Two weeks after returning from our weekend in Andorra, NoVA Travelers launched a trip closer to home - Philadelphia. The city is steeped in American history and it's always a pleasure for me to introduce it to members who have never visited before.
We piled into our carpool caravan and headed for Philly on an early Saturday morning. Our first stop was the lovely Hotel Palomar - a historic architectural gem in downtown Philly that has been converted to a Kimpton luxury boutique hotel . I enjoy Kimpton properties because they treat guests so well- complimentary coffee and teas in the morning (and I usually negotiate free breakfast for my group) and a wine reception every afternoon.
Once we'd completed check-in we set off for the historic downtown area to visit Reading Terminal Market. The market has been in continuous operation since the late 1800s and features more than 80 merchants and vendors including Pennsylvania Dutch farmers who come to sell their fresh baked goods. Everyone in the group was given the time to shop, explore and eat inside the market. Several of us ate at the legendary DeNic's, sampling their pulled pork and greens sandwiches. I'd never had one of these before and let me tell you that they are delicious (even better than the traditional Philly cheese steak in my humble opinion).
After the market stop, our group visited Elfreth's Alley which is the oldest continuously occupied street in America. The alley is lined with beautiful historic homes that each have a contributing tale to tell of American History.
For dinner following the alley tour the group descended on Modo Mio. This is fabulous Italian restaurant that is often overlooked as it's anchored in a neighborhood that is in the midst of urban gentrification. The owners had the foresight to set up shop before the transformation to gentle middle class neighborhood is complete while real estate prices are still affordable. In any case, the food is exquisite and I highly recommend you make a reservation for dinner should you find yourself in Philly.
Day two of our tour began Sunday morning with a comprehensive walking tour of the downtown historical district. We hit all the major points of interest including Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, First and Second Banks of the USA, the Betsy Ross house and City Tavern where we stopped for hot spiced apple cider. Danielle (our group's assistant organizer) and I provided the historical information on each stop for the members as we progressed on the tour.
You can't visit Philly without treating yourself to an authentic cheese steak sandwich so the group made a pit stop at Campo's for lunch before we continued with our walking tour late into the afternoon.
It was a weekend of history, great food, and new friendships forged between the members who attended.
You can read member reviews of this trip here: http://www.meetup.com/NoVA-Travelers/calendar/11635555/