Las Vegas Travel Recap: Where to buy cold medicine and watch men dance

It’s been a bit since I’ve done any pieces about travel, which is weird considering I travel every month, but let’s not talk about the past. Let’s talk about VEGAS, BABY. Vegas has been on my list for a number of years but it seemed like a place that I needed a really good reason to visit. And finally my boyfriend, Frank, gifted me (and 10 of our friends) with that reason: his 30th birthday. So we all got on like 5 different flights (even though we were all coming from NYC) and descended on Vegas for a weekend of gambling, dancing, and drinking.

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At the airport w/ hot water and lemon

Now, I already did a podcast episode on this trip which you can listen to here, but that’s not so much a travel guide as it is a reflection of our time. Including, how sick I was. I want to steer away from that just a bit because I’ve a) already covered it and b) talking about my insane head cold is really no fun at all. I did however love everything about my CVS experience so I am totally going to highlight that. You can judge me but that’s why you come to me and not other bloggers right? I’m giving you the real deal here.

Also, this is a quick and dirty rundown, I know you’re busy. 🙂

THE RESORT

We stayed at the Wynn, because I had always heard vaguely good things about it and I found an amazing deal on Expedia. Done and done. It is toward the end of the strip, so if you’re looking to be in the thick of it, I wouldn’t stay here. But truthfully, you are going to end up taking a car to EVERYTHING. There’s a bus route that you can take, but once you put on your four inch heels, the bus just doesn’t feel right. More details on transportation later, but if you think you want to be on the center of the strip for walking purposes, I am not sure it’s worth it.

The Wynn has a casino, which means the casino floor has smoking. The rooms we had were non-smoking and you couldn’t even tell we were in a casino with that much smoke. Our room was gigantic. The bathroom was the most impressive part, it was probably the size of my first studio apartment and had a bathtub built for two, a separate shower, two sinks, a vanity area and a TV.

Since I was super sick day one there was literally nothing better than watching Friends in the tub and then ordering room service. I also won $100 that night on roulette!

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The service was great and I felt very much at home. Especially since I wound up spending so much time there. It has an incredible amount of outlets (F&B, shows, clubs etc.) and super luxe stores. I cried walking by the Alexander McQueen store everyday hoping I hit it big on the tables so I could buy a beautiful bag.

RESTAURANTS

The weird thing about LV is that you don’t ever feel that guilty for never leaving your hotel/resort. Sure there is plenty to see and do, but realistically all of the casinos kind of look the same, so sometimes it feels easier to stay put. We ate a good amount of meals at the Wynn and had essentially no complaints.

The Buffet @ Wynn

The hype is very real. The buffet at the Wynn is as good as they say. Picture every food you’ve ever loved and then picture it all for the taking in a single room. We ate this probably 3 times which could be embarrassing if wasn’t so amazing. They even brought me hot water and lemon to clear my sinuses at every meal. Oysters, chicken and waffles, candy apples, chia seed pudding, prime rib, mac and cheese, lox, danishes, sundaes, congee, sushi… on and on it went. My stomach actually just made a sound thinking about it. Even if you don’t stay at the Wynn, it’s worth the trip. Pro-tip: Go before 9:30am to avoid the line.

If you’re asking yourself “how do I wake up at 9:30 in Vegas?” don’t forget it’s 3 hours behind the East Coast. You’ll be awake. If you’re from LA, sorry I can’t help you. 😉

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Not at the Wynn but I died laughing when I saw it.

Rose. Rabbit. Lie.

What an incredible experience this was. I found it difficult to find a restaurant on the Strip that wasn’t also a restaurant in New York City. A lot of them are repeats from NYC (or Miami) and for a group traveling from there, it seemed weird to go to a place we could go to any time. (Even though we don’t, ha!) So I came across Rose. Rabbit. Lie. I was intrigued by their “supper club” vibe but was immediately sold when I found the vegetarian and gluten-free menus they offer. The restaurant is in the beautiful Cosmopolitan hotel (my second choice for our trip!) and it is an actual supper club. We saw about 6 performances throughout our meal of talented dancers, singers, and musicians who danced all over the room and on top of tables. The food was excellent, the cocktails were strong and overall while it was one of our more expensive meals, it really didn’t break the bank. Highly, highly recommend.

