10 Reasons to Spend a Weekend in Philadelphia

Growing up outside of Pittsburgh, I knew Philadelphia as a city rich with American history and home to rival sports teams (#GoSteelers!).

It wasn’t until I moved to New York that I started spending weekends in Philadelphia, first for races and then because I enjoyed the city so much I wanted to explore more of it.

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Every time I head to Philly, I have such a blast. The city itself is fascinating- in some ways, it’s like stepping back in time, yet, in other ways, it feels like a modern, big city.

There’s no shortage of things to do during a weekend visit. Whether you’re near Philadelphia or traveling from across the country, there’s enough to see to ensure a visit packed with fun and adventure.

10 Reasons to Spend a Weekend in Philadelphia

The Liberty Bell

How could you not visit the Liberty Bell? The symbol of freedom and love is a popular attraction, so come early when it opens at 9 am if you want to experience it without the crowds.

While you’re at the Liberty Bell, check out nearby Independence Hall, where the bell once hung and where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Entrance to Independence Hall is free, but you’ll need to get a ticket to enter from the Independence Visitor Center near the Liberty Bell.

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City Hall & The Reading Terminal Market

Philadelphia’s City Hall is the largest municipal building in the US. It’s located downtown near the LOVE Sculpture and Reading Terminal Market. If you want to grab a great shot of it, head to the middle of Broad Street, near Union League.

And while you’re in the area, pop in the Reading Terminal Market for dozens of food and drink vendors serving up everything from oysters to fresh fried doughnuts to alligator to chocolate covered bananas. With some many options, it’s hard not to be tempted to grab something to eat, so come hungry.

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Elfreth’s Alley

Located in Old City, Elfreth’s Alley is the oldest residential street in America. It’s so darling- you’ll enjoy strolling up and down the alley, paying homage to America’s early days. Current residents take a lot of pride in keeping the fronts of their homes beautiful, so be sure to snag a few picture-perfect shots for Insta.

Another slice of history nearby, The Betsy Ross House, is where flag-maker Betsy Ross lived when she sewed the American Flag.

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Philadelphia Museum of Art

It’s easy to spend a morning or afternoon at the museum, there’s always something new to see, and it’s rated as one of the best in the US. Personally, I love the Impressionist art collection.

And, if you’re Rocky fan, this is where he ran up the famed 72 stone steps.

Phillies Game

Even though I’m a Pirates fan, coming to this stadium for a game on one of my visits to Philly was a lot of fun. The views from the stadium are beautiful, especially at sunset.

The stadium was also voted “best ballpark eats” by the Food Network and is known for great vegetarian options. If you’re going there to see a game, make sure you grab some of the famed eats- highly reco Chickie & Pete’s Crabfries, the 5-layer chocolate cake from Harry the K’s, and shakes from Turkey Hill Creamery. And, if you’re a cheesesteak fan, you can try two other city favorites here- Tony Luke’s and Campos.

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Philadelphia Magic Gardens

Hands down, one of my favorite things I’ve done in Philadelphia. If you’ve never been to the Magic Gardens in Philadelphia, it may be hard to envision an outdoor art installation that’s as spectacular as a mosaic sculpture that spans a half block. The space, designed by local artist Isaiah Zagar, is constructed out of glass tiles, wine bottles, ceramics and hundreds of knick-knacks.

Walking into the garden is like entering a painting, it’s truly a stunning epitomization of this quote: “Art is making something out of nothing.”

The gardens span three city lots, which is completely covered in mosaic art. The experience is definitely worth the entry fee, but reserve your tickets in advance if you don’t want to wait to get in.

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South Street

Known as one of Philadelphia’s most eclectic, cultural and lively neighborhoods, South Street is packed with shops, restaurants, bars and cafes.

PS. While you’re wandering South Street, you’ll notice the mosaics from the Magic Gardens pop up in different parts of the area.

Boathouse Row

Just west of the art museum, you’ll find a row of 19th-century boathouses. Many of the races I’ve run include Boathouse Row on their course, and I’ve gotta say- it’s a great place for a late morning or afternoon stroll. Scenic, and a nice short break from the city.

Mural Mile

Whenever I visit a new city, I love checking out the local street art vibes. I’ll admit I was surprised by some of Philadelphia’s urban art, seeing it so near perfectly preserved parts of history and cobblestone streets is an awesome juxtaposition.

