Saturday, August 6, 2011


Here we go! Last recap of our Pennsylvania Road Trip. We've already tasted chocolate in Hershey, toured battlefields in Gettysburg, hung out with my family in Pittsburgh, and now we're off to Philadelphia.

We left Pittsburgh around 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, to make the five-hour drive to Philly. It was smooth sailing until it started raining right as we got in to Philadelphia, naturally. That's how these things work.

Our first view of Philadelphia!

Our very first Philly sight to see was the Art Museum, and even if you don't like art, you may recognize this museum as the steps Rocky famously ran up triumphantly during training in the movie. There is a Rocky statue nearby, and of course, you can also run up those famous steps. Rocky stuff aside, there is also a really gorgeous George Washington statue in front of the museum, with fountains on either side, in which people were swimming. Apparently they swim in fountains in Philadelphia? I can get behind that. Luckily, the rain tapered off once we started exploring, so we were able to take it all in.

The Art Museum

George Washington Statue

I liked this...buffalo? Is that what that is? Clearly, I'm not up on my frontier animals.

This moose was also looking pretty awesome.

My dad recently returned from a trip to Canada, and shared with me the very important information that if you are attacked by a bear, play dead and protect your neck and belly. I always listen to my dad.

Posing with the Rocky statue

Eric running up the famous steps

So triumphant!

Me jumping after I reached the top

Looking out at Philadelphia

The rain clearing up at that point was about the only break we would catch all night. As I mentioned in my teaser post, our first night in Philly turned into a lesson in Murphy's Law. Well, it didn't start out terribly...we found our hotel just fine. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Historic District, which was your basic Holiday Inn, I suppose, but in a great location - easy walking distance to all the historic stuff. However, after parking in their garage (to the tune of $25/night), we discovered the elevators weren't working, so that was fun. Nothing like a little dragging of luggage up and down three flights of stairs to get the blood pumping after an afternoon in the car.

Our room was nothing to write home about, but perfectly serviceable. 

Our room at the Holiday Inn

Our plan was to check into our hotel, change clothes, and go to dinner at City Tavern, which was a popular place for our founding fathers to go for food and drink after a long day of doing moderately important things like writing Declarations of Independence and Constitutions and the like. The City Tavern website told us they were open until 10:00 (double checked by the front desk agent at Holiday Inn), so we changed and quickly walked over there. We arrived there at about 9:00. As soon as we walked in, the host gave us a rather rude "what are YOU doing here?" face, so Eric asked, "oh, are we too late?" Why, yes, we were. Apparently they stopped serving dinner at 8:00. Which, fine, but then shouldn't your website say THAT rather than listing 10:00 as closing time? So, no food.

We took a roundabout way back to our hotel, which led us past Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. That made us very excited for our upcoming day of sightseeing! As we walked, we figured out a Plan B now that our dinner plans fell apart. We knew the hotel pool was open until 10:00, so we decided to go back for a swim then order room service for dinner. Well, when we got back to the room, we checked the room service menu and they stopped serving at 9:00! Not only did room service stop, but even the restaurant/bar in the hotel closed at 9:00. Now, I know we are spoiled New Yorkers, who can get just about anything we want at any hour of the day that we want it, but COME ON. 9:00? That's just madness.

So, with no room service option, we decided we might as well have our swim anyway and then figure out what to eat afterwards. When we got up to the pool, we discovered that the doorknob on the door to the pool was broken. As in, Eric tried to turn it, and ended up holding it in his hand. It took us a few minutes to figure out how to rig the handle back onto the door and get it turned so we could get out there, but we did it...only to find a pool overrun with splashing kids, and no available clean towels. Since this would not be the relaxing swim we hoped for, we scratched that plan and went back to the room to figure out food.

Eric picked up some menus from the front desk for nearby places to order from, and we decided to order from some place that had a coupon for two wraps, an order of chicken wings and 2-liter of pop for $17 or some such thing. We placed our order around 10:00, and were told it would take 45 minutes. 45 MINUTES! Awful.

45 minutes later, the restaurant called to say they were out of one of the types of wraps we ordered. YOU WAITED 45 MINUTES TO FIGURE THAT OUT?! Whatever, we told them to just give us two of the same. Half an hour later, the food finally showed up - without the wings, which they forgot. AWFUL. By that time we were too starved to deal with it, so we just said forget it. We ate our wraps and went to bed, hoping for better luck the next day.

And not to worry, our sightseeing day was great! We started our day by picking up our timed tickets for Independence Hall at the Visitor Center, then browsed the gift shop for a bit. We got right in for the first Independence Hall tour, which was probably my favorite part of Philly. We saw both the Assembly Hall and the Supreme Court Room, and our guide was very informative. There is just something so incredible about standing in a place where such great men stood as they accomplished such great things.

Looking up at Independence Hall

The Supreme Court Room

Our guide telling us about the colonists tearing down the King's Coat of Arms, dragging it through town and burning it after the Declaration was signed!

Assembly Hall, where both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were drafted and signed

Just, you know, hanging out in a fancy room.

With Independence Hall behind us
(We were bummed there was scaffolding over the top of it, but how cute is it that they painted the scaffolding to look like the actual building?)

We finished up in Independence Hall just in time to catch a tour of Congress Hall, which served as the United States Capitol and housed the original chambers of the House of Representatives and the Senate (the Senate was upstairs, hence, the "upper chamber"). Both Presidents Washington (for his second term) and Adams were inaugurated here.