Stripburger 

We went to this little outdoor burger place for lunch when people started to land from their flights and we weren’t a complete group yet. It’s in walking distance of the Wynn and was surprisingly good. They even made me a hot toddy! So expect a full bar, and a good meal. Also when I say outdoor, I mean outdoor. There is no interior, but they have heat lamps. It was a little chilly, but great atmosphere. Awesome waiter as well.

Pink Taco

Definitely not the highlight of our trip. The margaritas were good and the service was decent. But the tacos were really heavy and weirdly thick? I ordered them thinking they’d be light and they came out super heavy. The guac was ok, but pretty generic. I will say, we were able to get a table for TWELVE at the last minute so it’s good for that. Also it’s in the MGM, so it was in walking distance of our show at Magic Mike.

BARS, LOUNGES & CLUBS

Surprisingly, we didn’t do that much bar hopping. Like I said, it’s a bit challenging to get around as a large group. Also, they give you free drinks at the casino so…

Chandelier Bar

Inside the Cosmopolitan, we went here after our dinner at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. The setting is beautiful, it’s basically a two story lounge designed to look like you are inside of a chandelier. Other than that it’s your run of the mill lounge. My friend did get a pretty interesting drink that was Alice in Wonderland themed and turned different colors, but for those of us less adventurous. It was pretty basic.

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In the Chandelier

Corduroy 

Old Vegas & Freemont street were some of my favorite highlights from the trip. It felt just much more my speed. Picture an easier going Brooklyn with neon lighting and you’ve nailed it. We saw a bar advertising habanero pickle backs so we ducked in. What we found was an incredible little bar, designed to look like an old dive but definitely brand new, good picklebacks and awesome service. Also they had a selfie room that’s worth checking out.

Hakkasan 

The biggest joy of Hakkasan is that my friend new someone who could get us in for free and with free drinks and no line. I will say though, even if you do pay to go, it’s a beautiful space and vibe, while a definite Vegas nightclub, didn’t feel like too much. I usually feel overwhelmed or skeeved out, but it was a super nice place, plenty of room to move and dance, and I felt safe. We had fun dancing here even though the hip hop floor was closed and we were forced to dance to EDM.

SHOWS & MUSEUMS

Magic Mike

We went to one show and one show only. Magic Mike. I don’t want to spoil too much of it, because I think part of the joy of going is discovering it for yourself. (I didn’t take videos or pictures like some of the other women were, it felt super weird and also like it would take me out of what we were witnessing.) This show was 10x better than any of us could even believe. Seriously. We went in excited but left blown away. These guys are seriously talented, the host is hysterical, and the whole event was super fun, charming, and truly empowering. Pro Tip! Sit on the floor by the bar. They are cheaper than the bar seats and MUCH better. I promise you. They’re amazing. Message me if you want the exact seats. Best seats in the house BY FAR.

Neon Museum 

If you had told me I was going to go to a museum in Vegas I would have never believed you. But I did! And it was wonderful! We went to the Neon Museum. It was so fun to get outside on a nice day and to also learn about Vegas through some of its most iconic neon signs. The museum is beautifully curated (it’s not just a bunch of signs junked together) and the tour guides are knowledgeable and super kind. If you go during the day you can choose to talk to them or meander on your own. I highly recommend chatting, they know cool stuff! If you need a break from the booze and gambling, come here.

CASINOS

I really wasn’t much a gambler but I will say this. I loved the Wynn Casino. I won there (haha) and also everyone was pretty friendly. The Golden Nugget was terrible and I’d never go back. The El Cortez was fun in an old school way. It’s the oldest operating casino in Vegas. Go for the quarters, stay for the guy playing a piano.

