My name is Bridget McLaughlin and I am a graphic design student at Drexel University, getting ready to enter my junior year! In my free time I love to read, go on walks, and bake. I’m a Philadelphia native so I’m so excited to share my love of the city with fellow students.
Guest-written by Bridget McLaughlin
Fall is now in full swing. Freshman from all over are moving to Philadelphia for the first time. With the weather cooling off, there’s no better time to explore the hidden gems that Philly has to offer. Check out four of my favorites!
1. James G. Kaskey Memorial Park
This botanical garden is nestled in the heart of the University of Pennsylvania. After wandering the beautiful Ivy League’s campus, peek inside this park oasis. You won’t even know you’re in the city as you walk around the pond, hearing frogs and seeing turtles. I visit this park frequently to read, eat a snack, or just escape the hustle and bustle of the city streets.
With each season, Kaskey Park brings new wonders. In the fall, towering yellow gingkoes shed their leaves, adding to the autumnal carpet under foot. The winter brings bare branches that, when looked at closely, carry the buds of patient April blooms. The spring brings renewal to the park. With every turn, a new flower can be discovered. The summer transforms the park into a green jungle bursting with life. James Kaskey Park is worth a visit for any nature enthusiasts.
2. Avril 50
For lovers of magazines and pastries (or better yet, both!), Avril 50 is the place to be. Tucked on Sansom Street, the shop’s yellow doors welcome you into a room filled with international publications, postcards, pastries, and of course, coffee. There’s a variety of coffee blends to pick from for those who can differentiate the taste, but any of them will do when you need a pre-class pick-me-up.
This eclectic shop will make you feel like you just wandered off a Parisian street rather than a Philadelphian one. Be sure to say hi to John behind the counter when you visit!
3. McGillan’s Olde Ale House
McGillan’s is the oldest operating pub in the city—and it’s no wonder why. Their welcoming atmosphere and delicious menu will keep anyone coming back for years to come. My family goes every year at Christmas after seeing the iconic Wanamaker’s light display.
The wait is usually long, but the first step inside the warmly lit tavern, and the first taste of their French onion soup, is truly unforgettable. A bonus of going in December is their holiday décor is unmatched anywhere else in the city!
Photo credit: @mcgillinsoldealehouse
4. Love Letter Mural Tour
Philadelphia is a city of murals, all individually beautiful. A Love Letter for You is a series of 50 rooftop murals by Steve Powers. The best way to view all of them in one go is to hop on the El (Market/Frankford subway line for you non-locals) heading west.
This past winter, one of my design classes spent an hour hopping on the subway and appreciating the palpable love that these murals bring to life. When you get to the end of the subway line, hop on the next eastbound train, and see the murals from a different vantage point. The murals sing of romantic love, neighborly love, and the love of a local for their city.
All these spots are in comfortable walking distance or accessible with the Market-Frankford subway line to Drexel and Penn. Though it’s hard to get lost in Philadelphia’s gridded streets, it’s easy to become enveloped in the wonder of autumn as you explore the city’s hidden gems!