Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Survival Guide: 15 Things That Make Philly Life Easier, Better, and More Fabulous!

So, this weekend the craziness of employment after a long time of no employment hit me, and I missed 2 days of posts!!! I apologize. To make up for it, my survival list of 15 things is going to go all the way up to 17. I hope you'll let me know what goes on your Philly Survival Guide!

1. Food trucks. You heard me. Everything from fruit salad to falafel, cheese steaks to crepes to sushi, it can be found in a food truck. Especially those trucks over in University City -- lots of delicious food for about $5. Recession-proof!

2. TLA Video. Yes, I have Netflix too ... but for the impulse rental TLA cannot be beat. Art house, GLBT, foreign, and yes, of course, porn -- TLA has some of everything. And their DVDs for sale are worth a browse on a hot summer evening.

3. Events at Penn's Landing. Free! Coming up: 6/13 is the Islamic Heritage Festival, 6/14 is the Philly Pride Parade and Festival, 6/20 is the Asian Festival, and 6/21 is the Portuguese Heritage Festival.

4. PATCO. Yes, I'm a Philly girl, but my boy goes to school and lives half-time in Jersey. I can walk him to his school, thanks to this excellent train! The trains are reliably on time, and service runs all night long. Are you listening, SEPTA? Hello?

5. Unmetered, no-permit-required parking south of South Street. Depends very much on where you are, but the Grad Hospital area (So-So? South of South? I heard this the other day and resented the implication ... G0Ho ain't much better!) has plenty of blocks where parking is available AND free, for out of town guests, car share cars, and other non-permit-holding cars. Which leads me to

6. Car shares. There is no reason for anyone who both works and lives in the city to own a car. I know Pop Culture prefers Zip Car, and I'm totally fine with Philly CarShare ... as far as I'm concerned, both services make my number one beef with the city (how expensive and annoying it is to own a car) disappear.

7. Pay What You Wish Sundays at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I love being able to develop a relationship with pieces of art--my favorites are always shifting, and seeing them regularly lets me feel like I'm visiting old friends who always have something new to say.

8. The American Institute of Architects Bookstore. There's no better place to find beautifully designed gifts, conversation pieces, and coffee table books, and their kids' toy and book section is stunning. But my favorite time to visit is immediately after Christmas, when all their beautiful ornaments, wrapping paper, decorations, and calendars are on sale. The new location is at 1218 Arch Street, for those who frequented the shop on 17th Street and were wondering what happened.

9. I was about to put The Original Computer Doctor, at 1725 South Street, as my go-to place for fixes and maintenance, but I just checked their website and they're CLOSING the business! Sniff! Any recommendations out there for actual human beings who can fix my laptop without charging me all my money?

10. Fergus Carey. Without Fergie, where would I drink the best beers in the city? Where would I eat delicious mussels? Where would I ... oh, you get the picture. What's your favorite Fergie joint? I'd be hard-pressed to pick one. Grace is closest to me, Monk's is probably my favorite but it's usually too packed, Nodding Head is a great choice when I want food, and Fergie's itself is where I met one of my most awesome friends (and fellow blogger here, too!).

11. I'd be remiss if I didn't do a shout-out to my other two favorite bars--and this is going to show my true proletariat nature. Jose Pistola's on 15th Street (where Copa Too used to be) sees more of me than any other bar in the city, I'd wager. I know the staff. I know the regulars. I love the beer. Casey, Adam, Buddy, Molly et al.--I love you guys! And then, honorable mention goes to McGlinchey's, my favorite smelly dive bar. Yes, you can still smoke there. Yes, they still serve those hot dogs ... but you can also get a $3 Boddington's draft there, watch a game, and make conversation with the fun (colorful?) people you find here.

12. The Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe. For two weeks out of the year, at the end of the hot wet Philadelphia summer, Philadelphia positively sparkles with creative energy. The Live Arts shows are always amazing and a good bargain for high-production-value performances (last year's tickets were generally $25, as opposed to the $40 norm during the season at the main big theatres in town). And the Fringe is a whole heap of fun, especially when you make use of the various word-of-mouth reviews available on the festival site, the local papers, and the rest of the theatre-going community. I'll be posting my favorites here, for sure!

13. The Kimmel Center. This is the best spot in the city to stop in for beautiful, clean restrooms with plenty of diaper-changing space, quiet spots to sit (especially for you nursing moms out there!), and as I've mentioned before, the lovely rooftop garden. Next time you or your 5-year-old need an emergency potty break and you're within a 5-block radius, I recommend stopping in! Beyond that, the performance spaces are amazing and definitely worth catching a performance in.

14. Trader Joe's. I just had a 3.99 Chicken Tikka Masala dinner from their frozen foods section. Tomorrow it'll probably be pizza margherita. I'd be completely broke (or starving) if it weren't for TJ's.

15. Pearl Fine Art Supplies, on South Street at 4th. Where else can I go for various supplies to entertain both my son and myself? I've been working on my watercolors lately. I've framed a bunch of my son's work, too!

16. Urban Outfitters for tee shirts and tanks, the basement of Anthropologie for jeans, H&M for big chunky rings and basic button-downs, and as of recently, Cole Haan for shoes and bags.

17. And finally, after a day of walking around the city (and after several days straight of retail work on my feet all day), nothing feels better than getting out a Lush massage bar and rubbing my feet. Except, perhaps, having someone else do it for me. Hint, hint.


  1. I recently bought my mom a birthday gift from Lush - she loved it. Plus, every time I go in there, I smell so good from just walking around. Never been to Anthropologie's basement, but now that I know about it, I will have to check it out! Not working this summer, I'll have tons of time to really get to know Philly :)

  2. CD - You are right about my zipcar love! I have an entire rant about the Philly Car Share opportunists. They have so many hidden charges that I dropped them! Zipcar takes my calls without charging me, has amazing customer service, cheaper cars and mission driven directives.

    I agree with all your recommendations and use them often to make the city more accessible. Great ideas!

  3. YES! So many things come together to make this city AWESOME. Thanks for reminding us... and my favorite is Fergie's Pub :)


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