If you have time on your visit, do a self-guided walking tour of Mural Mile.

Eastern State Penitentiary

For the same reasons I thought visiting Alcatraz would be interesting, I wanted to visit the Eastern State Penitentiary. The audio guide does a great job of explaining the penitentiary’s haunting history. And, at $14 a ticket, it’s a pretty affordable way to spend an afternoon.

Pro-tip: The penitentiary offers haunted tours during Halloween season, and while I haven’t been to Terror Behind the Walls, the reviews are great.

Bonus: Ben Franklin Bridge

In my opinion, the bridge is the best place to watch a sunset. On one side, you’ve got Philadelphia and on the other side, New Jersey. If you haven’t rented a car, I’d recommend taking an Uber across the bridge to Jersey and walking back across the bridge into the city.

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Favorite Places to Eat & Drink In Philly

Eat

  • Spread Bagelry (Center City): Chewy and dense bagels topped with creamy spread
  • Green Eggs Cafe (Multiple Locations): I can’t say enough good things about this place, it’s one of the best brunches I’ve had. The red velvet pancakes are incredible, the french toast variations are phenom, and the 3-egg omelets are chock full of ingredients. If you come with several people, you can easily share a few dishes- the portion sizes are huuuuge. Be prepared for a wait if you come during prime brunch time. If you’re in a rush, you can also ask to take-out- we did this once and the food was just as good as eating in the restaurant
  • Honey’s Sit ‘n Eat (Multiple Locations): Another super solid brunch option. It’s BYOB, but they have fresh OJ in case you’re in the mood for mimosas. Everything I’ve had here has been great, but my go-to’s are usually: vegetable omelet and homefries, breakfast bomb burrito, seasonal french toast, and the mac ‘n cheese pancake. The mac ‘n cheese pancake isn’t always on the menu per se, but if you ask nicely, they’ll likely make it for you 🙂
  • Federal Donuts (Multiple Locations): Does it get any better than fresh hot doughnuts? When you come, try a combination of the special ones and hot sugar ones (big fan of the strawberry and lavendar ones). Federal is also known for their fried chicken, and although I’m a vegetarian, I’ve heard ordering a hot donut and their fried chicken is life-changing
  • Bud & Marilyn’s (Washington Square West): Y’all. The cheese curds here are the best I’ve had outside of the midwest, do not miss out on ordering them. Also, the three-layer funfetti cake is a must if you’ve got a sweet tooth
  • honeygrow (Multiple Locations): If you’re familiar with the sweetgreen chain, you’ll be hooked on honeygrow. Awesome salads and stir-fry, a great healthy on-the-go option for lunch in the city
  • Jones (Center City): Classic comfort food. Would reco the grilled cheese and tomato soup
  • V. Street (Center City): Sister restaurant to Vedge, it’s a vegetarian dream come true. Even if you’re a carnivore, you won’t be disappointed. And, the menu changes seasonally, so there’s always something new to try
  • Noord (East Pussyunk): I have a soft spot for Nordic cuisine, so when I heard a new Northern European restaurant opened in Philly, I was instantly intrigued. Great food and great service, always one of the places I send people if they’re visiting Philadelphia for the weekend
  • Blackbird Pizzeria (Washington Square West): Vegetarian and vegan pizza. #PraiseHands
  • Butcher and Singer (Center City West): Dinner here my be a splurge, but it’s well worth it. It’s your typical steakhouse fare done really well. Standouts: the crab cake, stuffed potato, Caesar salad with shrimp, baked Alaska and Manhattan. & If you eat steak, definitely order that as well 😉
  • Geno’s Steaks & Pat’s Kings of Steaks: Unless you’re a vegetarian like me, you can’t go to Philly without trying a cheesesteak, and these places are two of the most popular
  • Franklin Fountain (Center City): Known for their homemade ice cream and giant sundaes, it’s easy to see why this place has been ranked one of the best ice cream shops in America. The ice cream flavors are delicious, and they’re generous with toppings
  • Big Gay Ice Cream (Avenue of the Arts): So happy my favorite NY soft serve place has made it to Philly. Their cones are simple, yet elevated- the Salty Pimp will always have a soft spot in my heart

