My inbox was overflowing. My husband’s work seemed to be never-ending. School events in April and May came crashing down on us like an endless set of oceanic waves. Home repairs loomed, as did twelve weeks of endless summer with an energetic nine-year-old and a moody pre-teen. I was one moment short of tapping out.
And then I heard those wonderful three words: “Let’s Get Away”. And then these four: “Just You and Me”.
But where to? We had a small sandbox to play in: a long weekend was the maximum amount of time to spare, close to the children was imperative, things to do that we both enjoyed and that would take our hearts and minds off our everyday dramas was paramount. Romance was high on the list. So was good food. A field trip to Philly fit the bill!
Philadelphia, known as the City of Brotherly Love and ground zero for Cheese Steak sandwiches, is often overlooked as a cultured city and a romantic destination. Perhaps this is because folks in our area think of Philly in terms of elementary school history lessons, or within the scope of a fierce sports rivalry between “our team” and theirs.
But Philadelphia is just a hop, skip and a jump away, and the perfect city for a long weekend getaway. Whether you are seeking quiet strolls through leafy parks and long afternoons exploring Monet and Tiffany, or if you’re looking for cosmopolitan restaurants and notable lounges, Philadelphia should be on your radar. Philadelphia is a fantastic city to visit with kids of any age, but today’s post is for the adults.
Philadelphia is located about two hours from Anne Arundel County, via Route 95 through Delaware. If you drive, beware the gridlock traffic is no bueno during peak hours, so try to avoid the typical times. Commuter bus service Metrobus offers transportation from Rowe Boulevard in downtown Annapolis to 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. There is train service via Amtrak from BWI. Public transportation in the city limits is easily accessible and affordable via bikes you can rent by the hour, the Philly Phlash trolley bus, commuter bus and commuter rail, Uber, Lyft, and taxis. Check out Rome2Rio for transportation options.
Where to Stay
Getting to Philadelphia is easy. But deciding where to stay is more complicated. Do you prefer the heart of American history, or would you prefer to be closer to cultural landmarks? Do you like a contemporary space with easy access to tourism, or do you prefer a sophisticated ambiance that puts romance at your fingertips? Two hotels fit the bill for either of these concerns.
The Loew’s Philadelphia Hotel (1200 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 215-627-1200) in City Center is close to Independence Hall (the Liberty Bell), Reading Terminal Market, the Delaware River waterfront, and exclusive Rittenhouse Square. Although this hotel is best appreciated for its location in the heart of the historic area and for amenities like underground valet parking, proximity to public transportation, free wifi and pet friendly accommodations, Loews also offers some of the most romantic views in the city.
Grand King rooms and suites are spacious corner units with sweeping 180-degree views over the rooftops of two hundred-year-old churches, the iconic statue of William Penn and modern skyscrapers to the suburbs beyond.
The Logan (One Logan Square, Philadelphia, PA 215-963-1500) is a restful and posh property characterized by a picture perfect lobby (it’s actually the site of many wedding photos), The Commons– a hip bar and lounge, a gorgeous grotto-like spa, and Assembly, a swank rooftop bar overlooking Logan Square’s tree-lined boulevards, parks and fountains. A member of the Hilton Curio Collection, The Logan is situated in the heart of Museum Mile and is across the street from cultural destinations like The Franklin Institute, Barnes Foundation, Free Library of Philadelphia, Rodin Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Disclaimer: its one of my favorite Philly properties and I could go on and on about it.
In an effort to be a destination for visitors and for locals alike, The Logan’s staff thought about how to bring Philadelphia’s culture and unique heritage to life inside the hotel. They achieved an authentic connection through art and education. A professional curator was hired to source more than 1600 pieces of locally produced works of art that are exhibited in the lobby, meeting spaces, rooms and throughout all public spaces.
The staff places significant emphasis on forming lasting partnerships with the nearby cultural attractions. There is no concierge: every staff member should be able to help visitors find the perfect way to spend the day, from tourism to entertainment, to meals and certainly to dreamy destinations. Exclusive partnerships mean special pricing, entry times and exclusive perks for Logan guests.
Our stay at the Logan was punctuated with romance. After checking in, we started our quick slide into R and R over cocktails at The Commons. As a wedding party took over the lobby space, we moved through a set of doors to the gardens, an expanse of green lawn with beautiful landscaping and cascading fountains that screen the din of traffic from the city just beyond. After dinner and a visit to Eastern Penitentiary (more on this later), we enjoyed champagne under the stars at Assembly. Just watching my husband’s handsome profile as the sun set over the gorgeous gardens, with the river in the distance, made me feel like I was eons and not a simple car ride away from the drudgery of everyday life.
The next morning we reserved a couple’s massage in the spa and enjoyed a delicious brunch at Urban Farmer, an adjacent, award-winning restaurant. The spa area has a great gym with everything you need and a pool (note: the pool lights up in an array of blues and purples. Trippy romance.) Do you and yours need to leave The Logan at all? The answer is no. But as long as you are in town, you might not want to miss all the city has to offer.
