A look back on my first semester in Philadelphia

Written by: Katie Bishop, Open Arts Analytics Intern 

I though a lot during the summer before my junior year of high school in Pittsburgh, PA–where I would live for the next few years? #1 on my list was the historic and far enough/close enough to my parents, Philadelphia. This city was so vital during the Revolutionary time period, there is a distinct history here that no other American city can boast; that was something I wanted to experience first hand. Secondly, it’s in the perfect geographical location! It has easy access and is in close proximity with New York City, Washington D.C., and Baltimore. They’re only a short train or bus ride away.

The rich history and convenient geography were my intial reasons for liking Philadelphia, but now I have reasons for loving it. Philly is a classic city that runs at its own pace. Like other cities, it’s always bustling with a sense of urgency and purpose, but here, you can always join in and be part of the collective experience. It’s the kind of pace that keeps you moving but doesn’t overwhelm you. Oh, and the culture! This place is the jack of all trades– the sports, art, entertainment, food, music, and parks all bring Philly to life! It is an inclusive culture where anyone can find a way to surround themselves with the things they love. It truly is the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.

From the easy access to opportunites– in my first month here I received a paid internship! — to being able to delve into any kind of culture you want — becoming a huge Eagles fans or become regulars of the local music scene– this culturally rich and perfectly paced city welcomes newcomers with open arms and makes you feel right at home.

Z’s Weekly Picks | Nov. 28 – Dec. 4

We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Did you sleep in? I sure did! Now that I’m (kind of) refreshed and ready for this week, it’s time for Z’s Weekly Picks! We’re officially in holiday season territory, and lots of festive events are coming up. Here are a few things to look forward to this week (besides all the leftover Thanksgiving foods, of course).

City Hall Holiday Festivities

City Hall is your one stop shop for lights, trees, a holiday market and ice skating. With all that in one place, you can’t avoid being bit by the holiday cheer bug.

Christmas Tree Lighting at Rittenhouse Square 

Grab a nice cup of coffee from Joe’s Coffee and round up your friends and head to Rittenhouse Square this Tuesday at 5 p.m. for the annual Christmas tree lighting! The 30 ft. twinkling tree sets the tone for people strolling through the very instagram-able Square.

The Good King Tavern’s 3rd Anniversary

This Wednesday, you can head to the Good King Tavern to help them celebrate their third anniversary with some great drink and food deals. If you’re in the mood for something different, they’ll be serving small French-fare plates. For a food lover, this pay-as-you-go event is great place to dip your toes into the Philly food scene!

Stag & Doe Night in Chestnut Hill 

If you’re looking to explore a little out of Center City, make your way to Chestnut Hill on Wednesday evening for the first Stag and Doe Night of the holiday season. You and your friends can enjoy some Christmas carolers, some holiday treats like roasted chestnuts (Chestnuts from Chestnut Hill!), tree lights and extended hours of the Chestnut Hill shops! You won’t want to miss one of the Hill’s oldest traditions. 

Ugly Sweater Party at the Philadelphia Museum of Art 

Personally, one of my favorite parts of the holiday season is wearing ugly Christmas sweaters! This Friday, climb the Rocky steps to get to the the ultimate Ugly Sweater Party at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Imagine yourself in an awesome museum in your not so awesome holiday sweater sipping on hot chocolate (spiked hot chocolate if you’re of age), snapping selfies in a photobooth, and enjoying live performances. That. Could. Be. You. 

So there you have it! Z’s Weekly picks up until December 4th. How is it December already?! If you have any suggestions or any feedback from these events, definitely let us know what’s happening around Philly! Tweet us @CampusPhilly.

Students of Philadelphia: Meet Kelsey from Arcadia University

“Students of Philadelphia” showcases just a few of the many talented and creative students that inhabit our amazing city. In this mini series, we will introduce you to some of Philly’s young, talented and ambitious students.  

Meet Kelsey Pendergast from Arcadia University:

Students of Philadelphia: Kelsey Pendergast from Campus Philly on Vimeo.

Can’t get enough of Kelsey and her awesome scientific illustration? Here’s a little more about her!

Zipporah Dixon: Hey Kels! Would you mind introducing yourself to us?

