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Archive for the ‘West Philly/University City’ Category

On a recent Saturday, my date and I went to the Philadelphia Flea Market held that weekend in Headhouse Square, near the east end of South Street. Dozens of vendors were crowded under the covered walkway between Lombard and Spruce, spilling out onto the sidewalk on both sides.

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One of my favorite cheap dates this time of year is to take a blanket and some treats to one of the many outdoor movie screenings that take place all over Philly all through the summer months.  I said it once, and I’ll say it again: There is something undeniably romantic about cuddling up after the sun goes down, sharing some candy and maybe a clandestine bottle of wine or beer, and taking in an outdoor movie on a hot summer night.
And from the looks of this handy-dandy list I’ve prepared − complete with titles and times! – this is a date you can enjoy almost any given night of the summer! Choose from Blockbusters at Penn’s Landing, classic favorites at Schuylkill Banks and Liberty Lands Park, Indie hits at the Piazza, films with local ties at Headhouse Square and more!  There is literally something happening almost every single night, and they are all FREE to attend.
Just BYO blankets and bottles and enjoy the show − and your date!
And if that’s not enough celluloid for you, Bistro La Minette, a quaint french bistro in Queen Village, screens French films every Monday, Thursday, and Friday in its back patio for its “Dinner and a Movie Al Fresco” series.  The shows start at 8:30pm (Fridays at 9:30pm) and reservations are recommended, but you can keep it a cheap date by sharing a pichet of wine or having desert and coffee instead of a full dinner.  There’s a different movie each week. Click here for the roster.

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Last year, I recommended going to one of Philly’s many street fairs and festivals, as a great cheap date idea: There’s (usually) no cost for entry, there’s (almost always) live music or entertainment to enjoy, and there’s lots of cool stuff to look at and fun foods to try! Of course, if you don’t want to spend date money at the food stands you can always bring your own and dine picnic style – and bringing your own water anyway is a smart (and cost-saving) move.

In short, Philly’s festivals come in all shapes and sizes, and they are a great opportunity to venture out to a different park or neighborhood, mingle with a new crowd, get some sun and some exercise, see some great live music, meet up with friends, or just enjoy the company of your date.

Penn Landing's Great Plaza

Like last year, I’ve again compiled a list of upcoming street fairs and festivals for your next cheap date! As you can see, there is definitely something for everyone this summer! Mark your (2011) calendars for:

Keep checking back for updates and additions! And for a list of ALL festivals (including those with entry fees above $15, film fests, and events taking place in the greater Philadelphia area, check out this awesome festival roster from Visit Philly!

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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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My Date’s Stats:

Blog: City Girls World

Age: CGW launched in 2009. Katie started blogging for them as a “Gal about Philly” in 2010.

Likes: Martinis, Sex in the City, brunch, finger tattoos, wasabi.

Dislikes: Girls who bring their boyfriends everywhere, people who can’t deal with women in control of their sexuality, and party-crashing night time SEPTA schedules.

Little Known Fact: Katie studies social work and human sexuality, and actually has her own blog, which she describes as more or less a “sex blog,” (although it’s name, “There’s vodka in my sippy cup but I need to grow up,” perhaps reads a little more like a diary-of-a-party-girl).

Favorite Cheap Date: The Yards Brewery tasting/tour. “My boyfriend and I went here and it was an awesome way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon-HIGHLY recommended.” As for a girls night out: “I’d pick the Center City Cocktail Crawl-I love XIX but haven’t made it to Vintage–maybe this summer with my fellow CGW writers!”

It seems natural that Katie would think of the writers at City Girls World when planning a girls’ night out, since clicking through CGW feels much more like hanging out with a group of really fun women than reading a one-dimensional blog. The articles are frank and conversational, and the columnists continue their stories from week to week so you can stay current on their latest (mis)adventures. There’s Single Girl, Working Girl, Married Girl, and Gals About Town, and they report on everything of interest to the modern urban-“ette”: shopping, dining, grooming, and, of course, relationships. Plus, the blog covers both Philly and Washington, DC, making it a particulary great resource for those straddling both cities, or planning a visit. One of their most unique features is Single Man Spotted, which reassures readers that these rare specimens are not urban legend by spotlighting cute (and single!) guys they meet on the street. This take on meeting men is a breath of fresh air from those who bemoan the apparent lack of eligible bachelors remaining on planet earth. But snark-lovers never fear – the Single Girl chronicles are brutally (and hilariously) honest and make it clear that, yes, a lot of guys still don’t have a clue. But at City Girls World that doesn’t matter, so long as you have your online girlfriends to commiserate with at the end of the day. At least that’s how the CGW crew sees it.

I recently got a window into City Girls World when I met guest writer Katie Butler at POD for a (surprisingly) cheap date of martinis and sushi.

How cheap we talkin’: Martinis are $5 during happy hour from 4-6pm. Sushi train plates range from $2.50-$5.00.

Why this will impress your date: There’s a sushi conveyor belt! Hey, it may be a novelty, but it’s a darn fun one.

The Inside Game: You can’t take cocktails from the lounge to the sushi bar, so this is a good spot for first dates that you’re not sure will last past the first drink. If things are going well, suggest grabbing a bite. If not, it’s still a cool atmosphere to have a cocktail. Especially before or after a visit to the free Institute for Contemporary Art just up the street!

Score Extra Points: By pointing out the “Pods” to your date. Customers can choose and change the color of the lighting in these private, circular booths.

Next date: Happy hour is weekdays 4-6pm. The sushi train is available anytime.

