So you find yourself in the city over spring break and you are nearly broke. You know that you don’t want to just sit around all week… so what do you do? Well, there are all sorts of hidden and not so hidden treasures in the city to keep you entertained. Whether you want cheap meals, cheap museums or beautiful and free places to walk around and enjoy nature, it is all here.
Among the city’s inexpensive culinary delights are the Pho restaurants in South Philly. Pho is a Vietnamese soup made with rice noodles and beef. It has a very interesting flavor and is extremely cheap. A small bowl of Pho (which is actually a very substantial amount) costs just under $5 and the large (probably more than one person could comfortably eat) usually costs around $5.50. There are two Pho restaurants on Washington Avenue: one at the shopping center on 5th and Washington called Pho Ha and one at the shopping center at 11th and Washington called Pho 75.
Another inexpensive and interesting eatery is Syrenka’s, located in Port Richmond on 3173 Richmond St. (a rather long walk from the El, but worth it). It is a small Polish cafeteria, offering home-cooked polish foods at very modest prices. It is possible to get a plate of delicious homemade pirogues and a drink for around $5. They also serve kielbasa, stewed beets, stuffed cabbage leaves and other Polish delights. Though is a little out of the way, it is worth the trip.
Another fairly obvious and inexpensive place to get food is the Italian Market. The Italian Market is located in South Philadelphia on 9th Street between Wharton and Fitzwater streets. It is generally open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays. It is closed Mondays. The Italian Market boasts that it is the largest open-air market in the United States. Although the meats and cheeses in the delis along the market can be a little pricey, the fruits and vegetables are cheap and the fresh baked breads are moderately priced. It is easy to pick up a picnic lunch for four at the market for under $15. There are also a few reasonably priced ethnic restaurants in the area.
The Wagner Free Institute, located on 1700 Montgomery Ave., is completely free and full of interesting natural specimens including mounted animals, fossils and shells. It is open to the public between Tuesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is a national historical landmark from the days when the neighborhood was still populated by well-to-do people. Although it may not be the most interesting thing in the world, the Institute is a piece of history and definitely worth checking out.
The University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Anthropology and Archeology, located at 3260 South St., is also a very interesting place to spend an afternoon. Admission is only $5 ($2.50 for seniors and children) and it is filled with interesting artifacts, including a mummy collection and a Roman and Etruscan wing. At this museum, among other interesting things, one gets the opportunity to see mummies that have been unwrapped.
If you have never been to the Valley Green, located in the Wissahickon Valley in Fairmount Park, it is definitely worth a trip. Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park is usually considered the largest park system of any American city and the Valley Green is probably the most beautiful section of Fairmount Park. It has waterfalls, cliffs and trails to hike along. It is almost surprising to find such natural beauty in an urban environment.
Finally, the value of relaxing along Penn’s Landing cannot be stressed enough. Once again, it is free and one might as well take advantage of the outdoor sites that Philadelphians’ tax dollars help to maintain.
Dan Kristie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.