Weekly Snippets 38


Crystal Shopping, please notice the beer can in the corner.
Thank you, New Orleans, for being wonderful.

I haven’t decided if Week 38 of the year seems further along or less further along than I think it is. It’s that time of year when you start rolling into holiday time and so you feel like everything is full speed ahead, but 52-38 is 14. Eek. Yeah, still not sure if that’s a lot or a little. But here we are. Two blog posts out this week, it looks like I’m back. VenturePOP was just the kick in the pants that I needed. Glad to be back. And finally start to get some of these thoughts out of my head again.

Here are 10 things that happened in the past week:

  1. Friday morning I had breakfast with Mallory from Miss Malaprop. We talked about blogging conferences, VenturePOP, film making, and drag pageants. It was my favorite.
  2. Stephanie, Stephen, and I did a small brewery tour of New Orleans. We went to NOLA Brewing, Urban South, and Courtyard breweries. It’s possibly my favorite way to spend a Friday.
  3. I decided, after recommendation from Stephanie, that HiVolt Coffee is my coffee place of choice in New Orleans. I woke up early before the conference both days to walk 1.2 miles to get there. Totally worth it.
  4. VenturePOP was the coolest.
  5. Saturday night was for cheese shops, almost tarot card readings, crystal shopping at Earth Odyssey, and beignets. In case you’re curious, the crystals I ended up with (some of which were chosen by  their meaning, some of which were just chosen by their pretty colors) were:
    (a) Rose Quartz: Attracts love, heals emotional wounds and physical problems with the heart
    (b) Labradorite: Develops magical powers, unlocks the secrets of the psyche
    (c) Black Onyx: Grounds and purifies both the body and mind; comforts those with chronic conditions
    (d) Selenite: Cleanses & clears blockages (spiritual & physical); opens higher states of consciousness
    (e) Apatite: Helps calm headaches, uplift one’s mood, and aids exploration of past lives and dream recall
    So that’s that.
  6. Monday I saw Ben for the first time in two weeks in the airport after I landed and before he took off for a grand total of 20 minutes. He handed me a bag that had two presents and a card in it. Sometimes I’m pretty lucky. And let’s be honest, the card is really where it’s at for me. Good cards are the best.
  7. Tuesday was the perfect workday. I got in at 9:30, had an appointment in the middle of the day, and didn’t have plans after work so I was able to stay there until 6:30. That’s my ideal way to do things, I probably need to stop making plans before 6:30.
  8. I started my new mission to try as many chais in the city as possible. (Stay tuned for the blog post, just in time for hot beverage weather. I hope.) This is not my smartest mission as too much caffeine and sugar makes me crazy. By Thursday night I really wasn’t feeling all that well and I was only 4 chais in. (It also doesn’t help when you sit at a desk all day and can’t actually do anything with all that energy.) I’ll figure out how to make this happen though, because I’m pretty gosh darn determined.
  9. Wednesday night my friend Stephen (Philadelphia Stephen) and I started to plan our trip to the West Coast in October. Two weeks to enjoy the Pacific Northwest. We’re going to end up doing the Seattle, Redwood Forest, Napa, and San Francisco. All recommendations are welcome.
  10. Thursday night I made it to the Philly Dance Fitness class, Cardio Pop. That class is at the top of my list in terms of workouts I’ve found in Philadelphia.

What’s up for this weekend? Upstate New York with the ladies. And then finally seeing Ben for longer than 20 minutes on Sunday. I think? Unclear.

Have a wonderful weekend!

VenturePOP was the coolest.

What I Learned at VenturePOP 2016

As you know, I just got back from a week of vacation in New Orleans. I showed up on Monday, drove to Lake Charles, hung out in Baton Rouge for 2 days, and then crashed in New Orleans until Saturday when VenturePOP began. I booked tickets on a whim after finding out that Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon from Being Boss, and Sarah Morgan from XO Sarah were speaking. The decision took me approximately 4.5 minutes to make, if that.

