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Labor Day weekend may mark the unofficial end of summer, but it should be by no means depressing! That extra day off gives us a chance to squeeze in one more summer vacay, filled with barbecues, fireworks and plenty of All-American goodness. It’s a time to get outside, to explore, to cook out, to see a new city — and some cities know how to celebrate the end of summer much, much better than others. Here are the towns that top our list of best places to make the most of your Labor Day getaways.

 

Cincinnati

Fireworks over the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo: Chris Miller – Flickr

Catch some serious fireworks in Cincinnati, Ohio

The Queen City knows how to celebrate Labor Day: Riverfest, a big fireworks show that draws people from the whole tristate area to the surprisingly scenic Ohio riverfront. The show starts at 9:05 p.m. Sunday, but stake out your place and find somewhere to park early, because both the Kentucky and Ohio sides of the river are always packed full by showtime. Some restaurants along the river, like Moerlein Lager House, the Beer Sellar and Bar Louie host viewing parties, but get your tickets in advance. And check out a Reds game while you’re in town — they’re home all weekend. For food, try Eli’s BBQ along the river, Strong’s Brick Oven Pizzeria in Newport, or one of the many eateries in Over-the-Rhine.

 

The lit-up, nighttime skyline of Chicago, which is one of the best Labor Day getaways of 2016.

The Riverwalk in downtown Chicago, Illinois. Photo: MK Feeney – Flickr.

Live your best life (and Labor Day getaway) in Chicago, Illinois

Winters in Chicago come on hard and fast, and everyone there knows it, so the locals squeeze every last drop out of summer. On your Labor Day getaway, the beaches will still be popping, the outdoor patios at all the best restaurants will still be buzzing, and you can enjoy America’s pastime one more time since the White Sox are in town. You can grab a drink on a rooftop patio or stroll along the Riverwalk while the nights are still warm enough to do so. The Chicago Jazz Festival is also takingplace over Labor Day weekend in Millennium Park, and it’s free.

 

Get your nature and city fixes in Denver, Colorado

One could argue that any time of year is a good time to visit Denver, and you’d be right, but Labor Day is one of the best. The dry heat of summer is starting to break, and some of the aspens in the mountains are beginning to turn some gorgeous shades of yellow. September in the Rockies means less chances for natural disasters — wildfire risk has dropped, monsoon season has died down — which makes for some great hiking. And in the city, cooler September weather means more enjoyable craft brews on patios, and uninhibited views ofthe mountains. Downtown’s Civic Center Park is also hosting A Taste of Denver, so make sure you show up hungry.

Philly

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo: Lee Cannon – Flickr.

Show off your dance moves in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philly throws a giant two-day Made in America Music Festival during your perfect Labor Day getaway. And what better time to not only be in a patriotic place, but dance your butt off at a patriotically-named fest? It’s the fourth year for the festival, which is held on multiple stages throughout the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Jay-Z curates the lineup, meaning it’s a must-see. Coldplay and Rihanna are headlining this year, with performances from Chance the Rapper, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and more. Make sure to get your tickets now.

 

Milwaukee

Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo: Steve – Flickr.

Get back to basics in Midwestern Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Time for your Labor Day cookout. The weekend wouldn’t be complete without a barbecue, so why not center your trip around some smoked meat? Milwaukee is throwing the Big Gig BBQ on Sept. 4, and it’s bigger and better than any backyard barbecue you’ve ever been to. There will be brisket, ribs and BBQ from 10 of the best local and national grillers. And in a city that’s home to storied beerslike Pabst Blue Ribbon, Schlitz and MillerCoors, it’s safe to say you’ll have some quality hydration with your grub.

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Tagged: Family, Festivals, FREE!, Holidays, Music

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It’s Christmastime. In towns big and small all over America, people are gathering around Christmas trees as they are illuminated for the first time this year. Some of those trees are iconic, adorning Christmas ornaments and postcards, but for some of them, their glory lies in their story. And the best part? It doesn’t cost a dime to take in their majesty, save for the cup of hot chocolate you’ll likely buy on your way. Take a look at this list of some of America’s best public Christmas trees.

The Iconic Tree:

Rockefeller Center Tree

Rockefeller Center Tree | Flickr CC: Shinya Suzuki

Rockefeller Center, New York City — This is about as iconic as you can get when it comes to Christmas trees. New York City’s massive tree overlooks the ice skating rink in Rockefeller Plaza and has made it into many a classic Christmas movie scene. Something that really makes this tree iconic though, is its origins. The New York Times did a story earlier this month that revealed the history of the tree, noting that hard-working Italian immigrants first pushed a tree up in 1931 after a long day of constructing the city into what we know it as today.

