100 Things to Do in Philadelphia Before You Die
Irene Levy Baker (Reedy Press, 2016, 146 Pages)
Author Irene Levy Baker is not a Philadelphian by birth… but by choice. Originally from Ohio, she has spent the last 25 years exploring the various interesting aspects of life in the City of Brotherly Love. After working for almost a decade at the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, she opened Spotlight Public Relations, a public relations firm specializing in restaurants and hospitality. She has worked with various tourist bureaus in Philadelphia and South Jersey, boutique hotels, celebrity chefs, the nation’s first environmentally-smart hotel, and one of the nation’s largest malls. She has also hosted scores of travel writers – the world’s most jaded travelers – and knows what turns them on… and off.
100 Things to Do in Philadelphia Before You Die is an ideal travel companion, not only for visitors, but also for lifelong Philadelphians, as it points out a host of little known hidden gems as well as the usual popular tourist attractions. The book is divided into five (5) major sections: “Food and Drink,” “Music and Entertainment,” “Sports and Recreation,” “Culture and History,” and “Shopping and Fashion” (with but a single page dedicated to each subsection). There is also a brief section on “Suggested Itineraries” for specific groups such as Young Families, Dates, Empty Nesters, etc., etc., as well as “Activities by Season.”
As you would undoubtedly surmise, the “Food and Drink” section is of particular interest to this writer. Subsections include pilgrimages to the famous Reading Terminal Farmers’ Market and equally famous Italian Market, as well as a visit to Di Bruno Bros. for a bit of cheese heaven, a brew at Philly’s oldest tavern, McGillin’s Olde Ale House, cheesesteaks at Pat’s and Geno’s, and “Big Tastes” at the tiny Vetri Ristorante (if you can snag a reservation). There’s even a blurb about Philly’s BYOB restaurants (although none are listed; a major omission, in my opinion).
If you feel like combining music with lunch or dinner, there’s always Victor’s Café, a full-fledged restaurant where performers and opera students moonlighting as servers break into song at the drop of a fork. Then there are those great jazz clubs – like Chris’ Jazz Café and Warmdaddy’s, for instance – that serve up hot cuisine to go with the cool jazz. One of the author’s particularly inviting tips involves a visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a walk to the nearby La Calaca Feliz in Fairmount for dinner, followed by an evening of jazz and wine at the Paris Wine Bar.
Plenty of museums – including the Mutter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, which is home to numerous disturbing oddities and downright horrors and is definitely not for the squeamish – and shop-‘til-you-drop opportunities. This latter diversion includes Chestnut Hill, Rittenhouse Square, Manayunk, South Street, and even the sprawling King of Prussia Mall.
Whatever your interest, there’s bound to be something in 100 Things to Do in Philadelphia Before You Die that will tickle your fancy. In fact, the author confesses that “the hardest part of writing this book was limiting the list of ‘things to do’ in Philadelphia to only 100.” Think of the book as a type of primer; and follow up on the author’s suggestions & tips with your own research from other written sources and/or online. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the adventure.
The book is available at Barnes & Noble and online at Amazon.com.