Learning to Appreciate What’s in My Own Backyard

A few weeks ago my wife and I were trying to plan a weekend getaway to celebrate our 40th anniversary.

Our first thoughts were either the Jersey Shore or the Pocono Mountains, but then after a bit of brainstorming, we decided to spend a weekend in Philadelphia.

We have been to Philly hundreds of times in our 40-year marriage, but we have never spent a night there. After all, why would we? We lived less than 30 minutes away.

But we thought this would give us a chance to better experience the city as true locals, and to give us a taste of what possibly living in the city would be like.

We just returned home, and all I can say is that the weekend far exceeded our already lofty expectations. Here’s a quick summary for anyone who is looking to waste five minutes of their day:

  • We took the train into the city Friday afternoon; no car would be needed in the city.
  • We stayed at a wonderful hotel, the Warwick, which is right in the heart of the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, our favorite part of the city.
  • Friday night we got takeout from Hip City Veg and the legendary Di Bruno Brothers; both outstanding choices
  • Saturday started off with a tasty sidewalk cafe breakfast at the iconic Metropolitan Bakery
  • We then wandered the street of Philly, stopping at several open houses. We found one of the brownstones particularly appealing.
  • Early afternoon, we stumbled across Jose Pistola’s Mexican restaurant, and my wife suggested chips and guac and a beer. Who could turn that down? And boy, did we hit the jackpot – the best guacamole we have ever had.
  • We then went to Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (PMG), a mosaicked visionary art environment, gallery, and community arts center that preserves, interprets, and provides access to Isaiah Zagar’s unique mosaic art environment and his public murals.
  • Back to our hotel to refresh, and then a 30-minute walk to dinner at Buddakan, where we had one of the best dinners we have ever had.
  • At that point, we had walked over 20,000 steps, over nine miles. So we opted to take Uber back to our hotel.
  • Sunday morning we had brunch at Parc, which is right on Rittenhouse Square. My wife’s sister and her husband, and their daughter, joined us for the best brunch I have ever had.
  • We then went to visit our niece and her husband who had just had their first baby a week ago. It was a wonderful way to end our weekend in the City of Brotherly Love.

I know there are many superlatives in that list, but they truly were that good. The only downside might be what the scale tells me tomorrow morning…

My wife and I have already made tentative plans to do this again next year for our anniversary.

And who knows; we might become city-dwellers yet…

85 thoughts on “Learning to Appreciate What’s in My Own Backyard

  1. Congrats on your Anniversary! 40 years, wow! Glad you had such a good time and it is so true that we often miss the things in our own backyard!
    For Labor Day Weekend my husband and I got away and it was only 30 minutes away as well. A little cottage in the woods, was great.
    I grew up not far from Philly but I don’t remember going there very often, besides going to see Phillies play baseball and visiting the Franklin Institute. Oh yes, and the Philadelphia Zoo. πŸ™‚

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  2. Looks like you had an anniversary for the memory books. And it’s always safest to remember anniversaries. I’ve been to Philly a few times, but only at the airport, catching flights. I’ve never been there with my brother, so I wouldn’t know about the brotherly love part. And I don’t want to know. Glad you had a good time with your wife and in-laws.

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    1. you’ve got a good memory! Our anniversary was last month, but we just got around to celebrating this past weekend. And it’s nice to do little of both, see the big wide world, but don’t ignore what is right in front of you…

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  3. Lol… all those best eats sound like you were high!!
    My friend Crankypants lives about the same distance from Philly. I can’t recall the city. She mentions lots of fun stuff but I don’t recall a single thing that made your list.

    I’m glad you had such a great time!!

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  4. Congratulations to you and your wife on the 40 years, Jim! This may become an annual event like the ball dropping on New Year’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. i think it’s a great plan and sounds like it went wonderfully. i love to head to northern michigan or to downtown detroit, and both always offer something new and different and not so far away


  6. What a wonderful anniversary celebration. It’s funny how we tend to sometimes overlook what we have so close. As you know I have become a big proponent of exploring local, but your post does make me want to visit Philadelphia.

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  7. We had a great staycation twenty minutes bus ride away from home in summer 2019 while our son and daughter gutted our bathroom into a shower room. Close enough if there were any consultations needed, but far enough to leave them in peace. We were in the centre of Bournemouth in an Art Deco hotel with balcony watching all life go by including a thunderstorm on the first night. Everyone should see there home town early in the morning and late at night.

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  8. I love this! Rittenhouse Square is a favorite, as is historic Philly. Hubby and family are from York, and his sister lives in West Chester, so Philadelphia is near and dear to our hearts. Nothing beats their cheese steak and soft pretzels with mustard. Yum!

    On a side note, directly across the street from Carpenter’s Hall is a great museum, the National Liberty Museum. Long story short, after visiting the museum and being struck by their glass Peace Portal, hubby knew I had that ‘teacher look’, where I was going to take the idea back to school. I did, and we did far more than recreate their Peace Portal (with their permission); children couldn’t get enough, so we designed and made a Peace Quilt. It hangs as a permanent display at the museum! It’s also my blog photo. A great Philly story.

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    1. what a wonderful story about your Peace Quilt! we walked right past the National Liberty Museum; I cannot remember if we have been inside or not. but now I want to see your quilt! I must have breezed right past that while reading your About page. How wonderful to be so inspired that you create something from it…

      and I agree that Philly is a great town…

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      1. Thank you, Jim. If you are ever sick in bed and have a full day to read, go to ‘The Legacy of Milly’, which begins at the Bennington Museum in VT, then to the National Liberty Museum, the Intrepid Museum, the State house in Boston… it is 10 parts long, but it’s a great read and really puts the National Liberty Museum into the picture. You can also search National Liberty Museum on my posts…there are some great stories.

        If you and your wife get to the museum, please ask for Gwen Borofsky, the director. Tell her Jennie says Hi. Last year she asked me to send her a copy of the classroom book we had made on recreating their Peace Portal. She wanted to put the book on display alongside the portal.

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  9. Sounds like a swell time. I wish you’d take more pics so I can live vicariously through you, lol, especially since there’s a low possibility I’d make it to the US in the near future. Anyway, thanks for this post!

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