great? The bottle shops, for starters. These shops offer hundreds if not thousands of specialty beers to try individually and in “mix-a-six” format (that’s a six-pack of beer with six beers of the drinker’s choosing). What’s more, many of these shops fill growlers of draught beer to go and offer food to accompany the bountiful beer offerings.
Dubbed the “Loft District” by real estate developers and “The Eraser ’Hood” by locals referencing the once-dark landscape that inspired former resident David Lynch’s cult classic Eraserhead, Callowhill is something in between these two extremes. The stylish-yet-still-transforming neighborhood attracts both young professionals who enjoy its high-end condos and close proximity to Center City and artists looking for affordable-yet-expansive studio and gallery spaces. It’s a formerly industrial neighborhood that charms with a rich stock of large, urban buildings, remnants of cobblestone streets, edgy rock clubs, emerging galleries and the kind of hidden cultural gems that intrigue visitors and residents alike....
Miniature Liberty Bell? Check. Postcard of Independence Hall? Got it. But for friends with edgy tastes or relatives with a liking for luxury, there are plenty of unusual and stylish Philadelphia souvenirs—sassy T-shirts, home décor, jewelry and even culinary treats—at the city’s shops and markets.
Here’s a look at a dozen top spots for Philly souvenirs:
1. No need to leave one’s heart in Philadelphia when the Lagos Heart of Philadelphia jewelry line lets visitors bring Philly home. The locally based jewelry designer incorporated architectural details from four of the city’s landmarks—City Hall, Independence Hall, Philadelphia Museum...