Kelsey Pendergast: Hi! I’m Kelsey, an artist at Arcadia University studying scientific illustration!

ZD: What was your first impression of Philadelphia? What do you think of it now?

KP: Since I grew up right outside of DC, it was kind of just different and new to me. Philly has really grown on me and I actually miss it when I go home.

ZD: What’s your favourite neighborhood in Philly? Do you have a special place in Philly that’s your special, (perhaps) getaway spot?

KP: I have a few! I really like Germantown, because it’s cute, quaint, and has a whole bunch of local shops. Another one would be Fishtown because of vibrant Frankord Avenue that’s home to great restaurants, shops and La Colombe’s headquarters.

ZD: Since you moved to Philadelphia, have you discovered something new about yourself?

KP: One thing that’s definitely changed while I’ve been living here is my art style. Before, I didn’t do color at all, I avoided it like the plague! My advisor/professor had a lot of projects that had to deal with color, so it was you either do this or you fail. It forced me to get into an area that I never really experienced and I actually really enjoy it so, it’s fun.

ZD: What is your artform/creative expression? Can you show us?

KP: Scientific illustration! Mostly medical art, I really like to explore the human body through figure drawings, I do a lot of drawing in my science classes and I can’t wait to get more into the medical side of it!

ZD: How has Philadelphia influenced your artform? Has the city inspired you in any way?

KP: A lot of my photography has been in Philly, because I thought Philly would be really cool to photograph. My favorite photo day was when the Pope came in, there was a grata and everyone put prayers on it and tied them to the structures outside the church, it was a lot of fun to photograph.

ZD: Have you immersed yourself into Philadelphia’s art scene? Have you considered it?

KP: I’d like to! I really like the mural concepts, I’m trying to look into an apprenticeship with one of my professors who does murals throughout Philly, so I’d really like to get into that.

ZD: So we know about the Cheesesteak scene here in Philadelphia, but where’s your favorite place in Philly to grab a bite to eat? Have a cuppa joe?

KP: Oh man, this is a hard question for me! I am a BIG fan of sushi, so Queen Sushi is my go-to. Oh and Wawa! Keswick Tavern, that’s a good local one.

ZD: What’s your one piece of advice for those considering coming to Philly for school?

KP: Explore the city. I know a lot of people who say, ‘I don’t want to go into the city, that’s a long way.’ It’s not far, and it’s a $7 trip there, $7 back! Some kind of awesome event is always happening and there’s so much to explore. Going into the city was one of the things that made me feel at home, especially freshman year. Walk down a main street, check out some shops, have dinner– do whatever you want! Just don’t stay cramped up in your dorm room.

So that’s a bit about Kelsey! Check back soon for our next featured Student of Philadelphia!

Z’s Weekly Picks | Nov. 21-27

As you’re all getting out your stretchy pants and gearing up to stuff your faces with some awesome food, don’t forget about all the amazing things there are to do in Philly this week! Sit back, relax, and enjoy a plateful of Z’s weekly picks!

Thanksgiving Parade

Before you get your grub on, head out to Ben Franklin Parkway to see the oldest Thanksgiving Day Parade in the country. Celebrating its 97th year, head out to catch the 1.4 mile long parade, with some of your faves like Curious George, Mr. Potato Head, The Grinch and Kermit hitting the Parkway. If you can’t be there in person, you can catch all the festivities on 6ABC.

Christmas Village and Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market

Head down to Dilworth Park next to City Hall for ice skating AND holiday shopping. Before or after you show off your moves on the ice, you can walk around and do a little shopping.  Maybe even cross a few people off of your holiday shopping list!

Macy’s Holiday Light Show

If you’re out shopping on Friday, make your way to the Wanamaker Building on Market Street for the Macy’s Holiday Light Show. Shows occur daily, beginning on Thanksgiving, continuing to New Year’s Eve, and typically start around noon, and the finale of the day ends with a final light show and some awesome holiday music played on the famous Wanamaker Organ.

Reading Terminal Market Holiday Railroad

The Market is always chugging along the good food express but something else is on the tracks during the holiday season– Reading Terminal’s 500 ft Holiday Railroad! It runs about a third of a mile in length, and if you’re able to count them all, it features 17 train lines!

Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest

Looking for ice skating with a view? Head over to Penn’s Landing for the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest, where you’ll discover an Olympic-sized skating rink, an indoor lodge for food and drinks, and an amazing view of the Ben Franklin Bridge. 

So there you have it, my picks for the week! Let us know how everything was or if you have any suggestions! Tweet us @CampusPhilly.


Warm up before & after Tuesday’s College Night skate

Tuesday nights this winterCollege Night at Rothman Rink! What does that mean for you? College students pay $2 for admission (skate rental not included) for an evening of fun with friends! This cool event will be happening every Tuesday until February 21st.

Between doing a gazillion laps around the rink and stopping by the Center City hot spots listed below, you’ll definitely be nice and toasty! Enjoy food and drink from the Rothman Rink cabin or warm your bones with a frothy cappuccino from the neighboring La Colombe. For of age skaters, check out cozy classics, Oscar’s and Good Dog.

The Christmas Village in Philadelphia  & Wintergarden at City Hall
The Rothman Rink is right next to the Christmas Village, which is modeled after traditional European open-air Christmas markets, and the giant outdoor maze — America’s Garden Capital Maze

Rothman Rink Cabin
Just steps from the north side of the Rothman Ice Rink, the new Rothman Cabin features Cuban burgers, French fries, hot chocolate, coffee, and much more! Skaters will be able to leave the ice without removing their skates to warm up and get food and drink.

La Colombe | 1414 S Penn Square
Get a coffee “for here” and take a seat in their cafe. If you’re into people watching, put this place on your list.

Max Brenner | 1500 Walnut St. 
If you’re all about chocolate, go here.

Good Dog Bar | 224 S. 15th St.| 21+
Sometimes after a long day, you need to sit yourself down in a cozy booth and eat a good burger. Dog lovers, you’ll get your fill of dog decor at this place!

Oscar’s Tavern | 1524 Sansom St. | 21+
Two things: Bar food & Bill Murray. The retro paper placemats, the jukebox and the dimly lit atmosphere will place you in the best time warp ever.

For Planners Making Plans: Holiday Edition

Every friend group has a planner– I know this because I’m the unofficial event coordinator in my group. I worry about the stuff that makes the magic actually happen, from buying the tickets and having everyone Venmo me, or making reservations at that super popular restaurant we all want to check out.

The #1 question in our group chat is “How are we going to get there?” It all depends! We hop on a SEPTA train or bus. If all of our tires are full of air, we bike; if it’s close enough, we walk. All great ways of getting around. Oh oh, and Zipcar, we love a ZipTrip! There’s nothing like plugging your phone in, putting on some good jams and driving around the city with your friends.

Planners like deals, so here’s one for you — When you reserve a Zipcar Mon-Thurs from 6pm-8:30am, it is only $29 for the entire period! Get the deets here: http://www.zipcar.com/overnight. Not a member yet? Go to www.zipcar.com/campusphilly for discounted memberships!

We also like recommending things to people like events! There are a lot of those happening this time of year. Here are some road trip-worthy events:

Holiday Light Show at Shadybrook Farm | November 19 – January 8

Experience the magic of more than 3 million lights illuminating acres of farmland! Encounter whimsical displays and familiar characters as you drive through in the comfort of your own car or enjoy the show on an open air wagon ride (weather permitting).

Warm up with a cup of hot cocoa and cook up s’mores at a toasty bonfire (cocoa, s’mores kits, and more treats available for purchase in the Farm Market.

A Longwood Christmas | November 24 – January 8

Organ sing-alongs, strolling carolers, and performances fill our Gardens with festive cheer. Delight in their holiday horticulture showcasing more than 6,000 seasonal plants.

Outside, the sounds of oohs and aahs fill the air as illuminated stars twinkle above, colorful fountains dance to holiday music, and a half-million lights brighten the night.
Student admission: $20/non-peak time; $27/peak

Waterfront WinterFest at Penn’s Landing | Opening Friday, Nov. 25

“Are we in Philly?” That’s what you’ll be asking when you get to this winter wonderland near the Delaware River. WinterFest is a cold-weather version of Spruce Street Harbor Park, which houses an Olympic-size skating rink overlooking the River, ski chalet-style lodge and winter garden with recycled shipping containers, a heated tent, holiday trees, fire pits and plenty of cozy seating.

The Miracle on South 13th Street Holiday Light Display | Lights go on at the end of November

I accidentally found out about this holiday tradition! One wrong turn and I was driving down the most festive street ever. Reserve your Zipcar and load your car up with friends to drive down this well-known street! From one planner to another, gather your friends, reserve a Zipcar and explore all the city has to offer during this very festive time!

For even more events, check out our calendar here!

Philly To-Do: Celebrate the Holidays

This time of year has a way of pushing time’s fast-forward button, so it’s never too early to start bringing out the tinsel, miseltoe and lights. From pop-up shopping nights to holiday light celebrations, there are plenty of Philly happenings to get you in a festive mood. Below are my picks that I’m looking forward to checking out! 

Holiday lights across the City 

If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite things about the holiday season is all the lights and decorations spread across the city. So, if you are indeed like me, you’ll be excited to know that this is an ongoing event going on throughout the city. Grab some friends, bundle up, and make a nice hot chocolate to go, and explore the neighborhoods of Philadelphia and the amazing decorations that’ll truly wow you. (My personal favorite is the Longwood Gardens lights)

Check out Visit Philly’s list of  The Top Places to View Holiday Lights in Philadelphia and head to the Parade of Lights at the Seaport Museum on Saturday, December 10!

Franklin Flea Holiday Market 2016 

Looking for unique, one-of-a-kind gifts? Stop by the Franklin Flea at the Historic Strawbridge’s Building happening on Saturday, December 17th from 10 am to 5 pm! In addition to great gift finds, you can grab a bite to eat from one of the many food vendors and enjoy live music performances throughout the day.

Looking for more events like this? Here’s uwishunu’s list of 10+ Holiday Markets To Shop In Philly This December.

Historic Holiday Nights in Old City 

Head to Old City this Thursday for Historic Holiday Nights, which runs every Thursday until December 22nd. 45 shops, restaurants and museums open up their doors to the public from 5-8 p.m. with special deals and an extended happy hour for those of age. This is a great way to explore Old City, and cross a few people off of your Christmas list!

Ice Skating at City Hall

Another holiday tradition, ice skating at Rothman Rink at City Hall!  If you can’t skate they even offer a five week session of skating lessons on Sunday mornings that include skates and admission. You can also warm up after skating for awhile with food and drinks around City Hall. 

In addition to Rothman Rink at Dilworth Park, lace up your skates at the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest!

Christmas Village at City Hall

Not much of a skater? You can still hit up City Hall for the Christmas markets starting later this month. More than 80 vendors will be out selling little trinkets and gifts perfect for the holidays. Not only will there be shopping but you can expect side-street performances and other special events throughout the entirety of the markets stay in Center City.

Catch the annual holiday show at Walnut Street Theatre

Want to catch an awesome show and see some history as well? Hit up Walnut Street Theatre, which just so happens to be America’s oldest theatre and catch a classic, Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’! Maybe take a stroll to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, which are just a quick walk away before settling in for a bit to watch an awesome cast perform one of the most classic Christmas favorites of all time.

Have “A Very Philly Christmas” at Fairmount Park

Music. Friends. Neighbors. Family. These four elements are the four most important ideas to our lovely city. Head to Fairmount Park to see some of the historical homes decked out for the season with these ideals in mind. Fairmount Park will also be hosting some really awesome events based around those four elements. Grab your friends, your family, your neighbors and head to Fairmount Park (while listening to some awesome music) and enjoy some of the things that make the City of Brotherly Love the best city to be in.

There you have it, Z’s holiday picks for this upcoming season.  For more events, you can always check out our calendar page. If you’re looking to take a road trip, check out For Planners Making Plans: Holiday Edition. If you have any suggestions or want to share your experience at one of these places, let us know!


The Ultimate Guide to a Philly Friendsgiving

Some of us student-Philadelphians come from near and far, and sometimes it isn’t easy to get home for the break. So if you can’t make it home for the holidays or if you’re just celebrating early with some friends, you can make sure you eat all the food you can and have an unforgettable Friendsgiving.

