We are just back from our collective first visit to Philadelphia and had a wonderful time!
John tried out for (and made!) an elite lacrosse team here in Atlanta. The season consists of two fall tournaments and three in the summer. When we saw Philly was on the agenda AND it coincided with a school holiday, we took advantage of the opportunity extend the trip by about 48 hours to see the city.
Days 1-2: Dalessandro’s Steaks, Lacrosse, Valley Forge, Founding Farmers, King of Prussia Mall
Day 3: Kimpton Monaco Philadelphia Hotel, Ralph’s Italian Restaurant
Day 4: Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, National Constitution Center, Reading Terminal Market, Eastern State Penitentiary, City Tavern
Day 5: Museum of the American Revolution, High Street on Market, Betsy Ross House, Elfreth’s Alley
We flew in late Friday night and our first stop from the airport was Dalessandro’s Steaks! WOW!!! We didn’t arrive until about 9:30 PM and there was still a short line. Deciding on Dalessandro’s was no easy feat. We changed our mind about eight times but, in the end, we were thrilled with our choice. Our cheesesteak dinner was definitely a highlight of our trip and a great kick off!
John’s lacrosse games were a little outside of the city, so we stayed in Plymouth Meeting the first two nights. His team played three games Saturday and three on Sunday. He loved playing Northeast teams and came away more passionate than ever about the game. The weather was chilly but absolutely beautiful the entire time we were there.
Whit and I skipped John’s Saturday afternoon game to tour Valley Forge, the site of the 1777-78 winter encampment of the Continental Army. Valley Forge National Historic Park is expansive and you can do either a self guided tour or a trolley tour. I always, always recommend taking a guided tour when available and that is just what we did!
On December 19th, 1777, 12,000 soldiers and 400 women and children marched into Valley Forge and began to build what was essentially the fourth largest city in the United States, with 1,500 log huts and two miles of fortifications. Lasting six months, from December until June, the encampment was as diverse as any city, with people who were free and enslaved, wealthy and impoverished, speakers of several languages, and adherents of multiple religions. Concentrating the soldiers in one vast camp allowed the army to protect the countryside and be better able to resist a British attack, but it became costly when lack of supplies and hunger afflicted the inhabitants, and diseases like influenza and typhoid spread through the camp. While there was never a battle at Valley Forge, disease killed nearly 2,000 people during the encampment.
Throughout the 90 minute tour, your guide explains what you are seeing around the encampment and is available for questions and discussion. The first extended stop is at the Muhlenberg Brigade Huts. Here, a period-costumed park ranger explained how the army procured supplies, built log cabins to stay in, constructed makeshift clothing and gear, and cooked subsistence meals of their own concoction during that winter. Contrary to popular belief, it was not a desolate winter where they froze and starved to death.
Afterwards, we had a chance to explore the (recreated) huts. Here you can see the difference in a “regular” family hut versus an officer hut.
Valley Forge was beautiful and seeing it in fall was spectacular. There are still a handful of original buildings on site.
We saw the site where George Washington pitched his tent for the first 6 nights that winter. It is interesting for two reasons: 1) That he camped for just 6 nights and that warranted this :-) 2) That we got to see the tent a few days later at the Museum of the American Revolution! It is one of the most iconic surviving artifacts of the American Revolution.
Washington moved from the tent to his headquarters when he rented the Issac Potts House for the remainder of his time at the Valley Forge Encampment. We learned that whenever possible, Washington did not TAKE for the cause. He personally paid for many necessary provisions and kept a detailed expense report that he submitted to Congress.
The house was lovely and is nearly all original on the exterior and mostly original inside. We had a short ranger led introduction before our group was allowed inside to tour.
Here’s a peek inside. It is confirmed that Hamilton and Laurens bunked in the upstairs loft area on the third floor! Laurens wrote of waking up and bumping his head on the low slanted ceiling each morning. As many as 25 people lived here at any one time during the winter at Valley Forge!
I love looking out windows to see what the people that came before me saw. <3
We made sure to get our Passport stamped!
King of Prussia Mall
After Valley Forge, I tortured Whit with a trip to the King of Prussia Mall. I HAD to see the Lilly store. It was a Lilly store. :-) Funny story… I also took Whit for a spin through Louis Vuitton. He quickly picked out a pair of $4,700 bedazzled sneakers… for ELSA. LOL.
While the team dined at Dave & Busters (I’ve had the unfortunate experience of dining at ours recently), we ate at Founding Farmers. It was one of our favorites from when we went to D.C. and we were thrilled for the chance to eat here again. It was every bit as wonderful as we had remembered.
We started with lemonade and hibiscus soda and a plate of pierogies. We shared a burger and salad and both were divine. Afterwards, we stopped at their bakery on the lower level and picked a donut for each of us to have for breakfast Sunday morning.
I did give Whit the choice of this or Dave & Busters. Thankfully he picked this! We made it to Dave & Busters right as they were finishing up dinner and he got to spend the rest of the night playing games with the older boys. :-)
Stay tuned for so much more as we move into the city tomorrow!
As a Virtuoso affiliated travel adviser, I have global connections with the best hotels, cruise lines, airlines and tour companies, and I secure exclusive amenities for my luxury clients. I have recently refocused my travel business primarily on Disney destinations, but am always happy to book and consult on destinations I have personally visited, as well as other Virtuoso resorts and all major cruise lines. Contact me to learn more and start designing your dream vacation today!
DIXIE DELIGHTS DELIVERED