Unknowingly, the week we decided to travel happened to be graduation weekend for many schools, so finding a reasonably priced hotel was nearly impossible. We ended up staying at the Sheraton in Society Hill. There was a "confusion" with our room reservation, so we were treated to a full breakfast every morning, on the house. Score!
Because we were only in Philadelphia for a week, we weren't able to do a lot of touristy things, but here's a list of some of the places we were able to visit:
* Eastern State Penitentiary
Leti is basically obsessed with prisons, so this place was obviously a must-see. I'm not the best person to travel with if you want to spend a lot of time touring historical places/museums...I had enough of that throughout my childhood, I'll meet you in the gift shop! But, I actually enjoyed this audio tour and learned some pretty interesting things. Like, did you know many prisons initially modeled their facilities after this one?
We also decided to try the audio tour here, but it wasn't nearly as pleasant as the penitentiary because...school field trips! Being a home and all, there wasn't much space to spread out/walk, and all of the noisy kids really tested my patience, and I'm not one to usually be bothered by stuff like that. Since I do like sewing, it was however interesting to see a reenactment of where Betsy sewed the first American flags.
I'm pretty sure this was Lauren's favorite part of the whole trip; she's seriously been so excited to see the cracked bell. Being a free exhibit, the line to see the actual bell was a little long, but if you're into the historical aspect of the city, then you have to go here. Fun fact: There were some tears shed as a result of the symbolic nature of the Liberty Bell (not by me). History can have that effect, you guys.
* Independence Hall
Like the Liberty Bell, this exhibit was also free, and since it's such a popular tourist attraction, you have to go to the visitor's center beforehand to get a ticket with a designated time for your assigned tour. I'll be honest, out of the four of us, no one enjoyed the tour. Our particular tour guide was a jerk to say the least. He rushed us through the tour, was condescending, and basically acted like a "know-it-all". Not cool. But after talking to another guide and addressing our concerns, it seems like we weren't the only ones to feel that way about that specific guide. As long as you're lucky enough to get a better (nicer/friendlier) guide, I'm sure you'll enjoy the tour.
Basically, this is a large indoor daily market with dozens and dozens of vendors. We went on a day where the Amish were absent, but if you plan it right, you can buy bread, produce, jams, or crafts from the Amish. So cool!
We didn't have much time to enjoy this attraction; I needed several more hours here to take it all in. I think I spent an entire hour reading a timeline about the history of the United States. I definitely want to come back and finish my self-guided tour. Who wouldn't want to learn about how money is made?
* Blackbird Pizzeria
The whole restaurant is vegan! Such a bittersweet thing. So many things to choose from, but this makes deciding so difficult! I opted for the pizza and ordered a large one, thinking I'd share with everyone else. But it turned out that they were too full after their own meals, so I sadly ended up wasting a lot. I also bought an "everything but the kitchen sink" cookie to save for latter, and it was delicious!
This is my new favorite restaurant on the East Coast. They have a small menu, but everything here is also vegan. I knew right away what I wanted to order. Three words. Chicken. Ranch. Burger. That is all. Oh, and a chocolate shake. This is seriously one of the best places for a vegan to eat in the entire world.
The only vegan item they had on their menu was a vegan Philly Cheesesteak, so I happily ordered that as I used to like the omnivore version. The sandwich was okay, but I don't think I'd go there again as the service was horrible. The cooks were nice, but the cashier lady was rude and ruined my experience.
* Reading Terminal Market
Yes, they have so much food here too! I order a falafel wrap and dolmas for lunch from Kamal's Middle Eastern Specialties. I'd pass on the dolmas next time, but the falafel was good. The best part of the market though is all of the vegan desserts. I got two slices of lemon bundt cake from the Metropolitan Bakery, and from the Flying Monkey Bakery I bought a chocolate chip cookie, chocolate cupcake, and a mini lemon bundt cake. All vegan! Oh my goodness, that mini lemon bundt cake and chocolate cupcake were to die for. When I'm in the area again, I'll venture to the market just for these two treats. So worth it!
I didn't pull out my big camera as much as I wanted, but at least cell phones now come equipped with a pretty decent camera, right?