Drink

  • Philadelphia Brewing Company (North Philadelphia): Free tours and tastings on Saturdays from 12-3, a good activity if you want to extend brunch fun into the afternoon
  • The Franklin Bar (City Center): Speakeasy-esque, the cocktail menu covers a wide range of drinks with classics and unique offerings
  • Ranstead Room (City Center): Another speakeasy with great drinks, music and vibes
  • Morgan’s Pier (Northern Liberties): A late spring-early fall necessity, enjoy great views of the water and Ben Franklin bridge while relaxing with a drink
  • The Plough & The Stars (Center City): Traditional Irish pub fare and a lively scene late at night
  • Good Dog Bar & Restaurant (Rittenhouse Square): One of my happy hour go-to’s whenever I’m in the city, reasonably priced drinks and a solid tap list
  • Locust Rendevous (Avenue of the Arts): Quintessential dive bar. Cheap drinks, including a new beer & shot special every week

Have Coffee

  • Elixr Coffee (Rittenhouse Square): My favorite coffee shop in Philly, the cold brew is solid and the work space is warm and inviting (plus, free wifi and plenty of outlets!)
  • La Colombe (Multiple Locations): The best coffee in Philadelphia, hands down. La Colombe is one of my favorite places to go for a pick-me-up in New York, I’m a huge fan of the cold brew and draft lattes. Order a black and tan (half cold brew and half draft latte) for a special treat
  • Bluestone Lane Cafe (Rittenhouse Square): Another one of my NYC faves I’m glad to see in Philly. Start your day in the city here with an avocado smash and iced coffee
  • Menangerie Coffee (Center City): Stellar cold brew
  • Plenty Cafe (Rittenhouse Square): Awesome coffee and tasty sandwiches. Great for a late morning meal, especially if you need an outlet to plug into for work
  • Good Karma (Washington Square West): Bottomless coffee for $3 and free wifi, what more do you need?

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EXTRA KNOW BEFORE YOU GO INFO

  • Where to Stay: I usually stay with friends when I’m visiting Philadelphia, but there are a bunch of hotels downtown, making it easy to walk to most of the major attractions. If you’re looking for a deal, I’d use a site like Hipmunk (or Hotel Tonight if your visit is an impromptu one) to score a deal
  • How to Get Around: The city is very walkable- just wear comfortable shoes. If you’re tired of walking and don’t feel like taking SEPTA (subway) or a bus, Uber/Uber Pool is another great option

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10 Of My Favorite US Cities

With a move to London on the horizon, I’m growing increasingly excited to live in another country and see as much of the UK and Europe as possible during my time there.

I’ve done a lot traveling around the US the past few years, and will definitely miss the breadth and diversity of cities across the country. I say it all the time, but travel doesn’t have to be expensive or far flung- so many places in America are the perfect (affordable!) destinations for a long weekend.

10 Of My Favorite US Cities

Seattle

When I hear the “Emerald City,” a few things come to mind: Quirky music and art, the great outdoors, first-rate local produce, and, of course, adventure. Every time I visit Seattle, I’m reminded of how eclectic of a city it is.

Having visited the Pacific Northwest many times, I’ve had the chance to explore a lot of Seattle’s neighborhoods, and because I know a lot of people automatically think “Space Needle” whenever they hear “Seattle,” I’ve put together a list of my favorite places to go in the city, as well as my must-sees for Pike Place Market.

Between the food, the music and the shops, you can’t go wrong spending a few days in Seattle. And, it’s close enough to Portland, Victoria, B.C., and Vancouver to warrant spending more than a weekend in this part of the country.

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Los Angeles

Every time I visit the Golden State, I fall a little bit more in love with the land of laid back. It’s a refreshing break from the East Coast- palm trees, sunshine and warm weather year-round, what more could you ask for?

Contrary to what many people may think, LA is not just Hollywood. During most of my trips to LA, I’ve stayed in Santa Monica or Venice to get my fill of beach vibes. And, if you head outside of the main areas, Malibu, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree State Park, and even Disneyland are great places to kickback and unwind while soaking up some sunshine.