The seat for the Speaker of the House, which was a much less prestigious position back in those days.

House of Representatives Chamber

Senate Chamber

More of the Senate Chamber...some of the chairs/desks are replicas and some are originals, but you can't tell which is which anymore!

From there we walked across the street to see the Liberty Bell. It was crowded, but free, and the long line for entry moved quickly. Pretty cool sight!

"Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof..."

By the Liberty Bell

We had printed out a great free walking tour online (it can be found here, if you're interested), so we just loosely followed that for the rest of our historic sightseeing. We skipped a lot of things, but it was very helpful in figuring out what we most wanted to see and the most efficient way to do so.

After the Liberty Bell we made our way to Franklin Court, passing the Signer Statue and the Second Bank of the United States on the way.

The Signer

Second Bank of the United States

Franklin Court was pretty interesting. Actually, we first saw the B. Free Franklin Post Office, the only colonial-themed post office operated by the U.S. Postal Service. It is also the only post office in the U.S. that does not fly the American Flag, because in Ben Franklin's day, such a flag did not yet exist. There was also a print shop in the same row. From there we walked through an alley Ben Franklin himself once passed through, to the grounds where his house once stood. Although the house is no longer there, a "Ghost House" depicting the house frame is there, and there are quotes from letters between Franklin and his wife about the house's construction all around the grounds. Eric had just finished reading Ben Franklin's autobiography, so he thought this was all pretty neat.

Ben Franklin row houses, containing the post office and printing shop.That alley in the middle is what we walked through to get to the Ghost House.

Apparently, there's space to rent. Talk to B. Franklin about that.

Ghost House structure

Eric on the grounds of Ben Franklin's old digs

From there it was on to Betsy Ross House (which we did not go into), and then on to Christ Church, where Benjamin Franklin, Absalom Jones, Robert Morris, Betsy Ross, Benjamin Rush and George Washington all worshipped.

Betsy Ross House

Inside Christ Church

A portion of the Book of Common Prayer in Christ Church, showing sections referencing the Royal Family that were crossed out after the Declaration was signed

We then went to the Christ Church Burial Ground, the final resting place for seven signers of the Declaration of Independence, including Benjamin Franklin.

Christ Church Burial Ground

Grave of Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence and father of American psychiatry

I loved this epitaph written by Franklin and placed near his grave, although it was not meant to be used.

The grave of Ben Franklin (covered in pennies!)

We ended our historical tour with a stop at Declaration House, where Thomas Jefferson lived when he wrote the Declaration of Independence. At that time, the house (Graff House) was on the outskirts of town, and Jefferson chose to stay there because beyond the house, there were fields of nothing and he could feel like he had escaped from the hot, sticky city (as you can tell from the photo, that is no longer the case today!). The rooms upstairs have been restored to look as they may have looked when Jefferson lived there.

Declaration (Graff) House

Restoration of Jefferson's bedroom

From there, we walked over towards City Hall and JFK Plaza to see the famous LOVE statue.

City Hall

Philly LOVE

We then hopped on the subway system (SEPTA, it's called there, I think) and made our way out to Citizens Bank Park for a Phillies game - baseball stadium #15 for Eric! Halfway through the list!

Before heading into Citizens Bank Park

Inside the stadium

Views from an upper level

By the Liberty Bell in the outfield

We had standing room only tickets, so no actual seats for us. Instead of having a seat and enjoying the game, we spent some time exploring the stadium and then got some food: a cheesesteak from Campo's, and some Chickie's and Pete's Crab Fries. Yum!

Phillies lunch

It was super crowded, so much so that we couldn't really find a good spot to pull up on a railing and watch the game, so we didn't stay to watch too long. But, we did get a taste of the stadium and crossed it off the list!

View from the outfield

This is actually at the Visitor Center, not the stadium but hey, it works.

Because we left the game early, we made it back to the Historic District in time for a quick stop at the National Constitution Center. We got there about 45 minutes before closing time, which meant admission was half price - score! And we had just enough time to view the main exhibit (no photos allowed in there) and Signers' Hall, where life-size statues of signers of the Constitution fill the room (and make for fun photo ops!).

The Constitution Center

Signers' Hall

Please, step right this way and sign the Constitution!

Eric with Ben Franklin and me with George Washington

After the Constitution Center we considered trying dinner at City Tavern again before heading out, but we were so hot and tired, we decided to just hit the road. We retrieved our luggage and rental car from our hotel, then made the two-hour drive back to Hoboken.

Back in Jersey!

Ah, there's that beautiful skyline. Home sweet home!

And that's it! Another fun trip (and our second road trip of the summer) for the books!

In case you want more travel-related stuff, I am planning to put all of our trip pictures on my photo share site soon, so look for more pictures there. And of course, I will put links to all my photos and posts about our Pennsylvania Road Trip on the Travels page of this blog.

Stay tuned to see where the summer leads us next!


Meghan said...

I've always wanted to go to Philly! I'm a history teacher, so I LOVE what Philly has to offer. It looks like you had an amazing time. I love your Rocky pics!

moderndaywife said...

Looks really awesome!! I would love to visit there :-)

Dad said...

You know Mrs Waters, you can never know when wisdom like the bear protection system will come in handy! Don't scoff!

KT @ KT's Refinishing School said...

I love all the historical stuff you guys got to see while you were there!

I am a big history buff but as far as the Northeast goes, have only made it to DC so far. I hope to make it Philadelphia (and Boston and New York) some day soon :)