BONUS: CVS

I am not crazy. This was the greatest CVS ever. Not only could you buy cold medicine here, but they sold HARD LIQUOR. Sure you can get wine and beer. But you can also get gin! Fireball! Anything! I was beyond. Also just outside the door is sports betting. We went here like four times and I don’t even feel ashamed.

Is she really going to end on CVS? (Yes, she is.)

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How to Eat Healthy While Traveling for Work

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No shade to Women’s Running, but… I was so excited for last month’s cover story: “How to Eat Healthy While Traveling”. I really needed some new tips. Of course, I was disappointed to find that the article was one page and super generic. Stuff like: drink water, eat almonds. Definitely tricks that work in a pinch but if you’re someone who travels A LOT for work, you can’t sustain yourself off of almonds and water alone. And when you’re traveling with Celiac’s disease like I am, it can be even harder.

I often find myself in airports with incredibly few options (MIA I am looking at you and the one Nathan’s Hot Dog Stand) and I’ve come up with a REALISTIC guide to eating well when you find yourself in airport terminals all the time.

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Photo by Jade Wulfraat on Unsplash

PACK SNACKS

This one is a no-brainer and when I say snacks I mean SNACKS. I read a lot of posts where the author recommends you make your own salad or meals in Tupperware and bring them on board. That sounds lovely if you’re traveling on a vacation or to a house with a place to wash your dishes. But when you’re traveling for work, you are often running straight from the tarmac to a meeting. It’s stressful enough to waltz into an important meeting with your luggage, but add on an entire tote bag full of dirty tupperware? No thanks. Also my bag is usually full of documents, folders, and my laptop, which doesn’t leave much room for meals.

Instead I pack snacks that are DIVERSE and I know won’t upset my stomach. The worst thing is trying a new granola bar and then 30 minutes later fighting bloat in a cab on the way to a meeting. The worst. Always go for real ingredients and different flavor profiles. The different flavors is CLUTCH for me because I know that if I bring only fruit based bars, I am going to feel sick eating just fruit all day. Here’s a sample of what I usually pack for a typical work trip, it’s enough to cover all of my flights as I usually have no time for myself to go grocery shopping anywhere I go:

RX Bars, an Apple, Beef Jerky, Trail Mix (w/o chocolate, ok), Clif Bars, G-Free Crackers, PB packet.

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AIRPORT MEALS

The dreaded airport meal. Even the airports where I fair pretty well (JFK) it’s still not something I look forward to.

1. In airports with few options or when you are crunched for time, the best item to look for is a salad. But do your best to find a place that actually knows how to make a salad. Do not go to the Sam Adam’s Brewhouse and ask for a salad, I promise you it will be heavy and kind of gross. Instead look for small cafe’s or even the tiny Grab N Go stations. I know the salads are pre-made but most Grab N Go’s tout a commitment to vegan or organic produce so you know you’re getting pretty decent goods.

2. And while yes, I am trying to eat healthy while traveling for work, I do my best to avoid eating some usually good proteins in airports (fish, steak etc.) because of how they are prepared (though one time I did get airport sushi)… but if I need the protein I pick chicken. It’s lean and easy to tell if it’s cooked right. You don’t have to guess much with chicken.

3. that annoying person who asks for dressing on the side and side salad substitutions for fries. It seems like you’re making a big deal but you’re not. If you’re nervous about it, you can ask your server upfront if they make substitutions or changes. It’s polite and your server will be prepared to help you and you’ll be prepared to order.

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AVOID CARBONATION & GUM

Part of eating healthy while traveling for work for me is keeping my gut happy. I love gum and I love seltzer but oh my god… the BLOAT isn’t worth it. It took me forever to realize the connection between these vices and my painfully bloated tummy on a flight. High altitude can already cause bloating, don’t help it out by adding bubbles. Opt for flat water (and a ton of it!) and mints. I know they aren’t sugarfree, but honestly a little sugar is better than being so painfully blown up that you can’t eat dinner later or sit through a meeting properly.