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Bryn Mawr film prof. Homai King discussing her new book on Orientalism in cinema at ICA

The Philadelphia Institute for Contemporary Art (“ICA”), located at 118 South 36th street on Penn’s campus in University City, is a nationally recognized museum dedicated to exhibiting innovative painting, art, and sculpture by contemporary (i.e., living) artists.  Founded in 1963, the museum gave Andy Warhol his first museum exhibition, and continues to have a reputation for identifying emerging bright stars in the art world.  The ICA is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, but stays open until 8pm on Wednesdays for “Whenever Wednesdays,” a rotating series of lectures, discussions, and screenings, usually connected somehow with the current exhibits. The best part? It’s FREE! That means that you’ll have plenty of cash left to indulge in a drink or a bite at a spot nearby, like the cozy and popular White Dog Cafe.

How cheap we talkin’: Admission is FREE! The rest is up to you. White Dog Cafe has half-priced drafts 5-7pm, and their popular natural beef hot dogs loaded with toppings are $7.25. Non-alcoholic drinks like fresh-squeezed lemonade and ginger beer are $4.

Why this will impress your date: You might be seeing the next Andy Warhol!

Score extra points: By reading up on the exhibition beforehand and asking a question during the Q&A. You will look brave, smart, and articulate all at once.  That’s what I call a power move.

The inside game: The discussions are usually followed by a brief reception, complete with complimentary wine, cheese, and other snacks. If you want to be that cheap.

Next date: Wednesday! Check here for the schedule of upcoming events.

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Read the full date review at drinkphilly.com! Cheap Date writes a monthly column for Drink Philly featuring cheap dates for drink lovers. Or for those of you (er, me) that need to drink  on your dates so as not to throw up from nerves.

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Every Friday at noon, you can go to World Cafe Live and see a free concert.  The performances are recorded and broadcast live on WXPN, complete with on-air announcements, so it’s really a fun thing to be a part of, and definitely a notch above the usual “lunch date.”  I recently met a date there to see Drink Up Buttercup, an energetic, psychedelic, PA-based garage band that has been gaining momentum both locally and nationally. Performances reliably start at noon and end about 30 minutes later, leaving plenty of time to actually enjoy lunch, too.  If you want to stay in-house, World Cafe has $8 pre-fixe lunch specials, but we opted instead to walk two blocks North on Walnut street to the more casual Picnic, which offers an inventive inventory of freshly made sandwiches, salads, soups, and desserts.

How much we talkin’: The show is FREE. (Optional) drink at World Cafe Live is $5 (+ tip). Salad or sandwich at Picnic, $8 or less.

Why this will impress your date: Show you’re not just a slave to the man by indulging in a drink on your lunch hour. A real one.

The inside game: These shows can and do reach capacity, especially for larger national acts, and XPN makes registration available to its members before the general public.  If you’re not a member, check the free-at-noon events page to see who’s coming the next Friday and if space is available.  Registration is a simple matter of providing your name and email, and one person can RSVP for two or more guests.

Score extra points: By showing your date up to the balcony, accessible by the stairs on the second level.

Next date: Friday at noon! Find out who’s playing this week here.

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Every Wednesday until August 24th, as part of its Summer Nights Music Series, the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology hosts a live music series in its verdant garden from 5-8pm.  The museum is located at 3260 South Street, at the intersection of Spruce and 33rd, in the shadow of the Palestra on Penn’s campus.  Entry is pay-what-you-want, and beverages (alcoholic and non) are available for a donation. The lush and stately garden makes you feel like you have been transported away from the city to another time and place – making it the perfect setting for the diverse musical acts featured by the series, which come from all over the globe.  My date and I had a lovely time there, wandering leisurely among the small crowd of students, families, and professionals unwinding after work, taking in both the music and the museum, which remains open to visitors for the duration of the event.

How cheap we talkin’: Your $5 entry fee includes museum admission. (It’s free for Penn Museum members and PennCard holders). Drinks are provided with donation.

Why this will impress your date: Completed in 1915, the Chinese Rotunda at the museum is one of the largest unsupported masonry domes in the United States, housing one of the finest collections of monumental Chinese art in the country, covering some 4,000 years of Chinese history.

Score extra points: By knowing the difference between congas and bongos.

The inside game: If you get there early enough, there might be some Yuengling available.

Next date: Wednesdays 5-8pm, through August 25th, 2010.

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Lining up for $1 treats!

The stretch of commerce along Baltimore Avenue between 50th and 43rd streets in West Philly offers a fantastic variety of restaurants, stores, and services.  At least, that is the conclusion I came to after checking out the Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll on a recent date.  Tonight (July 8th) and again on August 12th, from 5:30 until 8:30 pm, participating merchants will be showcasing their wares and enticing passerby with special, one-night-only offerings for $1.  Starting off with $1 pizza slices at Dock Street Brewing Co. and ending with $1 ice cream cones at Milk & Honey (with $1 theater tickets and cat toys in between), we had a great time: discovered some new places to put on the we-should-come-back-here-sometime list, picked up some free books (that we probably should have just put down), and ended the evening by watching the fireflies light up nearby Clark Park.

How cheap we talkin’: With 15 vendors at last count, you could spend up to the budget on $1 coffee, cookies, sandwiches, beer, records, clothes, etc.  We spent about $8 each, and still ended the night full and happy.

Why this will impress your date: Because of the confidence with which you can pick up the tab and say, “I got this.”

Score extra points: By coming up with a game to play to pass the time while waiting in line. Rock, paper, scissors is a good one. Or I-spy.

The inside game: If there is something you know you want to try, go there first. In some places supplies were limited.

Next date: The 2010 season is over. Hopefully they will reprise this event in 2011!

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