Hour or Two With Your Kids
You’ve exhausted the playgrounds. It’s too nice to spend the day in a museum. Your kids are driving you up the wall. Head to Fort Mifflin and look skyward. The grounds of Philadelphia’s only Revolutionary War-era fort are a perfect spot to let your tykes blow off some steam while yelling “Here comes another one!” as plane after plane — seriously, every three to five minutes — lands nearby. Keep an eye out for the fort’s annual Airplane Day, held every May, which attracts professional pilots and amateur plane-spotters. 6400 Hog Island Road, Philadelphia, PA 19153
Last October, this truly epic social ride closed down 20 miles of city streets so 3,000-plus cyclists could pedal worry-free for the first time ever. (That’s right: no cars!) Not needing to dodge SEPTA buses or opened-out-of-nowhere car doors? Let’s make that a permanent thing. The next Philly Bike Ride is scheduled for October 14th.
Those paint-while-you-drink classes are so 2015. Instead, look to Lea Saccomanno, who has reinvented Grandma’s needlepoint with low-key learning sessions at eateries and breweries in Philly and South Jersey. In two hours, beginners and seasoned stitchers thread needles — and socialize over bevvies — to create modern, vibrant, and sometimes very Philly designs, like a wide-eyed Gritty or a rainbow-colored LOVE statue.
In a world where WFH is the new norm, getting away from the desk in creative ways feels just as much like work as … work. Enter TrailOff, a free app that uses your phone’s technology to transform those daily mental health walks along local trails into literary adventures. The app features the voices and writings of Philly authors who’ve penned stories inspired by the sights, sounds and neighborhoods surrounding those very pathways.
These semi-regular readings upstairs at South Street dive Tattooed Mom (and occasionally elsewhere) are now in their ninth year, which may be a new record for a local poetry-reading series. The success stems from host and curator Boston Gordon’s mission to bring together the best queer and trans writers from the Philadelphia area — and from the fact that these readings are often visceral, incisive and funny, all meant to bring you a little closer to the city’s literary community. The next reading is set for September 24th.
Philly comedians Betty Smithsonian and Ralph Andracchio, along with guest panelists who might include local sex therapists, queer writers, and those employed in the sex industry, watch porn clips and discuss them in a safe, open and humorous way. It’s good naughty fun.
This longtime, recently renovated Poconos resort has a bit of it all: guided nature hikes, lawn bowling, axe-throwing, waterfall bike trips, morning yoga, afternoon tea and cookies, Saturday-night dance-offs, fine dining, firearms classes, kayaking, arts-and-crafts classes, fishing, a ropes course, paintball, archery … phew! Or, yes, you can just sit by the outdoor heated pool all day. 1 Skytop Lodge Road, Skytop, PA 18357
to Stock Up on Gummies
The new dispensary is the first at the southern Jersey Shore where you can buy recreational weed. Unlike the dispensaries in Pennsylvania, MPX (and the other NJ dispensaries) offers edibles, so you’ll want to stock up. Just know that bringing any of your bounty across state lines is technically illegal. 153 South New York Avenue, unit B, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
Throw on your bathing suit and spend a few hours getting soaked at Bart Blatstein’s Island Waterpark. It’s an indoor-outdoor complex of pools and all sorts of water rides. 801 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ
The DJs spin well into the wee hours at this two-level club, since there’s no such thing as closing time in an A.C. casino. 500 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
Be sure to ask for one of the new suites, with their stunning, unobstructed views of the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean. Pro tip: The room-service half-pound brisket burger topped with avocado and bacon is quite good — and, more importantly, an excellent hangover helper that you can order until 6 a.m. 500 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
It’s hard to believe WXPN has been producing this impeccably curated fest for 30 years. Among the dozens of acts at this edition, look for such varied performers as Bruce Hornsby, Tegan and Sara, the Hold Steady, and local greats Low Cut Connie and Moustapha Noumbissi. The concerts run September 22nd through 24th at Wiggins Park.