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Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

 

YOGURT IS KING

Unless you have a dairy allergy, yogurt is an amazing friend. If you have a hotel mini-fridge grab extras at the hotel market (most of them have these now) and toss some in there for breakfasts and late night snacks. And if you can find yogurt at the airport — YASS! The key to eating healthy while traveling for work is making sure you are full but also getting the same key nutrients you would on a regular day. Yogurt is an excellent source of protein and also contains natural probiotics that keep your digestive system on track while you travel. Gut health = your health.

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Photo by Mike Dorner on Unsplash

STARBUCKS HAS BANANAS

Bananas have a ton of fiber and you can find them at almost any Starbucks. Did you notice that there are Starbucks literally everywhere? I hate their coffee so I am often the girl who has a banana and water and who says “No” to “Anything else?” but I am okay with that. In a rush at the airport, hotel, meeting space, whatever, I can grab a banana and know that it will help me make it to my next meal. Bonus points if you packed the PB packet like I told you to.

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Photo by Michael Browning on Unsplash

DINING OUT

There are so many variables when it comes to dining out while traveling for work and sometimes the worst culprit is yourself when you’re alone. I’ll be honest and say that I have had a lot of burgers and fries in bed, (the days are long and I like burgers.) But 98% of the time I aim to keep my dinners as clean as possible. This is because dinners are typically the only time I am at rest, sitting down, and have a higher price point (meaning a better selection) on food. If I know I am going to be struggling at the airport, and during lunch in between meetings, I rely on my dinners to be the staples of my day. I think about what key vitamins and nutrients I missed and try to plug them in. If I haven’t had a leafy green all day, I’ll make sure I get a giant salad. If I haven’t had any protein, I’ll aim to get a nice piece of salmon. It isn’t ideal, and you shouldn’t typically eat a big meal before bed, but for surviving on the road, this is necessary.

MAINTAIN ROUTINES

The last thing I’ll say is this: do your best to maintain any and all routines while traveling for work. If you typically work out in the morning at home, work out in the morning at the hotel. If you have tea before bed while reading a book, have tea and read even just a couple of pages before bed in the hotel. I always pack face masks because I like to do them after flying. It also just makes me feel more at home. Keeping yourself as calm and happy as possible will keep your stress levels down and you much healthier.


Let me know if you have any of your own tips and if any of these were brand new to you! I am always looking to create content that is actually NEW and helpful, instead of regurgitating what you’ve already read.

Small But Mighty: Away Carry-On Luggage Review

You guys have been LOVING my reviews lately, so I am stoked to share with you my latest on Away Travel luggage. I had been obsessing over this luggage like every other travel nerd on Instagram for quite some time but it wasn’t until Old Faithful (my fuchsia piece of Target luggage I bought in college) broke on my trip to Miami in February. It was a sad day. I had used that piece for about a decade, so I figured it was time to treat myself a little.

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Away comes in several sizes but I went with the smallest roller bag known as The Carry-On. I went with the deep forest green because I thought Navy and Black were too generic and I wanted something that wouldn’t turn brown after a couple of uses. It’s a beautiful color.

The best part of this review is that I have been on a whirlwind tour of the country for work and so in the past month I’ve carried it with me on planes, trains, and too many Lyft rides to count. Here’s the breakdown.

SIZE: I went with the smallest one because I wanted to guarantee it could fit on any flight, anywhere. Thank god I did. The overhead storage on a recent flight to Hawaii was so teeny, tiny and my bag fit no problem. It looks super small but this can fit A LOT. I had to do San Francisco and Hawaii back-to-back so I needed to be able to pack for 60 degree and 80 degree weather. Mission accomplished.