And y’all. It was 100% worth it. Sometimes you go through a little bit of a buyer’s remorse situation when you realize you’ve bought tickets to a conference out of state, you only really know one other person attending, and the conference price actually called for more consideration than the 4.5 minutes you gave it. But the people were so incredible, the conference team worked really hard to put together an incredible agenda with surprises all over the place (they even brought in a brass band for the after party!), and the speakers were ON POINT. I will absolutely be purchasing a ticket in 2017. (Assuming they keep this going… because it would be a darn shame not to.)

If you didn’t have the pleasure of attending the conference live, I’m going to give you some insight into my top 5 quotes from the event, but first, let me set the scene.

From the very beginning, our awesome emcee, Liz, was talking about us being the “slasher” generation. This means that almost all of us need to put slashes in when we explain what we do in life. For example, I’m a construction consultant / blogger / conference mastermind / photographer / singer. It takes far more than just one word to get all of the components of your life into the same sentence. And that’s really cool. It means everybody has a project that they’re really passionate about in their lives. It also means that we’re constantly trying to juggle these personalities.

My mind was buzzing with ideas when I left the conference. Everything from, I should really try out a welcome gate on my blog to I should really start that community Facebook group for hostesses I was thinking about to omg what if I need entirely new branding again. Not being a first time conference attender I realize that some of these ideas will happen, and some of them won’t, but the fact that my brain can’t stop thinking about all of them is exactly what I needed. That’s why people go to conferences, for that kick in the pants they don’t get while sitting in front of their computer. And of course, to meet cool people.

There are two things I’m super excited to work on though:

  • The first is to research the crap out of Instagram. Thanks to Jennifer Puno, founder of Made with Map (who now has 107k followers on Instagram) I’m hoping to turn my Instagram game around. She put her all into Instagram for 6 months and saw an incredible return on that investment in her following AND community. She commented on 30-50 new people’s photos a day; creates lists of competitors, partners, and influencers; and really tore through Instagram to understand the best hashtags, visual displays, and content. Of course, she had a team of people working with her for some of that, but I still think it’s really cool to see how the Instagram game is actually a lot more analytical than it initially appears for such a visual network. Also, just in general, Puno (as she goes by) was a genuinely awesome person. At lunch the first day she bounced up to a group I was standing with to introduce herself, no qualms at all, which was awesome.
  • The second is to really take a step towards building an online community for hostess friends thanks to an awesome talk by Sarah Morgan (@xosarahmorgan) from XO Sarah titled How to Build a Thriving Online Community. As she pointed out, building a community is a great way to get feedback, to learn something new, and to meet new people. I just need to figure out what the heck this is going to look like now. If it’s something you’re interested in, please let me know in the comments below!

Anyway, I got distracted. Where was I? Ah yes, top 5 quotes from the event.

“They just don’t know how cool you are yet.”

I’d like to thank Shenee Howard (@heyshenee) of Hey Shenee for this quote. Her talk was titled Branding You: Get Paid For Being Yourself. Her presentation started by comparing a beautifully decorated cake with an unfrosted cupcake. They could both be the exact same cake it’s just how you take the time to present it that makes the difference. So after you see that you’re sitting there a little bit nervous because you realize that at best you’re a cupcake with a pretty wrapper, a little bit of frosting, and sprinkles that didn’t all stick to the top (as opposed to the rainbow layer cake with the elaborate piped frosting). But then, she reminds you that “they just don’t know how cool you are yet.” So you’ve got to tell them.

We have to figure out who we help and how we help. We need to figure out our signature story and we need to find the vignettes and feelings in that signature story to determine our battle cry. (And don’t for once think that you can use the word happiness in your signature story, because that is frowned upon. Shenee says to “cross out the words that tell stories and share the stories instead.”)

“Your business starts when you sell something for the first time.”

Right after lunch on the first day Amanda Aguillard (@aguillardacct) of Aguillard Accounting sat down with us to talk about accounting. (As they joked, what a great time to talk about accounting – right after lunch! The funny part was that we totally could have all been happy talking about accounting for the next three hours. Who would have thought for a room of creatives?) When you live in this creative world and walk this fine line of passion project meets side hustle, you are constantly asking yourself whether you have a hobby or a business. And Amanda broke it down really well. “Your business starts when you sell something for the first time.” So that’s when you need get your stuff together, right after (or possibly right before) you sell something for the first time.

