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Archive for the ‘Misc. Adventures’ Category

Lining up for $1 treats!

Once a month, starting tonight, June 2nd, take your date and a fistfull of dollars to Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia for the second (now) annual Dollar Stroll!

Featuring live music, street performers, sidewalk vendors and $1 deals on everything from ice cream to samosas to theater tickets, it’s going to be hard to find more bang for your buck anywhere in the city tonight.

This event turns Baltimore Avenue into a delightful open-air parade of sights, smells, and sounds, but as I learned last year, the lines do get long.  My advice for making it a great date: go early (the event runs from 5:30-8:30pm), don’t try to hit every venue, and use this handy vendor list to plan your route!

Note: If you miss tonight’s stroll, there are 3 more this season. Pencil in your next date for July 7th, August 4th, or September 1st!

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On the first Friday of every month, Philadelphia’s art galleries stay open late and welcome everyone — from casual passerby to serious collectors — to come in and peruse their current curations.  The aptly dubbed “First Friday” has been happening, rain or shine, since 1991, and has become one of the city’s most visible and popular events.  Although historically focused on the 40+ galleries between Front and Vine and Market and 3rd streets in Old City, First Friday open houses are now hosted by galleries all over the city, from Space 1026 in Chinatown to the Projects Gallery in Northern Liberties to Highwire in Fishtown.  The best thing about this expansion is that, even though every First Friday shares the same core elements, depending on who’s showing what where, you can have a radically different experience every single time.

How cheap we talkin’: FREE!

Why this will impress your date: Because you can show you are as comfortable around refined oil portraits as you are around avante-garde video art.  This is a good thing, I promise.

The Inside Game: If you want to know who’s showing where, need to plan a route, or find galleries in a particular neighborhood, there are a lot of great resources for planning ahead, like this linked list of Philly art galleries.  Another great resource is Phrequency’s “DIY First Friday” list, conveniently organized by neighborhood. The Philadelphia Weekly also shares its pick of noteworthy exhibitions each month in its Arts and Culture section.

Score Extra Points: By doing a little homework before hand (see above) and then leading the way. Strolling from gallery to gallery is perfect for hand-holding.

Next date: Friday April 1, 2011! And then the first Friday of every month, all year round (approximately 5-9pm).

Keep reading for highlights from First Fridays past, and where to find the galleries that still have free booze!

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Meg poses with a Santa we encountered at Suburban Station

My date’s stats:

 Blog: PhilaDate — Hot Spots for Great Dates in Illadel!

Age: Started blogging in October 2010.

Likes: Walking the city, singing, jazz and blues, and being the go-to source for her friends (especially her guy friends) for date ideas sure to impress the ladies.

Dislikes: Negative Feedback. (Who doesn’t?)

Little Known Fact: Also writes Songs That Won’t Make You Vomit, where she details the ups and downs of her dating life as it relates to, and reminds her of favorite songs.

Favorite Cheap Date:  Brunch at Fitzwater Café.

Meg Mirzoff is a 27 year old “self proclaimed dating pro” and the author of PhilaDate, a relatively new (October 2010) blog that highlights fun date spots culled from Meg’s own extensive experience with both dating and Philadelphia. A lifelong area resident, her twitter profile quips positively that “Philly is a hotbed for the singles… you just gotta put yourself out there!” And that is exactly what Meg did when she agreed to meet me for a blind date after I pitched my I’m Seeing Other Blogs idea to her via email.

Of course, as soon as we met I realized that Meg really never had a moment’s hesitation – a spirit of adventure is just a part of who she is.  Outgoing and enthusiastic, her fun-loving personality comes across in her blog as well.  For example, for a date with “heat” she recommends following a meal of tacos with a night out dancing at a salsa club, and she isn’t afraid of proposing ideas for a 24-hour long date (for some “serious” quality time).

Her idea for our Cheap Date was equally adventuresome: an afternoon Busker-hunting in and around Suburban Station, followed by drinks at Village Whiskey.  For those that don’t know (I didn’t), “Busking” is the act of performing in public while soliciting tips or gratuities (i.e. passing the hat).  Those engaged in Busking are called “Buskers,” also known as street performers, street musicians, minstrels, or troubadours.  I’ve passed by countless such performers before − on South Street, in Rittenhouse, and in the subway stations – but it hadn’t occurred to me that intentionally seeking out these performances could make for a highly entertaining afternoon and a great cheap date.

How cheap we talkin’:  $1-5 in tips for the Buskers; Approx. $6 for a beer at Village Whiskey.

Why this will impress your date: Not only does Busking have a long history dating back to at least the 1860’s, but today’s Buskers have their own culture involving unspoken but understood rules and customs about who gets to play when, and where.

Score Extra Points: By ordering tater tots to share at Village Whiskey. They are only $3 and they are delicious.

The Inside Game: All Buskers are entertainers, but not all are equally entertaining. For a nice profile of various Philly Buskers and their stomping grounds, check out this article from Penn music blog God Save the Beat, or this blog by local Busker David Richenbacher.  