What if you could take the best sounds of the Sunset Strip era, throw in a hefty bit of fun and spunk of the CBGB variety, and filter it all through five talented young women? You would get this local band, precisely. They’ve been playing the Philly club circuit here and there, but you can see them make their big-stage headlining debut at MMRBQ on September 16th.
Lots of drag queens pay tribute to Queen Bey, but VinChelle goes above and beyond. See for yourself at one of her Beyoncé-themed parties, the next being at Franky Bradley’s on August 12th.
Where’s the longest-running drag show in Philadelphia? South Street dive Bob & Barbara’s. What’s the secret to its longevity? Yes, the bar is cool, and the drinks are cheap. But the real answer is the talent and persistence of Miss Lisa Lisa, who’s been holding down the show and sashaying every Thursday night for more than 25 years. 1509 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Your average drag queen goes for the glam and loves to perform to Madonna and Diana Ross. Not Lamia. The self-described “cursed queen” goes for the dark, Goth-y look and does her spooky thing to the sounds of Judas Priest and Slayer. Performance art you won’t soon forget.
The founder and artistic director of the gender-bending Bearded Ladies Cabaret company plans big things. One of her most recent projects is the Beardmobile, a performance van tricked out with a stage, sound system and lights that lets her bring drag anywhere she damn well pleases, including to libraries and public parks. In September, find her at Late Nite Snacks — the Fringe Festival cabaret she curates — and onstage in her new play, Rose: You Are Who You Eat, which is probably the world’s first musical about a twin who eats her sister in the womb.
Nightclub drag shows can be a lot. When you’re looking for something that’s fun but a bit less bawdy and in-your-face, consider one of the Philly Drag Mafia’s many brunches throughout the region. The hosts tailor the show a bit according to who turns up — i.e., the straight-up raunch becomes double-entendre if the kids are in tow.
An operatic drag queen with a six-octave range and some of the most fabulous costumes around? Hell yeah!
For $100, this bearded, boisterous ukulele-playing drag queen — whom you might recognize as the resident entertainment host at Fishtown’s Fabrika or the co-producer of the semi-annual Snatcherella drag competition at Franky Bradley’s — will show up anywhere in the city and sing a song for your loved one. Want to cheap out? Her $10 Eric Jaffe Coloring Book makes a good gift as well.
Delco DJ Lisa Parks has been hosting karaoke for 32 years and can be found at venues all over the region, from Great American Pub in Narberth to 39 North in Glenolden to the Media VFW to My Brother’s Irish Pub in Bridesburg. Click here for her karaoke tips.
Did you know that Pennsylvania has an official state arboretum? It does, and it’s this 92-acre gem in Northwest Philadelphia that’s been flaunting flora for 90 years now. Some of the Delaware Valley’s biggest trees are here, as is the only remaining freestanding Victorian fernery in all the continent. When you go, don’t miss the recently renovated rose garden, which is simply spectacular. Kids especially will enjoy the Garden Railway, an elaborate outdoor model train that stays up through the end of summer. 100 East Northwestern Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118
When we think about art museums, we tend to think only about the Barnes and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. But don’t sleep on Chesco’s 52-year-old museum along the Brandywine Creek. It’s sometimes referred to as the Wyeth museum because the collection includes so many works by that family — but the 1,500 pieces here represent many other American artists as well. Right now, featured exhibits focus on Andrew Wyeth and 20th-century futurist Joseph Stella. 1 Hoffmans Mill Road, Chadds Ford, PA 19317
There aren’t many places that are just 90 minutes away and that offer exhilarating white-water rafting excursions, adventurous-sounding (but actually quite easy) mountain-bike journeys down a gorge (the key word being down), scenic rides on a historic train, and a cute Main-Street-America shopping district with bars, restaurants, and eclectic boutiques and indie bookstores. Come to think of it: There’s only one!