Once you become a business you should create an LLC, get a tax ID number, and create a separate business checking account. (Some of which I have done, and some of which I have not done. I’m working on it.) This is similar to the same advice that I got from Elsie of A Beautiful Mess at Texas Style Council back in 2013. Get your stuff in order as soon as possible, it’ll save you a lot of hassle latter.

“I’d love to meet you and just think that you’re awesome.”

This quote is also thanks to the lovely Jennifer Puno (@punodostres). When she was building her Instagram account, she would meet up for coffee with the cool people she was interacting with on the internet. How did she make that happen? She said, “I’d love to meet you and just think that you’re awesome.” How simple! And sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t work, and either way it was a step towards progress.

What a cool way to meet new people.

“Design something bigger!”

I would like to thank Tara Gentile (@taragentile) for this simple, yet mind blowing idea. She started her talk by saying that your business is probably as big as it’s going to get right now because that’s what you designed it to be. So in order to get any bigger, instead of adding an hour to your day or increasing your prices 10% the answer is actually to “design something bigger.” Start thinking about licensing or building an app – and remember, “the profit is in your process.” So even if you’re thinking, but there are a million other people who do this in the world, they don’t have your process. And your process is what’s worth all the profit.

Just going to this conference alone was a great kick in the pants to design something bigger. As a blogger (who’s really not making all that much money, if any from her blog) attending a small business conference your mind is opened up to what could come next. Your brain starts overflowing with ways to take what you’re doing and turn it into a product or service that can really help somebody else. And that’s such a fun space to play in.

“Enjoy the process.”

To set the scene here, this wasn’t said during the conference. This was said at the after party while hanging around with drinks in hand chatting with Emily Thompson (@EmilyM_Thompson) from Being Boss and Indie Shopography. Sometimes when you’re this person with a day job and a side hustle you think that you’re supposed to be hustling towards the side as fast as possible. But sometimes you’ve got a pretty decent day job that allows you to do some cool things in your life and you’re just using your side hustle to add a little more right-brained to your life and you know what, that’s okay. “Enjoy the process.”

That was really great to hear. Because sometimes you start to worry that you’re not doing it right. So when somebody who’s been doing really well at building a business, setting goals, and building a community tells you to see how it plays out, it’s a huge weight off your shoulders (that you realize you’re not sure how it ever got there in the first place).

Other cool things that happened during this conference include:

  • Sarah Morgan talking a group of us into going shopping for crystals after night one, so now I am the proud owner of 5 crystals that I really need to look into a little bit more. That was a really fun night. And in general, hanging out with somebody that you’ve taken classes from before and have hung out with over the internet for 2.5+ years is just cool.
  • I spent a lot of time hanging out with Mallory Whitfield of Miss Malaprop. Goodness that girl is cool.
  • My new friend Kathy Rasmussen and I bonded over being first-time conference planners. (And she gave me the tip that when writing emails I should try using “as it turns out” instead of “unfortunately.” Flipping genius.)
  • I met a new coaching friend named Eryn Morgan Goldman who lives in Pittsburgh. We bonded over our love of community.
  • At one point I was standing in a small circle of people that included Emily Thompson, Kathleen Shannon, and Tara Gentile at the same time.
  • I’d like to thank Tara Gentile for putting the idea in my head to possibly do NaNoWriMo this year.
  • They brought in a dance krewe called Move Ya Brass to do a quick 10-minute work out for each of the days. No questions asked that would be my workout method of choice if they were anywhere near Philadelphia.
  • I was reminded as all of the people who were from New Orleans knew exactly what to do and how to dance along with a brass band that we were parading around the streets of New Orleans with that New Orleans culture is flipping awesome.

And that’s it. Those are all the things. It was really great meet everyone! And I can’t wait to stay in touch. Because that part’s my favorite.

Planning Your Trip to Philadelphia

Plan Your Trip to Philadelphia, a blog post via Chrystina Noel

This September marks the 10th anniversary of my arrival in Philadelphia. It’s crazy to think that it’s been so long. How did I end up in Philadelphia? I went to Drexel to study architectural engineering (because they gave me the most money). Why did I stay in Philadelphia? Because I got a job here for a company that I co-oped with (aka interned with) during college. And because the food is flipping delicious.