 

Millennium Park Christmas tree

Chicago’s Christmas tree sits in front of the city’s skyline at Millennium Park. Photo: Ally Marotti

Millennium Park, Chicago — Chicago’s giant public Christmas tree usually sits in the middle of the German Christmas market, Christkindlmarket, in Daley Plaza in the heart of downtown, but this year it was moved to Millennium Park. Now it rises above Cloud Gate (aka, the Bean) in front of Chicago’s skyline.

  

Gifted trees:

Boston Christmas Tree

Boston Christmas Tree | Flickr CC: Eric Kilby

Boston Christmas Tree — A tree has been lit in Boston each year since 1941, and since 1971, each tree has come from Nova Scotia. Illuminated in Boston Common, the tree is gifted to the city each year by Nova Scotia as a thank you for assistance provided during the 1917 Halifax explosion, which destroyed much of the city. Boston sent help immediately, although their train was delayed by a blizzard. Still, the Nova Scotians never forgot.

 

Union Station Christmas tree

The Christmas tree inside Union Station in Washington D.C. is a gift from Norway. Photo: Chris Gladis – Flickr

Union Station, Washington D.C. — Norway gifts a Christmas tree to Washington D.C. each year as a symbol of friendship with the U.S. and as a thank you for the help the U.S. provided to Norway during World War II. The tree is displayed in Union Station, and the Norwegian Embassy chooses a theme with which to decorate the tree each year. In 2013, when the theme was Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” the tree was fashioned with dozens of tiny reflective versions of the shrieking man in Norway’s most famous painting. This year’s theme is Norwegian music.

 

Public Square Park, Nashville — The Christmas tree in downtown Nashville is often gifted to the city by residents. This year, Tammie Myles donated 42-foot Norway spruce to honor her parents. It will be decorated with 5,000 lights. This idea of individuals donating Christmas trees is common throughout the country, especially when the trees or activities surround them feature some sort of charitable aspect. Local Christmas tree farms will often donate trees for display near the courthouse.

Big trees in small squares:

Rittenhouse Square Christmas tree

The Christmas tree in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square. Photo: Marc Cappelletti – Flickr.

Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia — Rittenhouse Square is one of five original open spaces in Philadelphia planned by William Penn. It is about two short blocks long on eachside, and in December a 30-foot Christmas Tree rises out of its center. It makes the little historical park even cozier.

 

Cincinnati's Christmas tree

Fireworks go off at the tree lighting ceremony in Fountain Square in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo: 5ch4r7z – Flickr.

Fountain Square, Cincinnati — The Christmas tree dominates downtown Cincinnati’s Fountain Square each December, and shadows the temporary ice skating rink that is assembled nearby each year. The smaller size of the square, which is mostly enclosed by the city’s skyscrapers, makes the tree seem even bigger and more festive.

When the trees don’t move:

Town Square Lighting, Jackson Hole — Instead of decorating one giant tree, Jackson Hole sets Town Square ablaze with multiple tree lightings. Fitting in with its outdoorsy M.O., the town does not cut down any trees for its Christmas celebrations, so it earns a spot on our list for being environmentally aware.

Coeur D' Alene, Idaho

Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho | Flickr CC: Tracy Hunter

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho — A nearly 200-foot grand fir at Coeur d’Alene Resort is decorated with tens of thousands of lights and at one point set the world record for the tallest living Christmas tree. The star on top is 10 feet alone.

Sardy House Tree, Aspen — This is the 31st year the owners of the Sardy House illuminate the large fir tree on the corner of Main and Aspen streets in Aspen. (New owners spent $250,000 to amp up the lighting in 2006). It is strewn with 10,000 LED lights hooked up to a system that can emulate everything from fireworks to a cascading waterfall. The glory of using a live tree? The lights stay on year-round and can be used during other holiday celebrations.

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Tagged: Cheap Tips, Festivals, FREE!, Holidays, New York City, Seasonal

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Forget pumpkin carving and apple picking, your wish list of things to do this fall is a bit more ambitious. You are hoping to catch that once-in-a-blue-moon soccer game, or hit up an Oktoberfest at a legit brewery. You want to attend a huge charity concert in Central Park, and see a world religious leader speak. Sure, sure, you’ll check out the beautiful foliage along the way. You just need a little help getting there—financially that is. Cheap Tickets has your back. Check out the event ticket part of Cheaptickets.com, and use the promo code TICKETS10 for 10% off.

Global Citizen Festival

Great Lawn in Central Park

New York, New York

Sept. 26, 12 p.m.

