When I started planning this trip months ago, I knew I wanted to do it mainly for Roman (even though it's Father's Day...sorry Carlo!). With our budget stretched tight due to ongoing house reno drama, anything out of the country is out of the question...basically anything off the East Coast is out of the question too, so whereeee can we goooooo that 1) is fun 2) is new 3) is pretty cheap (in comparison)?
I landed on Philadelphia, with neighboring Sesame Place (get it?) as the scenery changer mid-way through. It's a 2.5 hour drive from where we live in MD and a place where we really haven't spent that much time. I don't think I've been to Philly in more than 10 years and while my husband still feels pretty meh about it, I definitely came away wanting a repeat trip!
The history is the big deal in Philly, and the art makes my heart sing but we couldn't do either because...toddler. Toddlers DGAF about Rodin or the Constitution. They might even eat the Constitution if it presented itself. So wtf to do with a toddler in one of our nation's oldest and biggest cities?
Eat...(duh). Our first stop was Dim Sum & Noodle, a clean and incredibly gracious hole in the wall in an otherwise kinda personality-less strip mall that we probably would have skipped had it not popped up on Google Maps near the Philly Museum of Art! Glad we didn't, and glad I immediately stop scrolling when I see "dim sum"! Carlo ordered a Spicy & Sour Seafood Ramen which basically tasted like Tom Yum Ramen, I ordered one of everything (it seemed) and Roman was content with plain lo mein and seaweed salad. I never had spicy peppercorn edamame (usually it always comes steamed with salt; that's so boring now!) or Dan Dan noodles and now I gotta find out where I can get more...
We left the car by the Noodle place and were able to walk to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Of course I was dying to go in (they have one of the world's greatest art collections and in combination with the Barnes Foundation nearby create a neat tour of Old Masters and Modern Impressionists if you have some hours to spare) but with a toddler and uninterested husband in tow we...decided to recreate the Rocky stair run instead!
And get some ice cream.
I mean the Mr Softee trucks kept coming, who are we to say no?? So here is Roman not content with his own chocolate with chocolate sprinkles cone, he also needed bites of Carlo's cherry dip. And no, I still haven't changed his shirt after lunch and this snack. (In case you haven't realized, I bought Office-themed matching shirts for these two for Father's Day. Fitting since we're in PA, right?)
By this time we finally had to check into our hotel, the Kimpton Monaco, (by the way, $75 is a completely obnoxious price for valet and had I not been so exhausted I would have suggested something else) and even though we knew we had an incredibly exhausted toddler on our hands we doubled down and decided to take a long walk to dinner...and oh my the meltdowns that ensued. THIS IS A FREAK CHILD WHO IS ALWAYS HAPPY AND NEVER CRIES...!!! Crying in my arms, crying with Daddy, trying to get out of the stroller, crying on FaceTime with Buni (a last ditch attempt to help resolve)....ugh I have never dealt with a public meltdown before and there were a lot of sarcastic "Happy Father's Day" comments too during all this mess. But, I know my kid. He'll cry and whine for a hot sec and then submit and allow whatever it is to happen. True to form, he stopped crying after 5 - 10 minutes and started engaging with our walk and couldn't help but crack smiles when we got here...
We detoured to Spruce St Harbor Park to check out the multi-hyphenate beer garden-relax area-kids playground-food-hall-urban-waterfront-oasis that popped up on the shores of the Delaware River in 2014. Post-meltdown Roman couldn't be trusted to play nicely with the Big Chess, Big Legos, or Big Connect Four available but we cruised past barges offering tacos, crab pretzels (hey I didn't think we were in MD!) and fried chicken sandwiches for noshing as well as some sweet craft beer gardens...
It was exceptionally clean for such a well-used and well-loved space and it was packed with people lounging on the colorful hammocks, moms dipping their babies' toes in a splash pad and it also boasted a small arcade (my heart!). We wandered up and down the boardwalk (clearly posted signage was there for those seeking to avoid the sudsy delights) and Roman was distracted by the big boats and water, meltdown happily in the past...
The last time (and only time together) we came to Philly, I honestly don't even remember the reason, but what I know is we asked a dear friend in town, yo, definitively who's got the best Cheesesteak in town? and the answer...is Jim's on South St.
I don't even know what year it was, I don't know why the hell we were there (we never drive this far East on our usual routes) but I DO NOT RAGRET (you heard me). Now that I'm vegetarian I was like man how is this going to work but it did...it did not disappoint (it's even on the menu and NO JUDGY VIBES FROM THE STAFF WHO WERE INCREDIBLY KIND!!!). I was happy to shove a Mushroom Steak in my 2 year old's face (YOU WILL EAT THIS CHEESESTEAK AND YOU WILL LIKE IT!) while the staff put my bulky stroller into storage (aka the bread room) so we could manage the 30-odd steps up to the seating area. I don't remember much from the Jim's Cheesesteak Night but I remember eating it all in about 5 minutes and wondering where the rest of it went!
More chaos ensued after we left (including one lady commenting "that kid's headed for a spanking! 🙄) but again, only 5 minutes and he settled down. Parenting is hard enough and it can be even more draining with tired kids, but it can be done and done well (enough, anyway). Everything is slower, there's more patience to have, more flexibility. I guess it's not for everyone, but it's never too late to try. Traveling (even to Philly!) provides exposure to new experiences (and after walking behind a garbage truck for two blocks, even smelly ones!) which lead to new family memories. I cherish these times with my guys, even if we're just exploring a road trip away.
Happy Father's Day!