Philadelphia: Your Next “Vacation” Spot via the Girly Books Blog Hop!

My city

I love Philadelphia, and so I am excited to get to talk about my city’s virtues as part of the Girly Book Blog Hop, hosted by Libby Mercer (whose first book I reviewed here). As part of this blog hop, I will give away a book set in my hometown (details below).

Girly Book Blog Hop Button

So, why is Philly a great location?

It’s a manageable large city that has a small town feel. It has a walkable downtown (we call it Center City), many charming neighborhoods, and all the benefits associated with 300 years of history, world-class museums, fabulous restaurants, public transportation, parks, and close proximity to both mountains and beaches (we say we’re “going down the shore”).

Ways to take advantage of what Philadelphia has to offer in real life:

  • Expanding our children’s minds (and strengthening their immune systems) at the Please Touch Museum;
  • Explaining to our children that not every yellow flower is a dandelion at Longwood Gardens (in suburban Philadelphia); and
  • Any of the baker’s dozen stops recommended by the New York Times two weeks ago in its “36 Hours in Philadelphia.”
One said, "Whoa! That's a lot of dandelions!" Any yellow flower is a dandelion to them
One said, “Whoa! That’s a lot of dandelions!” Any yellow flower is a dandelion to them

And in fiction:

Cemetery and Reading Terminal

  • Joining Eleanor Fitt (of “the Philadelphia Fitts”) in 1876 as she searches for her brother, hoping to save him from zombies rising from Laurel Hill cemetery, which overlooks the scenic Schuylkill River. (From Susan Dennard’s YA novel, Something Strange and Deadly (2012), which I reviewed here).
  • Comforting Cannie Shapiro, who writes for The Philadelphia Examiner, after her ex-boyfriend broadcasts private facts about their sex life in a national magazine in the late 1990s. Cannie mentions a range of Philadelphia sites, including Reading Terminal Market, and Philadelphia “delicacies,” like Cheez Whiz. (From Jennifer Weiner’s Good in Bed (2001)).

What’s the GIVEAWAY?

Covers for Giveaway

If you’re interested in either Something Strange and Deadly OR Good in Bed, please enter my giveaway, open until January 21, 2013 [Giveaway is now closed; the winner is Katrina!]. I’d throw in a cheesesteak, but I doubt it would travel well!

Weiner’s Good in Bed is chick lit, while Dennard’s Something Strange and Deadly is a work of paranormal historical fiction intended for young adults (but read by everyone). I consider it to be “girly” because it features a strong female protagonist who questions the oppressive societal norms of her time.

The winner will get to choose one of these books, either the ebook (for Kindle through Amazon) or a paperback copy.* Anyone (anywhere in the world) can enter as long as you have a valid address to which Amazon will ship.

To enter this giveaway, please leave a comment on this post, anything from “hello” to praise for your own city. If you’ve visited Philadelphia before, I’d love to hear about it.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 PM, January 21st.  After that point, I will choose one winner at random (using’s Integer Generator to pick a winner, and counting comments but not replies to comments).  I will contact that person by email, they must respond to my email within 48 hours, and then we will work out the details.

*If you choose the ebook option and I am unable to send you an ebook internationally (I believe it depends on the country), then you may be limited to choosing the paperback version.  Please work with me as I figure it out.  Thanks!

Check out the grandprize and to visit the other participating blogs (there are 40 of us!):



  1. The only time I had the pleasure to visit Philadelphia was a layover on my way across the seas. I did leave the airport to have a cigarette (I know-naughty naughty) due to the four hour layover and what I saw was beautiful. It seemed like a large city but was not rushed like New York City or Chicago.

    Thanks so much for sharing with us and best wishes,

    1. It’s nice to hear that your brief time in Philly was pleasant! It’s a much more manageable city than NYC or Chicago, which are both lovely cities but not ideal locations for me.

    1. I would love to learn more about Cape Town! I’ve never been to South Africa, but I’ve heard wonderful things about it. A friend of mine from college is from there.

  2. Reblogged this on bearspawprint and commented:
    I don’t think I personally know anyone FROM Philadelphia . However, I did once meet a woman body builder, in Tallahassee, who told me she held the title of Miss Pitt. from Pittsburg. This is just for a cosmopolitan cultural contrast comment. —–Granny Bear

  3. I don’t think I personally know anyone FROM Philadelphia . However, I did once meet a woman body builder, in Tallahassee, who told me she held the title of Miss Pitt. from Pittsburg. This is just for a cosmopolitan cultural contrast comment. —–Granny Bear

    1. Pittsburgh is an interesting city, too. I haven’t visited in quite a few years, but I’m looking forward to going back. I have a few friends there (none is a female body builder, though!).

  4. I’ve only ever been through Philadelphia but it is an interesting city. So glad I found your blog through the blog hop.

  5. I loved Philadelphia!! It was a short visit that was mostly spent on the river for a regatta back in college, but I did get to wander the city for a whole afternoon. Loved it! The American history there is brilliant, and walking around is a pleasant stroll through the 18th century, while at the same time present day. Such a fabulous blend of old and new there. Can’t sing enough praises about your city. Thanks for the giveaway and the great post. And what adorable twins with gorgeous hair.

  6. I hadn’t realised Philadelphia was such an arty city and was even more surprised that you have Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and Monet’s The Water Lily Pond. Always assumed they were in Europe. have been to the US many times, but never Philadelphia – good to get an insight. Sooz

  7. I’ve never been to Philadelphia, but one of my friends grew up there and she’s always talking about how wonderful it is. I’ll have to trip up there someday soon 🙂
    Also- you’re daughters are ADORABLE.


  8. This is the most inventive blog hop I have ever been to, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every blog post. Thanks for the trip to Philly!

