Some Philadelphia Tidbits

For a short get-away trip, I’m considering taking my daughter to Philadelphia during the summer. She’s never been there, and it seems like a great place to learn about our nation’s history. Philly holds a place in my heart because, many years ago, as a new manager for Bell Telephone, my initial training was in Center City. I spent 4 months living in a hotel around 20th and Market, which I believe is gone now, and a few more intermittent months at the Holiday Inn at 36th street. However, my real memories of Philly came from that first stay, due to the fact I had a daily walk down to company headquarters, around 13th street. I must admit that returning after all these years is a way to revisit that time of my life, as well as to see how much has changed.

Let me add that, for a young person who had never been away from home on their own before, Philadelphia was a good place to stay as a single traveler. The area that I was easily able to cover by foot extended about 25 blocks, over 4-5 parallel streets-although this was only a small portion of Center City. But, my walks took me through City Hall, past tourist attractions such as the Clothespin sculpture, over to the Gallery Mall, and up and down avenues filled with shops, restaurants and delicatessens. The historical area, waterfront and museum were short subway rides away; there were many other attractions in the nearby area that, unfortunately, I never had the chance to visit. But one thing I did do was take the Amtrak train to New York on weekends. I caught it right at Penn Station on 30th street, and in about 60 minutes, I exited Penn Station in the heart of Manhattan. I think at the time it cost less than $25, but now for an adult and child it’s $64.50.

Surprisingly, it’s only $3 more to travel all the way from our hometown of Pittsburgh
to Philly on Amtrak, which is at least 7 hours non-stop. (But, we may just opt to to fly from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, which is fairly inexpensive at $64 per person one way and takes just 1 hour.)

Also intriguing is that it costs the same to travel by train from Philly to Washington DC, which is about 4 hours. In fact, travel from Pgh. to Phila. is routed through DC, but the shortest trip that isn’t non-stop adds only 2 hours onto the duration of travel, yet that layover doesn’t offer time to see much of D.C. More investigation revealed that there is one train that has a layover of about 8 hours, which would be adequate for a short bus tour and more than a few photo opportunities, but leaving home before 5 AM and arriving in a Philly hotel around 12:30 AM is too long of a day for anyone. (Those who are considering travel from Philly to New York should know that there is a site called Megabus.com that offers the trip for $1 per person, although it takes 2 hours. How they can offer such a fare seems peculiar, but feel welcome to check it out and let the rest of us know about your experience.)

I also found that the Blue line of the Philadelphia subway, which runs from the Amtrak train station to 2nd street, is along the path of many hotels, so a cab may not even be needed. By the same token, the SeptraR1 bus may be taken from the Philadelphia airport into the middle of the historical district (and near many hotels) for $9 per person. Needless to say, there are numerous options of getting into Philadelphia.

Once a traveler does arrive, it’s clear that there is plenty to do and see. The Independence Visitor Center site offers a large array of entertaining historical venues, such as a night with Ben Franklin, interactive performances, ghost walks, tours, and museum passes, and they all sound like fun for both children and adults. http://independencevisitorcenter.tix.com/ActSelection.asp?OrganizationNumber=881

With so many choices Philadelphia appears to be an ideal location for a short-or even longer-visit if you happen to find yourself in the northeast. You may just also find that Amtak is a great alternative to both flying and driving, depending on your time schedule.

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