When I think of the state of Pennsylvania I immediately think of cows, huge lots of farming land, and the Amish. Yes those Amish- the Pennsylvania Dutch. There is even a TLC show or two about them. Actually I don’t know if those Amish (that are running or returning home) are from Pennsylvania but you get the idea. Of the many Amish I have seen they are very shy and don’t want you taking pictures of them (trust me) let alone be on TV so seeing them on TV feels odd.
While you were probably driving to the Grand Canyon in your station wagon back in the day for family vacation, I was on my way to see the Amish in Lancaster P.A. Besides the Amish there were: petting zoos, the tour of the Anderson pretzel factory (now the Intercourse Pretzel Factory (yes that’s the name of the town, good for taking kids too, no?), and Dutch Wonderland amusement park among our hot spots. There were of course those “late” night trips to the vending machine in our hotel praying that they never fixed it from the year before allowing me and my brother to score a lot of snacks for not a lot of my father’s money.
But the biggest highlight was going to the Bird in Hand restaurant. The way my family acted you would have thought it was restaurant week in N.Y.C. No one had to show us where the buffet line began we weren’t born yesterday. We owned that town. All of this travel experience beginning at such a young age.
As us kids got older and increasingly bored by the same annual itinerary we scaled our trips back. Instead, by the time I was in college, we were only going for Thanksgiving and this time I had many, many cousins coming with us. Those were my best times there. Us older kids went by ourselves to the movies or shopping, while the younger kids hung back with our parents. There was a lot of laugher and love on those weekends away but that too has come to an end. Even though I cringe at some of those memories, these trips taught me a very important lesson: if you want to love a vacation you need to plan it yourself. I also knew that family vacations are always a good idea on holiday weekends. That is something I try to organize as often as possible. Family is a lot more interesting when you are bonding over a new city, foods, and experiences. I’m just sayin.
Arriving back to present time, my visits to P.A. now mostly consist of going to Philadelphia. I had gone once as a child on a school trip (more about that in the rest of this series) and then not again until 2009. That year brought me back to Philly to visit some family (I guess that state will always have a family connection for me) and explore this city as an adult. There were so many things I wanted to see and eat. I didn’t think I could fit it all in one quick weekend. Turns out I couldn’t. So I have been returning to Philly several times since then and I always leave with a smile on my face.
That brings us to this blog series. I decided to collect all of things that make this city special to me so that I could share them with you. I haven’t written such a lengthy blog series since I wrote about Chicago (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2014/05/for-wonderful-weekend-in-windy-city.html). The only other part of P.A. that I have shared was about my trip to Pittsburgh (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2015/01/for-city-of-bridges-pittsburgh-part-i.html).
Philadelphia is an easy place to get to, especially coming from New York City. You can take an hour and a half drive or do what I do and hop on the Amtrak. I took it for the first time in 2009 when I went to Philly and never looked back. It is as fast as driving but without the traffic or stress. The trains are nice, clean, and spacious. You can even plug in your electronics. When a sale hits you can also get your tickets for a steal. It is so worth it. But pay close attention or you will fall asleep and miss your stop. It is that comfortable and that fast.
I have two favorite hotels in Philadelphia: Hotel Sofitel and the Palomar, which are both chains, thank goodness. But this was the city that introduced them to me. One look at their websites will show you all you need to know. If you are still craving more check out the blog I wrote about them (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2014_09_01_archive.html).
For all of the places listed in this series, there will be links at the end of each posting for your reference.
This has officially been your introduction to Philadelphia! Enjoy the tour!
Up next: For the City of Brotherly Love, Benjamin Franklin, and Betsy Ross's House: Meals.
For More Information:
For Bird in Hand