Philadelphia is one of the easiest trips you can make from New York – Amtrak whisks you there in under two hours – yet, for whatever reason, I rarely find myself traveling there. In fact, until recently, I had only been once, during my first year in New York. For reasons I can no longer recall, I wound up traveling to Philly in February, on what was essentially the most bitterly cold weekend of the year. I don’t mind the cold, per se, but when the cold is that extreme, it’s tough to enjoy yourself.
This time, though, I made the trip in spring, and a particularly sunny and warm spring weekend at that. Philadelphia felt like something of a different world, especially with so many beautiful trees in bloom around the city. Needless to say, it was infinitely more enjoyable this go round.
I began my time in Philly with breakfast, naturally. I didn’t have anything in particular planned, but after poking around the area near my hotel on Google Maps, I discovered Green Eggs Café, which looked terribly popular and therefore promising. After waiting 15 minutes or so for a table, I went inside and perused their vast, decadent menu. I’m not usually a French toast fan, but I couldn’t resist the chocolate chip cookie dough French toast. Verdict? Rich, crazy tasty, and impossible to finish in one sitting. While not something you could eat every day, this was spectacular as far as splurge dishes go.
After breakfast, I walked over to Rittenhouse Square, which for my money must be one of the prettiest spots in Philadelphia (both the square itself, and the surrounding streets, which can only be described by one of the adjectives I overuse the most: “charming”). To my delight, a Saturday morning farmers market was taking place at the time of my visit, so I spent some time happily browsing that.
I’m mildly obsessed with oysters, so I couldn’t resist trying the aptly-named Oyster House for lunch. The restaurant’s space is bright and airy, and the food is solid. I had an awesome brunch punch, some oysters, and a lobster roll.
In the afternoon, I made my way to Fishtown. I had heard this described as a hipster hotbed, which naturally led me to conclude that there would be plenty of things I wanted to see there. My first stop was at La Colombe for coffee. The Fishtown location is La Colombe’s flagship, and it’s huge. I loved the space.
After getting my caffeine fix, I set out to explore Fishtown. It – like Philadelphia in general – has an abundance of colorful murals, and I found a bunch of good ones.
For dinner, I made my way to Res Ipsa for what would be the best meal of my trip – and, frankly, probably my best meal this year. Yeah, it was that good! I opted for the tasting menu, and what I liked about it was that it lacked any pretension; the dishes were simple yet so damn delicious. One tip: the restaurant is BYOB, so don’t forget to bring some wine! I was totally unaware of this, but a couple of restaurant regulars saw I had no wine and sent over a glass for me to drink. How awesome is that?
The next morning, I began my day with a trip to the Rodin Museum. I had visited before, but I can never resist a chance to admire Rodin’s work. The museum’s grounds were also particularly gorgeous in full bloom.
Right next door to Rodin, I found the Barnes Foundation, which houses an impressive collection featuring Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso, and many more. I happily browsed the impressive collection for a few hours.
After my morning art adventures, I popped over to Peddler Coffee for a pick-me-up. They make a lavender latte, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to try something so unique. It was definitely different, but also refreshing. I’ll call it a win!
For lunch, I made my way to Russet, a rustic, farm-to-table restaurant. The restaurant was pretty quiet (I was lunching late), and the food was simple but quite good. I had a salad, a sausage hash, and a very tasty house-made lemonade.
The neighborhood where Russet is located is packed with cute little streets and even cuter houses. In fact, I literally googled something like “cute streets Philly” and took myself on a sort of treasure hunt looking for them. Then, I walked on to Washington Square, where I sat for a few hours, reading and doing some people (and dog) watching.
I wrapped up my time in Philly with a dinner at Talula’s Garden. There, I opted for the tasting menu and several tasty cocktails. Talula’s serves seasonal American food “inspired by the farm and garden,” and you can definitely see that ethos reflected in the dishes. I was particularly impressed by how many veggies they packed onto every plate, including lots of unique varieties I don’t often eat.
Terribly full, I made my way to the train station and caught a late train back to New York City. I’m so happy I gave Philadelphia another chance in warmer weather – it’s truly a different place, and such a nice spring getaway from New York. Next time, I’ll have to try it in autumn!