I’ve given my tour of Philadelphia many times. It’s something I really enjoy doing – and I really love seeking out new places to add to the list. Somehow in my five years of blogging I’ve never written a detailed post about what to do in Philadelphia. I’d say it’s about time I write a post about what to do when you’re planning your trip to Philadelphia. Let’s start at the beginning?

What’s the best way to get to Philadelphia?

  • You could take an Amtrak or SEPTA train into 30th Street Station easily from anywhere in the Northeast. There’s trains that come down from Boston and swoop across the Northeast corridor. There are a few trains that come in from the Buffalo, NY region. There’s a train that will take you all the way up from Richmond Virginia. And there’s a train that will take you in from the West (hitting Chicago, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, etc).
  • You could take a plane on your trip to Philadelphia. The International Airport is located only 20 outside of the city. It will cost you less than $30 (not including tip) to take a taxi or less than $10 to take the train (assuming you have cash) into the heart of the city.
  • You could drive (although the parking situation can be kind of crappy if you’re too close to the center of the city). This is definitely the cheapest option though so long as you’re able to find free parking. Free parking is easiest to find North of Spring Garden Street, South of South Street and West of 34th (Just be aware of your surroundings when you find a place to leave the car.) And note that it’s only free if there is no “X hour parking” sign or if the day falls into one of the exceptions.

Philadelphia Area Parking via Chrystina Noel

What’s the best way to see Philadelphia?

No doubt about it, the answer to that question is “by foot.” Philadelphia is an incredibly walkable city. Sometimes it’s useful to use public transportation to get to the parts out a little bit further, but I highly suggest walking back to where you started to get a feel for the Philadelphia neighborhoods.

How do you use public transit in Philadelphia?

Public transit is run by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). If you’re going to ride the subway you will need a token. You can buy them at most subway stops, 2 for $3.60. (You can only use a credit card at one of the major station stops though.) If you’re going to hop on a bus or trolley you will need either a token or exact change ($2.25). You enter at the front of the bus or trolley, put your money in the little machine, and walk back. To get off a bus or trolley you need to pull the string / push the button to let the driver know he/she should stop at the next possible stop. Here’s the link to SEPTA’s website for the most up-to-date information. Additional options include Uber, Lyft, and many taxis.

Where should you stay?

Honestly. I’m not the best person to ask this question to. My default answer is find a friend who lives in the City and stay with them because it’s the cheapest. Other than that, my dad always stays at The Alexander Inn, rooms are decently cheap ($100-$150/night) and it’s located in a really good neighborhood. There are a lot of hotels around town – a few over by the universities, a bunch on Broad Street, even more by the convention center, and even more on the waterfront. And of course there’s always AirBnB.

What’s the best way to plan the logistics?

This is always my favorite question. After you figure out how you’re going to get here and where you’re going to say, it’s time to figure out what to see in Philadelphia. My suggestion is to plan your trip to Philadelphia by neighborhood. Philadelphia is a neighborhood city. Every few blocks you walk you will find yourself in a new neighborhood. Start grouping neighborhoods together and fit them into a specific spot on your itinerary. Travel as far east as you’re going to one day, as far west another, as far north another, and as far south, yet another – and always walk your way back in to see how the city changes block by block.

Things worth knowing about Philadelphia.

  • We have approximately 1.5 million people and are the 4th largest city in the United States.
  • The City has five “squares” in it: Rittenhouse, Logan, Fitler, Washington, and Franklin. Each one is at the heart of a different neighborhood. Squares is in quotes because somewhere along the line Logan Square became Logan Circle. Shrug.
  • The City has two main subways. The Blue Line, which is known as the “El” because outside of the heart of the city it is elevated above the ground, runs east to west under Market Street until you hit the water front on the east side, then it turns North. The Orange Line, which is known as the Subway, runs north and south along Broad Street (14th Street). The south-most point will take you down to the stadiums and if you will make your way up through Temple University until you’re out of the City.

