How To Quit Your Whining & Embrace Philadelphia In Three Days [PART THREE]

posted by John Bonnes - 

Photo: Getty Images

The Vikings are going to Philadelphia this week, and presumably some brave Vikings fans are going with them. John Bonnes, who lived in Philly for three years and is married to a Philadelphian, wants you to get over last winter’s sting and embrace Philly. Here’s how.

Part 3: Philly Loves Itself Some Philly

There is a way to get Philadelphians to love you, even if you’re wearing purple. Just ask them where to eat, or what to see, or anything about their city. They love to show off the City of Brotherly Love, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the historic district.

There must be twelve city blocks in downtown Philadelphia (which is called Center City) that are reserved to showcase Philadelphia’s history, centered around 6th and Chestnut Streets. Several of those blocks are historically preserved; in fact they’re a National Park. But not only do you feel like you’re seeing much the same buildings that Ben Franklin saw, it’s unreal how accessible they are.

When I lived there in the early 90s, I couldn’t believe that I could be stumbling home from a bar at 1 AM and walk through the arches of Independence Hall. The attacks on 9/11 have tightened things up a bit, but on a recent visit, we still were able to take a shortcut right through Independence Hall’s back yard. As we did, the clock tower started to chime. It felt like we were stepping back in time.

But it’s not just the blocks in the National Park that feel that way. From Independence Hall to South Street, you’ll find 200-year-old row homes, or small alleys that only a horse could fit through. There are so many small parks hidden throughout the city that you won’t be able to find them again once you leave them. And I haven’t even mentioned some of the hokier historical tourist spots, like the Liberty Bell.

The maintenance and reverence of those areas is just one example of Philadelphian’s pride in their city. You want to know where the best cheesesteak place is? Ask someone. A playground for the kids? Ask someone. Wear to get a slice? Ask someone. They want to show their city off.

I know Philadelphians don’t seem very hospitable when they’re throwing beers at us in the Lincoln Bank’s parking lots. But get them away from that crap show, and you’ll find that the same pride that makes them frenzied fans makes them want to show you the hidden gems in their city.

Places To Visit

You’re never going to learn to love Philadelphia in Minneapolis. You have to go there. So if you’re joining the Vikings on their trip to the city of Brotherly Love this week, here are today’s recommendations:

Here are a couple of recommendations from various trip there over the last year. 

BreakfastSabrina’s Café is not technically in Center City, but it’s just over the bridge in University City. From there you can also check out the University of Pennsylvania, which was established in 1740 and full of great historic buildings. You’re also right by 30th Street Station, a grand old railroad station that has been restored to its original golden age grandeur. 

Neighborhood PlaceThe Good Dog Bar has everything – good food, solidly curated beers, and the ambience of an older Philadelphia bar. We go there almost every trip. 

Sports, Beer, Pizza and Mussels Cinder is more modern and slick, but has an enormous selection of beers, especially if you like Belgians. My wife loved the pizza, but I’d encourage you to try the various mussel steamers they have. I’ve never much liked mussels and I went back there two days in a row to get them. That’s how good they are. 

Happy Hour Bud and Marilyn’s is a classic place that reminds me of Minneapolis cocktail bars, but I’m recommending it for the happy hour from 5-7. Upscale apps run $4 - $7 and they have specials on beer, wine and their daily cocktail. 

Dive Bar – If you go to 13th and Pine, you won’t find a sign for Dirty Frank’s. But on the northeast corner of that intersection, you’ll find an unmarked door surrounded by a mural of various Franks: Sinatra, Roosevelt, and ‘enstien. Walk in that door. It’s the great mixing ground for Philadelphia, and it’s usually lively, friendly and budget-conscious.

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