4 Best Places to Do Outdoor Activities in Philly

Rock Climbing in Ralph Stover State Park.

Outdoor Activity in Philly: Mountain Biking
Wissahickon Creek Trail, Philadelphia: Valley Green Inn, West Valley Green Road
Yes, it’s an “in-town” path, but you’ll never know it once you set out on the Wiss’s 50-mile web of trails. Located at the north end of Fairmount Park, the trail system winds through 1,800 lush acres along the Wissahickon Creek watershed and offers exhilarating single-track rides that veer between technical and fast. (In fact, you need a permit for certain trails.) For daredevils, the Bowl area has been built up with jumps so you can work in some mid-trail tricks; for everyone else, the path’s gentle slopes pr­ovide just-tough-enough te­rrain. Join one of the Philadelphia Mountain Biking Association’s weekly rides for a “grand tour” of the most scenic—and most ch­allenging—spots along the way.
Go here for: One of the best urban mountain-biking trails in the country.

Outdoor Activity in Philly: Hiking
Loyalsock Trail, Williamsport: Pa Route 87, 8.6 miles north of I-180
Its 59 miles of sharp inclines, steep pitches and rugged peaks aren’t for the amateur hiker—or the faint of heart. But if you can brave the wilderness of the point-to-point footpath (and the schlep just to get there—three and a half hours from the city), the scenery—mountain streams! waterfalls!—is more than worth the trouble. Wending its way along Loyalsock Creek, the trail snakes from Wyoming County to the Susquehanna River in Montoursville. Ideally you’d allot four to seven days to take it all in and explore some of the less-traveled paths. All of the trails are maintained by the Alpine Club of Williamsport, so it’s safe to venture off the main drag. Just beware of briars.
Go here for: The best hiking in the entire state.

Outdoor Activity in Philly: Rock Climbing
Ralph Stover State Park, Pipersville: 5998 State Park Road
This one-with-nature activity is best pursued in September’s cool temps. (Trust us: Gripping scalding rock isn’t fun.) The High Rocks formation (200 vertical feet of sheer rock face) in this sprawling state park is a­ccommodating to new climbers: Philadelphia Rock Gyms provide educational tours here two Saturday mornings a month through October; zero experience required.
Go here for: The view from the top.

Outdoor Activity in Philly: Horseback Riding
Gateway Stables, Kennett Square: 949 Merrybell Lane
You can take formal l­essons in English or Western riding styles here, but it’s the recreational riding that’s most worth sa­ddling up for. After a pain­­less “Riding 101” se­ssion (d­uring which you learn very important things like, oh, starting, stopping and steering), a friendly guide leads you on an hour-long trail ride that feels less kiddie-party and more freewheeling-in-the-open-fields. (Bonus: No post-ride stable cleanup.)
Go here for: An unfussy equestrian experience.

12 Alternatives To The Rice Toss

15 Alternatives To The Rice Toss

Digital Vision

As you may or may not know, and contrary to popular belief, the traditional rice toss send-off for the just-married b&g is not, in fact, harmful to our feathered friends: The USA Rice Federation and ornithologists alike have dispelled this urban myth by pointing out that migrating birds often rely on rice fields for food during their travels.

But even though it’s been OK’d for the birds, we love these 12 adorable alternatives to the boring white grain (or bubbles, which leave that gross film on everything), and just had to share. After all, well wishes should be much prettier than what’s in your kitchen cupboard, we think.
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The Perfect Bridal Ballet Flat for Your Reception

White Rose, $295, one of the most popular styles chosen by brides. All photos courtesy of Tieks by Gavrieli.

If you ask us here at Philly Wedding, we say that you should be just as picky about your shoes as you are about your dress—maybe even more.

But every lady who has every worn haute high heels to a day or evening of nuptials and partying (and dancing, and drinking) knows that even the very best Manolos are tough to keep on your tootsies all night long—and, even gals who are master stiletto strutters are sure to admit they’d rather be wearing flip-flops by cake-cutting time.
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5 Things Girls Can Learn From Girls

The immediate post-collegiate years, generally the early 20s of young millennials’ lives, are painfully, honestly difficult. That is perhaps the reason I was so dead set against liking HBO’s Girls—which was just nominated for multiple Emmys. The show’s creator and star, Lena Dunham, portrays the trials and tribulations of four post-grad, early 20s, white, upper-middle-class city dwellers who so closely resembled myself. (Unpaid internship and all.) It was too honest. Too resonant. Too real. Surely, that’s not what my life looks like to others. Is it? Hannah is so selfish, Marnie so pretentious, Jessa so unwilling to grow up, and Shoshanna so spoiled. I (and my friends) couldn’t possibly be those people. Read more »

The Guide to Free (Or Almost Free) Jersey Shore Parking

Because you have five-dollar ice-cream cones to buy, here’s how to save money on parking when you’re …

Gambling in Atlantic City

Free Parking!

A few restaurants–Ruth’s Chris and the Tun Tavern at the Seraton–offer it with validation. Ditto for the A.C. library, though only for an hour. Tropicana is free if you earn five points on its gaming card (about five minutes of slot-playing).

