Plain, Fancy and Simply Fabulous – Philly

You are in for a real treat.  Having grown up in Philly, I can tell you with great assurance that THIS escorted vacation has it ALL.  If you’ve never traveled through the Pennsylvania Dutch countryside, be prepared for some of the most beautiful rolling, pristine farmland you will ever see.  The warmth of the Pennsylvania Dutch is legendary and the food – unbelievable.  Savor the moments – it’s certainly not something you’ll see or do everyday and just being there provides a gentle reminder of how simple life can and often should be.

Another fabulous stoke on this encompassing tour of my homeland is Cape May.  It is as fancy as Pennsylvania Dutch land is plain.  Gingerbread houses – ornate painted ladies line the streets and the shopping along the Promenade is wonderful.  We, as a family, still vacation along the Jersey Shore, just south of Cape May.

Just a short drive south of Cape May will bring you to the Cape May Lighthouse. There is a park with nature trails, a museum and the ruins of an old World War II bunker. The Cape May Lighthouse stands 157  feet tall. It has been recently been restored and is open to visitors. (there is a fee).  If you go, be sure to stop in the old oil shack next to the lighthouse. There are pictures and a video of the reconstruction plus a lot of lighthouse related gifts.  Supposedly, the light of the current lighthouse was first lit in 1859.

Cannot tell you how many lunches on the beach I have shared with friends and family and you too can capture that incredible feeling that happens when surf and sand and gulls surround you – sure makes me homesick!  If you get the chance, buy a slice of Mack and Manco’s Pizza – only available on the Jersey Shore – it’s one of those “gotta have it” moments.  I’ve got lots of food tips for this trip and M & M Pizza ranks right up there.

Another favorite of mine, and soon to be of yours, is Longwood Gardens.  My sisters and I typically go over the Christmas holidays, but it is absolutely lovely any time of year.  Longwood Gardens is sure to delight anyone who loves exquisite flowers, majestic trees, and opulent architecture. Here, amid 1,050 acres with 20 indoor and 20 outdoor gardens, you’ll find beauty at every turn.

In 1906, Pierre S. du Pont purchased the Peirce Arboretum to save its trees from being cut for lumber. Over the next nearly half century, Mr. du Pont developed Longwood Gardens into what it is today, a magnificent horticultural showplace of gardens, woodlands, and meadows and a wonderful travel experience. By the way, there are more fountains at Longwood Gardens than any other garden in the US. During your trip you will be delighted with lovely spring blossoms from the gardens. The Flower Garden Walk features tulips in a rainbow of color, and spring annuals such as pot marigolds and snapdragons. In May, Peirce’s Woods abounds with native azaleas, columbines, Virginia bluebells, and foam-flowers as well.  Take your camera – the flowers are fantastic.

The Peirce-du Pont House dates from 1730 and is the oldest building at Longwood Gardens. It was the family homestead of the Peirce family until 1905 and then became the weekend residence of Pierre du Pont from 1906 until his death in 1954. It is now open to the public and is included with your admission to the Gardens.

This spacious country home resulted from five major periods of construction covering nearly 200 years. The original two-story brick farmhouse was built by Joshua Peirce in 1730 to replace a log cabin built in 1709. The brick pattern was Flemish bond with dark glazed headers and unglazed stretchers. The roof had a simple cornice and pent eaves protected the first floor windows and doors. In 1764, a two-story addition was made to the east end of the house and included a new dining room.  The house was enlarged in 1824 adding a large addition to the north of the original structure. This building campaign doubled the size of the Peirce’s house. In 1909, Pierre du Pont modernized the house with a two-story addition to the north. Plumbing, electricity, and heating were added throughout the house and it’s come a long way from its humble beginnings.  You will love the ambience of the house and thoroughly enjoy your day here and throughout the Brandywine region.

Schuylkill, (SKOO-KILL) still have to double check my spelling and wish I had a nickel for every time I was on “hold” coming and going from my Nonni’s home in South Philly on this road that boarders “center city”.

Historic Philadelphia is simply amazing.  You will be surprised at how tiny Betsy Ross’ home is and the sight of the Liberty Bell renders one speechless. See it all, do it all – our patriotic forefathers gave us so much and Philadelphia showcases it beautifully.

Other pure winners on this tour are the Philadelphia Mint and the Mummer’s Museum.  The Mint boggles the mind, but the Mummer’s Museum boggles your eyesight.  Every New Year’s Day, from the time I was old enough to stand on my own, we, as a family, would bundle up and stand along South Broad Street to watch and glory in the Mummer’s Day Parade.  The colors, the music, the costumes are fabulous and just the words “Oh, dem golden slippers” make me want to get up and strut!!  It’s uniquely Philadelphia and a great tradition.

Ooooh Soooo Goood!!

You cannot leave town without relishing a true Philadelphia Cheese Steak.  When I went home this Thanksgiving I had two – just because I could!  Do Not get the ones with Velveeta – not authentic!  My favorite actually is a steak sandwich, no cheese, smothered in sauce and onions…mmmmm. It’s the bread that makes it so wonderful!  If you can, buy a soft pretzel off the street vendor – not at all like those in other parts of the globe. On your free night, find a little Italian trattoria – preferably a basement variety, where Mama cooks her heart out and the food is to die for.  If you like something different, visit the markets on 9th Street – Little Italy and you will see things you’ve probably never seen before.  I truly loved living there.

Interlude has really done a great job in assembling a true smattering of all things good about the Philadelphia area, so check out the itinerary and go East – you’ll have a terrific time.

 A Philly Gadabout (click here for itinerary)
(7 days, 6 nights)

– Interlude blog team

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