On Philly Fatherhood: My Dad, Vacation King

Photograph provided by Ashley Primis.

Photograph provided by Ashley Primis.

Most of the year, there was Regular Dad.

Regular Dad was kind of like Don Draper (minus the three-martini lunches and workday naps). He was a hardworking, good-looking, big-city, big-job media guy, with monogrammed cuffs on custom dress shirts. He lunched at the Rainbow Room. His job was high-stress, and we didn’t see a lot of him: He left our bucolic New Jersey home each morning before the sun had fully cracked the horizon and came home late each evening — all to beat the rush-hour traffic. His long commute, which was filled with off-ramps and toll roads, bridges and tunnels, was something he did every day for nearly 30 years without complaint. Regular Dad was pretty great as far as I was concerned: Decades later, I still remember jumping off the couch each night when I saw the headlights of his car pan across our family-room window as he turned into the driveway. I would race the dog to see who could get to the garage door first.

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I Tried It: The Eyebrow Shaping Treatment That Costs $600


Going under the blade for good brows. | iStockphoto/Jacob Wackerhausen.

It’s very easy for most women to justify absurd beauty and fashion purchases. We practically have our master’s degrees in it. That stupidly expensive midi dress? “It can be dressed up or dressed down. I’ll basically live in it this summer!” That insanely pricey lotion? “I only have to use the tiniest amount, so it’s actually a good value in the end!” And the eyebrow treatment I just got that cost more than a car payment? “It’s gonna save me minutes every morning, for years, and that is priceless!”

But, in the end, was it actually worth it?

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The Best Christmas Lights In and Around Philadelphia

The popular light display at Shady Brook Farm. Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

The popular light display at Shady Brook Farm. Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

Shady Brook Farm

931 Stony Hill Road, Yardley

You haven’t seen the Statue of Liberty, Leaning Tower of Pisa or Great Wall of China until you’ve seen them made out of Christmas lights. Weave your car (or let a tractor pull you) along the two-mile path past the Seven Wonders of the World and through tunnels made of twinkling lights as you view more bedecked trees, snowmen and toy soldiers than you can possibly imagine. You’ll end up at the farm market for hot chocolate, s’mores by a bonfire, and, if you want, the perfect tree to haul home. $20 per carload during the week with a food donation; $25 on weekends.

Go here for: Family tradition; the Flemings have been running this farm for generations and the holiday show for 20-plus years.

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The Work Issue: The New Rules of Networking

Illustration by Matt Chase

Illustration by Matt Chase

Does it seem like there are more networking events than ever? There are. Connections are still at the heart of business, but the old rules no longer apply. We asked some of Philly’s networking all-stars how they make the most of their time.

Business is personal is business.

Those blurred lines? Blame Mark Zuckerberg, not Robin Thicke. “So much is available online — who people are and what they’re doing. There’s a very thin line between personal and professional,” says Brigitte Daniel, executive vice president of Wilco Electronic Systems. But that’s not a negative. “There was a time when it was thought you couldn’t do business with friends,” says Marc Brownstein, president and CEO of the Brownstein Group. “Today, with so much sharing, you have more opportunities. Most of my clients are my friends.” This is especially true in Philadelphia, a town that’s not very transient. Which really means that you must … Read more »

The Lineup for ThinkFest 2015 Is Confirmed!


Planning the lineup for ThinkFest takes about six months, so you can imagine how exciting it is for us to finally announce that all the speakers are confirmed. Our goal for the event is to create a platform where a whole bunch of interesting people can share their stories and ideas, which range from taking Hollywood by storm to developing a medical technology that will forever alter lives to suddenly becoming a darling of the startup world. Read more »

Join Gov. Wolf, Mayor Nutter, Abbi Jacobson, Todd Carmichael, and More at ThinkFest 2015


To state the obvious: Philadelphia is not a city that has a wide reputation for innovation. (Still waiting for those Metrocards!) But while we might not have the collective cash of Silicon Valley or the in-your-face flash of New York, this town is filled brilliant people who are moving things forward, discovering better ways, and thinking without limits.

This is what ThinkFest is all about. Read more »

Why Philly Chefs Keep Opening Fast-Casual Restaurants

Illustration by Gluekit

Illustration by Gluekit

“If I had a nickel for every time I heard the expression ‘I’m going to be the Chipotle of blank,’ I’d be rich,” says Steve Cook, the local restaurateur who, along with James Beard winning chef Michael Solomonov, owns the fine-dining eateries Zahav and Abe Fisher. Of course, given that Cook and Solomonov also own fast-casual hummusiya Dizengoff and the fast-growing Federal Donuts empire — five locations and counting — it’s probably something he’s said to himself.

Who can blame him? As Philadelphia diners have stepped up their demand for good food at every price point, a whole new market for quality eateries has opened up — one that just happens to include more takeout counters than OpenTable reservations. Read more »

We Tried It: Primp & Play, Philly’s New Kid-Friendly Spa


Your new favorite relaxation spot. | Image via Primp & Play.