Sure, you could meet at a bar or try to get a table at the best new restaurant in Philadelphia. But if you really want to see what your possible future better half is made of, both of you can don some beekeeper outfits and spend half a day delving deep into bees and their hives with South Philly apiarist Mark Berman. Bonus: You get to take home a bottle of backyard honey. What you do with that honey after this segment of your date ends is your business.
Philly band the Hooters made a big splash in the ’80s with hit songs like “All You Zombies” and by opening the Philly portion of Live Aid. And while they’ve always maintained a very strong following in Europe, they haven’t done a U.S. tour in decades. That all changed this summer with a new U.S. tour in support of their first full album since 2007, Rocking & Swing, which enjoyably has a lot more ska influence from their early days than the title suggests. Their three-night run at Ardmore Music Hall in May sold out well in advance. So get your tickets for their local August dates (in Atlantic City, Quakertown and Cape May) while you can. It’s good to see them back — even though they never really went away.
The name is fairly self-explanatory: acres upon acres of positively gorgeous wildflowers. Plus, fun nature activities like the Shinrin-yoku nature therapy walk on August 11th and a family-friendly look at spiders on August 25th. Like what you see growing in the beds? Visit Bowman’s Native Plant Nursery to buy some for yours. 1635 River Road, New Hope, PA 18938
No, the building formerly known as the Prince Music Theater doesn’t have those reclining seats. But it does boast one of the largest screens in the area, 35mm film capabilities (a rarity these days), audiophile-worthy sound, and an impressive spread of repertory selections for all tastes. Coming up: classics like Psycho, Taxi Driver and The Night of the Hunter plus a retrospective of Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos. 1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102
A playground’s a playground, right? Slides, swings — you get the picture. But not this spectacular Bucks County palace of play. The eight-story wooden playground is divided into different “kingdoms” based on age and ability, all the way up to a rock wall. Over the past year, Kids Castle got even better thanks to renovations that include specialized play structures for kids with impairments, sensory issues and autism. 425 Wells Road, Doylestown, PA 18901
Any bar that has weekly bingo games where ties are determined by a beer-chugging contest is a bar we wanna be at. Then there are the live bands and comedy and trivia nights that are more fun than most. 436 East Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19125
Bethany Rusen, founder and director of this inclusive pottery studio, says ceramics saved her life, adding, “I’m hoping I can pass that experience on to other people.” Black Hound offers affordable space to artists and sliding-scale pricing for workshops. If you just want to drop in, you can create a functional piece of art like a mug or planter in about two hours. More ambitious? Try an eight-week session in wheel-throwing ceramics. Up next: A second location is coming this fall to Point Breeze. 715 South 50th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19143
These local dance-party promoters have something for (almost) anyone at various locations in the area, whether you want to shake it off with Taylor Swift tunes, unleash your inner diva at “Beyoncé vs. Rihanna,” gather with fellow K-pop enthusiasts for a few jubilant hours, or brood the night away with “Depeche Mode vs. NIN.”
The Fairmount bar’s already great Philly-themed mini golf course is getting a refresh this fall, expanding from nine holes to 18 and unveiling a pro-level golf simulator. Add to that an outdoor beer garden, kid-friendly hours on Sunday afternoons, and plenty of TVs for Birds-watching, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a weekend outing.
Send an email to email@example.com with your street address and a bit about yourself, and South Philly retiree Jean Merritt will handwrite and mail you a letter — like, in an envelope — usually along with some artwork or other paper trinket. Next step: You write back. Instant pen pals. A great way to connect while at the same time disconnecting.
George Nakashima was one of the best woodworkers and furniture designers of the 20th century. He was born in 1905 in Spokane, where he began his career, and in the ’40s relocated to New Hope, where he set up shop and produced some of his finest creations. Nakashima died in 1990, but his daughter keeps his legacy alive at his workshop, where the craft continues to this day. Tours of it and the grounds are available by appointment only. 1847 Aquetong Road, New Hope, PA 18938