Posted October 7, 2009 by Kate Hamman
With a history dating back to the very birth of this country, Philadelphia may be hiding a few skeletons in its closet. You couldn't pick a better time than fall to drag them out, dress them up, and parade them about town. Come celebrate the spirit of the season by visiting the home of a morbid author, dining on the harvest's finest, and shopping in a decorative jewelry store.
Edgar Allen Poe House: Edgar Allen Poe's name is synonymous with the eerie, making our spine tingle and bones chill ever since he wrote The Raven and The Fall of the House of Usher. Pay respect to the master of macabre with a visit to his only surviving home in Philadelphia, where he wrote the bulk of his work. Take a ranger- or self-guided tour inside the house where Poe might have exhumed much of his inspiration, including the floorboards where perhaps he first heard the knocking muse of the Tell-Tale Heart. Admission is free, and you can learn a great deal about Poe through an eight-minute video, and readings of his work by Christopher Walken and Vincent Price.
Pumpkin: The decorative orange gourd may conjure images of autumn, but this Pumpkin stays fresh and seasonal year-round. Chef Ian Moroney's menu reflects the freshest local produce of the day, surprising you with inventive and signature dishes such as the percatelli with sea urchin roe, garlic, anchovies, and olive oil. With the recent popularity of BYOB (bring your own bottle) in Philadelphia, you can save a fortune in liquor costs. The restaurant is cash only.
: Named after the owner, Henri David's, favorite holiday, this jewelry store overflows with trinkets, baubles, doodads, and whatnots. The shop may be difficult to find, but once inside, the wealth of necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and jeweled accessories will overwhelm you in the best possible fashion. David designs many of the pieces himself, including engagement and wedding bands. Be sure to look closely, because you'll find items showcased in unusual places, such as a former grandfather clock. Expect prices comparable to other jewelry stores, but it's possible to still find a pair of earrings for $15.
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Posted May 19, 2009 by Kate Hamman
Located at the point where southeastern Pennsylvania meets northern Delaware, the Brandywine Valley overflows with history and culture. Within a single day, you can dine in a Civil War meeting place for Union soldiers, tour one of the Du Pont mansions, and sleep in an antique bed. When you travel through the Brandywine Valley, you travel back through time.
Winterthur: At Winterthur, the Du Pont's country estate, you don't simply tour the impressive collections of antiques, you also get to experience them hands-on. In the Touch-It room, school children learn to appreciate handcrafted goods, with activities based on lighting, kitchenware, and crafts. Outside, take a self-guided stroll through the 60-acre gardens featuring plants from around the world hand-picked by the founder, Henry Francis du Pont, or learn more on a narrated tram ride. Admission costs $20 per adult for two consecutive days, and includes entrance to the gardens, galleries, and house. Your ticket also entitles you to an introductory tour, rides on the garden tram, special exhibitions, the Campbell Collection of Soup Tureens, and the Enchanted Woods.
Cornerstone Inn: Built in 1704, the Cornerstone Inn showcases its long history with period decorations, including 18th-century furniture and antique canopy beds, and a stone facade originally fashioned by Quaker masons. Guests are welcomed by candles in the windows, traditionally used to beckon weary travelers. Visitors can relax in the perennial and herb gardens or sit next to a blazing fire on a cold day. Weekend rates start at $130 per night, and include a hearty country breakfast.
Arsenal at Old New Castle: When it comes to history, the Arsenal at Old New Castle is one for the books. Since its completion in 1811, the building has housed civil war troops, cholera patients, high school and elementary students, and most recently hungry patrons. Today, guests can eat in the Eagle and Cannon Tavern, where Union Soldiers once gathered, or dine in the elegant 1812 Dining Room. Dinner entrees start at $18 and include duck breast with mushroom risotto and braised pork loin.
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(Photo: Jeanette Lindvig)
Posted May 13, 2009 by Kate Hamman
In the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, you'll find Lancaster City, which offers the appeal of big city culture at small town prices. The city will woo you with its rich art community, modern hotels, and hip cafes located amongst the rural background of open fields and farmland.
CityFolk on Prince: At CityFolk gallery, you'll find an array of contemporary and traditional folk art, including carvings, paintings, crafts, and antiques. The eclectic and ever-changing space is part of Gallery Row, which is the art beat of Lancaster city. Though the gallery is always free to enter, don't miss the first Friday of every month, when it and more than 90 other galleries and shops celebrate with evening events. Prices depend on each individual piece of work.
Lancaster Arts Hotel: The Lancaster Arts Hotel has revitalized a tobacco warehouse to create a loft-like space, which combines modern design with a historical foundation. The boutique hotel's sleek furniture set against exposed brick feels like an artist's minimalistic dream. You can explore the first-floor art gallery, where works of local artists are proudly displayed. Rooms start at $179 per night.
Prince Street Cafe: Many great artists throughout time have found their muse at the bottom of a cup of coffee. Prince Street Cafe not only provides the liquid inspiration, but also a comfortable place to sip a warm beverage and experience art. The walls are adorned with the works of local artists and photographers, and live musical performances are common. If you're in need of something more substantial than just caffeine, the cafe also serves breakfast, sandwiches, and desserts. Prices range between $6 and $8 for sandwiches.
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(Photo: Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau)