Valentine’s Day in the City of (Brotherly) Love

Fun FridaysThanks to Dan Patterson for this Valentine’s Day guest post — and to CityPASS for providing two free CityPASSes for our blog giveaway! We seem to have had some technical difficulties … the entries are not posting to Rafflecopter properly. If you entered the raffle, please message me privately at Heidi(dot)hess(dot)saxton(at)gmail(dot)com. Final winner will be announced next week. Sorry for the delay — and thanks!)

It’s that time of year when couples set out to make others uncomfortable with their excessive PDA and when singles set out to break records for chocolate eaten, wine consumed and slasher movies watched. That’s right! Valentine’s Day is almost here. Can you smell love in the air? If you can’t, you should make your way to the City of Brotherly Love this Valentine’s Day — where romance lies around every Philadelphia street corner.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic dinner for your first date or you’re planning to pop the question to your longtime sweetheart, check out our suggestions for top Philly restaurants that will guarantee a perfect night for you and your special someone.

Dinner Destinations for Two

waterworksThe Water Works Restaurant and Lounge is located behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art, overlooking the river. It has been called the “Best Romantic Restaurant” and is considered one of the “Top 100 Experiences in the World” according to Saveur Magazine. Enough said, right?

Picture this! As you dine with the person you love this Valentine’s Day at the Four Seasons’ Fountain Restaurant, you can gaze out the window at Logan Circle’s Swann Memorial Fountain for a perfect view. Not only do you get the ambiance of fine dining and a glimpse at one of Philly’s most breathtaking attractions, but the food has earned the restaurant Zagat’s number one spot in Center City Philadelphia. Your stomach and your Valentine will thank you for this experience.

Or, head down to Penn’s Landing for one of Philadelphia’s most intimate and delicious restaurants, Fork. The restaurant is located near Market & 3rd and is only distinguishable by the Fork design on the front door. It’s not easy to find, but it’s also not easy to forget; the food and drinks are to die for.

Another great place for Valentine’s dinner is none other than Chef Jose Garces’ restaurant, Garces Trading Company. This award-winning restaurant focuses on creating some of the best dishes in Philly inspired by cuisines from Italy, Spain and France. Take a look at their menu! It’s sure to make your mouth water and satisfy your date this February 14th.

R2LThe best view of the city can be found on the 37th floor of Two Liberty Place at R2L. Make sure to call in advance for reservations – well in advance if you want a window table. Check out their Valentine’s Day 3-course dinner.

Are you and your Valentine’s Day date seafood people? If so, the Oyster House is the place for you! This restaurant offers the most extensive selection of half-shell oysters in all of Philadelphia. The atmosphere is also something to be admired, with its white brick walls and central marble raw bar. The Oyster House is definitely a one-of-a-kind place to spend this Valentine’s Day.

You can never go wrong with Rittenhouse Square! Rouge is perfectly situated for you and your date to have a picturesque view of the romantic park. The restaurant’s atmosphere is sophisticated and elegant, and the food will delight even the pickiest of palates. You can’t go wrong with this restaurant choice, either.

You can catch another breathtaking view of Philadelphia from 19th floor of the Hyatt at the Bellevue, at Nineteen (XIX). This restaurant has been described as “opulent” and “palace-like” by many. The dining room is decorated with strings of white pearls strung from the dome ceiling, making for a very romantic dinner. Dine with your Valentine in this scenic restaurant for a night to remember.

Perfect Places for Popping the Question

If you decided to take my earlier advice and chose dinner at R2L, you need not go any further. The glorious view of the city is amazingly romantic. Just make sure to get a table near the window for a perfect Valentine’s proposal!

If you’re hoping memorably to pop the question over dinner, another previous suggestion, the Water Works Restaurant and Lounge, has excellent views of the sunset as well as a Gazebo that overlooks the mini waterfall.  Request Table 42 and I assure you, your Valentine will be pleased.

If you would like to venture elsewhere after dinner at the Water Works, the Philadelphia Art Museum Steps are situated directly behind the restaurant. Dare your loved one to beat you to the top and drop to one knee once you arrive. This offers you the element of surprise as well as a gorgeous city backdrop to your proposal.

Magic GardensDo you believe in magic? You will after proposing at the Magic Gardens in Chestnut Hill. This is a maze made out of recycled glass and ceramic that is one of the most striking art exhibits in all of Philadelphia. They’re also offering Valentine’s tours that you’re bound to enjoy this February.

The Whispering Wall are stone benches located at the base of Smith Memorial Arch to honor Pennsylvania’s Civil War military and Navy. Have your soon-to-be fiancé at one end of the wall while you sit on the other side. The benches are designed so that even the lightest of whispers can be heard when speaking into the wall. Just ask the question softly into the wall and wait for the excited reaction.

There are many statues and landmarks that come to mind when thinking about Philly. LOVE Park and the LOVE statue is definitely on the top of that list. Taking your date here after a romantic dinner not only makes for a romantic proposal, but a great photo opp as well!

Another iconic Philadelphia landmark is none other than Boathouse Row on MLK Drive. Take your Valentine on a nighttime stroll of MLK Drive across from Boathouse Row and the Fairmount Dam on the Schuylkill River for a great photo op and a question that will be answered with a “yes!”

The Blue Cross Riverrink at Penn’s Landing offers you a fun wintery activity and a beautiful view of the Delaware River and Benjamin Franklin Bridge all lit up. You can also grab some hot chocolate and warm up by one of their fire pits. Then, when you’re all comfortable and toasty, ask the question of all questions!