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Austin

I haven’t written about Austin yet for this blog, but after living there for a few months a couple of years ago, I fell hard for the city. Known as the live music capital of the world, Austin is all about seriously good eats, strong drinks, great beats and being outside. It’s the only place I’ve ever been where people applaud sunsets.

One of the best parts about Austin? It’s compact enough to see and do a ton of stuff during the shortest of trips. I’m planning on spending a few days here as part of a visit back to the US in early March. Already excited to discover how much the city has changed since I’ve been there, and revisit a few of my favorite spots.

NYC

After calling New York City home for over six years, it’s really tough for me to imagine settling down anywhere else. Even though I (and many New Yorkers) have a serious love-hate relationship with the city, it’s a place brimming with energy morning, noon and night- you can’t help but feel so alive when you’re here.

Aside from never-ending options of things to do, I also love how walkable New York is, and even though I complain about subway delays, the public transit system really is top notch. There’s no question this city is somewhere everyone should visit at least once in their life.

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Miami

In Florida, they salt margaritas not sidewalks. My first time in Miami was during a particularly brutal February in the northeast, but it’s the perfect escape any time of the year.

With stunning beaches, a bustling art scene, great food and nightlife, and some seriously cool art deco architecture, there’s no shortage of things to do in Miami. And, because I know a lot of people think of the South Beach party scene when Miami comes up, I haven’t spent much time there, and have still loved every trip I’ve taken to the city. Although, I love a good night out, I’ve spent more time in Wynwood, Little Havana and Key Biscayne.

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Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World conjures up images of kids in strollers, characters roaming the parks and a lot of mouse shaped things. And, sure enough, as soon as you walk into the parks, you feel like a kid again- you’re excited to get your picture taken with Pluto, wait in line for Space Mountain, and buy a pair of sparkly mouse ears because, magic.

Disney may be extra special for kids, but I’ve come to appreciate it more as an adult through vacations and runDisney events. One of the best parts of visiting Disney as an adult? Seeking out the best spots to grab a drink when you need a break from the magic madness.

Whatever your reasons for visiting Disney, you have to appreciate the attention to detail everywhere from the resorts to the parks- it’s truly astounding. And yes, I recognize Disney isn’t technically a city, but it sure is big enough with enough to do to warrant a spot on this list.

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New Orleans

New Orleans is a city bursting at the seams with Caribbean vibes and Cajun attitude.

In Nola, it’s all about the details. Strings of beads are draped on cast-iron balconies year-round, an assortment of cultures, and live music bring Bourbon Street to life. There’s savory beignets for breakfast and steamed crawfish for dinner. It’s the perfect place to spend a long weekend.

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Charleston

Charleston is the epitome of Southern charm. Quaint streets lined with sprawling, pastel homes and palm trees. Some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. And, seriously good eats.

After spending a long weekend in downtown Charleston, I realized nothing is truer than this statement: north is a direction, south is a lifestyle.

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San Francisco & Napa and Sonoma

San Francisco is the kind of city that never gets old, no matter how many times you visit, because there’s always something new to do or explore. Having been to San Francisco a few times, I have my go-to recos for things to do or see, but also have a slew of things I still want to do on return trips.

Located on a peninsula surrounded by water, San Francisco’s climate is mild year-round, although summers tend to be on the cool side. If the weather is a bit chilly during your visit, and you’re in the mood for warmer temps, plus some wine, head an hour north to Napa and Sonoma.

My first visit to wine country felt intimidating- so many wineries! According to Lonely Planet, there are over 600 wineries in Napa and Sonoma Counties. But it’s quality, not quantity, that sets the region apart – especially in Napa, which competes with France and doubles as an outpost of San Francisco’s top-end culinary scene. Sonoma prides itself on agricultural diversity, with you-pick-em orchards and roadside fruit stands.

Fortunately, one of my girlfriends has grown to love wine as much as me, and every year we plan a weekend back to the region. Rolling hills, blue skies and vineyards as far as the eye can see make California’s wine country a relaxing and fun weekend getaway.

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Portland

If you like to shop and eat, Portland is the town for you. Usually, when I’m in the PNW, it’s to visit Seattle, so I haven’t spent as much time in Portland as I’d like. If you’re visiting for the weekend, get ready for days filled with walking all over the city, popping into shops and eating and drinking all of the delicious things.