What To Do- Historic District
If you are a great lover of history, Philadelphia is the place for you. Start in the historic district for a walkable tour of America’s most iconic colonial landmarks: Benjamin Franklin’s home, the Betsy Ross House, Independence Hall, the Independence National Historic Park (location of the Liberty Bell) and the recently opened Museum of the American Revolution.
A visit to this area of town should include a stroll through Spruce Street Harbor Park. Named by Huffington Post as one of the World’s Best Urban Beaches, this warm weather pop up park boasts hammocks, twinkling lights, games, floating barges, food, beer gardens and a carnival-like atmosphere. If you get hungry, walk a few blocks to Reading Terminal Market for a plethora of great eats, including farm fresh foods served diner-style, international foods, Amish specialties and plenty of picnic-worthy grab and go options. If you are dying for a cheesesteak, try Sonny’s, Jim’s Steaks, Pat’s King of Steaks or Campo’s. Quiet nearby strolls include Rittenhouse Square, one of the cities original five squares and the site of some of Philadelphia’s most exclusive homes, not to mention many top restaurants.
Romantic dining destinations include Bistrot La Minette on S. 6th St. Bistro Romano on Lombard Street, and Moshulu, a four-masted ship docked on the Delaware River, but of course, there are many others for every palate and price-point.
As mentioned above, if you don’t want to walk Philly (which I vastly recommend), try the very affordable and convenient Philly Phlash or a bike you can rent by the hour.
What To Do- Cultural District
If you are a great lover of architecture and art, a stroll down Market Street toward the Museum Mile should scratch your itch. Start at Philadelphia City Hall on Market Street. Pass under the gorgeous arch of this enormous and ornate municipal building that is capped by a giant clock and the statue of William Penn. Just beyond is the first of many city fountains to be found in renovated public spaces. Pause to watch amorous couples strolling and picnicking, energetic children racing through the synchronized sprays and elderly folks resting at the many tables spread throughout the plaza.
Continue past the LOVE sculpture, stop for a ride up to One Liberty Observation Deck, where you can canoodle with views across skyscrapers and down rivers. Take a right turn on 17th Street toward Benjamin Franklin Parkway, heading toward Logan Square and the many romantic green spaces, fountains, and museums to be found there. While not necessarily a lengthy walk, there is much to be seen on this stroll. Be sure to stop to enjoy quiet places, pretty views, interesting works of art or architecture and perhaps a cappuccino or latte at any of the street-front cafes.
Other Romantic Destinations
It’s nearly impossible to curate a list of all the romantic places you could visit in Philadelphia. But if romance to you means quiet moments of reflection, beautiful vistas, and the opportunity enjoy and reconnect with your partner, here are some other places to consider:
An unusual destination that we enjoyed immensely is the Eastern Penitentiary Historic Site. It’s reasonable to overlook this attraction when planning a weekend for two, but believe me, you will be holding on to each other, laughing, and maybe even screaming. Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world. Its vaulted cells, now in partial ruin and a not a little eerie, held many of America’s most notorious criminals, including “Scarface” Al Capone. There is no doubt that Eastern is creepy—its considered haunted actually, but it’s also unusual, reasonably priced ($12-$14) entertainment that will give you memories to last a lifetime.
Eastern is located near the Fairmount neighborhood, another area with plenty of bars, lounges, restaurants, and tucked away parks.
Sister Cities Park, near Logan Square, has a café and benches under leafy trees perfect for a break before venturing into the museums. This park is near a Swann Memorial Fountain, the beautiful Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul and the AMOR statue, the quintessential selfie spot.
The Azalea Garden is opposite the Rocky steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. You can see over expansive landscaped gardens and down the river to Boathouse Row, a line of gloriously colored Victorians mansions right on the water. Boathouse Row is illuminated at night, an especially romantic sight.
The beautiful grounds of The Barnes Foundation are worthy of an amorous stroll, but once inside, you will be awestruck by the private collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings. Since this is a private museum, the art is interspersed in eclectic ways that you won’t find in a more typical space, an effect that makes a visit here even more special and unique.
Race Street Pier on the Delaware River waterfront offers gorgeous sunset views and an opportunity to stroll hand in hand with a view of yoga in the park, occasional street music and fantastic people watching.
Fairmount Park is your chance to get away from it all, yet stay close to urban amenities. Much like Central Park in New York City, Fairmount offers frequent summer outdoors music and symphonic performances. A trolley runs through the park if you are too tired to walk.
Much like the Whispering Dishes on San Francisco’s Embarcadero, your lover can sit on the stone bench near the Smith Memorial Arch while you sit on a bench across the street. When you whisper terms of endearment, it will magically be heard as if you were seated next to each other.
A1 and I have taken a field trip to Philadelphia twice, in our moments of need as a couple and as a parenting unit. Both visits have been enormously restorative; nevertheless, there is always more to see, to do and to learn. For other ideas, visit Thrillist.com’s list of Top Ten Philadelphia Date Ideas, PhillyMag.com’s Field Guide: 28 Romantic Date Ideas in Philadelphia and USA Today’s 10 Best list by Sharon Rigney, a local Philadelphia area expert.
Feel free to share...