Philly, NYC, Virginia, and St. Augustine

This fall I went on a few short trips and wanted to tell you what I was able to pack in to a short time. So whether it’s your first time in any of these places or you’ve been a million times, maybe you’ll get a new idea or two.

First stop, my hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My cousin was getting married so most of my time was spent with family, but in my free time I did have some exploring to get in. We stayed at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown and it had amazing views, check this out:

Since I was in such a prime location I had a great start to start exploring. I would say the touristy highlights in Philly are: the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall/Historic Park, the Philadelphia Museum of Art (the Rocky Stairs), Eastern State Penitentiary, and the Reading Terminal Market.

So obviously there’s the historic parts of Philadelphia that are iconic The Liberty Bell, Independence Historic Park where Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell are. Then a few miles away is The Philadelphia Museum of Art. Of course it’s an amazing museum and you should go in and check it out. But outside of the museum are the “rocky steps” and some areas/statues devoted to the movies:

Once again, a few miles away there is the Eastern State Penitentiary which is considered America’s most historic prison. It closed in 1970 and reopened as a museum. It’s famous for it’s “wagon wheel” (one main guard post in the center with several inmate halls coming out of the center) held notorious criminals such as Al Capone and bank robber Willie Sutton. We were there around Halloween time and they have a night Halloween tour that sounded extremely creepy!! However, I would have loved to do it but we had wedding festivities at night and I’m not sure my heart could have taken it! Here are some pictures from my day time tour:

Now it’s time for New York . Since my brother lives in Manhattan I did not stay at a hotel, so I don’t have any personal recommendations. But we did a lot of walking on this trip and covered a lot of the New York City must do’s. We arrived at night and had tickets to see Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, so we went right over to the studio after dropping off our luggage. Oh, also after walking through Times Square and getting a slice of famous Joe’s Pizza.

If you’re a Bravo or WWHL fan, it was amazing!!! Being in the studio, talking to Andy, AND getting a picture with the guest star, Celine Dion! What an experience.

The next day it was time to go exploring. Our first stop was exploring Hudson Yards and the new art installation building. We didn’t get tickets to go up (they were free but a long line) but neat to walk up to it and see it:

Then we walked along the Hudson making stops at Chelsea Market, The High Line, Ground Zero (9/11 Memorial), The Oculus, Battery Park, a free trip on the Staten Island Ferry (and back) to see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, Dumbo (in Brooklyn), back to Manhattan for Chinatown and Little Italy for some good eats before heading back to my brother’s place. Whew, only 16 miles of walking that day, here are the pictures:

The next day we went to Bryant Park to see the Christmas market, then Rockefeller Center, an Irish pub to catch some college football, and then Central Park. Today was much colder than the day before, so we enjoyed our time indoors:

I also think the highlight of the night after bar hoping was getting a few slices at Artichoke Pizza, holy deliciousness. It was a short trip but we had a lot of exploring packed in!

Next up, Virginia. Two of my best friends live an hour apart so when I come up I get to spend time with both of them, one in Strasburg and one in Ashburn. On the first day we met up in Blue Mont to do some brewery hopping. There are a ton of breweries and wineries in this area with great views so you can’t go wrong. Some of the classics are: Bear Chase Brewing Company, Dirt Farm Brewing, Adriot Theory Brewing Company, Bluemont Vineyard, and Crooked Run Brewing. There are a ton more, but those are ones I’ve been to over the years and recommend!

After all that drinking it was time for some food. We went to Monk’s BBQ which was amazing!

The next day we went to Great Falls National Park. It was beautiful to see in the fall. I’ve seen in both in the summer and frozen over in the winter, but the foliage (although post peak season) was awesome.

After a full day of hiking we enjoyed some delicious Peruvian food at Pio Pio Peruvian Cuisine. It was so nice to see my friends and explore Virginia:

My last fall trip was to the historic city of St. Augustine for another wedding. We stayed at an airBnB but a lot of my friends (bride included) stay at the Casa Monica Resort and Spa and it was just gorgeous!

Because it was Christmas time it was all set up with lights, Santas roaming the street, and more.

Our first night we started on the rooftop of San Sebastian Winery for drinks, apps, and sunset. Then roamed around looking at lights (see above).

The next day it was time for some exploring with the top down:

We went to the famous lighthouse and paid to explore and climb the 200+ steps for a 360 view of St. Augustine:

Then we went to the old jail and roamed around. We took some silly pictures as we were exploring and then it was time for rehearsal dinner at the Columbia which is always a good choice. The rest of the weekend was the wedding. Once again, short trip, but got a lot in.

Happy Holidays everyone!