  9. being i live in NEPA i have been to philly many times i love the historic center i love the red brick roads and all the museums. and it truly dose have a different feel than any other big city.
    kaholgate at ymail dot com

    1. I’m glad to hear how much you like Philly! It does have a different feel from other large cities. Thanks for stopping by and for entering the giveaway!

    1. Thanks for entering! My twins are five, but I’m still so amused they ended up with red hair. We have red-headed genes on both sides of the family, but I still expected them to have much darker hair because mine is so dark. Genetics doesn’t always work out the way you expect!

  10. I loved this post. I work in Philadelphia and I also review opera in Philly and have been a Philly sports fans for years. The pretzels, the cheesesteaks, the Italian Market in South Philly! It’s a wonderful exciting place to work and to visit in a novel, too. Happy hopping!

  11. Great post, Amal! I’ve never been to Philadelphia, but now I really want to take a trip. So much to see, and I would be especially excited to see Van Gogh’s Sunflowers up close. My folks had a print, so it reminds me of childhood. And do the residents of Philadelphia all speak like Katharine Hepburn in that highly cultured voice or am I just dreaming this up? Hehe. Thanks so much for participating in the hop!!

    1. Thanks, Libby! Unfortunately, Philadelphians are not known for having “cultured” accents. Imagine a nasal accent saying “wudder” instead of “water.”

      1. 🙂 I’m planning on going to Maryland this year in September to cover a huge car show in Ocean City…perhaps on the way…if that’s in the same direction. Oh, I don’t know! I’m so directionally impaired…ouy…Google maps, here I come!

  12. I was in Philadelphia for mere hours as a teen (saw the Liberty Bell), but would love to go back! (I’d love to catch a Flyers game, though I wish they hadn’t waived Boucher yesterday…)


    1. I hope you’ll get an opportunity to visit again! The Liberty Bell area is a nice part of the city to see. I love the cobblestone and the old buildings. It’s charming.

    1. Oregon is one of the few states I haven’t visited! We did a very circuitous cross country trip once, but we didn’t drive up the West Coast. I’m going to correct that, though. I have an aunt in Washington and I keep meaning to head out that way. Thanks for stopping by and participating!

  13. It looks amazing, and I have to admit now I’m craving a cheesesteak! Somehow I doubt Subway’s are as good as the real thing… The girls’ photos are so cute, too.

    1. I’ve never tried Subway’s cheesesteak, but if it’s anything like other attempts to create the Philly classic (that I tried on a cross country trip), then it probably isn’t quite right. It’s hard to believe it’s so difficult to imitate!

    1. Yes, our hockey team is called the Flyers. Philly takes hockey seriously, but not like the Canadians. It’s a bigger deal up there. Football is a bigger deal down here (American football, obviously).

      Thanks for the link to Mae’s post. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about Philadelphia’s past. A woman who was like a grandmother to me passed away on Monday, a day before her 99th birthday. She lived in Philly her whole life. I can’t even imagine how the area (and the world!) changed in her lifetime between 1914 and 2013. The area she grew up in was a prosperous Jewish community and now it is full of abandoned houses.

  14. I’ve never been to Philadelphia, but now I want to read those books. I’m one of the blog -hop hosts, though, so I’ll stay out of the contest drawing. But it’s a great prize!

    Your kids are so cute. I remember when I was a kid I thought that bread was mad of “weed”. lol. When my mom was pulling weeds in our garden, I told her not to throw them away, so we could make bread (not smoke it, 🙂 I didn’t even know drugs existed).

  15. What a great idea! I’ll have to check out the other posts in this blog hop. I visited Philadelphia once when I was in high school with my Dad. His favorite college basketball team, Xavier, was playing in a tournament there. I did get to see some great basketball, but my favorite experience was by far the art museum.

    1. We love the art museum! The picture at the very top and bottom of this post were taken right outside of it. We try to visit as often as we can. I love seeing how much my little girls enjoy going there (their favorite spot is the Japanese Tea House and their favorite artists are Renoir and Pissarro).
      Thanks for joining in!

    1. I would love to visit the Netherlands! I am not much of an international traveler, at least not recently, but I’m hoping that will change at some point.

      Longwood gardens is absolutely stunning. We are very lucky to have so many beautiful gardens and arboretums in the Philadelphia area.

  16. How about more praise for Philadelphia? I miss the area where I grew up and any excuse to applaud Philly is well worth it. You mentioned some great places to visit. I find when I get home, I visit the places I have known so well from my youth. It does not matter how many times either, it just makes one feel like home.

    1. Philadelphians are a loyal bunch, huh? We love our city! It’s nice that it still feels like home to you. It sounds like you get to visit often, which is very nice.

  17. My sister (The Queen of Poo), took me to Philly for my birthday about ten years ago. She won a trip for two, anywhere Northwest flew, and we decided we had to visit the Mutter Museum and the Degas exhibit at the “Rocky Museum”. We stayed in the delightfully foofy Warwick Plaza on Ritternhouse Square. We LOVED Philly!! (But no way in HELL would we try to drive there again…lol Philly Phlash for these country mice next time.)

    1. I’m glad to hear you had a nice time! The Mutter Museum is a very interesting place. We love the Philadelphia Art Museum and my kids actually like walking up the “Rocky” steps (not that they know who Rocky is)!

  18. Count me in! I haven’t been to Philadelphia in decades but it was a beautiful city from what I remember. I thought about attending Temple University for my graduate work but that didn’t work out.

      1. One of my favorite professors at my undergraduate university was a Temple graduate. I applied to the graduate program and was accepted but they did not offer my enough financial aid. 😦
        I am currently taking coursework online through Boston University. Both my parents have advanced degrees from BU so I feel like I am in the right place.

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