It all started about three weeks ago when I was on Instagram on the explore page. I came across this absolutely stunning wall made of broken glass, tire spikes, mirrors, and whatever else could be found at a city dump. No seriously! So I looked at the location and it said Philadelphia Magic Gardens. Now I’m from Jersey and I currently live in the DMV area, so Philly has never been somewhere I needed to go. For one, I’ve been there a bunch of times growing up and two, what is there to really see there?  But this place captured my eye and stuck with me until finally I decided to take a weekend trip.

I travelled by bus, which was a little less than four hours, and stayed at an Airbnb that was about an 8 minute walk from Rittenhouse Square. I arrived about 4 hours before check-in -which I thought was a mistake-  but I decided to make it a tiny adventure before my friend arrived later that evening.

Stop #1

Chix & Wings

Washington Square

138 S 11th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19107

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I wanted to love this soooo much! It just didn’t do it for me. It had the crunchy skin I love on a chicken wing, but the flavor was mediocre and the meat was dry and overcooked. I ordered the Soy Garlic flavor and I greedily ordered the ten piece. Because what if they were really good and I wanted more, I couldn’t be fat and order more after just eating 5+ wings? So I took the safe route, but it left much to be desired. The decor was cute though.

At this point I had killed 45 minutes and didn’t want to stay any longer. I decided to go to a nearby museum when I noticed a sign that said “SWEET SHOP” y’all know I had to stop…I can’t walk by cupcakes.

 

Stop #2

Carlo’s Bakery Philadelphia

2101 Walnut Street

Philadelphia, PA 19103

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Pristine! I walked in feeling like everything was up to the health code and the glass was cleaned every hour…yes it was THAT clean.  I ordered two cupcakes – Oreo and Caramel – and that was the best Oreo cupcake I’d ever had in my life. I definitely recommend you come here if you have a sweet tooth. They have everything from fruit tarts to cheesecakes to doughnuts so make your way there if you hit Philly.

 

Another hour down! This was going to be a breeze. I walk further only to discover that Philly is undergoing construction everywhere. I’m used to it at this point, I commute to DC every day so if anything I felt at home. Btut, I was tired of walking and my bag was getting heavy. So I looked up what was nearby so I could do some minor shopping…and wouldn’t you know it…

No pic…I think my shoulder was tired of my bag and didn’t want to selfie it up…but you guys know what it looks like in B&N.

Stop #3

Barnes and Noble

1805 Walnut St

Philadelphia, PA 19103

This was a pleasant surprise. It has three floors, accessible by escalator, and the cafe/Starbucks [c’mon who are we kidding…I was absolutely stopping here] was located on the second floor. I went to every floor and searched for anything I might need…what I needed was behind the counter [DSM-V]. By this time, I had only killed about 2 hours before I could check in so I got a latte and read the book I brought with me.

 

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*Picture borrowed from here – but I got to walk by a couple times*

I was able to check in about an hour and a half early so I put my stuff down and waited for my friend to arrive. She drove down from Jersey and parking was decent. If you have to pay street parking, put enough money in the first time around or just pay $18 a day for parking in an overnight garage – make room in your budget and save yourself the headache.

 

Stop #4

Lolita

106 South 13th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19107

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After catching up and walking around Rittenhouse Square, which is beautiful in it’s own right. We decided that it was time to get food from El Vez, but El Vez had an hour and a half wait time so we decided to go across the street to Lolita. I had the Pork al Pastor tacos with the strawberry basil margarita. It was almost as if that was the perfect match. Plus there’s a strip of bacon on each taco..don’t kid yourself you need these tacos.

 

Day 2

My friend got a ticket! Street parking was free from 10 pm – 8 am and my friend woke up at 9:30 to a $36 ticket. Which isn’t bad compared to Jersey’s $75 tickets or DC towing your whole car around the corner and charging you your rent money to get it back. We shook off the parking authority and decided to start our day.

 

Stop #1

Geno’s Steaks

1219 S 9th St

Philadelphia, PA 19147

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I haven’t had this since I was a child, so I didn’t know what to expect. I got in the way of myself ordering and I didn’t google whether or not they take debit/credit cards – they don’t so bring $20. But it was so worth it! That thing was good, hot, and even though they mistakenly put provolone on it I will give this a 10/10 (provolone only on my cheesesteaks from now on). I wasn’t starving, like I usually am, so I know it was that good. I got a tongue lashing from my friend Nat (Philly native) who said that “people from philly don’t eat there!” But I’ll be back so I have to go against my tastebuds and branch off. I thought it was efficient that the cheesesteaks are at one window and the drinks and fries are at another. I didn’t get to take a pic because after the smell hit my nostrils it was over and I had to have it right then and there.

 

 

Stop #2

The moment I waited a month for…

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

1020 South St

Philadelphia, PA 19147

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*I tried with the poses and it was a 15 minute struggle ok? Great let’s move on*

 

Stunning for lack of a better word. I really can’t describe how perfect this place was for someone like me. Beautifully organized chaos. It was no doubt the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. The story behind it is simple enough. An artist sees an empty lot and asks the owners of the lot if he could beautify the space. The end. The tickets are sold by the half hour and you enter as a group – no time limit on how long you stay but 30-45 minutes is a good estimate for the time you’ll spend there exploring the space and taking pictures. I could not have asked for a better experience.

 

Stop #3

Trap Karaoke

In yo city because they be every damn where!

 

Okay, so this is what you need to know about me. I’m a self-proclaimed sophistiratchet. This means that while I have acquired a college education…I twerk to Gucci Mane and drink Hennessy for breakfast on the weekend while wearing a bonnet. Now that we got that out the way…

LIT. IT WAS LIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT.

Energy through the roof and everyone was having a great time. They played Trap Music, slowed it down with the R&B, and then took us to Church! Sweatbox? Oh no it was worse than that, but that’s part of the experience of any real trap event. The tickets were $30 [$35 with fees and taxes] and I would GLADLY pay it again to have another off-key concert with all my cousins and ‘nem. The host does a great job of controlling the crowd and keeping the energy up – plus he cute (mind ya business and let’s keep that between us). Great venue, great crowd, great energy, and it’s karaoke that you don’t have to be embarrassed about.

 

Day 3

Honey’s Sit N’Eat

2101 South St

Philadelphia, PA 19146

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My friend had to return home after Trap Karaoke the previous night, so I took my self out to breakfast the following morning. This little place around the corner that had bacon – which was all I wanted at 10 am on a Saturday after sweating my life away the night before.

Bacon, eggs, 3 pancakes, and potatoes with onions and tomato sauce [it doesn’t say tomato sauce on the menu but I tasted it] all for less than $15. It was good and what I needed. The bacon and potatoes stole the show – the pancakes have nothing on IHOP and my homemade eggs are better. For the price and the portion I would go back to try something else. This is a cash-only restaurant, but the ATM is right by the door.

Takeaways:

 

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Well for one, I have to come back! I didn’t get to see enough. I think my mind had this idea that Philly hadn’t changed since I’d been there years ago, but I was more than surprised. The people were friendly enough and there was more than enough to do. I’m ashamed to say I thought I would be bored here. I’m new to travel, and although this was a weekend trip I had a really great time. I wasn’t exactly out my comfort zone, but I appreciated being somewhere “new” for a few days. I mean really who goes to Philly and doesn’t do the Rocky steps? I need to do better.

 

-TDB

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