8 Reasons to #VisitPhilly

                                                                                             Thank you #VisitPhilly for this amazing trip. All thoughts/reviews are my own. 

                                                                                             Thank you #VisitPhilly for this amazing trip. All thoughts/reviews are my own. 

Guess who lives 2-hours away from Philadelphia and never been? This girl right here! I'm not going to lie, the first thing that came to mind was "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air". 

I must say, I had loads of fun. Hanging out with my friends, Sara, Gabby & Tasha, we were able to explore some amazing Philly treasures and topping off the entire stay with the Annual Pride Parade. Although you may be interested in taking a trip to Philly based on its rich history, such as where the Constitution was signed, the Liberty Bell or even the iconic Rocky steps, I have eight reasons as to why I'm going back. Here they are:

After a quick ride over from Manhattan to Philly on an Amtrak train, I was a little eager to see my room and climb into bed to get some zzz's. It was a 7-minute drive to the hotel and if you like to walk, it'll take you probably about 20 mins. Upon our arrival at the hotel, it turns out, we couldn't check in quite as yet. So Sara & I took a walk around the neighborhood and we found some places that whispered to our inner "who cares how many calories are in that" spirit. We discovered a Federal Donut, an Insomnia Cookies and Bluestone Lane Cafe, which is the second reason to stay at the Kimpton. It's close to everything delicious.

Finally, we made our way back to the Palomar, checked in and walked into our beautiful room. The beds were so soft. We had snacks and water ready to keep us energized and hydrated. The staff was lovely and accommodating. I honestly couldn't ask for a better stay. PS: Turns out COPA-America was taking place simultaneously during our stay and we got to ride the elevator every day with the American Soccer team. Winning!!  

2. Federal Donuts


Federal Donuts is right around the corner from the Palomar. I know, I know. I'm just being greedy. But you cannot call your trip to Philly a successful one until you've had a donut from Federal Donuts. Seriously! Take a bite when you visit. It was so soft, warm, succulent and it hit the right spot. You know that spot where you really want something and you're not sure. Then you take a bite of something random and realize that it's heaven? THAT SPOT! I've asked a few Philadelphians (passer-bys) and they attested that Federal Donuts is the place to go for authentic and delicious donuts. 

Sweet Baby Philly! I'm already daydreaming of my next visit and my next donut.

3. Little Pete's Restaurant

After a night out in the Gayborhood, everyone needs to refuel before taking on the day. Our first stop was Little Pete's Restaurant. Yes! That Little Pete's (also known back in the day as 17th Street Dewey's). Little Pete's history is a little shaky. 

The 17th Street Dewey’s, just off Rittenhouse Square (today the site is known as Little Pete’s, shown above) was open about refusing gay customers and those wearing non-conformist clothing, which is to say non-gender-conforming clothing. More than 150 people – black, white, gay, lesbian and transgender – took part in the first protest on Sunday, April 25. Three protesters were arrested.
— https://philadelphianeighborhoods.com/2014/10/01/lgbtqia-five-moments-in-philadelphias-lgbt-history-that-you-should-know/

After finding out all that history, I was a little scared of walking into that space as a QWOC (Queer Woman of Color). However, the waitress was very pleasant, attentive and the overall experience was welcoming. Oh, by the way, their omelets will make you sing for absolutely no reason. 

If you have the inner nerd syndrome like myself, you'll constantly find yourself in a museum on a getaway or vacation. To appeal to that part of your natural being, I'd suggest stopping by The Franklin Institute. I felt like a big kid the entire time. Not to mention, I was able to walk through a heart. No seriously, there's a massive heart that is available to the public where you're able to walk through. You can see the veins, arteries, and all the other stuff your friends might consider boring while you're squealing with excitement on the inside. Have I convinced you yet? Let's look at another gem.

I'm not going to lie, but the Mutter Museum was like heaven to me. Imagine the NYC "Bodies" exhibition & Ripley's Believe it or not episode combined into a historical format. You get to see the human body in different forms, deformed and interesting. I did not want to leave. My favorite exhibit was The Soap Lady. She was buried in a weird location and later exhumed. Her entire corpse is pretty much a human-size soap bar. The only downside is that photography is not allowed in the establishment. In order to have images for press/keepsake, you need to reach out to the museum and request it. View more here.

Looks creepy right? I know! That's exactly how I felt walking through the demolished walls of the Eastern Penitentiary. Even though it was high noon, best believe I felt chills down my spine every time I walked pass a cell. This penitentiary is one of the largest prison in the east and not to mention, mostly notorious for the unique inmates they have housed in the past. Joe Buzzard, Al Capone, Freda Frost and a few others used to be residents of such a beautiful establishment. Al Capone's cell was well preserved and decked out in style. I guess once a mobster, always a mobster. I wish I had his cell. Heads up: Go with a partner. The place is so massive, you might end up lost.

Okay, I know what you're thinking. Yes, I love food. Yes, I always have a fork in my hand. No, I don't eat everything. But when you visit South, it's kind of hard not to want to eat everything. We ended up at South for dinner with the Visit Philly team after a Saturday afternoon of exploring the city. The team was so amazing, hospitable, and fun. While bonding over social media shenanigans with Amber (she was the closest person sitting next to me and she's also a super cool blogger), the kale salad came out. I have to admit, I hate kale. However, after tasting a bite of that salad, my distaste for kale instantly vanished. It was exquisite. It was the best salad I've ever had in my life. After ending dinner, I had no choice but to check in and knock out. The itis was real. Then again, after a meal like below, who can stay up?

8. Philly Pride Parade

Finally, Sunday morning came and guess where we were? Yes, we were at the Pride Parade. I'm not a fan of large crowds and while living in NY, I've only attended the parade once. I got paranoid especially since the Pulse shooting was the night before. However, when we arrived, there was this feeling of solidarity that I couldn't explain. I wasn't paranoid or afraid. I felt welcomed and the aura was just filled with love and care. It was a pleasure experiencing pride like this and seeing everyone come out to show love, even after a tragedy.

Thank you to the Visit Philly team for the experience and giving us the chance to see Philly through another perspective. It's safe to say, it's now considered my second home.

Have you ever visited Philly? If so, what was your experience like? 
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Debbie-Jean Lemonte

Debbie-jean Lemonte is a Jamaican-born New York-based photographer, who specializes in Portraits and Family events such as engagements, weddings, showers and maternity sessions. She stumbled into blogging as another vice by expressing her love for fashion, lifestyle and photography.