And, like in Seattle, just outside the city, there are a lot of outdoorsy activities to do, including hiking the Oneota Gorge. Off I-84 near Mulnomah Falls outside of Portland, Oregon, the Oneonta Gorge is one of those bucket list natural wonders- you kind of have to see it to believe it.

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Chicago

The third largest city in the US (by population) is known by a multitude of nicknames- The Windy City, the Second City, the City of Broad Shoulders- and for good reason. There’s a lot to do in Chicago, from cultural gems like the Art Institute to exploring the city’s booming food scene.

If you’re only visiting for a weekend, it’s impossible to do everything, but there are some things that shouldn’t be skipped over. It’s been a while since I’ve been to Chicago, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to spend a few days becoming reacquainted with the city on a return trip to the US- already excited to revisit a few of my favorite places and check out some new restaurants and bars that have popped.

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Honorable Mentions to: Denver, Savannah, Pittsburgh and San Diego.

On my list of cities to visit on return trips to the US over the next few years?

  • St. George, Utah
  • Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Marfa, Texas
  • Billings, Montana (aka Big Sky Country)
  • Portland, Maine
  • Nashville, TN (I’ve only been there once for a conference)
  • Oahu, Hawaii

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#Take12Trips: November

Paraphrasing one of my favorite quotes- the bad news is time flies, but the good news is you’re in charge. I feel like yesterday was just October 31, I can’t believe it’s already the last day of November!

Before I talk about this month’s travel, I do want to acknowledge this was a tough month for a lot of people in the United States, and around the world. I won’t say much about the election, but for anyone else that struggled in the days and weeks following, please remember how you felt that week. Remember what you experienced. Don’t allow the pressures and stress of the day-to-day cause you to forget the emotion of the aftermath. There’s a lot of work to be done, please don’t be a bystander.

I’m still trying to figure out how I can do more, help more, while being so far away next year. For now, I’ve set up monthly donations to organizations I believe are going to need support beyond measure in coming months- ACLU, Planned Parenthood, NAACP and HRC. If you’re hurting, I hope you find a way, however that may be, to help as well.

Back to my #Take12Trips update 🙂 

This month was a bit of a whirlwind with a last minute two-week trip to London, and surprise trip home to see my family for the Thanksgiving holiday. During the two weekends I was in the city, I checked a few more “Goodbye Tour” activities off my list- seeing the Statue of Liberty, going back to the Top of the Rock. And, kicked back with a few good cocktails at new spots in my ‘hood, as well as in Brooklyn one afternoon after a taco brunch.

Needless to say, I’m happy to be back in New York for a few weekends. Looking forward to enjoying the holiday spirit that’s so alive in the city during this time of the year, and starting to plan some great adventures for next year.

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Such a fan of ROKC, a new cocktail, oyster and ramen bar in Morningside Heights

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Always a soft spot in my heart for the doughnuts from Bread Ahead in London

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Tiki drinks at a great cocktail bar in Pittsburgh, Hidden Harbor

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No place like home

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Taco should be a verb 🙂 [Guero’s is THE best spot for tacos and queso in NYC, period.]

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Getting in the holiday spirit with tiki drinks at Super Power in Brooklyn

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WHAT IS #TAKE12TRIPS?

#Take12Trips is the only resolution I made this year- a promise to commit to doing something once a month. Anything counts- it can be dinner at a new place, visiting a new museum or spending the weekend at a cute B&B in the country. It doesn’t need to be an epic trip to a foreign country, just the chance to discover something new.

Where #Take12Trips has taken me thus far this year:

With only one month left in the year, I’ll be staying close to home in New York City, getting ready for a myriad of adventures in 2017.

  • December: Pittsburgh for the holidays

Are you planning any trips you’re excited about? Next month, I’ll share more about my plans for #Take12Trips in 2017 🙂

Weekend Getaway: Pittsburgh

“Pittsburgh. One of the most underrated cities in North America. People who’d never been there thought of it as a graveyard of abandoned steel mills, but it’s a beautiful city.” –Steven Burst

I’m never surprised when Pittsburgh makes headlines for being a great place to live or visit. But, I do feel a surge of pride every time I see Pittsburgh listed on an “up and coming” list of US travel destinations.

