A Few of My Favorite Things: Philadelphia’s Old City

One of the biggest and most important aspects of travel is getting out there and doing things: going off the grid, finding the places and things you like most about the city you might find yourself in at any given moment in time. This is why I’m starting a new series on this blog, appropriately named “A Few of My Favorite Things”. As I travel to new cities, or discover neighborhoods a bit closer to home, I plan to list of my favorite things about these places on this blog as a way to keep track of my experiences for myself and to send some travel recommendations your way. Sound good to you? Let’s get crackin’ then!

Yesterday I received a surprise visit from my parents, which was just lovely. Mom called me right after I woke up (around 1 PM, mind you) to ask if I wanted to go for dim sum in Chinatown. I didn’t really have anything on my plate for the day other than a self-imposed mandatory viewing of the Grammys (I just couldn’t keep away), and I can never resist dim sum, so I took her up on the offer. I also just like hanging out with my parents. I know, I’m an anomaly in the cross-section of young adults.

After brunch, we decided to visit an art gallery in Old City where one of my mom’s friends was showing her work. It was lovely, but unfortunately the name of the gallery has escaped me. I realized that a boutique I had visited over the summer was just around the corner and dragged my parents over there. That boutique was Smak Parlour on 2nd and Market, right next to the historic Christ Church. From the display windows, the store looks a bit like Nicki Minaj’s closet, but inside it’s a marriage of sophistication and girly fun. Smak Parlour has a little bit of everything a girl could want, from bright blue frilly strapless dresses to smart skirts and cardigans for the office. I got a little bit of both to add to my wardrobe for London. Smak Parlour also sells unique jewelry pieces such as earrings made out of LPs and Abraham Lincoln cameo necklaces. If you can’t make it to their Old City location, you can order plenty of their adorable pieces online!

On another occasion, my parents and I had an excellent mid-week dinner at Cuba Libre at 10 S. 2nd Street. I have a thing for restaurants that transport you to another world. It may have been a cold night in Philadelphia, but while sitting in the tropical courtyard-style dining room at Cuba Libre, I could have sworn I was in Havanna (or at least what I imagine Havanna to be like, as I have never been there – file that under more reasons to move to Canada). The atmosphere was incredibly relaxing, which was just what I needed after a long week of university classes. The food didn’t disappoint; I had the paella de mariscos, which was phenomenal. The prices are a bit steep for a college budget (hence why I went on my parents’ tab), but if you’re willing to save up, it’s definitely worth the trip.

Now, when I went to Old City the other day on my own, I realized that there were few places for me, as a single diner on a budget, to eat. When I felt as if all hope was lost, Margherita Pizzeria on 2nd and Chestnut appeared to me just like the star in the desert lead the shepherds to the baby Jesus. Religious metaphors aside, this place is great if you’re looking for a pre-bar crawl slice or when you’re simply on the run like I was.

Finally, one of my favorite things to do in Old City (or perhaps in Philadelphia in general) is to see a film at the Ritz. The Ritz Five and the Ritz East house the films that I can’t find at my local movie theatre/the films that I actually want to see. I went to the Ritz Five the other day alone to see The Artist and it was an incredible experience. The film was great, the theatre was comfortable, and I was in the company of people who truly love film, which makes all the difference in my movie-going experience. Of course I didn’t realize this at the time (as usual), but you can save money on tickets if you’re a student! Tickets are $7.25 with a student ID with the exception of Sundays and Holidays.

With all of these awesome places attracting a younger crowd, Old City proves that it’s anything but. I plan to spend plenty of time there in my last few weeks in Philadelphia, and even more when I return in the summer.


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