Philadelphia & Brandywine
Pennsylvania's Uniquely Beautiful Gems
Where could a traveler go to find unique, revolutionary, historical significance, one of the most influential, big cities of the New World, and some of the most beautiful, scenic countryside, wineries and gardens? Pennsylvania's Philadelphia and nearby Brandywine Country offer it all.
Philadelphia is one of the United States’ premier summer vacation destinations with over four million visitors each year and its’ Fourth of July celebration is like no other.
Founded in 1682, Philadelphia became a focal point for the American Revolution and the gathering place of those who would become the founders of the United States of America. It is a city of historical, cultural and artistic diversity.
The City of Brotherly Love is a pioneer in many ways including their way of dealing with graffiti artists. Rather than creating another us-versus-them battle, Philadelphia leaders offered graffiti artists an outlet for their craft. If the graffiti artists would cease vandalizing public properties, the city would offer sites for them to express themselves through public murals. This amazing talent was channeled from vandalism into beautiful historical and cultural murals throughout the city. There are now over 3000 murals adorning the sides of Philadelphia’s buildings!
One of our favorite ways to begin a new adventure is by grabbing a ride on a hop on, hop off bus tour. The Big Bus Hop On, Hop Off Tour is a ninety-minute, open-top bus ride past local highlights. It is a great way to get your bearings and find the sites that you want to return to for a more detailed visit. Each bus carries a tour guide who shares the stories and details each point of interest. Our tour included the Museum of Art (with Rocky Balboa’s statue), the Philadelphia Zoo, Benjamin Franklin’s burial site, Philadelphia City Hall, the Love sculpture, the Betsy Ross house, Independence Hall, Boathouse Row, Rowhouses, Little China, Carpenter’s Hall and more! A ticket is good for 24 hours and riders can hop off at any point for sightseeing and hop back on any bus to continue their tour. We always enjoy the hop on, hop off bus tour. Visit http://www.bigbustours.com/eng/philadelphia/default.aspx for more info.
The City Tavern is a unique and quaint revolutionary era themed restaurant with important historical significance. The original tavern hosted a banquet for the delegates of the 1787 Constitutional Convention including George Washington. Everyone from the people who greet you at the door to your waiters and waitresses dress in American revolutionary ear clothing and offer food and drink recipes popular in that period. We even sampled a George Washington beer recipe. City Tavern boasts seven historically decorated dining rooms, three wine cellars and a garden. We enjoyed our City Tavern visit. It was like stepping into the beginnings of American history. Learn more at http://www.citytavern.com
The Constitutional Walking Tour is an excellent way to explore Philadelphia’s historic sites with the added benefit of a knowledgeable guide. Megan Stack, a local elementary educator, was our guide and one of the best we have encountered anywhere in the world. Megan led us on an enjoyable and educational tour to the Independence Visitor Center, the President’s House Site, the Declaration House, the Signers’ Walk, the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Congress Hall, Old City Hall, the Signer’s Garden, the Philosophical Hall, the Library Hall, the Second Bank of the U.S., Carpenters’ Hall, the New Hall Military Museum, The First Bank of the United States, Franklin Court, the Franklin Post Office, Christ Church, the Betsy Ross House, Arch Street Friends Meeting House, Christ Church Burial Ground, and the National Constitution Center. The seventy-five minute tour runs seven days a week. Visit http://www.theconstitutional.com/index.html for more info.
The Knock Restaurant and Bar, just a few minutes from walk from downtown Philly, is both classy and elegant while still maintaining a relaxed and manly ambiance. Our dinners were affordable and fantastic. The mojitos were incredible. The soups were extraordinary. The service was top notch. The entrees were attractive and easily the best meal we enjoyed in Philly. The desserts were huge, perfectly made and presented. We had VIP service from the maitre'd, the chef, the sous chef and the owner. Our dinner at Knock was a highlight of our Philadelphia visit. Knock Restaurant and Bar is located at 225 South 12th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Their phone is 215-925-1166. Visit http://www.knockphilly.com/index.html for more info. Knock Restaurant and Bar is a favorite for LGBT diners.
There are many fine places to stay in Philadelphia. We chose The Alexander Inn – a fantastic boutique hotel just a short walk from many downtown points of interest. The Alexander Inn was built in 1901 without the benefit of electric or power tools according to their promotional materials. Though the décor is beautifully turn-of-the-century with stained glass windows, oak wood moldings and detailed flooring patterns, the amenities offered are modern and comfortable. Not only is there an extensive, complimentary breakfast buffet, their complimentary all-day-long snack bar offers fresh fruit, breads and pastries! The multi-floored facility offers a 24 hour business center, a 24 hour fitness center and wireless internet access. We would gladly stay here again and highly recommend the Alexander Inn to anyone visiting Philadelphia, especially LGBT guests. Visit http://www.alexanderinn.com for more info.