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The Steel City is small in comparison to larger metropolises, but home to some seriously great attractions, breweries, cocktail bars, and a nationally known culinary scene. Pittsburgh may have a reputation for being a blue-collar sports town, but there’s so much more that makes it an awesome place to spend a weekend.

 

Interesting Attractions

  • Ride the Monogahela Incline or Dusequense Incline for stunning city views
  • Shop the Strip District
  • Check out the city’s cool and quirky museums, a few of my favs:
    • The Mattress Factory: Very cool modern art museum. It’s a personal fav because Yayoi Kusama has a longstanding exhibition here
    • Andy Warhol Museum: This museum has been one of my favorites since high school. Most people associate Warhol with images of Campbell’s soup cans and Marilyn Monroe. The museum helps you appreciate the vastness of Warhol’s influence- he helped shape the entire way a generation thinks and views art
    • Carnegie Museum of Natural History: One of the world’s best dinosaur exhibits, plus a lot of other cool stuff
  • If you visit the Mattress Factory or Andy Warhol Museum and have extra time, stroll the cobblestoned sidewalks of the Mexican War District. While you’re in the area, don’t miss:
    • The Pittsburgh Poetry Houses, they’re nearby the Mattress Factory and a testament to the city’s support of the arts
    • Randyland, a vibrant public art display. You have to visit Randyland to fully appreciate the experience, but it’s one that’ll restore your faith in humanity. Randy, owner of the house, purchased his first building in the neighborhood on a credit card because he fell in love with the architecture, even though it was a rough area. When Randy first discovered the neighborhood, he noticed a lot of empty lots littered with garbage, so he started doing small art projects to clean up the area, which paved the way for Randyland
  • Spend an afternoon at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium or Phipps Conservatory 
    • If you’re visiting the city during the holiday season, Phipps puts on a beautiful winter light show in the botanic gardens
  • Catch a show or check out a gallery in the Cultural District
  • Go for a walk in Frick Park (dog friendly!) or explore some of the trails in Schenley Park
  • Catch a Pirates game at PNC Park (beautiful stadium & great eats)
  • If you’ve got time to explore, head over to Butler Street in Lawrenceville for great shopping, don’t miss Wildcard, No. 14 Boutique and Von Walter and Funk
  • Although touristy, the Just Ducky Tour is fun. As a native, I went on this tour a few years ago and loved it- you learn a lot about the city you wouldn’t find out otherwise

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Where to Eat

  • Pamela’s (Multiple Locations): There’s no better place to fuel up for the day than at Pamela’s, definitely order the crepe-style hotcakes and famous potatoes. Pro-tip: Go early to beat the crowds
  • DeLuca’s (Strip District): Talk to any local, and they’ll be quick to tell you whether they’re a Pamela’s or DeLuca’s person. I enjoy both, but DeLuca’s is my go-to for seasonal pancakes (cinnamon roll! pumpkin!) and big omelets or breakfast burritos
  • Primanti’s (Multiple Locations): Is anything more ‘Pittsburgh’ than Primanti’s? Huuuuge sandwiches stacked with fries and cole slaw, it doesn’t get much better than this
  • Church Brew Works (Lawrenceville): Solid brews, plus pierogi pizza #PraiseHands
  • Meat and Potatoes (Cultural District): Good gastropub, recommend trying the fried brussels sprouts and bone marrow
  • Kara (Strip District): Legit caribbean, dig the green curry vegetables and fish tacos
  • Nicky’s Thai Kitchen (North Side): The pad thai and crab rangoons get two thumbs up
  • Double Wide Grill (Southside): Fun place for Sunday brunch- delish bbq and comfort food
  • Mallorca (Southside): The place for paella and sangria in the ‘burgh
  • Eleven (Strip District): Phenom seafood. Don’t miss the banana cream pie for dessert
  • Burgatory (Waterworks): Boozy milkshakes and build your own burgers, basically the stuff ‘cheat days’ are made of
  • Smallman Street Deli (Squirrel Hill): Do yourself a favor and order a reuben with a side of matzo ball soup
  • Peace, Love and Little Donuts (Strip District): Y’all, these donuts are adorable, come in the cutest flavors, and are so delicious