PACKING: In this little bag I packed: 3 pairs of slacks, 3 tops, 2 dresses, 5 workout outfits, 2 pairs of flying leggings, 2 casual outfits, countless socks and undies and bras, Converse sneakers, ballet flats, my laptop charger, my poetry book manuscript (really), all of my skincare items, and my makeup bag. Even though it is small, it is thoughtfully organized so everything has a place to go. Brilliant.

WEIGHT: I honestly was worried it was cheap because it weighed so little. It is super light, even lighter without the charger in it. I was able to lift it overhead with ease, even when it was stuffed to the brim.

EXTERIOR: Ok so this is disappointing. I got green so it wouldn’t stain but I didn’t expect white paint! From bell closets at hotels (and my own closet) my poor baby got a lot of white paint marks. Luckily they’ll come off, but I only do this after a trip, so during I have to suffer the scrapes!

DURABILITY: I didn’t abuse it too much but it seems to be putting up with all the trips and airplanes good enough.

WHEELS: The wheels move like BUTTAH. Seriously. This rolls with such ease I wanted to die. That said, they are tiny little baby wheels. So at the Amtrak station and on Boston’s uneven streets they got caught a lot. They’re great in the flat surfaces in the airport. Even carpet.

CHARGING FEATURE: Omg this thing can hold a charge. Between myself and everyone I traveled with we charged our phones A LOT on it and I didn’t need to recharge it all. It’s still on the same charge from March! And I went to Boston, Miami, San Fran, and Hawaii. It’s that great. I had no issues flying with it. Delta made me pop it out and put it in my purse. Easy.

AESTHETIC: It’s totally good looking. A guy in the airport even stopped to ask me what I thought and asked to feel it up. I gave him my mini-review while we waited in line together. I got other compliments on it as well.

So was it worth the $225? I say, YES. With the exception of it’s tendency to pick up paint everywhere I go (seriously), it’s an excellent piece of luggage. I cannot believe the amount of stuff it fits and I love how easily it fits into any overhead bin. Consider me obsessed.

 

 

Courage Travels: Japan Trip Story (1 of 2)

I went to Japan.

I have to keep saying it out loud. I have to keep writing it down. Because the memories are already fleeting. Because it all happened so fast.

I want to keep these updates brief, honest, and from the heart. Travel blogs tend to offer either just great photos or weird sales pitches. And I’d like to keep this much closer to me, to my true experience, to the fact that I am a writer.

I am not going to recommend you quit your day job and travel the world on borrowed money. Or share with you (after charging you a couple bucks) the secrets of getting by on a shoestring budget.

I’m just here to remind you of the magic of travel, how it changes you, and how this trip to Japan in particular inspired me to be brave and kind in my daily life.

Disclaimer

I want to mention that I went on this trip as part of a campaign (more to come later!) called #GoTohoku. After a video submission and an interview process I was selected to go. (I pretty much still don’t know why but I guess I must come off as charming.) So the fact that I went with strangers and that I found out a month before that I was going, colors some of this, but not all.

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Me: Day One, No Sleep, In the Rain (Credit: Herb Galang, aka @TheSocialPause)

The Journey

I was totally calm about the trip until the day before I left. Then I got nervous. I was totally nervous the morning of the trip. Then I lost it. I tend to keep my feelings inside but I actually started crying before I left. I was overwhelmed. Was I really going to go to the other side of the earth? Was I really doing this? The answer was yes– of course I was doing this. Earlier in the month me wanted this, so I sucked it up for her, got in the car and headed to JFK to meet the strangers I’d be hanging out with for a week.

Everyone seemed normal, on their best behavior, and then we flew.

The flight to Tokyo is 14 hours. And from there we flew to Aomori in the Tohoku region. In all, I traveled for about 24 hours and didn’t sleep. This is what adrenaline feels like. I couldn’t turn my brain off from the moment at hand. So, aside from not sleeping the flight was pleasant and the attendants on our Japan Air flight started giving me a taste of the hospitality I would encounter in Japan. I watched movies and ate snacks and listened to “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John. Oddly, I listened to this song specifically 10 times a day on this trip. I wish I could tell you why. I was alert, but not panicky. I had calmed myself enough to make it across the globe.