Philadelphia Subway, Photo by Chrystina Noel

  • Philadelphia’s City Hall is located right at the intersection of Market Street and Broad Street. It’s kind of an obstruction because you can’t drive through it, you have to drive around it, but at least it’s pretty?
  • There are two rivers in Philadelphia. The first is the Delaware River, which runs north-to-south on the east side of the City. This separates Philadelphia from New Jersey. The second is the Schuylkill River, which also runs north-to-south right around 30th It is pronounced (let’s see if this works) sh-KOO-kul.


  • The numbered streets run north and south starting with Front Street (1st street) farthest east, and go up in number as they run west through 69th Street and beyond. In the heart of the City, most of the horizontal streets have names inspired by trees including Cherry, Chestnut, Walnut, Spruce, and Pine.
  • When William Penn came over to the US he had just gone through the London fire, so he insisted that everything in the town be built out of brick, so there’s a lot of cool brick-work in the heart of downtown.
  • Philadelphia houses Fairmount Park, which is the largest park within city limits in the United States. My tour doesn’t include any of it, but supposedly there’s some good hiking and you can run along the Schuylkill Waterfront to get there too.
  • Philadelphia is actually pretty huge. What I’m about to talk about below doesn’t include Northeast Philadelphia, South Philadelphia, really West Philadelphia, or the suburbs-esque neighborhoods located to the west of the city center.
  • You cannot buy alcohol in the grocery stores (or CVS or Target), you must go to a beer distributor or liquor store. Please note you cannot buy beer and wine/liquor in the same location. (Wine is found at the liquor store.)

Philadelphia Size via Chrystina Noel

What to see in Philadelphia, by neighborhood.

Please note, some of these neighborhood names and lines are up for debate, but here’s how I usually explain the most-visited ones. The top things to see/eat things included on my personal tour of a trip to Philadelphia, they’re definitely not all there is to see. There are plenty of other things to do (and neighborhoods to see!) that I haven’t even done yet, and I’m excited to keep adding them to the list!

Philadelphia Neighborhoods via Chrystina Noel

“West Philadelphia”

We’re starting in the West. This neighborhood in recent years has started to have more restaurants and events pop up. There’s a great line of street of restaurants, a bunch of cafes, my favorite brewery, and Clark Park that always has something going on. It’s home to a lot of the graduate students at UPenn and USP students. Please note, this is not Will Smith’s West Philadelphia, this is just the area most West of the City I have currently explored. There’s a bunch of different names for this area on the Google Maps.

Top things to see/eat:

  • Clark Park (43rd and Baltimore): This is a fun park where they host farmer’s markets and flea markets on weekend mornings.
  • Honest Tom’s Taco Shop (261 S 44th Street): The tacos are the closest thing to the ones in Texas I’ve found yet. So delicious.
  • Lil Pop Shop (265 S 44th Street): These popsicles are absolutely delicious. My favorite is green tea mochi. Other flavors include chocolate with salted caramel brownies, Vietnamese iced coffee, basil lemonade, and coconut hibiscus.
  • Dock Street Brewery (701 S. 50th Street): This is my favorite brewery in the city. The beer is constantly rotating (but delicious) and the pizzas are pretty delicious and the perfect complement to the beer. My favorite beer I’ve tried from here was a quadruple belgian. It was everything.

Dock Street Brewery, Photo by Chrystina Noel

Dock Street Brewery

University City

If you move east form West Philadephia, you reach University City. Philadelphia has dozens of Universities inside the City limits. The location that include Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of the Sciences. There are a lot of college students, so it quiets down for the summer. There’s a lot of hip restaurants, some decent shopping, and even some green space. 30th Street Station is located right on the edge of University City and Center City West.

Top things to see:

  • University of Pennsylvania (1 College Hall): This is such a beautiful campus. It kind of feels like they dropped Hogwartz right in the middle of a City. There are a lot of trees, which is cool too. I highly recommend walking Locust Walk (a street they closed down years ago so that it’s only pedestrian traffic) to get the full effect.
  • 30th Street Station (30th and Market): Even though I’ve been in the City for 10 years, I’m always in awe every time I’m in 30th Street Station. The Amtrak section is pretty epic.