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Where to Drink

  • Butcher and the Rye (Cultural District): Great food and over 600 types of whiskey, need I say more?
  • Tako (Cultural District): Next to Butcher in the Rye- great queso, tacos and fun margaritas
  • Hidden Harbor (Squirrel Hill): Revival tiki cocktails, what’s not to love?
  • Allegheny Wine Mixer (Lawrenceville): Fantastic wine and yummy snacks
  • Arsenal Cider House (Lawrenceville): So much cider goodness, try a few varieties- you won’t regret it
  • Acacia (Southside): Stellar cocktails in a beautiful space the midst of an area of town where dive bars riegn supreme
  • Bar Marco (Strip District): These guys know what they’re doing, tell the bartender what kind of drinks you like & they’ll whip up a custom creation
  • Penn Brewery (Troy Hill): Order the beer sampler & pierogies
  • Il Tetto (Cultural District): Beautiful rooftop beer garden atop Sienna Mercato
  • Wigle Whiskey (Strip District): Back in the day, Pittsburgh was the epicenter of American whiskey production. Wigle is trying to bring that tradition back, stop by for a tasting or tour
  • Smallman Gallery (Strip District): Good cocktails and local brews
  • Mad Mex (Multiple Locations): Looking for a killer happy hour? Come here for a round of ‘Big Azz’ margaritas ($7, 22 oz = win)
  • And, if you’re really up for a night up- go bar hopping on the Southside. Some of my usual go-to’s: Fat Head’s Saloon (great place to start your night if you want to have a hearty dinner with a pint), Local Bar & KitchenMario’s (dangerous long islands), Piper’s Pub, The Urban Tap, Bar 11 (entertaining would be putting it lightly) and Jack’s for last call

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Where to Have Coffee

Just Outside the City

  • Kennywood: Awesome amusement park, great mix of thrill rides and classic thrills. Great activity for a family visiting Pittsburgh
  • Frank Lloyd’s Falling Water: Falling Water is a house built between 1936 and 1939 over a waterfall in southwest Pennsylvania. Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s most famous architect, designed the house for his clients, the Kaufmann family. It instantly became famous, and today it is a National Historic Landmark

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EXTRA KNOW BEFORE YOU GO INFO

  • Where to Stay: I always stay with my parents or friends in the city when I’m home, but there are a slew of hotels downtown and near Station Square that would be great picks if you want to stay somewhere central
  • How to Get Around: The different parts of Pittsburgh are fairly walkable once you’re there, but you’ll need a car or Uber to get from place to place. Pittsburgh’s subway system, the T, has limited service in the city, and is best used for getting around downtown

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#Take12Trips: August

Much like June and July (sensing a trend, yet?), I stayed local. The truth is I don’t like traveling in the summer. It’s when cost to travel to most destinations is highest, in part because everyone travels at this time of the year.

Even though I stayed local this month, I had every intention of checking out a neighborhood I don’t spend much time in- ideally in Brooklyn or Jersey, but it just didn’t happen.

My sister visited one weekend, I flew home on another weekend to celebrate her birthday, and found myself craving slower days on the other weekends. September, October and November are going to be busy months for me with a few vacations, long weekend trips and holiday travel plans, so I’m enjoying the stillness of these last summer days.

Although I went to Pittsburgh in July, I never need an excuse to go home for a weekend. Every time I see Pittsburgh listed on an “up and coming” list of US travel destinations, I feel a surge of pride. The Steel City is small in comparison to larger metropolises, but home to some seriously great attractions, breweries, cocktail bars and nationally known culinary scene (hi, Primanti’s).

On this trip, we spent most of it celebrating my sister’s 21st birthday. But, I still managed to find time to revisit a few of my favorite places, as well as check out a couple spots I’ve heard good things about. I’m working on weekend getaway guide for top Pittsburgh recos, but until then, here are a few snaps from our weekend.

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WHAT IS #TAKE12TRIPS?

#Take12Trips is the only resolution I made this year- a promise to commit to doing something once a month. Anything counts- it can be dinner at a new place, visiting a new museum or spending the weekend at a cute B&B in the country. It doesn’t need to be an epic trip to a foreign country, just the chance to discover something new.

