Visit Philly provided airfare, lodging and a VIP media pass. Excitement and photos were all our own doing.
My youngest, 15, and I were recently in Philadelphia, PA, and it was a visit filled with activities but also family memories. You see, my mother’s side of the family was raised in Pennsylvania. My dad emigrated to Pittsburgh from Spain when he was only 17 years old. My Spanish abuelita used to come visit and, at some point, my dad took her to see Philadelphia. She loved it so much that she would go on and on about it when I was a kid. I enjoyed looking at her pictures next to the Liberty Bell. I have wanted to see it in person ever since. Now I have my own picture too, although the bell was long moved from the original location.
There is just so much to see and enjoy in Philadelphia that we could not possibly do it all in three days, but we thoroughly enjoyed what we got to see. Because this was our first mother-daughter trip that was not work-related, I pretty much let Alexia pick the places we’d spend time at. We really had no preconceived plan, which was a treat, and we let our instincts guide us. Best decision ever!
So a fun anecdote happened at the John F. Kennedy Plaza, better known as Love Park. There were so many people trying to take a photo with the LOVE sign that, instead, Alexia and I walked over to the new “I love Philly” sign and took a couple of photos of me in yoga poses. A couple who was taking acro yoga photos came up and asked whether I’d like to be a part of a fun project. And this is how I ended up in an acro mermaid pose, with Rob Li, who has the goal of lifting 10,000 people in the air, and has been featured in PhillyMag. I was number 5,102!
As proud mom of LGBTQ kiddos, we could not miss the Gayborhood, which we both loved. From the rainbow crosswalks and street signs to restaurants and bars owned by and catering to LGBTQ-identified patrons, it felt great to be there.
Philadelphia was the first city in the US to openly to launch a major marketing campaign o welcome LGBTQ tourism (“Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay”). The city is a melting pot of cultural, culinary, artistic and ethnic diversity. We had just missed the annual pride celebration, but were happy to see that there is pride representation year-round.
The Franklin Institute
We were actually on our way to the zoo when we came across The Franklin Institute. My daughter is a science lover, so we enjoyed a show in the planetarium and also got to look through the telescope on the top floor. Foucault’s pendulum was a winner with her too.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
We spent a few hours here, as Alexia is an avid artist as well. We each had our favorite sections. Mine was the Asian art section and also European Art. One of the super cool things about this museum is that it has architecture incorporated into the exhibitions, so it seems like you’re actually in the location or time period depicted. Alexia really enjoyed the impressionists. She was ecstatic to see original Van Gogh pieces. As for me, that section took me back to my own childhood, when my abuelo, a painter and writer, would take me to art museums in Spain. Thanks to that I could recognize Toulouse Lautrec, Joaquín Sorolla, Cezanne and so many others. Alexia was impressed.
Rocky Steps & Statue
So, if you are going to visit the Rocky steps and statue, know that you may have to wait in line! We did not wait, but then we took pictures after we were done with the Art Museum. It was the end of the day, and tourist buses were done with the spot. Of course we ran up the steps and recreated the iconic scene with Sylvester Stallone. I was 14 when the original Rocky movie was released and Stallone was my first actor crush. Alexia and I go boxing twice a week, so yeah, we enjoyed this little tourist act!
We spent an entire morning at the zoo, and really enjoyed it. A zoo-keeper told us all about their breeding programs and that really made Alexia feel good about the place. Philadelphia zoo has different Save Wildlife programs, to protect species such as orangutans and amphibians. We met an orangutan who had just turned 18, like Alexia´s older sister Chloe, who is now traveling the world (more about her travels in upcoming blog posts). Alexia´s favorite thing about the zoo were the different habitats provided for the animals, and the reptile area. She is actually looking into adopting a bearded dragon, although not from the zoo of course!
Old City Historic District
Old City is a must! We were close to missing out due to evening summer storms, but we took a ride from the zoo before it poured. Coming from Florida, we´re used to summer rain, so we were prepared with umbrellas and a rain jacket. We walked for a while around this quaint and beautiful area, which includes Independence Hall, and Liberty Bell Center. There are also many restaurants, and the Water Front is not to be missed. This is an area that we definitely feel we should revisit!
Liberty Bell Center
I just had to go and take a photo in honor of my abuelita! It is free to see the Liberty Bell, but you do have to wait in line and go through security in order to enter the building. There is an indoor exhibit that details the entire history of the Liberty Bell, along with the Women´s Rights movement and the Civil Rights movement. As you can see, I got my photo!
Spruce Street Harbor Park
It was great to chill on the hammocks after our walk in the zoo and Old City! We got to take some photos before the downpour that ensued. It´s truly a colorful waterfront area with places to eat and drink craft brews (there is a beer garden). If you love boardwalks, this is the place for you! There are also games for the public, like bocce and shuffleboard. You can also just hang out, relax and enjoy the sunset.
Independence Seaport Museum
To be quite honest, we didn´t plan on visiting this museum, but we ended up in it when we shielded ourselves from a summer storm. It ended up being a great visit. The best part was that we were able to see the Olympia, the nation’s oldest floating steel warship (1892). Interestingly, it was at war in the Spanish-American war in Manila Bay (both my daughter and I are Spanish-American). More fascinating still was the Becuma, a classic World War II submarine that fought battles in the South Pacific.