30th Street Station, Photo by Chrystina Noel

30th Street Station

University of Pennsylvania, Photo by Chrystina Noel

University of Pennsylvania


If you jump over the Schuylkill River, you’ll find Fairmount. This is an area of town that has a lot of museums and a lot of cool houses and restaurants. It’s not super accessible via public transit, but totally worth heading that direction and spending some time up there. In this area you’ll find Logan Circle (Square?), and the Ben Franklin Parkway, which is an awesome flag-lined Street that leads directly to the art museum. This is where we host a lot of festivals and where the Pope said mass in 2015. If you buy a ticket for the Philadelphia Museum of Art it is good for other places for more than one day. Beware a bunch of the museums are closed on Mondays.

Top things to see:

  • Philadelphia Museum of Art (2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway): This is a really fun building and it contains a lot of great art. It’s famous outside of Philadelphia for having the Rocky Steps. Philadelphia even put a statue of Rocky near the bottom. Also, the first Sunday and and every Wednesday evening of each month are pay what you wish.
  • Barnes Foundation (2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway): This museum houses the Barnes art collection. It was originally located out on the mainline, but they built a facility specifically to house it in modeled after the original house. It’s pretty gorgeous. Tickets need to be reserved in advance.
  • Franklin Institute (222 N 20th Street): This is a children’s science museum that’s a heck of a lot of fun. If you don’t have a child to go with (or feel weird about it) you can wait for one of their Tuesday night adult nights where they open up the museum for adults to drink in. In addition, there are both a planetarium and Imax theater inside.
  • Mütter Museum (19 S 22nd Street): This museum has cool historical medical science stuff. It’s not my jam, but I went once and could totally see why if this was your thing it would be really really cool.
  • Eastern State Penitentiary (2027 Fairmount Avenue): This is also not my jam because I like to try to avoid bad dreams, but you can totally go take a tour of the Penitentiary. During Halloween they turn it into a huge haunted house, which people have said is pretty wonderful. As I said, seriously not my jam.

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Photo by Chrystina Noel

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Photo by Chrystina Noel

Benjamin Franklin Parkway


South of Fairmount is Rittenhouse. This is the fancy part of the city. Rent is more expensive. Buildings are a little swankier. You’ll find shopping all along Chestnut Street and more fancy/expensive shopping all along Walnut Street. At the heart of Rittenhouse is Rittenhouse Park. It is used by all people to do all sorts of things.

Top things to see/eat:

  • Rittenhouse Square (19th and Walnut): It would be silly to go to Rittenhouse and not see the Square. There’s a farmer’s market here on Saturday mornings.
  • Anthropologie (1801 Walnut Street): This is located at 18th and Walnut. The building itself is beautiful, and this is one of those shops that I always like to browse the sale rack (top floor) when I’m in another city.
  • DiBruno Brothers (1730 Chestnut Street): This is a fancy grocery store meets restaurant meets charcuterie place. I highly recommend going inside to check it out. There are cheese samples in the back! There are a few of these located around the City, but the one in Rittenhouse is my favorite.
  • La Viola (253 S 16th Street): This is an Italian restaurant. It only has 3.5 stars on Yelp which always pisses me off, because it’s my favorite in the City. I’ve tried almost every pasta dish and they’ve all been delicious, although I recommend the gnocchi if it’s your first time. It is BYOB and cash only. Also, please note there are two La Viola’s. One is the bistro and one is Ovest. The Ovest one is fancier and you can pay with a credit card. The bistro is much more casual and I think even a little bit cheaper.
  • Ranstead Room (2013 Ranstead Street): This is a fun place to go for speakeasy-esque cocktails. You enter on Ranstead Street through a black door with an R on it. I highly recommend getting there right as they open so you won’t have to wait in line.

Rittenhouse Square, Photo by Chrystina Noel

Rittenhouse Square

Center City West

Technically Center City West is anything west of Broad Street (but east of the Schuylkill) in the heart of the City is Center City West, but I think of Center City West as the area with all the tall buildings downtown. These buildings (in combination with a few buildings closer to 30th Street station) make up the City Skyline. It’s the business-y part of Philadelphia. Market Street in this area is usually dead on the weekends because nobody’s working, but you’ll still find plenty of people at the restaurants and shops located just a few blocks south.