Where #Take12Trips has taken me thus far this year:

I haven’t fully planned my trips for the rest of the year, but this is the work-in-progress schedule:

  • September: Copenhagen for Labor Day Weekend & back to Europe at the end of the month for a trip to Amsterdam, Berlin and Munich
  • October: Paris in the beginning of the month & just booked a trip to Utah & Nevada for my birthday at the end of the month! Planning to do a mini-road trip and hike a few parks- Arches, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Valley of Fire.
  • November: Plans to run a race in Big Sur mid-month will likely take me to San Francisco for a weekend. I may also be spending Thanksgiving in Colombia
  • December: Pittsburgh for the holidays, and potentially Mexico City & LA for NYE

Are you planning any trips you’re excited about?

#Take12Trips: July

Can’t believe it’s already August! Even though I’m over the hot, humid, sticky weather, and excited for a fall filled with travel, I can’t believe how fast summer is flying by.

Like June, I stayed local for most of the month. Instead of leaving the city for the long holiday weekend in the beginning of July, I opted for day trips to new (to me) places like Dia: Beacon, and re-visited a few of my favorite spots, like Governors Island.

Mid-month, I flew home to Pittsburgh for a long weekend with my family. I’m usually only able to head to Pittsburgh a handful of times a year, so trips home feel pretty special.

Even though I was only home for a few days, it was a much needed reset. My parents have the perfect summer backyard- a pool, grill for bbq’ing, and plenty of comfy seating in the shade and sun. For most of the weekend, I stayed at the house- lounging around the backyard and spending time with my family.

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One night, my sister and I headed into the city to visit the Andy Warhol Museum. The museum has been one of my favorites since high school. I haven’t been to the museum in a few years, so it was cool to see how the exhibits have changed. Most people associate Warhol with images of Campbell’s soup cans and Marilyn Monroe. The museum helps you appreciate the vastness of Warhol’s influence- he helped shape the entire way a generation thinks and views art. If you’re planning a trip to Pittsburgh, the museum should be a must-visit on your list.

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WHAT IS #TAKE12TRIPS?

#Take12Trips is the only resolution I made this year- a promise to commit to doing something once a month. Anything counts- it can be dinner at a new place, visiting a new museum or spending the weekend at a cute B&B in the country. It doesn’t need to be an epic trip to a foreign country, just the chance to discover something new.

Where #Take12Trips has taken me thus far this year:

I haven’t fully planned my trips for the rest of the year, but this is the work-in-progress schedule:

  • August: Pittsburgh (heading home again for my sister’s 21st birthday!)
  • September: Copenhagen for Labor Day Weekend & back to Europe at the end of the month for a trip to Amsterdam, Berlin and Munich
  • October: Paris in the beginning of the month & potentially a weekend trip to Utah and Nevada for my birthday at the end of month
  • November: Plans to run a race in Big Sur mid-month will take me to San Francisco for a weekend. I’ll also be spending Thanksgiving in Colombia
  • December: Pittsburgh & potentially LA for NYE

Are you planning any trips you’re excited about?

#Take12Trips: April

After a few weekend trips (Philly for a race and Cape Cod for a wedding), and a vacation to Seattle and Tulum, I’m ready for a few weeks back in the city. As much as I enjoy traveling and experiencing new things, there’s always anticipated comfort in coming home and getting back into a routine.

This weekend, I’m staying close to my home in Harlem- working from a few neighborhood cafes and taking advantage of the spring weather on runs through the park, so exciting to see everything in full bloom. Spring is definitely one of my favorite seasons in New York.

Some of my favorite moments from April’s travels:

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Working Friday @ a cute cafe in Philly, #AlltheIcedCoffee

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Post-15k Brunching

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Sun-drenched Happy Hour in Seattle

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The best doughnuts, ever at General Porpoise

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4 mile hike to Rattlesnake Ledge (uphill hike was totally worth it for the view)

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From the PNW to the beaches of Tulum

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^Me, in 80 years 😉

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Spicy margs beachside

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Perfect afternoon at a cenote

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Spa bliss at Coqui Coqui

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Drinks & dancing in the jungle

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Quick stop in Boston on the way to the Cape for a friend’s wedding

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Totally understand why people spend summer weekends on the Cape, beautiful beaches & cute towns

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A night of friendship, dancing, love and celebration #GettingMariad

Tulum travel guides and my favorite places in Pike Place Market coming soon, but if you’re heading to Seattle any time soon, check out some of my favorite places to visit.