Strolling a local’s path in Philadelphia

The Stroll, Philadelphia, PA
The Stroll | Photo by Lauren Girardin

Our visit to Philadelphia started and ended with cheap, flavorful Caribbean soul food bought from a truck. In between, Todd and I grazed on must-do cheesesteaks, held off the effects of a heatwave with refreshing water ice, and spent a “minit” walking around the funkier, local side of the city.

Taking a taste of a local’s Philadelphia was exactly what we’d been looking for. As my brother Mike said “You don’t wanna be a tourist, you wanna be an explorer.” These wise words from someone 10 years my junior, who’s never left the U.S. or had a passport.

To Explore! Philadelphia, PA
To Explore! | Photo by Lauren Girardin

Mike wasn’t aware of how appropriate his comment was – in Philly I was happy to find an timely oversized version of the definition of ‘explorer’ on an exhibit wall at the tiny American Philosophical Society.

I particularly relate to the “scrutinize” part of the definition.

For the most part, we shied away from or reinterpreted what it meant to visit Philly’s Old City attractions. Instead of getting up close and personal with the Liberty Bell, we stood back and enjoyed people-watching the crowd that jostled for a view of the cracked icon. Rather than paying a steep $12 admission to The Constitution Center, we toured the gift shop, reveling in the bizarre assortment of bobble heads (why were Jackie O, Barbara Bush, and Jesse Jackson the only ones for sale?) and other tchotchkes for the capitalistically patriotic or the patriotically capitalistic, take your choice. And though we never made it inside the historic building, Todd reminded me that Independence Hall is where “a lot of sweaty men in funny wigs and short pants debated and orated for days, united by a national vision, chaos, and spittoons.”

Money, Philadelphia, PA
Make a Donation | Photo by Lauren Girardin

Between these sights, we were shown around by friends and family who were determined to share their favorite to-dos. Whether we were being feted at The Saloon by Uncle Bob or escorted around the Magic Garden by Jennie and Amos, we felt embraced by Philly.

Photos from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

If you can’t see the photo slide show above, view the photo set on Flickr.