Top things to eat:

  • Philly Pretzel Factory (1532 Sansom Street): There are so many of these around the City, so you don’t just need to find one here. The pretzels are delicious and super cheap. They’re great with cheese or mustard, whatever makes you happy.
  • Giwa (1608 Sansom Street): Getting Korean tacos here is one of my lunch defaults. The sauce makes them absolutely delicious. If you go at lunch and get takeout it’s buy three get one free. I recommend two per person if you’re hungry.
  • Philadelphia Chutney Company (1628 Sansom Street): This place as delicious dosa, which is essentially a large Indian crepe. They have hot food too, but I can’t tell you where it ranks in the city. The dosa is one of the most fun things I’ve ever eaten though and it’s always cool to experience new cultures.

Center City West, Photo by Chrystina Noel

Center City West

Avenue of the Arts

The Avenue of the Arts splits Center City East from Center City West. It is a specific section of Broad Street that houses a bunch of Philadelphia’s theaters: The Kimmel Center, The Wilma Theater, the Academy of Music, and more. It’s all lit up at night and has an epic view of City Hall that most brides who get married in the City try to get a photo of themselves in front of.

Top things to see:

  • The Kimmel Center (300 S Broad Street): This is a really cool concert venue. There are actually two separate concert halls housed inside of the building. And Verizon Hall is one of the most magnificent venues I’ve ever been in, which makes visiting it worth the trip alone. Additionally, free tours are offered every day at 1:00pm. You can put your name on the list at 10:00am to make sure you get a spot.
  • Avenue of the Arts (Broad Street between Market and South): This is just another name for Broad Street. I would definitely walk it from Market Street (City Hall) down to South Street though to see all the fun venues.
  • Wawa (201 S. Broad Street): This is our local convenience store. I know it might seem like a strange thing to put on the list, but it’s the type of thing that people live off of in college and grab hoagies (sandwiches) for their families at on a busy night. They also have delicious iced tea.

Avenue of the Arts, Photo by Chrystina Noel

Avenue of the Arts

Kimmel Center, Photo by Chrystina Noel

Kimmel Center

Center City East

After crossing Broad Street, you’ll reach Center City East. It continues from Broad Street until about 8th Street. That said, Center City East is comprised of many smaller neighborhoods and nobody actually every really says Center City East.

Top things to see/eat:

  • The Wannamaker Organ (1300 Market Street): This is something that I’m pretty sure is only on my Philadelphia tour, but it’s one of my favorite things. The world’s largest working pipe organ is located in Macy’s. Crazy, right? There are even 45-minute recitals available to listen to almost every day.
  • West Elm (1330 Chestnut Street): There’s nothing special about this West Elm, but it’s totally worth popping inside to check it out if you’ve never been inside one. One of my favorite things to do is browse the sale racks in other cities.
  • Magic Gardens (1020 South Street): This is located on South Street, a Street with a lot of unique shops on it. It’s best to think of as a museum, but really it’s a house and outdoor patio that has been completely mosaic-ed. It’s very cool and only $10 to go visit.
  • Tria (1137 Spruce Street): This is one of my favorite restaurants in the city. They have a great selection of wine, cheese, and beer. For two people I would recommend getting bruschetta to split, a cheese to split, and then each person getting a salad or sandwich. There are a few of these around the City. This one and the one on Fitler Square are my favorite.

Magic Gardens, Photo by Chrystina Noel

Magic Gardens

Tria, Photo by Chrystina Noel


The Gayborhood

The Gayborhood is a neighborhood within Center City East. I did not make up this name; you’ll even find rainbows on the street signs. It is home to awesome nightlife, delicious restaurants, and adorable shops. Two ladies, Chef Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran, have worked hard to make 13th Street the hopping place that it is today. And the day that gay marriage was legalized they painted rainbows on the Street, which was pretty awesome. You can go track that down today at 13th and Locust. There’s also a lot of fun clubs in the area: Woody’s, iCandy, and Tavern on Camac.