Tickets start at $152

Bird's-eye-view of the 2014 Global Citizens Festival. Courtesy of Anthony Quintano.

Bird’s-eye-view of the 2014 Global Citizens Festival. Courtesy of Anthony Quintano.

Headliners of this annual festival include Beyoncé, Coldplay (sold!), Pearl Jam and Ed Sheeran. If that’s not star-studded enough, tack on a list of hosts that includes Stephen Colbert, Salma Hayek, Hugh Jackman, Kerry Washington and Olivia Wilde. Proceeds go toward the eradication of extreme poverty.

 

Austin City Limits  

Zilker Park

Austin, Texas

Oct. 2-4, 9-11

Three-day pass starts at $415

Iggy Azalea performs at Austin City Limits. Courtesy of Ralph Arvesen.

Iggy Azalea performs at Austin City Limits. Courtesy of Ralph Arvesen.

Leave it to Austin City Limits to pack in the most musical goodness into two weekends as humanly possible. Acts such as Drake, Foo Fighters, Alt-J, Hozier, Modest Mouse, The Decemberists, A$AP Rocky, and Walk the Moon will be gracing the stage, just to name a few. It’s important to save money on the ticket purchase since hotel rates will likely go up during these two weekends as well.

 

Oktoberfest

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Chico, California

Oct. 4-7

Tickets start at $104

Courtesy of Steven Guzzardi.

Courtesy of Steven Guzzardi.

Don your lederhosen and raise your glass for Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s Oktoberfest celebration. This is the first year the festival will span three days, and a fabulous alternative to forking out the cash to travel across the pond to Germany. Prost!

 

CONCACAF Cup: United States vs. Mexico

Rose Bowl

Pasadena, California

Oct. 10, 6 p.m.

Tickets start at $156

U.S. Men's National Team in 2013. Courtesy of Erik Drost.

U.S. Men’s National Team in 2013. Courtesy of Erik Drost.

 More than 90,000 fans are expected to turn out for this high-stakes clash against the U.S. Men’s’ National Team and Mexico. A win here will be the USMNT’s ticket to the Confederations Cup in Russia, which will let the team scope out the stage they’ll be entering in World Cup 2018. Teams that make it to the Confederations Cup always have an advantage in the subsequent World Cup, and the USMNT is gunning for it.

 

An American in Paris

The Palace Theater

New York, New York

Oct. 16, 8 p.m.

Tickets start at $71 (check out a matinee for a cheaper show)

An American in Paris. Courtesy of James Joel.

An American in Paris. Courtesy of James Joel.

The story of an American World War II veteran in Paris trying to make a name for himself as a painter, who falls in love with a French girl. Gene Kelly made the musical famous with the 1951 movie, and Broadway will bring it to life again this fall. Critics are saying it’s not to be missed.

 

Ohio State University vs. Michigan

Michigan Stadium

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Nov. 28, time TBA

Tickets start at $137 

Courtesy of Scott Stuart.

Courtesy ofScott Stuart.

If you can score tickets to this game, you’re the envy of tens of thousands of Ohio State and Michigan fans. In fact, if you’ve spent too much money on other fall events, you’ll do yourself a favor and resell these tickets. But if you care at all about college football, this game is not to be missed. The OSU/Michigan rivalry is heralded as one of the thickest competitions in the sport, transcending generations.

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Tagged: Cheap Tips, Limited-time Offers, Music, New York City, Sports

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In this age of online shopping, it’s easy to forget that our favorite goods come from actual, you know, places. See where everyday items are born during one of these made-in-America factory tours.

Crayola Factory in Pennsylvania

Photo courtesy of Frances MacLeod

Crayola Experience, Easton, PA

Let your imagination run wild through four floors of colorful fun at this attraction about a 90-minute drive from Philadelphia or New York City. Watch a live-action theater show that explains how crayons are brought to life, create custom crayons and run wild in the two-story color-themed playground.

Photo courtesy of Darah Thomas

Photo courtesy of Darah Thomas

Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory Tour, Louisville, KY

This bat factory will score a home run with baseball fans. As you enter the building, you’ll walk past the world’s largest bat—a 120-feet-tall replica of Babe Ruth’s own Louisville Slugger. Then it’s onto the factory and museum, where you can watch bats being made, hold bats used by Major League Baseball legends and test out the batting cages. At the end of the factory tour, take home a free miniature bat or order a full-size personalized Slugger.

