12 Can’t Miss, Not Fake* Philadelphia Tourist Destinations for 2015!
Locals know that Philadelphia is a great city, and that it’s only getting better with time. Well, the word has gotten out, and Philly is quickly becoming a booming tourist destination. That’s great news! It’s wonderful for the local economy, the arts and entertainment programs, and for the city’s reputation in general. BUT IT NEEDS TO STOP IMMEDIATELY. This place is crowded as it is, and I don’t need more tourists hogging every inch of the sidewalk with their Segways, selfie sticks, and (gasp!) duck callers. Remember, this is the City of Brotherly Love, not the City of Brother and 150 of His Buddies from Akron-ly Love.
So here’s the plan: Just like Old Man Garrity tried to scare Scooby and the gang away from his amusement park so he could find the buried treasure, I’m going to scare away tourists with this fake list of terrible tourist attractions, events, and destinations. If a potential tourist sees this, there’s no way they’ll want to vacation here. So if you know of someone who wants to visit Philadelphia, send them this bogus list, and they’ll make a beeline to Dollywood instead. That way, the place will be ours, and just like true Philadelphians, we can each ride our very own Segway to dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe.
1. The Fourth Annual Northern Liberties Undercooked Chicken Festival
Who has time to wait for chicken to be cooked for the proper amount of time? Not you! At the NLUCF, you will get the finest poultry baked, fried or grilled for a minimal amount of time. No amount of BBQ sauce can mask the delightful taste of pink, lukewarm drumsticks and chewy, limp cutlets. And try the day-old coleslaw! Be sure to bring your appetite and your insurance card, because you will be getting salmonella. Bon appétit!
2. The Bernard Keegan 50k Fun Run and Walk
Held every single Saturday in June, July and August, this charity event snakes through roughly 30 miles of Center City streets, crippling traffic from the Navy Yard up to whatever is north of Temple University. Motorists and commuters are brought to a standstill for hours as participants make their way through this seemly endless course. Anyone is welcome to participate — runners, walkers, parents with strollers, some guy who thinks it’s hilarious to run in a tutu … it doesn’t matter! What matters is that traffic is completely shut down for hours and hours throughout the entire city. Rest in peace, Bernard Keegan. Thanks for NOTHING.
3. Elfreth’s Back Alley
It’s no secret that Elfreth’s Alley in Old City is our nation’s oldest residential street! But what many people don’t know is that right behind these adorable 18th-century homes is a continental nightmare. Stroll Elfreth’s Back Alley, and take in the sights of a colonial horror scene — you might see Ben Franklin passed out behind a Dumpster, or get roughed up by an angry Betsy Ross who just lost a game of dice! If you arrive after sundown, you might be lucky enough to have your wallet taken at musketpoint! The Red Coats will be the least of your worries in this early-American hellscape. Bring the kids!
4. Fairmount Park’s Wild Tick Refuge
Throw on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, and take this two-hour walking tour through 12-acres of a lush, green paradise that’s literally crawling with Philadelphia’s official insect: the deer tick! Led by the city’s foremost tick expert, Michael “Drowsy Mike” Haines, this excursion will bring you up close and personal with hundreds of thousands of these little blood-sucking beauties. And don’t worry — if you take a few little guys home with you, we won’t even notice. And in most cases, neither will you!
5. The Franklin Institute’s Floor Lego Exhibit
On the heels of the wildly successful “Art of the Brick” Lego exhibit, Philadelphia’s museum with a big heart (ha!) has unveiled its newest Lego experience. Kick off your shoes and wander barefoot through dimly-lit corridors whose floors are strewn with thousands of Denmark’s beloved plastic bricks. You won’t see many Legos, but trust us, you’ll feel them. Children are not welcome, and the entire exhibit is surrounded by soundproof walls, so feel free to curse like a sailor as you gingerly make your way through room after room of completely unnecessary agony.
6. The Barn’s Foundation
Many tourists and art aficionados get this little gem confused with the renowned Barnes Foundation. You can see their utter disappointment as they realize that this is not the premiere art gallery, but rather, quite literally a barn’s foundation. Located within an empty beer bottle’s throw of the Art Museum, this attraction is merely the foundation of an old barn (we think). It’s just some concrete sticking out of the ground, in the shape of probably a barn. That’s pretty much it. Admission is $35, and is non-refundable. Tour at your own risk.
7. Franklin Square Park
Fountains! A carousel! Mini-golf! This delightful square is the perfect destination for a family outing! Also, due to a glitch in some zoning paperwork in the mid-1980s, Franklin Square Park is technically a territory of North Korea. No one knows how it happened, but just be aware that the moment you step foot inside this quaint, festive little park, you do fall under the jurisdiction of Kim Jong-un‘s brutal regime. Now, it doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while, a family will be dragged off the carousel and sentenced to years of hard labor in one of Pyonyang’s harshest prisons. Also, there’s a snack bar!
8. The Wild Dogs of East Passyunk
This South Philadelphia neighborhood is a new hotspot for hip bars and trendy restaurants. It’s fun for the family, or great for a date night. But it’s also known for its packs of wild dogs. These bloodthirsty, probably rabid beasts roam the avenue, searching for their prey, terrorizing anyone who dines out on this diagonal strip. Set one foot on the sidewalks of East Passyunk, and you are just asking to be ravaged by these merciless creatures. Make sure to check out the Singing Fountain!
9. Liberty Pop-Up Root Beer Garden
Located in a vacant lot off of Washington Avenue in South Philadelphia, this hip new outdoor spot serves nothing but root beer. After applying for their liquor license too late, proprietors Dale and Shannon Kameski had no choice but to switch out the dozens of popular actual beers on tap with 2-liter bottles of generic-brand root beer. Angrily poured into tiny dixie cups with no ice, this soft drink provides for the ultimate summer experience. Dozens of sugared-up children with sticky hands run amok and touch everything in their reach. Adults are hot, angry and on-edge. And the bees. Oh, the bees. They’re EVERYWHERE. Recommended: Bring a flask and an EpiPen.
10. The South Street Witch
OK, so, she flies on a broom, casts spells, eats children. Just stay off of South Street.
11. The Gayborhood Witch
Same as the South Street Witch, except her broom is from Restoration Hardware. Stay out of the Gayborhood.
12. Penn’s Landing’s Lou Bega Karaoke
Seven nights a week, Spruce Street Harbor Park on Philadelphia’s historic Penn’s Landing hosts Lou Bega Karaoke! Song selection is limited only to Mr. Bega’s 1999 classic, “Mambo No. 5.” In the course of one evening, you can hear people from all walks of life drunkenly belt out the lyrics to this song dozens and dozens of times. SIDE NOTE: All hammocks from the park have been removed, as people were using them in an attempt to harm themselves after being exposed to “A little bit of Monica” for hours on end. It’s simply horrific!
Chip Chantry is a Philadelphia comedian and writer. Follow @ChipChantry on Twitter.
* These tourist destinations are very fake.