While growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia with few visits to the nearby city, and only traveling by car, public transportation seemed foreign and glamorous to me. My first foray into the world of SEPTA’s Regional Rail came in high school when several friends and I trekked from Downingtown for a day trip to the Franklin Institute. From this and subsequent trips, the train came to symbolize freedom, an escape from the monotony of tiny Main Streets and quiet roads.
Of course – and I’m sure commuters can empathize – now that I rely on it every Thanksgiving and spring break, the Paoli/Thorndale Line seems a lot less exciting and a lot more like another monotonous part of going home.
However, the Regional Rail can also provide adventure for those who spend their days within city limits, as most Temple students do.
“With more than 70 percent of city workers using public transportation to commute into Philadelphia each day, when most people think about SEPTA they visualize a hectic rush hour ride,” said SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams. “But our multi-model system serves five counties and covers 2,202 square miles, and our customers can also use SEPTA to venture out into the tranquil open spaces of the suburbs.”
For the days when you just need a change in scenery, there’s no way more efficient – and environmentally friendly – than the Regional Rail. Here’s a quick guide to some out-of-the-way spots ideal for provoking a new mindset.
While Drexel and Penn are accessible by the Market Frankford Line, there are tons of other universities within an hour’s train ride. Saint Joe’s is only four stops away at Overbrook on the Paoli/Thorndale Line, Bryn Mawr is 10 stops and Villanova is 12 stops. Chestnut Hill College is on the Chestnut Hill East line. Philadelphia University can be reached via the Manayunk/Norristown Line or the 32 bus. Whether the visit is for seeing another take on “Spring Awakening,” checking out a rival sports team or partying with former high school friends, other schools will surely offer a fresh perspective on our own esteemed university.
Itching for a nature fix that Fairmount Park just can’t satisfy? Located at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa., the Scott Arboretum features pristine natural landscapes with flowers not typically found within city limits – at least not in the ground – such as daffodils, azaleas, lilacs, magnolias and more. The gardens’ collections will vary depending on the season, but the land is sure to be lovely and walkable year-round. To check out this little slice of paradise, take the Media/Elwyn Line to the Swarthmore stop.[blockquote who=”Zach Miley” what=”TTN designer”] Despite its goofy name, [Manayunk] is pretty excellent for a Saturday evening out – if you don’t mind putting up with all of those St. Joe’s and Villanova kids.[/blockquote]
Despite its goofy name, this neighborhood of Philadelphia is pretty excellent for a Saturday evening out – if you don’t mind putting up with all of those St. Joe’s and Villanova kids. Start out your night by grabbing some dinner at one of the many pubs and small restaurants, like Manayunk Tavern or Bayou Bar & Grill, then end it by hitting up some of the local bars. Standards like Kildare’s, Mad River and J.D. McGillicuddy’s offer dance floors and a more typical college scene. Hopping on the Manayunk/Norristown line to the Manayunk stop will get you right by the main stretch, where most places are concentrated.
Bryn Mawr Film Institute
The BMFI is not your average movie theater. Any given night will host a combination of international and art house standards alongside a box office smash. For instance, this week you can catch both “Silver Linings Playbook” and Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki’s “Kiki’s Delivery Service.” It’s also a community-run non-profit organization that focuses on film education, so your ticket money goes to a good cause. On top of all of this, students get in for $7, all the time. Take the Paoli/Thorndale Line to Bryn Mawr for some alternative film action.
What does Delaware have besides tax-free shopping? In Wilmington, there’s the Grand Opera House, which will host big names like Stephen Sondheim and Melissa Etheridge in the coming months, and the University of Delaware Center for the Performing Arts. In Newark, check out the University of Delaware’s Resident Ensemble Players Theatre, currently showing “Hamlet.” Get to both cities via the aptly titled Wilmington/Newark Line.
Julie Zeglen can be reached at email@example.com.