Swann FountainThere is nothing wrong with keeping it simple! In fact, there are two areas of Philadelphia that will make for an unforgettable Valentine’s proposal. After having a delicious meal at Rouge or the Fountain Restaurant, take your date on a stroll through either Rittenhouse Square or Logan Circle. Rittenhouse is captivating at any time of day and perfect for a proposal. Likewise, Logan Circle is an ideal place for popping the question with Swann Memorial Fountain in the background.

Single and Ready to Mingle?

For all you single ladies (and gents) out there, I understand the Valentine’s Day pressure that can occur at this time of year. However, being single on Valentine’s no longer means that you have to sit at home with your chocolates, wine and cynicism.

Grab your friends for dinner and dancing at the Bleu Martini or attend Howl at the Moon’s Anti-Valentine’s Day Party, Love Sux. All hope is not lost. Just remember, Valentine’s candy goes on sale February 15th and that’s a day worth celebrating!

So, there you have it! With one of these dinner, dancing or proposal ideas you are bound to have a great Valentine’s night!

Love is in the air, Philadelphia! The question is, where will the wind take you this Valentine’s Day?

xoxo CityPASS

Win 2 Free CityPASSES on Valentine’s Day!

CityPASSThis week’s FUN FRIDAY is especially fun! CityPASS has offered two free adult passes to Philadelphia or any of your other favorite cities. Here’s the scoop:

Winner will receive two CityPASS ticket booklets to their choice of the following destinations: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle or Toronto. Each CityPASS ticket booklet contains actual admission tickets to a destination’s top five or six attractions. At many sights, CityPASS booklets provide VIP access, allowing travelers to bypass an attraction’s main-entrance ticket line. CityPASS ticket booklets are valid for nine consecutive days, beginning with the first day of use. Booklets may be activated (first used) anytime between today’s date and Feb. 28, 2015.

Here’s all you have to do:

1. Sign up to receive my blog posts by email! Then, leave a comment naming your favorite family-fun city, and name three of your favorite places to visit while you’re there.

2. “Like” “A Mother on the Road Less Traveled” Facebook page.

3. “Share” a link to the contest on your blog or Facebook page.

4. “Follow” me on Twitter (@hsaxton).

5. Almost done! Now click here: a Rafflecopter giveaway. (WordPress won’t support the JAVA code, so you need to go here to register your entry.)

Tune back in on Valentine’s Day (February 14) to see if you’ve won! Contest closes on Thursday, February 13. Spread the word!

Fun Things to Do in Philadelphia: Fun Fridays

SEPTA_oneday_family_passWhen we moved to southeastern Pennsylvania in 2011, we had great fun discovering all the fun things to see and do in the Philadelphia area.

How to get around. After 9:00 a.m., a family of 5 (2 adults) can travel from Thorndale to Center City, travel on the trains, buses, and the (seasonal) Phlash trolley, and go home again for the low, low price of $29 with a Family Independence Pass. (Individuals can ride for a day for $12.) It also allows you to avoid exorbitant parking fees — it can be tough to find a place to park for a day for less than $20.

Discounts and deals. Families on extended stay might also appreciate a Philadelphia CityPASS, which gives you discounted rates on popular attractions for nine consecutive days.

For history buffs, you really can’t beat downtown Philadelphia … Independence Hall and Liberty Bell are completely free to visit (you’ll want to reserve a spot ahead of time between March and December). My favorite feature is the “Once Upon a Nation” storytelling benches located around the historic district, and as far afield as the Valley Forge National Historic Park.

Lovers of the arts can visit the Philadelphia Museum of Contemporary Art (open Wednesday through Sunday) free of charge. The Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site commemorates the six years this literary giant lived in Philadelphia (open Friday – Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free of charge). Be sure to check out the basement, which was his inspiration for “The Black Cat.” In August, Rittenhouse Square has Concerts in the Park.

Natural history lovers, we always bypass the lovely-but-costly Franklin Institute and head for the exhibit around the corner at the Drexel Academy of Natural Sciences. They currently have the “Dinosaurs Unearthed” Exhibit, as well as a reciprocal arrangement with other area museums. (This is one of the area attractions we buy a family membership.)

Foodies will love the city, too. First stop should be Reading Terminal Market, where you can get everything from handmade soft pretzels and other Amish specialties to fresh kielbasa, absolutely fresh seafood, and of course the iconic cheesesteak. Plus the best black-and-white cookies this side of NYC. Live jazz on Fridays from 12-2 p.m.

Outside the city…

If you’re willing to drive a bit further, check out the Adventure Aquarium (not free, unless you have the CityPass, but where else can you pet baby sharks and sting(less)rays on the same morning?

Another family favorite is the Valley Forge National Park, where you can roller blade, walk the dog, and picnic on a bench while listening to first-rate storytellers recount the trials and tribulations of George Washington and Company (seasonal). All for free!

If you’re willing to drive even further, it is possible to visit Hershey Park without paying a dime, by riding the factory simulator (assuming you can get out of the gift shop without splurging on the chocolate). Or you can just go to Lilitz, PA and visit the Wilbur Buds Chocolates, and watch the candy being made right before your eyes!

Have fun!

Next week I’ll be hosting a guest post from a mom from Chicago! If you’d like to share your favorite family activities in your area, please send me your article at Heidi(dot)hess(dot)saxton(at)gmail(dot)com.