Photo courtesy of Jelly Belly Candy Company

Photo courtesy of Jelly Belly Candy Company

Jelly Belly Factory Tour, Fairfield, CA 

You’ll feel like a kid in a candy store at this factory located between San Francisco and Sacramento. See what goes into making jelly beans that taste like buttered popcorn, toasted marshmallow and A&W Root Beer, and discover why it takes up to 20 days to create a single bean. But don’t fill up on the free samples; save room for bean-shaped burger or bean-shaped pizza in the Jelly Belly Cafe.

Stuffington Bear Factory Tour, Phoenix, AZ

Before there was Build-A-Bear, there was Stuffington Bear. Watch bears and other stuffed animals come to life as they are cut, sewn and stuffed, and learn about the history of teddy bears. After the tour, stop by the retail store to take home a cuddly companion of your own.

Ben and Jerry's Factory Tour in Vermont

Photo courtesy of Nick Caruso

Ben and Jerry’s Factory TourWaterbury, VT

How could an ice cream factory tour not be fun? Learn about the history of the company, watch as sweet treats come to life on the factory floor and, yes, indulge in free samples. Find even more sweet treats in the Scoop Shop, which offers traditional ice cream treats and specialty desserts. 

Photo courtesy of: linearclassic | Flickr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of  linearclassic | Flickr Creative Commons

Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington, DC, and Fort Worth, TX

Anyone can make money, but not everyone make money. In each of these tours, you can stand above the production floor as millions of dollars roll off the printing press, watch a video about the production process and, ironically, buy souvenir currency in the gift shop.

Photo courtesy of Becky Musgrove.

Photo courtesy of Becky Musgrove

Tabasco Pepper Sauce Factory Tour, Avery Island, LA

The hottest tour in the South starts with a visit to this lush Louisiana island. Watch a film about the history of the spicy condiment, see where Tabasco is aged in white oak barrels and look on as the sauce is bottled and packaged to begin its journey to kitchen tables across America.

Photo courtesy of Harinder Singh

Photo courtesyof Harinder Singh

Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing TourEverett, WA

Take your knowledge of air travel to new heights during this rare public tour of a commercial jet assembly plant just north of Seattle. Interact with exhibits, walk through tunnels and ride a freight elevator to a balcony high above the factory floor as you watch 747s and other aircraft being assembled.

Photo courtesy of Tillamook.

Photo courtesy of Tillamook

Tillamook Cheese Factory, Tillamook, OR

Tillamook ages its cheeses for up to three year,s but you won’t need to wait that long to sample the goods during a self-guided tour of its Pacific Coast factory. Get a bird’s eye view as milk is transformed into 171,000 pounds of cheddar, pepper jack and more every day. After the tour, nosh on grilled cheese sandwiches, ice cream and other dairy delights in the on-site restaurant.

Photo courtesy of: ooitschristina | Flickr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of ooitschristina | Flickr Creative Commons

Gibson Guitar Factory Tour, Memphis, TN

First come the instruments; then comes the music. Watch and listen as the legendary guitars are bound, neck-fitted, painted, buffed and tuned on at this famed Beale Street factory. After the tour, stop by the retail shop for a guitar of your own, and start singin’ the blues.

Photo courtesy of: Matt Lehrer | Flickr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Matt Lehrer | Flickr Creative Commons

Budweiser Brewery Tour, St. Louis, MO

Before the craft beer phenomenon took off, there was good ol’ Budweiser. Learn about the company’s century-old brewing process as you walk through its historic building. Save room for a cold one at the end of the tour. Additional tours are available at these Anheuser-Busch factory locations: Fort Collins, Colorado; Jacksonville, Florida; Merrimack, New Hampshire; and Fairfield, California.

Tagged: California, Family, Food & drink

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Cheap of the Month gives a snapshot of a cheap weekend getaway each month.

Philadelphia is ripe with history and culture, and it’s all waiting to be discovered — on foot. The walkability of the city keeps the price of a trip there down, and hotel prices aren’t as sky high as in many East Coast cities. The streets are narrow and lined with eateries and shops that make the city welcoming and comfortable. The restaurants are inviting with their outdoor patios, or you can opt for riverfront dining on the banks of the Delaware. The whole place is just teeming with brotherly love.

 

Approaching Philadelphia International Airport. Courtesy of Patrick Nouhailler.

Approaching Philadelphia International Airport. Courtesy of Patrick Nouhailler.

Plane, train or automobile — If you’re not from the East Coast, it can be a little jarring how close Philly is to, well, everything else on the East Coast. If you are from nearby, grab a train or drive into town. Parking can be a little tricky and very expensive downtown, so keep that in mind when planning your commute. There’s an Amtrak station just along the Schuylkill River, or fly in via Philadelphia International Airport.