The Low-Cost Alternative:

Bally’s charges $5 for the day with a “gold” membership, and sign-up is free.

Secret Spots:

Park free on a city side street in the Chelsea section, south of the casinos (but be careful of the signs that limit parking to residents or three hours). Take the jitney ($2.25) into town.

Taking the Kids to Ocean City

Free Parking!

Wesley Avenue (but it can be tough to find a spot); the beach block on West 4th Street at Brighton; the 6th Street lot between West and Asbury.

The Low-Cost Alternative:

Asbury Avenue shopping district parking is 25 cents for a half hour (max three hours).

Secret Spots:

Bring your sneakers: If you’re willing to park five or six blocks west of the busy Boardwalk, then free street spots can be had.

Partying in Sea Isle

Free Parking!

Sea Isle Public Library (but only non-library-designated spots); Landis Avenue north of 36th, 47th through 50th, and south of 51st; Pleasure Avenue (beach block, holler!) south of 32nd, except for 38th to 41st.

The Low-Cost Alternative:

JFK Boulevard, the main drag into town, offers meters at a buck an hour (see signs for maximum time).

Secret Spots:

Central Avenue, a block west of Landis (the main street), offers more spaces and is free except for two blocks (29th to 31st).

Shopping in Stone Harbor

Free Parking!

Everywhere, except where you need it most: the business district.

The Low-Cost Alternative:

Metered lots north of 96th Street and on the south side of 97th are $1 an hour (no time limit).

Secret Spots:

Days, especially on weekends, can be a nightmare because of the famed shopping. But the 95th Street lot is free after 5 p.m. So shop late and then go for a nice dinner.

Strolling Cape May

Free Parking!

The lot of the Cape May elementary school on Lafayette. Bonus: complimentary shuttle takes you to beach and shopping and runs noon to 11 p.m. daily. There are no meters on Beach Avenue on the east end of Cape May, where beaches are also less crowded.

The Low-Cost Alternative:

Metered parking at the Mall. Bank Street charges $160 per season, if you can make your way up the wait list.

Secret Spots:

There are 30 free spots on Elmira Street near the Acme, but they fill up fast with working locals; get there early to nab a spot.

This article originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

NEWS: Cescaphe’s VIE To Open New Outdoor Space

Cescaphe's VIE To Open New Outdoor Space

A wedding set up inside VIE, Philadelphia.

VIE, the latest venue from Joe Volpe’s Cescaphe Event Group, is planning to open a brand new outdoor space with a privately enclosed, outdoor courtyard just off the main ballroom.

(To review, VIE is a 17,000-square-foot urban space (yep, 17,000-square feet) on North Broad Street just down the block from Marc Vetri’s Osteria and Alla Spina, and Stephen Starr’s Route 6 restaurants. In it, up to 1,200 of your nearest and dearest can enjoy your completely customizable, state-of-the-art wedding, as it’s got loads of techy capabilities and even an area for things like live cooking stations.)

The outdoor space will have a retractable cover to provide insurance in case of rain, and can really be used in any way you want, whether it’s for a fresh-air ceremony, an al-fresco cocktail hour, or even something like a cigar lounge to give weary-from-dancing guests somewhere to hang during band breaks.

It’s slated to be open in July—brides are already booking!—so be sure to check it out if you’re digging the indoor-outdoor combo for your big party. VIE, 600 North Broad Street, 215-238-5750.

I Tried It: Lithe Method’s Immersion Series

I first decided to take the Lithe Method plunge when the weather started warming up and I realized I was not (in any way, shape or form) shorts-, skirt- or bikini-ready. I was interested in trying the Immersion series, a boot camp-like foray into the World of Lithe with two introductory classes a week for three weeks. It would be intense, of course, but I hoped it would be just the shock-to-the-system my body desperately needed.

For the uninitiated, the Lithe Method is an only-in-Philly (for now!) workout designed by former college cheerleader Lauren Boggi. Story goes she tore her rotator cuff and was rehabbing with Pilates when she realized it just wasn’t cutting it. She decided to create a cheerleading-inspired workout that be more challenging and offer better results. And so the Lithe Method was born, a barre/Pilates hybrid that mixes things up with good doses of cardio and some killer resistance training. The result is a workout unlike any you’ve ever done. Lithe addicts say it’s a total body-changer.

Toward the end of my final semester of college—a period that entailed a lot of stress-eating and late-night procrastinating as I juggled two internships and an editor position at my university newspaper—I recognized that my body was suffering. Regular exercise didn’t fit on my overstuffed calendar. As a former competitive dancer I know what it feels like to be in shape; as a twenty-something vegetarian whose meals mainly consist of carbs and cheese, I also know what it feels like to NOT be in shape. Weight loss wasn’t my goal, per se, and I certainly didn’t expect to fit into the size-24 True Religions hanging in the back of my closet, either. But while I reconciled myself with the fact that those jeans would never look awesome on my butt six years after purchasing them (let’s be real, no one retains the body of a 19-year-old for very long), I also didn’t want to rely on Lululemon’s awesome-butt pants in order to feel comfortable leaving my apartment all summer. I needed to tone. I needed to tighten.

So I signed up for the Lithe Method. Here’s what happened.

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