Here’s my point: Just leaving for this trip made me braver, even before anything else happened. I believe that, like grit, bravery is something that gets stronger the more you use it. It was one thing to be brave when agreeing to the trip “Strangers? Sure! Last minute trip across the planet? Sure!” But when it came to actually leaving my house, and getting to the airport alone. That took real bravery. And yes I cried at first, but by the time I made it to the airport I had shifted gears, became the “Amanda” I pretend to be 80% of the time. I was brave. I had ACTUALLY faked it until I made it, and it worked. (Really.) If I had let my fear take hold, if I let that weird voice that was like “Hey, you should cry over this,” take control I would have never left my house. I would have froze.

I know you’re thinking, “You would have never left those people from the campaign hanging.” But I remember when I was younger, when I wasn’t brave, when I hadn’t developed any grit and I know (I KNOW) I absolutely could have done that. And I know people that would have. It can seem easy– beautiful photos and a good attitude can make an trip seem idyllic, but we have to remember that pushing ourselves to see the world, and to risk the comfort of routine, is brave. And often, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

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First Coffee Experience in Japan

Why Tohoku

So did I totally throw you earlier when I mentioned Tohoku? Were you like, “What is she talking about?” Let me clarify: This trip was not about Tokyo. Or Okinawa. Or Kyoto. It was about Tohoku. A little known and little visited region of Japan. Sadly, it is typically recognized as the area that was hit by a tsunami in 2011. Tohoku is a diverse area, from shrines to mountains, to perfect foliage to elegant boat tours. And I’ll get into all of it later. (Don’t act so surprised, I told you this wasn’t a normal travel blog, duh!)

Tohoku reminded me in some ways of being in the Midwest. Of course it has nothing to do with cuisine, I ate fish for just about every meal while I was there, but in the manner of the people there. Being outside of the major metropolitan cities, like Tokyo, the people of Tohoku are slower paced, kind, and thoughtful. They want to know about you when you buy candy from them, they want to make sure you are comfortable when you dine with them, and they acknowledge you.

I remember the first time I went to Iowa, I was freaked out by a cashier who wanted to know all about Massachusetts. I felt similarly in Tohoku. Even though not many of the people there spoke English confidently, they still engaged, asking the questions they could. Imagine being so engaged with others that you don’t let a language barrier stop you from reaching out to another person? I mean, damn!

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“For you,” woman who gave me fish food. 

On our first full day, I went out to explore a nearby shrine with some of my new friends– I’ll explain them later. When we arrived, in light rain without umbrellas, we came across a mother and son feeding the giant Koi in the pond. They gave us their remaining bag of fish food to toss in. When I took a few out of the bag and tried to return it to them, they declined. “For you,” the mother told me. It was the smallest gesture but encompasses the kindness I felt the entire time I was in Japan.

It’s these things I remember the most, the things I try to apply to my daily life in, the often lonely and discouraging, New York City. Kindness changes people and it goes a long way.

Next…

Ok now that I feel I sufficiently painted a picture of HOW this trip made me feel, I’ll follow it up with a slightly more traditional post about some of my favorite spots to visit.

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I know, I’m such a tease.

48 Hours in Philadelphia: Where to Eat, Drink and Lose Your Credit Card 

For a person who not only plans to visit every major US city in this lifetime, but also prides herself in this endeavor, it was a little embarrassing that I had never been to Philadelphia. A historic city just an hour and 15 minutes away from New York on the train. Turns out, my boyfriend had never been either. I hired a dog sitter and we decided to run away for a weekend at the end of September.
DAY 1 – Friday
This is was one of the last hot days we had on the East Coast, so I was able to wear shorts and a t-shirt for the day. We were sweating but it was a beautiful day. We were able to check into our hotel early, the Courtyard Philadelphia Downtown, and we were even upgraded to a bigger room, on a higher floor.
Pro Tip: Business travelers typically check out early on Fridays which means you have a better chance of checking in early. This applies to hotels like ours that are in a business heavy district. 
 
