Recently I spent a girls’ weekend in Philadelphia with other travel writers. With six in our group, we wanted a place we could hang out, and a good location. It didn’t have to be luxurious, but it should be nice. Instead of going the hotel route, we went the rental by owner route. We hated our rental.
How can you avoid the mistakes we made when renting from an owner? Here’s how, using an in-depth review of the Perle Mesta Inn B&B in Philadelphia as our example.
How the services work
Several established companies offer room/home rentals by owner. These companies act as a listing service and do some vetting (but do not manage the properties, nor do they physically see them).
When I looked at how it works on FlipKey (disclosure: they paid for our rental), owners can create a free listing. They upload all the details and photos, and can take payment through the site. They pay FlipKey a 3% charge for each booking. Guests booking pay a 5-10% booking fee.
We’ve been very happy with our VRBO.com rentals both domestically and internationally. My friend Paige used airbnb.com extensively during her 11 month family trip around the world, and was happy with their services.
The key is to ask lots of questions. Don’t assume that the rentals are heavily vetted or inspected personally.
This post might easily be called a Tale of Two Restauants. Totally different vibes. Totally different menus. First let me say that it’s really hard to pick restaurants in Philly. There are a lot of good choices, and a lot depends on what part of the city you want to explore. Our first choice was something kid-friendly, and the second was something more historic.
Max Brenner is a chain. I went for an afternoon snack with a friend last summer in Boston. I had a frozen chocolate coffee drink in a really cute cup (see the Drink Me cup below) and my friend had a salad. Both were good. Since Max Brenner focuses on chocolate desserts and funky presentations, we thought the kids would enjoy it. And they did. Continue reading “Philadelphia: Max Brenner and City Tavern”
I thought the Barnes Foundation wouldn’t be kid-friendly. Surprisingly, it was.
The museum is organized in a different kind of way, with each gallery containing ensembles – groups of pictures and utilitarian metal tools that looked decorative, designed to make you think about the art in unique ways, to see how they relate to each other. You won’t find only Renoirs in one room, or paintings from a certain time period displayed together. Plus there are no signs on the walls with the names and artists, nor any explanations at all on the walls. Many of the frames do have the artist’s name on them, though, if you look carefully. Find a gallery guide at the benches in each room.
Let’s start out by saying this is not the Mutter Museum, pronounced like it looks. The “u” should have an umlaut over it – two dots next to each other. Say it like “Mooter Museum.” This museum was on my list to visit for a long time, and I figured the kids would find it strangely fascinating. They did, but they also found it unsettling enough that they sat out out a good portion of it because they couldn’t stomach looking through it all.
Of note, you can’t take pictures inside. These photos are all courtesy of the museum. Dr. Mutter collected these strange specimens to use in teaching. The museum is part of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
You can’t go to Philadelphia as a newbie and not see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. So of course this was on our list to do. Here’s something else you should know. Tickets are free, but if you don’t reserve Independence Hall tour tickets in advance (or go wait in line, going early), you may not get in. So if you’re on a tight schedule, I recommend you call ahead or reserve online for a $1.50/person fee. Especially in high season. By afternoon, tickets may be gone. Tickets are required March through December. Continue reading “Philadelphia: Liberty Bell and Independence Hall with Kids”
Unfortunately the day we showed up, we didn’t realize they were closing early for a wedding, so we had to make do with peeking through the gate, and walking around the neighborhood. The good news is that you can still see a lot even when it’s closed. And just by wandering around South Street, within a few blocks of the gardens, we could still see a lot of large scale murals. There’s a list in the brochure you can get on site and probably in other tourist locations as well.
The Eastern State Penitentiary was one of the places at the top of the list for my husband on our trip to Philadelphia with the kids. I went to college in Philadelphia and hadn’t heard of it when in school there. Turns out, there’s a good reason. It only opened to the public in the years since then.
**This is part of a series on Philadelphia with kids. Please see all the posts in the series here, or check the bottom for individual links.**
The two times we’ve visited Philly with the kids we stayed at the Embassy Suites in Center City Philadelphia. As I mentioned in my intro Philadelphia post, our ideal hotel is one offering economical suites (so we don’t have to share the bedroom with the kids), one with a free happy hour, free breakfast and a hotel that’s convenient to the sites or public transportation. The Embassy Suites is all that in Philadelphia (and FYI – we are not receiving any compensation for posting this, and we paid full freight for our room).
The hotel is on the Ben Franklin Parkway, in close walking distance to everything we did on the trip. It’s close to the Franklin Institute (kids’ hands-on science museum), Barnes Foundation and Rodin Museum. It was walkable to Independence Mall (about 20 minutes at a good pace), the Eastern State Penitentiary (maybe 20 minutes? We stopped en route at the Rodin Museum) and if you like walking (we do), you can walk to South Philly from there too. Continue reading “Philadelphia: Embassy Suites with Kids Review”
Out of everything we saw and did in Philadelphia, this was the family favorite. We went twice, and would have gone more if time permitted.
The Reading Terminal Market has been in Philadelphia in one form since the 1850s, but in its current form since 1892. The string of shops (known as a Jersey market, since that’s where vendors came from) went indoors, with 78,000 feet and 800 vendor slots. Let me repeat that. 800 vendors slots. Like then, it’s still full of food and produce vendors, and a smattering of other stores selling kitchen wares and other goods. Now there are 80 vendors. Read more about the market’s history here – it’s interesting. Continue reading “Philly: Reading Terminal Market – Philly”