Have a dinner with all of your pals

There are many ways you can go about your Friendsgiving dinner. First, I would recommend finding out how many of your friends will be around, maybe the weekend before thanksgiving before some of them head home for the holiday. In order to give yourself a break, have a little sign-up system and everyone to bring their favorite Thanksgiving dish, that way you can have a full spread with all the trimmings! The great part about all of this is that everyone can contribute.

What you’ll need:

  • Lot’s of food! (Your college friends understand if you can’t make a proper turkey.) Ah the perks of store-bought rotisserie chicken. Hey, it’s the thought that counts.
  • Dessert: all the pie you can find and make.
  • The proper décor: red table cloths, orange cups, fall themed plates, (leaves from outside?) whatever screams “Thanksgiving!” to you and has a picture of a turkey on it will work.
  • If you’re all over 21, make sure you bring the wine.
  • Twister: This my fourth Friendsgiving is coming up. Trust me when I say Twister has never failed us.

Find out which places are serving Thanksgiving dinners

If it’s just you and a few friends and you want to spoil yourselves for the holiday, you can catch some of Philly’s best Thanksgiving dinners. Some of the most affordable deals in the city are this Thanksgiving buffet at the Randor Hotel, this traditional meal at Bridget Foy’s, and this three course meal at Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

Get your Thanksgiving dinner to-go!

Don’t feel like figuring out how to stuff a turkey? Order some Turkey Day take-out!  While this definitely isn’t the cheapest route to go, you could go for it and personalize your dinner and split the cost with your whole party. You could go with Jake’s Sandwich Board and feed up to 24 of your friends with Turkey-stuffed sandwiches or order from Relish and get all of the sides and desserts you can think of. We also promise not to tell if you just make a traditional college student decision and stock up on a bunch of Wawa’s delicious Gobblers.

Looking for more sandwich options? Here’s where to find 10 Thanksgiving sandwiches in Philly.

Make sure you catch the 97th Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade

Don’t miss the best way to begin your Thanksgiving day! Head over early to the Parkway to catch the floats and balloons, Santa and all your favorite characters. This is great to do with your friends that are sticking around in the city with you!

After the parade, make your way to the Comcast building for the first day of ‘Comcast Holiday Spectacular,’ which transforms the building’s lobby  into a winter wonderland. “The lobby transforms into a bona fide winter wonderland. At the top of every hour, visitors are invited to gaze at the Comcast Experience video wall, one of the world’s largest and highest resolution LED displays, for a show they won’t soon forget.”–uwishunu.com

Hit the stores       

You can’t forget about the shopping deals. Everyone wins big when we support local business, so shop on Saturday, November 26, a.k.a. “Small Business Saturday.” As students it is our duty to snag the best deals we can. Not to mention you can grab holiday presents early for your friends and family members.

Our Guide to Taking a Stroll Outside

Where do you go when you need to clear your head? We go outside to take a walk with our old friend, Nature. But where do you find such a thing in the city? The answer is: closer than you think. The fall foliage and fresh air is just what the doctor ordered and there is no shortage of that in and around Philadelphia! Below are some of our go-to natural trails:

Manayunk Towpath

Exploring the Manayunk Towpath is a great way to learn about the history of the neighborhood and the canal. Take a bit of time out of your day to stop at this point along the Schuylkill River, rent a bike and get going! While traveling through the Towpath you’ll see things like old rail lines, old canal locks and plenty of wildlife.

 Wissahickon Valley Park

The Wissahickon Trail is by far one of my favorite escapes from the library. The trail runs over 20 miles in length and stretches along the Wissahickon Creek from Stenton Avenue all the way to Lansdale Borough. You’ll encounter an abundance of beautiful waterfalls, trails suitable for everyone and even picnic areas!

Valley Forge National Historic Park

Discover the past and explore nature by trekking through this historical park, it really is a win-win kind of a day trip. This was, after all, a base camp for Washington’s army during the American Revolution. Only around 30 minutes from Philly, you can get anything from a rigorous mountain-like hike to short and calming nature walks.