Reading Terminal Market: Absolutely our first stop was food related. Are you joking?! Had to be. We were absolutely overwhelmed by the early lunch crowd and amount of options but we settled on Franks A Lot because the BBQ chicken looked so good. (Not because Frank is my boyfriend’s name.) Food was solid but it was dessert that nearly made me cry.
He had a donut from Beiler’s Donuts (couldn’t help but notice the boxes all over town, people are obsessed!) I had Bassett’s ice cream. I chose coffee topped with melted marshmallow sauce. This ice cream was so freaking creamy and I admired how it was just ice cream scooped in a bowl. It was not made for Instagram… it was made for bellies. It was so delicious and really put me in a good head space to look at historical stuff.
Liberty Bell: Fully satiated we walked our way to the Liberty Bell. (We actually walked there twice because SOMEBODY had his pocket knife on him…) We passed a bunch of historical buildings on the way but these made me mostly sad. They were surrounded by a not so great part of town and looked lonely. But onward we went (twice). The museum was free and there wasn’t a long line. I’ll be honest when I say we skipped most of the history and zipped right on up to see the bell. It looked like you would imagine and we took pictures in front of it anyway.
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History.
Ben Franklin’s Grave: Since we did this trip without a set itinerary we sort of wandered around looking for what was cool and what had no lines. We saw a sign pointing toward Ben Franklin’s grave and so we followed it and wound up at a pretty old cemetery. We paid $2 to get in but had the same reaction as everyone else there: “It’s $2 to get in? What?” “I mean… I guess it’s only $2.” Walking this cemetery reminded me like walking Pere Lachaise in Paris… only I didn’t know who anyone was. Ben’s grave was covered in pennies, which made no sense, but he’s buried with his wife, which I found quite nice. In a creepy way.
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Random Deli: Right after the grave viewing we needed alcohol so we stopped at a random deli, had a wine and a beer on the patio, and watched a lady ride one of those city tour buses, while riding a Segway. Simultaneously. #idontdolegs
Rittenhouse Square: After our historical duty was served, we wandered around Rittenhouse Square for a bit just trying to get our bearings and see what good food was around. It was on this walk that I spotted two of our Saturday activities that I LOVED and will point out later. (Sweet Charlie’s & The Dandelion) We also discovered a Tiki Bar that we would visit later. I can not recommend getting lost enough. It pays off!
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Rittenhouse Square
 
NAP INTERLUDE THIS WAS THE BEST. TAKE NAPS. I never take naps in my real life. I always take naps when I travel. I believe in not getting crabby while exploring.
Village Whiskey: We went here on the recommendation of an old high school friend of mine. We waited for about 5 seconds for a table, got to sit outside, and I had hands down one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had. The Ginger Rogers (dry gin, ginger syrup, lemon, rhubarb bitters, sparkling rose). I do love a rose cocktail. Fries were pretty good (but I am a fry CONNOISSEUR, so it’s hard to impress me) and my cobb salad was really yummy.
Tiki Bar: Exactly what it says it is. Rum cocktails and a laid back vibe. I absolutely loved finding a rooftop in Philly. It wasn’t even crowded! It was a perfect night cap for a warm day.
 