Next Date: Anytime! But Saturday and Sunday afternoons are a pretty safe bet at Suburban Station, as well as early evenings weeknights (rush hour).

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Traditions are what make holidays special.  (They can play a pretty big part in relationships, too). There is probably no holiday ritual more iconic in Philadelphia than the John Wanamaker (now Macy’s) Christmas Light Show. Since 1955, this dazzling display of lights and music (with narration by the equally iconic Julie Andrews) has delighted children and adults alike. At least it delighted my date and I (two consenting adults) when we went to see it together last week. Add to the experience two thick and decadent hot chocolates from nearby Naked Chocolate (which we surreptitiously spiked with shots of liquor) and this was a holiday date worth making a tradition.

How cheap we talkin’: The light show is FREE! An “Indulgent” sized hot chocolate at Naked Chocolate is $5.00.  A single-serving shot of liquor (optional) is $2-3. (We used 3).

Why this will impress your date:  Because nothing beats feeling like a kid again. Except feeling like a kid who’s snuck into the liquor cabinet.

The Inside Game: Up the decadence factor by getting your chocolate “European style.”  Trust me, you won’t be disappointed (but your personal trainer might). 

Score Extra Points: By planning your visit to coincide with one of the daily concerts on the famous Wanamaker organ (it’s one of the largest working organs in the world). View the full schedule here.

Next Date:  The 2010 Christmas Light Show runs every hour on the hour, 10am to 8pm, from the day after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve day.

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Now that Baltimore Avenue’s $1 Dollar Stroll series is done for the winter, why not head down to South Street instead?  That’s what my date and I did on a recent afternoon, and as it turns out, this underappreciated thoroughfare has lots to see and do, for next to nothing.  We checked out artwork on the walls in the Bean Café, had a competition for who could find the most hilarious album cover in the fifty-cent record bins at Repo Records, made friends with the store cat at Mineralistic, browsed shops with everything from edible underwear to x-rated comic books, and stuffed ourselves with South street must-haves: slices from Lorenzo’s and ice cream (well, frozen yoghurt) from Phileo.

How cheap we talkin’: $2.75 for slices, $2 for coffee or tea, $5-7 for yoghurt (it’s sold by weight – so be careful not to overdo it!)

Why this will impress your date: Because South Street is an iconic Philly attraction that has been referenced by everyone from the Dead Milkmen to Boys II Men.

Wait for it……around 50 seconds in…Yes!

The Inside Game: Do not try this within 2 hours after an Eagles or Phillies win.  (Unless getting shoved around by crowds of cheering fans and possibly getting thrown up on is your idea of romance).

Score Extra Points: By buying your date a little gift along the way, like a $1 trinket from the dispensers in Atomic City Comics, or a folkart tchotske from Eyes Gallery.

Next date: Anytime, day or night!  Lorenzo’s serves until at least 4am most nights, the Bean Café stays open until midnight every night, and Phileo is open until 11 on weekends and 10 most weekdays. 

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As my date and I recently discovered, there are a whole date’s worth of cool (and cheap!) things to do, see, and eat in the small area of Center City between Walnut and Locust streets to the north and south, and 6th and 8th streets to the east and west.  After checking out the gorgeous Tiffany glass mural in the Curtis Center, we went to Lore’s Chocolates, a gourmet chocolatier, and spent at least half an hour picking out a half pound box of chocolates to enjoy in nearby Washington Square.  On our way to the park, we stumbled across even more hidden treasures: a curious little troll, and a fun, no-frills, bulk nut and candy store too.

How cheap we talkin’: Approximately $11 for a half pound of chocolate from Lore’s. $2-$5 per pound for nuts or candy from Nuts to You.

Why this will impress your date: You can whip out all kinds of interesting facts after reading this fascinating account of the making of this majestic mural, by Kim Sajet, Senior Vice President of Museum and Public Programs at PAFA.

The Inside Game: If you or your date doesn’t like chocolate, Nuts to You is a great alternative for snack fare.  So is the fruit cart on 7th – for only $6 they will jam pack a container full of melon, strawberries, pineapple, grapes and mango for you, and even throw in a banana.  They also make fantastic smoothies for less than $5.

Score Extra Points: By letting your date eat the last chocolate.

Next date: Weekdays or Saturday morning. Note: Lore’s closes at 5pm and the Curtis Center closes at 6pm. Saturdays, the Curtis center is only open 10-1pm.

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On a Friday night, Old City can sometimes seem a bit overrun by heavy drinkers, flashy dressers, and unruly crowds – not necessarily the most inviting atmosphere for a date.  But that’s only if you don’t know where to go (or where not to go).  For an Old City date with old-fashioned charm, start with homemade ice cream from Franklin Fountain, then take in the concert and fireworks at Penn’s Landing. (Concert starts at 7:30, fireworks at 9:15).  After the big show, head to Sassafras International Cafe (and bar) at 48 S.2nd between Market and Walnut.  With painted tin ceilings, a faux fireplace, and international beer list, this intimate and classy joint is a welcoming respite from the mayhem of the club scene.  That is, if you can make it past the throngs on the street.