This post originally appeared on Wee Wander, a website dedicated to helping parents navigate Philadelphia.

I couldn’t help but have a knee-jerk reaction to the news that a new kid-friendly spa was opening in Philly. I can’t quite pinpoint what didn’t sit right, but it had something to do with sending the wrong message to little (very little) girls and boys about external beauty … and maybe also a little something to do with Honey Boo Boo. But then I actually read the press release and found myself getting excited because this wasn’t shaping up to be your typical Toddlers and Tiaras type of place. And my recent visit confirmed just that.  Read more »

Best of Philly 2015

bop-2015-cover-305x400Our annual Best of Philly issue may come out in August, but every Philadelphia magazine editor and writer knows that researching this massive compendium of the very best is an all year-process. Our style editor has been known to close in on any well-dressed man she passes on Walnut Street and demand to know where he gets his suits tailored. Our food editor wakes up at the crack of dawn (or possibly doesn’t ever go to sleep) all in the name of eating another stack of fluffy pancakes. Our writers circle names in their notebooks of the people who sources continue to insist are the ones that are doing remarkable things for our city.

All of these notes, tastes, and discoveries come together to form our annual list, which, when taken as a whole, shows off the newest and best of Philadelphia in 2015. As we start to put together the list, trends — the things that truly reflect what is happening in the city now — always emerge. For example, bowls are apparently huge this year. Bowls filled with mountains of black rice, fresh-pulled noodles, and local veggies are being composed by chefs in high-end restaurants and quick-serve lunch spots alike. (In fact, nine of our food winners this year were in the bowl form. We agree that this one-dish eating is pretty awesome.) In other food news, East Passyunk is still one of the most exciting food neighborhoods. Our food writers awarded “Best Ofs” to 10 restaurants, bars, and dishes from the cluster of establishments located on these few South Philly blocks. Read more »

Swimming Holes Worth Discovering in and Around Philly


Linvilla Orchards two hidden swim clubs have enormous baby pools (above), or super-high dives for the bravest of the bunch (below). | Photo by Jauhien Sasnou

If the closest thing you’ve got to a pool or shore house is a hose and sprinkler, you’re in luck: The region has plenty of places to go for a cooling dip. Here are five worth discovering.

Linvilla Orchard
The first swim club (of sorts) opened at Linvilla in the 1930s, when Arthur Linvill scooped out a pond for his son. That swimming hole has evolved into two separate clubs, Knowlton and Hidden Hollow, each clandestinely located deep in a valley. The family-fun vibe is still intact: The baby pool is clover-shaped, the diving platforms soar up to 10 meters, the slides are twisty, the swim teachers have been there for decades. As for the snack bar, it serves up fare fresh from the farm. go here for: The August-only discounted membership. It’s just $195 per adult, which gets you access to both clubs. 598 Linvill Road, Media.

Lake Absegami
Bonus points for Jersey, which allows swimming in many of its beautiful park lakes. (The closest PA state park lake you can swim in is about two hours away.) Just over an hour from Philly, Lake Absegami is carved into the dense Pine Barrens and has water so clear, you can see little fish swimming by. A day here couldn’t be easier thanks to lifeguards, a calm shoreline, clean bathrooms, playgrounds, and a shack that rents chairs, umbrellas, and balls for the beach-volleyball court. Admission starts at $5 per vehicle. go here for: Summer-camp nostalgia. 762 Stage Road, Tuckerton.


Schuylkill Banks Kayak Tours
When you’re looking up from the river, our city takes on a new identity—the stone bridge arches resemble Paris, and the Fairmount Water Works feels like Venice’s Grand Canal. Hidden River Outfitters launches guided kayak tours under the Walnut Street Bridge; you’ll get 30 minutes of on-land instruction, all sorts of info about the river’s history, and an hour paddling around the banks. go here for: The moonlight tour—because there’s nothing better than a summer sunset on the water. Walnut Street Dock, Center City.

Quarry Swim Club
The original operators of this verdant New Jersey quarry hit a natural spring before WWI, let the basin fill up, and opened it as a private swim club in 1928. Today the 55-foot-deep emerald-hued water is always crisp and serene, and there’s plenty of fun to be had: The tubes are provided by the club, the trio of diving boards are bolted right into the soaring stone walls, and floating wooden platforms are made for diving games. Little ones can splash in the nearby pool. Non-members can get special passes; eight visits start at $120 for adults. go here for: The day. Bring ingredients and charcoal, and grill in the picnic grove. 180 Crusher Road, Hopewell.

Brandywine River Tubing
The Wyeths probably never grabbed a cooler and some friends and floated down the Brandywine on tubes. Which is their loss, because this is a great way to see Chester County’s pastoral scenery, especially for those who prefer slower speeds. Northbrook Canoe Company drops guests off at two river locations for two- or three-hour tours; bring your own food (you can rent a cooler there) and go at your own pace. go here for: If you want time with Fido, take a canoe—dogs are welcome on the trips. 1810 Beagle Road, West Chester.

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