What can you expect during a girlfriends’ getaway to Philadelphia?

Anything.

One minute you are walking along cobblestone streets flanked by Federal and Georgian style row houses. The next, the quiet has been replaced by a hustle and bustle of boutiques and eateries overflowing with smiling faces. Continue a bit further and you might find yourself up close and personal with buildings that shaped our history or with collections of art that tell stories of vivid imaginations and fanciful days.

All of this and more is possible in the beautiful city of Philadelphia.

Ok, I know…I must sound like a commercial for the city of Brotherly Love. But the truth is that I have adored this city since the first time I ran what was the Philadelphia Distance Run (now the Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon) in 2001. Walking along Chestnut Street so many years ago, it was easy to feel at home. Since then, I have been back to run more races and even to explore historical Philadelphia with my daughter…and more recently for all girls – no kids or husbands – weekend.

What happens when you combine a group of girlfriends, a beautiful city prime for exploring AND decadent food and drinks?

Again…the answer is anything.

Girlfriends' getaway guide to Philadelphia | LiveDoGrow

A handy dandy girlfriends’ getaway guide to Philadelphia

What to do in Philadelphia (without kids)

Many of us are so used to planning itineraries that walk the line between exploration and the delicate balance of  children’s saturation levels. The beauty of a girls’ weekend is that  you can peruse without watching the clock and you don’t have to pack extra snacks in your purse (unless they are for yourself). Which means that the choices of what to see and do in Philadelphia are limited only by your imagination and time.

Walk everywhere. My favorite thing to do in Philadelphia? Is to walk. Everywhere. Stroll from one neighborhood to another. Turn down side streets. Meander in the parks.

Take in a museum (or two). As much as love exploring a museum with my daughter – watching her face come alive in front of masterpieces – there is something to be said about taking your time to observe all the big and little things in an exhibit. Between The Barnes Foundation, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Mural Arts program and the Rodin Museum – a weekend in Philadelphia could easily focus just on art.

Another fun – still artistic endeavor – for a special night of creativity and fun exists at Painting with a Twist. I don’t know about you – but I cannot remember the last time I picked up a paint brush – especially since I tend to think of myself as the world’s worst artist. Somehow though, the idea of a glass of wine, a paint brush and paint – seated alongside a group of girlfriends – makes even skeptics like me want to express my inner artist (especially after a day of being inspired by works of art!).

paint with a twist

We saw a group “painting” with a twist on Friday evening. Even I could paint with these rules.

Shop in Midtown Village. (oh and you can eat there too!)

Shop in Midtown Village in Philadelphia | LiveDoGrow

Boutiques in Midtown Village Philadelphia | LiveDoGrow

As much as I have always loved shopping along Walnut Street – I discovered my new obsession in Midtown Village (located along 13th street between Market and Spruce). The charming boutiques might as well be museums – to take in from every angle. One note – the restaurants in this trendy spot are often packed to the brim. Make reservations early if you are planning to try to get a table.

One of my favorite boutiques was duross and langel with soaps of every possible aroma and color. The colors drew me into the small space, but the creative ingredients and collective wellness that I felt made me stay. Honestly, I am not a huge bubble bath fan – and even with soap – I am a loyalist to my Neutrogena Rainbath….but these bars of goodness were impossible to ignore.

Shop at Midtown Village Philadelphia | LiveDoGrow

soaps at duross and langel boutique | LiveDoGrow

Experience the 9th Street Italian Market. For an immersion into a real Philadelphia neighborhood, there is nothing like the Italian Market, even for a northern Italian like me (aka, there is no such thing as spaghetti and meatballs in the north). In South Philly though, flavors and customs run high along America’s oldest outdoor market. We happened to be in Philadelphia during the annual 9th Street Italian Market festival (on the 3rd weekend of May each year) – but even without the festival –this is a must see for foodies and Italophiles.