How cheap we talkin’: $5-7pp for ice cream (it gets pricey fast if you opt for the waffle cones like we did!) and $6 for drafts at Sassafras (plus tip!).

Why this will impress your date: Because there is something even more awesome about fireworks when it’s not the Fourth of July.

Score Extra Points: By splurging for the waffle cone at Franklin Fountain. Trust me, it’s worth it.

The Inside Game: There is a full sized couch in the ladies room at Sassafras.  And a lock on the door.  Just sayin.’

Next Date: Ice cream and drinks are available anytime, but the last Friday for fireworks is September 3, 2010.

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The other night, my date and I bought a box of crayons and a pad of paper, and spent the evening sipping tea, drawing pictures, and eating pastries at Chapterhouse Cafe and Gallery at 620 S.9th Street (9th and Bainbridge).  At first it may seem a bit childish of an activity for a date, but feeling like a kid again was half the fun.  Plus, it got us talking about the kinds of things we liked as children, the toys we remember playing with, etc., from which I learned a lot of endearing facts about my date.  The other half of the fun was picking out which baked goods we wanted to have!  The pastry selection at some coffee houses can be downright sad, especially near closing time.  But at 8pm on a weeknight (they’re open until 10pm everyday), Chapterhouse still had an ample selection of delicious goodies for us to choose from.  We sat down with our tea and treats, and as soon as we spilled the crayons onto the counter, we were hooked.  The time flew by, and before we knew it they were closing up shop. We didn’t get to finish our dessert or our drawings, but hey, there’s always next time.

How cheap we talkin’: $6 for a 24-color box of Crayons and sketch book from Rite Aid.  $10 for 2 teas, an almond croissant and 2 cookie sandwiches at Chapterhouse.

Why this will impress your date: Because thinking about what your date was like as a little kid is just too adorable.

Score Extra Points: By suggesting that one croissant might not be enough.

The Inside Game: Chapter House also features a rotating exhibition of art by local artists on its walls.  Check it out gallery style before you sit down.

Next Date: Anytime. Chapterhouse is open 7am-10pm every day.

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The boat ride scene has long been a staple of the romantic film genre (case in point, anyone remember the Chicago Ferry slow-dance scene from My Best Friend’s Wedding?).  But truly, what is more romantic than a boat ride?  Watching the wind tousle your date’s hair, listening to the waves slap rhythmically against the side of the boat, and exalting in the subtle danger of being so far from solid ground.  Didn’t think you could experience this in Philadelphia? Enter the River Link Ferry.  For only $7 round trip, my date and I cruised the Delaware across and back, and during our layover in Camden, found a place to enjoy a cold beer near the waterfront.

How cheap we talkin’: $7 for round trip tickets on the River Ferry. $2-4 for beer and optional $4.50 for fries to split.

Why this will impress your date: I talked about the hair tousling, right?

Score extra points: With this move:

Classic.

The inside game: The Camden waterfront has some nice benches and green space to sit.  The rest of Camden does not.  So for a nicer time (and a cheaper date), maybe skip the beers and bring a picnic instead.

Next date: Anytime! (between Memorial Day and Labor Day). Season regular hours are 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with departures from Philadelphia every hour on the hour beginning at 10:00 a.m. Departures from Camden are every hour on the half hour beginning at 9:30 a.m.

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Since its renovation in 2006, Franklin Square Park has been transformed into a vibrant amusement park, complete with a carousel, two playgrounds, the impressive and historic Franklin Square Fountain, and the perfect Cheap Date diversion: an 18-hole miniature golf course designed around iconic Philadelphia landmarks like Love Park and the Liberty Bell. After battling it out on the green, my date and I cooled off by getting frosty treats from Square Burger, the park’s freestanding snack stand, and taking them on a stroll (part-way) across the breezy and beautiful Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

How cheap we talkin’: $8 for a round of golf ($7 if you have a Septa pass!)$3.50-$4.75 for a rootbeer float or shake from Square Burger.

Why this will impress your date: By showing that you can be a gracious winner. Or loser.

Score extra points: By offering to be the one to keep score. (Do not literally score extra points by cheating).

The inside game: Access to the Ben Franklin Bridge closes at 9pm, and is not reputed to be the safest after dark, so make sure you are finished walking well before sundown.

Next date: Anytime! Well, almost. The course is open from 10am to 9pm every day May 28th through September 7th.  Then, through October 23rd, you can golf Tuesday through Saturday 9am-9pm (although from October 1st – 31st the hours Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are 11am-8pm).  The course is also open Columbus Day, and November 26th-28th, 5-8pm.  December 4th-19th golf Saturday and Sunday 5-8pm.  December 27th-31st golf every day 5-8pm.  Then the course will close until daily hours resume March 26th. Whew! Did you get all that???

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