DAY 2 – Saturday
We woke up eager for brunch. After a quick Google search of places that do boozy brunch we found Day By Day in Rittenhouse that was referred to as a Philadelphia staple no less than 5 times. I was thrilled. But first we made two stops along the way…
Fat Jack’s Comicrypt: We found this adorable shop on our walk to brunch and popped in. Amazing collection of comics and everyone working there was really nice. It’s such a pleasure to be able to go into a bookstore and not have it be loud and busy like most in NYC. So enjoyable!
Sophisticated Seconds: I had Googled good thrift stores the day before but all the returns, including this one, read like consignment shops with pricier stuff. When I went in however, I was super surprised, and pleased to find a whole range of stuff. I picked up an adorable red cashmere sweater dress here.
Day by Day: Ah, finally brunch! We messed up a little and didn’t realize that this place, like many others, was BYOB. But it was probably for the best as we had a long day ahead of us. Frank ate an INSANE stack of Challah French Toast and I had a yummy, healthier omelette. I really liked the atmosphere here and the food was as good as the reviews said.
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Frank pre-Challah french toast coma
Philadelphia Museum of Art: We had originally intended on going to The Franklin Institute to look at the impressionists, but as we neared that building we couldn’t help but notice the GIANT, BEAUTIFUL building down the way. We guessed it had to be the PMoA, so we decided to walk toward it. (See how not having an itinerary can be so fun!?) As we neared it we noticed a Rocky statue, not realizing we were at the Rocky steps! We of course raced up them and snapped a ton of photos (of the steps, of this crazy sculpture out front, of each other) before entering the museum.

What an absolutely pleasurable experience. I am from New York so I am so used to being in an overcrowded museum just mushed in a mix of people. On a Saturday afternoon the Philly Museum of Art felt practically empty and we were able to amble about at our leisure and see some seriously cool art. I have never felt more relaxed in a museum! Ever. We had so much fun here and since it cooled down considerably and was cloudy– it was a good dark day activity.

Sweet Charlies: Frank paid for a cab to take me to Sweet Charlie’s so I could eat more ice cream. This was closer to what I am used to. A long line, Instagrammable treats, and a cult following. BUT WOW. This is the best, best, rolled ice cream I have had. It is so rich and creamy. Incredible.
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NAP TIME WHAT WHAT
 
McGillin’s Olde Ale House: After my rest (haha) we went out for happy hour drinks. College football beer bar. Standard fare, but loved that it was in an alley with a beer garden. People were able to gather in the street without getting run over.
Jamonera:  It turned out that some friends from NYC were also in town, who knew!? We met them at Jamonera, which had been consistently packed since we arrived. I was so excited. We even had an outside table! Here we had two pitchers of sangria, and I again, ordered some fries. These were yummy thick cut fries, almost like potato skins, and they paired nicely with the sangria.
Tinto: We still had some time before our 9pm reservation at The Dandelion, so we had a glass of sangria at Tinto, next door to Village Whiskey. This had also come recommended from my friend so we popped by. Service was excellent. Sangria was yummy. And I definitely wound up leaving my credit card here, but didn’t know it until I woke up the next morning… sorry Tinto crew.
The Dandelion: The cutest restaurant ever! It reminded me of One if by Land, Two if Sea in New York City. The restaurant is an entire townhouse and there is seating in different rooms on different floors. I got to sit in a little booth nook! I was thrilled. We split a bottle of red wine here (Cannonball, a favorite) and we both had the Crab Risotto after a few appetizers. I typically like my risotto softer but the ambiance, all the red wine my system, and the olive plate made up for it. Adorable date spot. My coworker also brought her parents here a week later and they enjoyed it as well.
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Look at me enjoying that nook!
DAY 3 – Sunday: Our train was at 10:30. We had somehow been given a free breakfast at the hotel with our upgrade but I was a little hungover to enjoy it. I did definitely have some eggs though, before dragging myself to Tinto. Thank god the team there is SO nice and accommodating. The card was locked in a safe, so I left my address and got on my train. In the end, I made my friends go pick it up. What a mess!
Visiting Philly for the weekend was perfect. It’s so close, so you have almost no travel time, and the food is really phenomenal. I would definitely recommend going if you’d like to do Major City Lite. All the perks, none of the crowds.
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