While there, get lost in the aisles of Fante’s Kitchen Shop or fill up on cheese inside Di Bruno Brothers.

Shop at Di Bruno Brothers in Philadelphia | LiveDoGrow

 

Shop at Italian Street Market Philadelphia | LiveDoGrow

Shopping at Italian Street Market Philadelphia | LiveDoGrow

Where to eat (and drink) in Philadelphia

While Philadelphia may be known for cheesesteak, the foodie offerings are on par with cities like New York or Chicago.

Here are a few of my favorite Philadelphia eateries:

Sip on coffee or tea at Ox Coffee (616 S. 3rd Street).

Stop for a scoop at Capogiro Gelato (119 S. 13th Street, 117 S. 20th Street). (While you are there – get a sample of the avocado gelato. It was delicious.)

Re-awaken the tastebuds at FARMiCiA Food and Tonics (15 S. 3rd Street).

Sit in a hammock-like seat or plush circular booth for brunch or dinner at  Continental Mid-town (1801 Chestnut Street).

Satisfy your sweet and savory tooth at Creperie Beau Monde (624 S. 6th Street).

Feast on drinks and comfort food at Jones Restaurant (700 Chestnut Street).

brunch at jones restaurant | LiveDoGrow

Drinks at Jones Restaurant | LiveDoGrow

No. Those were not all for me. I drank the decadent Bloody Mary (which by the way- for Blood Mary fans– you can make your own from a list of styles, rims and garnishes. Mine had a spicy cajun and bacon salt rim!)

Eat Brunch at Jones Restaurant | LiveDoGrow

Not my most wellness inspired lunch: Fried chicken with waffles. Yes – they are covered in gravy.

Where to stay in Philadelphia

Just like any major city, the options of where to stay are endless in Philadelphia from hotels to vacation rentals.

During our girls’ weekend, we partnered with Flip Key for a stay at a “Bed & Breakfast” in Queens Village. I was excited about the location – cute row houses, trendy coffee shops and restaurants…it seemed perfect. Except that it wasn’t.  Maybe I am too much of a diva or too high maintenance, but even with a fabulous location – it was hard to look past the nightmare rental. (Honestly, we stayed out later than usual in an attempt to avoid going back to in the evening.) While the weekend taught me that there are lessons to be learned in navigating rental properties (in any city) – I was left underwhelmed (ok, disappointed) with the FlipKey process.

As far as hotels in Philadelphia – it is all about location, location location. And during a girlfriends’ getaway? It is all about luxury, pampering and fuzzy bath robes.

Four of my favorite Philadelphia hotels are:

The Hotel Monaco is a great option in the historical heart of Philadelphia.

The Hotel Palomar sits perched just a few blocks away from Rittenhouse Square (and offers healthy travel amenities like bikes – for guests to explore the city on two wheels).

The Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia offers luxury just steps away from the museum district.

The Embassy Suites in Center City may not have as many luxury amenities, but offer spacious sweets with a kitchenette for groups that want to eat in for breakfast or prepare late night snacks.

 

More Philadelphia Resources:

Where to eat in Philadelphia for foodies and runners

Explore the Philadelphia Mural Arts

Learn to appreciate art at the Barnes 

Visit Philly

Three days in Philadelphia

 

 

* Wellness Travel Factor:  Relationships are a huge part of the wellness equation – whether you are traveling or at home. Making time with girlfriends – even if there are splurges on food or drink fill our cup of inner wellness – especially when exploring a new or favorite destination. Also? When it comes to traveling in big cities, I am a walker –whenever possible. Not only is walking a great way to see the city, but it helps burn off the indulgences at brunch or dinner.

 

 

 

Written by Elena Sonnino

Elena Sonnino

Chaser of Dreams. Life coach, wellness and travel writer, yogini, former teacher, adventure seeker, hiker, foodie …and oh right, cancer survivor. Elena writes about finding everyday wellness in far-flung lands and in her own backyard in the Washington D.C. suburbs.

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