 

Courtesy of Franklin Smith.

Courtesy of Franklin Smith.

Cheap local transitPhiladelphia is a very walkable city, but if you must get around faster, hop on a bike. Everyone’s doing it. Try Indego, the city’s new bikeshare program. It has more than 600 bikes at 60 stations and a trip is $4 per half hour. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority is another option, which operates buses, trolleys, rails and a subway system. A one-day pass is $8. Be careful if you’re not on foot, you might miss a historical landmark.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Run the Rocky steps — Although they moved the Rocky statue from the top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps to the shade of a nearby tree, you can still follow the footsteps of the famed (and fictional) boxing legend. Then go find the statue and snap a pic.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti

Courtesy of Ally Marotti

Be a history buff — Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and Congress Hall (original home of the U.S. Congress) are all free to enter. Independence Hall requires reservations because it’s so popular. There are tours available as well for free of Congress and Independence halls, just in case your knowledge of the founding fathers is a little rusty. 

Cheesesteak from Pat's King of Steaks in South Philly. Courtesy of Yuri Long.

Cheesesteak from Pat’s King of Steaks in South Philly. Courtesy of Yuri Long.

Battle the cheesesteak — Totally touristy, but an absolute must. Although it’s hard to go wrong when deciding where to dine, Geno’s Steaks and Pat’s King of Steaks are big draws. They sit on opposite corners of the intersection of 9th Street & Passyunk Avenue, and have had a competition going for years. Wherever you decide to go, you have to get the Cheez Whiz, because as a Philadelphian recently told me, “It just tastes correct.”

 

Courtesy of jecobo.

Courtesy of jecobo.

Stroll through the square — Named for a clockmaker and friend of the revolution, Rittenhouse Square is one of five original parks planned by William Penn in the 17th century, and it’s just as bustling as ever. Stroll through in the morning or at dusk and see Philadelphia life come together. Grab a drink at one of the cafes on its outskirts and watch life happen.

 

Courtesy of elPadawan.

Courtesy of elPadawan.

Taste test the Terminal — At Reading Terminal Market, you can buy a lard-based Amish pie from one vendor and a vegan cookie from the vendor nextto it (those Amish vendors will be closed on Sundays, though). A great place to satisfy your sweet tooth or try an off-the-beaten-path cheesesteak. Bassetts Ice Cream, which claims to be America’s oldest ice cream company, comes highly recommended.

 

Courtesy of Britt Reints.

Courtesy of Britt Reints.

Swing by South Street — The stretch of South Street between Front and Seventh streets is lined with shops and quaint cafes and known for its hip vibe. It draws twenty-somethings and an overflow of college kids from the university district it butts up against. Grab a drink at one of the many bars or get take-out and find your own space to dine.

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Tagged: Cheap of the Month, Cheap Tips, Last minute travel, Seasonal

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Flightsblog
Cheap tickets make travel easy. And CheapTickets is making it easy for you to plan a weekend getaway in September with cheap flights to cities across the U.S.

Check out these sample airfares (which include all taxes and fees):

  • Atlanta to Los Angeles: $309
  • Chicago to Las Vegas: $287
  • New Orleans to New York City: $252
  • New York City to Ft. Lauderdale: $173
  • San Francisco to Chicago: $274
  • Philadelphia toOrlando: $151

These cheap tickets are for travel in September — leaving Thursday through Saturday and returning Sunday through Tuesday.

September is right around the corner. So pick a weekend and find your cheap tickets.

CheapTickets resources:

 

Tagged: City, Flights, FREE!, Limited-time Offers

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Phillyfringeblog
Philly Fringe
takes over Philadelphia August 29 – September 13.

This celebration of theater, comedy, dance and art is the "unfiltered" companion to the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival. The 16-day Philly Fringe includes performances by 176 new and established artists at sites across Philadelphia.

Philly Fringe tickets are really cheap. Most shows cost $10-$15, and several shows, including "24 Hour Comedy Marathon," "Chick," How Old Are You?," "Killer Bass" and "Media Addicts" are just $5.

And if you plan to see a lot of shows– either at Live Arts or Fringe, you can save even more. There’s a 20 percent discount when you buy tickets to two or three shows and a 25 percent discount on four or more shows.

And for some post-show nightlife, you can head to the Festival Bar at the southwest corner of 5th and Fairmount. With media projections on the walls, creative activities by local artists and music, it may feel like another Fringe show — and, there’s no cover.

CheapTickets resources:

Tagged: City, Events, FREE!