Philadelphia weekend ideas that are easy on the wallet..
February 10, 2015 10:10 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend and I are spending Valentine's Day weekend in Philly. What are some good places to check out that's fairly cheap? More details below.

I've visited Philly countless times in the past and I feel I'm still new to the city. I know my way around Fish Town and Old City but I've never really explored the other neighborhoods. We're staying at a place in near Fairmount and we're planning to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We're both artists and appreciate live music and anything artistic. I've been doing some research on some galleries to visit and figured I'd get some recommendations from you fine people. I've been to South St. in Center City and absolutely love it. I think that type of atmosphere is fitting for both of us. We also don't really drink that much and we're not a fan of those typical bar/restaurant types. I'd love to take her to some interesting places. We love all different types of cuisine.

We plan to explore on our own but with the cold weather I think it'd be helpful to have things planned out.

Thank you very much!
posted by morning_television to Travel & Transportation around Philadelphia, PA (14 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
By a shocking coincidence, I'll be in Philadelphia on that same weekend. I've been to Philly before a time or two, though, so I can speak to what I've done/what I'm thinking of doing.

* It wasn't apparent to me at first, but I just learned that your admission to the Art Museum is actually good for two days' worth of admission to four art museums - the main museum, the Perelman Building, which looks like it has a lot of their contemporary works; the Rodin Museum; and some historic houses which look like they're closed for the winter. Being able to hit up three different museums in 2 days on one ticket is a bit of a boon. (Even better - it's a holiday weekend, so they'll all be open on Presidents' Day.)

* I'm actually thinking of checking out City Tavern myself - cuisine inspired by "What Benjamin Franklin Would have Eaten". It may be a bit on the stodgy side, but from checking out the site, it looks like those dudes knew how to do dessert, so maybe a splurge on dessert wouldn't be a bad idea. (They look like they have a special Valentines' Day menu, but that may be a special event thing and may be spendy.) You'll be really near all the Independence Hall stuff there, which is all free - although maybe a little too history-heavy for what you're after. Although, Elfreth's Alley may be a pretty stroll. (Ignore what it says about being closed - that's referring to the museum, the street itself should be open because, well, it's a STREET.)

* I thought the Mutter Museum was cool, and you'll probably get recommendations for that, but I don't know how big that is on the romance. The Mummers Museum may be a fun trip - I actually went there on a weekend getaway with an old boyfriend 20-odd years ago myself.

* Fairmont Park is flippin' gorgeous itself.

* Finally - I learned there is a brunch place two blocks away from where I'm staying that I'm going to visit just because it's got a cool name - Ants Pants Cafe. Ostensibly it is brunch "with an Australian accent". (Don't know what that means, never been there, just love the name.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:24 AM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Hey, you're in luck.
posted by supercres at 10:24 AM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, Ants Pants is great. Get the sweet potato fries, and the croque madame if you want to hear your arteries audibly protest.
posted by supercres at 10:27 AM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, another thing - the Barnes Collection is a huge collection of Impressionist works. (Be careful not to confuse it with the Barnes Arboretum which is a 2-hour train ride out of the city.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:28 AM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I guess it's not very romantic but Eastern State Penitentiary is really cool.
posted by something something at 10:29 AM on February 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Monk's Cafe. Belgian, so even if you don't drink (although their beers are the best in the world), the food is amazing.
posted by General Malaise at 10:37 AM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Have you visited the Magic Gardens yet? There is a special Valentine's-themed couples' tour. There's a storm forecast for Saturday, though, so you might want to plan something more indoors.
posted by gladly at 10:39 AM on February 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Uwishunu is a philly specific site about things to do in the upcoming days. Check it out closer to the weekend.

If you want to go to the Barnes Museum, reserve tickets ahead of time. The Barnes Arboretum is closed for the season (reopens in may).

If you want to go to monks, go early. It will be packed at dinner time and the rest of the night.

Even though its chilly out, check out Capogiro awesome gelato, several locations in the city. Try many flavors before picking your 2(or more) favorites.
posted by TheAdamist at 10:41 AM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's not a gallery per se but they do have a small museum, and the interior spaces of the Grand Lodge of Masons of Pennsylvania have to be seen to be believed.
posted by usonian at 10:45 AM on February 10, 2015

One last note about the stuff in Independence Hall - because it's all federally-operated (it's a national historic park), a lot of the stuff there is gonna be free. You may have a museum or two that have an admission charge, but the big stuff (Liberty Bell, the Declaration of Independence, stuff like that) will probably be free.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:58 AM on February 10, 2015

Seconding the Barnes, though it's not a particularly cheap outing, unfortunately. (Well, not to me, but I tend to get the vapours at the thought of paying for museum admission, so YMMV. It is definitely worth every penny, though!)

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is also very cool.

I lived in Fairmount for awhile (and as it is, don't live too far away) -- it tends to be traditional neighborhood bars, but they're friendly and kinda neat, so at least consider poking your head in, I guess? Bishop's Collar is a great neighborhood bar with good food and an awesome beer selection. OCF is a neat little restaurant/cafe place, with a small but lovely menu, and it's right across the street from Eastern State.

If it's not too bitter and you have time, I recommend just walking around some of the more gorgeous streets -- Delancey Place and Camac Street are my favorites.
posted by kalimac at 11:03 AM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

(Be careful not to confuse it with the Barnes Arboretum which is a 2-hour train ride out of the city.)

It's more like 20+ minutes, but yes, the Museum is now on the parkway while the Arboretum remains in Merion.

More importantly, you can't stay in Fairmount and not visit Eastern State, mentioned above. It's really the best historical attraction in Philly.
posted by The Michael The at 11:04 AM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you want something to chill out and relax after that Art Museum.
Stroll by Chris Jazz Cafe/Time on Sansom st for a $20 show. If you wanted classical, stop by the curtis music recital on locust street for free
World cafe live by 30th street hasn't disappointed me in live music and is the perfect spot for a dinner and a show. You have a risque or acoustic guitar show to check out.

Also I have been meaning to check out Art of brick in Franklin Museum and would be great if you are both lego fanatics
posted by radsqd at 12:53 PM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Coming back in to ENTHUSIASTICALLY AND HYPERVENTILATINGLY recommend Ants Pants Cafe. It is Saturday the 14th, and I just had their pancakes - pancakes which had CHOCOLATE BROWNIE BATTER swirled in, and studded with whole slices of fresh strawberry.

I also stumbled on the Philadelphia Magic Gardens, an apartment building and courtyard covered with a mosaicmaker's work run amok. It's only 7 bucks per person and was a neat diversion.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:38 AM on February 14, 2015

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