Pennypack Creek Trail

The Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust puts a lot of effort into protecting, restoring and preserving the lands of Pennypack Creek, all so we can enjoy it’s beauty! With this trail being 5 miles long and just 15 miles out of Center City in Montgomery County, you can explore either by foot or even by hopping on horseback. In fact, this trail welcomes hikers, cyclists, equestrians and of course your trail-happy dog!

Peace Valley

Even the name sounds serene! Make your way to this beautiful nature center for the day, just an hour out of the city. With 14 miles of trails at the eastern end of Lake Galena, you can walk, run, hike or bike your way through the paved paths. If you’re into bird watching this is also the place to go, as over 250 different bird species have been spotted here!

If you snap a picture during your hike, tag @CampusPhilly so we can see it. We love seeing what you’re up to!



































The Must-Attend Events of the Season!


Here it is everyone, the stuff you’ve been waiting for. Now that Halloween is over (even though we hate saying bye to you, Oct. 31st) it’s time to make room for the next best thing, Thanksgiving! A day full of food, family and friends needs a fun-packed month of preparation; here are some of this month’s events that you won’t want to miss!


Empty Bowl Benefit Dinner at Arcadia University

I dare you all to name a more fall food than soup, I say this because nothing can compare to a nice hot steamy bowl of it. Arcadia University holds an Annual Empty Bowl Benefit Dinner, and this is its 23rd! On Monday, November 14th you can purchase a ticket https://alumni.arcadia.edu/events/eb16 and enjoy a bountiful amount of soups, breads and dessert that have all been donated by community restaurants. 100% of proceeds from the Empty Bowl Dinner go to organizations that benefit the hungry and the homeless. Make sure to catch this one, you can enjoy delicious food as well as do something great for the city’s people.


Wintergarden at Dilworth Park

Although some of us despise the cold, there is still some room for fun here in Philly! On November 11th, America’s Garden Capital Maze will be filled with thousands of twinkly lights, seasonal trees and everything else a winter wonderland could ever need. You can grab all of the essentials (hot chocolate, fun snacks and boozy drinks) to keep you warm near the Rothman Institute Ice Rink and Cabin where you can also find the holiday Made in Philadelphia Market. You can also find the Christmas Village in the Courtyard at City Hall. For more information, click here! http://www.uwishunu.com/2016/10/brand-new-wintergarden-opening-city-hall-november/?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=VisitPhillyFacebook&utm_content=Social#sm.0002kj5f2rp3dmt106z2d4ntm1gmq


The Franklin Square Holiday Festival and Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show

Nothing says “Tis the season” better than a festival and a light show! From November 10th to December 31st, head over to Franklin Square and catch the main feature, the Electrical Spectacle light show. Welcoming all ages and filled with winter treats and a beergarden, there is also a Lightning Bolt Holiday Express train that rides around the square.


The Philadelphia Marathon along Boathouse Row

This 8K race (half-marathon) takes place through November 18th to the 20th and will power through the city passing the Philadelphia Museum of Art as well as Boathouse Row. There will also be a Kids Fun Run as well as a Health & Fitness Expo. Even if you’re not a runner, volunteer or just head over and support your fellow Philadelphians! http://philadelphiamarathon.com/



The Thanksgiving Day Parade on the Parkway

Last but definitely not least, make sure you head to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to catch the oldest Thanksgiving Day Parade in the country. You’ll enjoy the legendary floats, huge balloons, music, performances and even a visit from Santa.


Grab a bite near College Night!

Make a night of this Friday’s College Night at the Barnes Foundation by making plans to eat at one of the nearby restaraunts below!

— Order a slamming pizza pie at Pizzeria Vetri at 1939 Callowhill St.
— Catch good taco vibes at Buena Onda, down the street at 1901 Callowhill St.
— If you’re 21+, fly off to Kite & Key, 1836 Callowhill St., for a low key drink.
— Get the whole experience of the brand  new Whole Foods Market at 2101 Pennsylvania Ave. It’s not just a grocery store, four Philadelphia-area restaurateurs offer prepared foods  from luncheonette-style counters equipped with bar stools!

Walk your meal off along the Schuylkill River between the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Fairmount Water Works. There are beautiful lookout points that are very gram-worthy.