The Cheapskate’s Guide to Philly in the Summer
It all started in the summer of 1793, when the city came down with yellow fever and all of the rich folks got the hell out of dodge and went to the beach. Here we are, 230 years later, and not much has changed, other than the fact that yellow fever has been replaced by stray bullets and that rich people have been joined by meatheads.
So everyone’s headed to the Jersey Shore for the summer, and there you are, like Charlie in Scent of a Woman, watching them go somewhere fun over break while you have to house-sit some drunk blind guy. Philadelphia is your drunk blind guy, and you’re none too pleased about this assignment. But remember: There are few people more interesting than drunk blind guys. Time to get your “I may not have money but I’ve got moxie” game face on. Here, some kickass summer activities you can enjoy despite the fact that you can’t afford beachfront at Avalon and aren’t really a Baird man.
Swimming for free. Oh sure, you can whine about the fact that the Lombard Swim Club has a waiting list longer than the one for season tickets for the Green Bay Packers. Or you can get your butt to one of the city’s great public pools. There should be (fingers crossed) 70 public pools open this summer, and the only reason you’re not swimming at one is because they don’t have bars. That, my friends, is why they invented the flask.
Camden Riversharks game. Yeah, the Phillies are in the big leagues and the Riversharks have a dizzy bat race every night. So what? The tickets are mad cheap, the view of the skyline from the first-base side is nothing short of spectacular, and they put on a hell of a Friday night fireworks show. Plus they have better middle relievers than the Phillies.
University City. Good news, folks: There are some great places to go out in U-City. Better news: There won’t be popped-collar Penn kids swarming until August. U-City is ours, people, if we’re just bold enough to take it. Have a cold beer on the outdoor deck at City Tap House, step right up to the Magic Carpet food truck without waiting in line, and walk through Penn’s beautiful (and well-shaded) campus without having to listen to Thaddeus Heyerdahl IV talk about how Pa-Pa just got him a Jaguar when he asked for a Lexus.
Floating down the Delaware. The first things that come to mind when you think of “floating down the Delaware” are the dead bodies of snitches. It’s time to change your perception of the Mighty Del. The Big D. The Dynamic D-Train.* Roll up the road to Frenchtown, NJ, and go tubing. Go on a weekday and it’s less than $20, and that includes lunch. Essentially, instead of getting a martini with lunch, you’ll be getting a four-hour ride floating down the Delaware on a hot summer day. And assuming you haven’t snitched lately, you can do this while lying face-up!
Drink outdoors at Doobie’s. If you need to be seen by the beautiful people while drinking al fresco, go to Parc. (Or, if you’re in my tax bracket, get a bottle of Strawberry Kiwi Mad Dog and sit in Rittenhouse.) But if you don’t need to be with the hip crowd and just want to enjoy a few drinks with a few other friends who don’t need a needle-infested beach** to have a good time, go to Doobie’s and sit outside.
Festivals. The Odunde Festival (the largest African American street festival on the East Coast) and the Bastille Day Festival (presumably the largest festival celebrating mass beheadings on the East Coast) are both a lot of fun. And they’re free. You know what’s not free? Beach tags.
Laser Tag. Dude, it’s $225 to rent the entire freaking place out for up to 39 people. Who’s in?
*No idea why I want to give the Delaware River a terrible nickname. No idea.
**Cheap shot. That hasn’t happened since like 2008.