Philadelphia is very LGBT friendly with a local “gayborhood” at 13th and Locust streets. Woody’s Bar is a very popular gay nightclub (woodysbar.com) and Sisters is a popular lesbian nightclub (sistersnightclub.com). The 22nd annual Pride Day on June 12, 2011, during International Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, features live music, DJs, food, drinks and more (www.phillypride.org). The Philadelphia Phillies welcome gay and lesbian fans to Citizens Bank Park each year for Gay Day. On August 26, 2011, the Phillies face the Marlins (www.phillygaydays.com).
Just a short drive southwest of Philadelphia's big-city feel, Brandywine Country beckons visitors with its' more than 3,000 acres of famous gardens, arboretums, and wildlife habitats, sailing, canoeing, horseback riding, theaters, museums, historic sites, art galleries, wineries and beautiful bed and breakfasts.
World famous Longwood Gardens boasts more than 1000 sculpted acres, incredible treehouse structures, a mansion, fountains and nearly two dozen indoor gardens. Longwood's Conservatory, built in 1919, is a plant-lover's dream come true with 20 indoor gardens and more than 5000 types of plants. The Terrace Restaurant,Longwood’s eatery, not only has excellent food, it is a Certified Green Restaurant. Longwood Gardens is located at 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348. For more infomation on Longwood Gardens, visit http://www.longwoodgardens.org/lwgHome.html
While in Brandywine Country, we enjoyed exquisite pampering at the award-winning Hamanassett Bed and Breakfast - a romantic bed and breakfast built in 1856 with later additions by renowned architect Charles Barton Keen. The website boasts "seclusion, tranquility and country elegance," and that is a perfect description. Hamanassett owners Glenn and Ashley Mon are incredibly talented cooks that begin each morning by serving their guests a delicious, multi-course, gourmet breakfast in the formal dining room and end each evening with warm cookies in the pantry.
Looking for a cooking-themed getaway? The Mon's Brandywine Cooking School package includes lodging for two people for two nights, a welcoming reception, breakfasts, and lunch and dinner on the day of the class! Classes are led by Chef Ann-Michelle Albertson on site in Hamanassett's professional kitchen. Themes include - The Orient Express, Last Dinner on the Titanic, Bounty of the Brandywine, Summer Grilling and Entertaining, and Holiday Fare Take a Buttocks of Beefe.
The Hamanassett Bed and Breakfast is located at 115 Indian Springs Drive, Media, PA 19063. Learn more about the Hamanassett Bed and Breakfast by visiting http://www.hamanassett.com/index.html or by phoning 610-459-3000. The Hamanassett Bed and Breakfast is not your average B&B. Ashley and Glenn Mon have created a haven of welcoming, gourmet elegance.
The Museum of Mourning Art at Arlington Cemetery in Drexel Hill, PA is a priceless treasure of unusual information concerning "buried treasures" - objects and artifacts that symbolize mourning and burial practices throughout history. It is both educational and intriguing.
The visual displays and posted descriptions give incredible insight into the origins of many of the symbols and practices we still see used today as well as many that are no longer popular or even legal! The museum hosts one of the few surviving grave-guns from 17th and 18th centuries.
The guns were placed at gravesites to shoot the unsuspecting grave robbers who stumbled across their trip wires. They were eventually made illegal after shooting innocent grieving relatives.
The collection includes a horse-drawn, glass-walled hearse, books, paintings, tapestries, jewelry, gates, clocks, clothes and even hair cut from the dead bodies of US Presidents! Learn more by visiting http://www.arlingtoncemetery.us/museum.asp.
Other Brandywine attractions include The Lazaretto Quarantine Station (http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~dbarnes/Lazaretto.html), the Brandywine River Museum (http://www.brandywinemuseum.org), The American Helicopter Museum (http://www.helicoptermuseum.org), Chadds Ford Winery (http://www.chaddsford.com), and The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge (http://www.fws.gov/heinz/index.html).
Whether you are looking for historical significance, art, and dining or some of the most beautiful, scenic countryside, wineries, gardens and bed and breakfasts - Pennsylvania's Philadelphia and nearby Brandywine Country has it all.
Watch our Philadelphia and Brandywine video –
We were the guests of Philadelphia and Brandywine in 2010
Gay Travelers Magazine
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Staff Feature - copyright Sunny Harbor Publishing