Top things to see/eat:

  • The Shops on 13th Street (13th Street between Chestnut and Spruce): This is a really fun area of totally worth taking a walk down for a grocery, souvenirs, handmade goods, paper products, and delicious food.
  • Capogiro (119 S. 13th Street): They sell gelato. National geographic has said that it’s the best gelato in the world. And you can try as many flavors as you’d like when you go inside. There is more than one location of Capogiro around the city.
  • Barbuzzo (110 S 13th Street): This is a delicious Mediterranean restaurant. I highly recommend the homemade ricotta appetizer and the salted caramel budino dessert.

Gayborhood, Photo by Chrystina Noel


Washington Square

Heading east from the Gayborhood, you’ll reach Washington Square. This is the area located around one of the founding squares of Philadelphia. It’s pretty adorable. It’s not nearly as busy as Rittenhouse Square.

Top things to eat:

  • Talula’s Garden (210 W Washington Square): This is such a fun restaurant. The space is incredible, the food is delicious, and servers are extra-knowledgeable. It is a little pricy though. If you’re looking for a cheaper option you can check out Talula’s Daily for lunch right next door. Reservations should be made in advance.
  • Good Karma Café (928 Pine Street): This is my favorite café in Philadelphia. I go for the spicy ginger chai and the breakfast sandwiches. It’s absolutely adorable. There are a bunch of them around the city, but the one on 10th and Pine is my favorite.
  • Melange (1042 Pine Street): This is a spice shop. The prices are extra reasonable and the people working there are extra nice. It’s just fun to walk through.

Good Karma Cafe, Photo by Chrystina Noel

Good Karma Cafe


North of Washington Square you’ll find Chinatown. We have a fancy Chinatown Arch, delicious (and cheap!) bakeries, and countless yummy Asian restaurants in Chinatown. This is where I get my bubble tea fix. Some of it smells a little bit like fish, but it’s really interesting to see all of the shops (like fish shops) and the hustle and bustle in the area.

Top things to see/eat:

  • Chinatown Arch (10th and Arch): This is exactly what it sounds like and is located right at 10th and Arch Streets.
  • Reading Terminal (51 N 12th Street): This is a huge indoor farmer’s market with some incredible food and shops for produce, handmade goods, honey, and every type of food you could ever want. During the middle of the day it’s kind of a tourist destination, but locals absolutely still sneak in at the early hours. Please note many shops are closed on Sundays because they’re run by the Amish folks.
  • Tea Do (132 N 10th Street): Go get the bubble tea here, it’s consistently delicious. I’ve liked every flavor I’ve ever tried. You can ask for your beverage with bubbles specifically (because some of them come with aloe or jellies, which I’m not a huge fan of, but maybe you’ll like!).
  • KC’s Pastries (109 N 10th Street): This is a small bakery with delicious pastries for about $1 each, please note that it’s cash only. My favorite are the almond braided thingies. Go inside, get a red tray and tongs, pull out exactly what you want onto the tray, and then take it up to the counter to pay.

Reading Terminal Market, Photo by Chrystina Noel

Reading Terminal Market

Queens Village / Bella Vista

Bella Vista is right below Center City East and Queen’s Village is just south of Old City (which will be discussed soon). It’s definitely more residential, but will give you a great look at what some typical houses in Philadelphia look like. And not a surprise, there are definitely still some great restaurants in this area.

Top things to see/eat:

  • Philly Aids Thrift (710 S 5th Street): This is a huge thrift store for a good cause.
  • Sam’s Morning Glory Diner (735 S 10th Street): This is one of my favorite brunch places in the City – the ketchup is homemade, the hot chocolate is delicious, the biscuits are exactly what you want in the world, and the portions are huge.
  • Nomad Pizza (611 S 7th Street): A cute pizza shop with thin crust pizza. My favorite is the spicy soppressata – it comes with honey on it!

Philly AIDS Thrift, Photo by Chrystina Noel

Philly AIDS Thrift

Sam's Morning Glory Diner, Photo by Chrystina Noel

Sam’s Morning Glory Diner

Bella Vista, Photo by Chrystina Noel

Bella Vista

The Italian Market

This is technically a subsection of Bella Vista. There are produce stands, cheap places to buy meat, Italian restaurants, Italian bakeries, and all sorts of goodness. It gets super crowded on the weekends, but if you can sneak over there at another time there is olive oil to be tasted and produce to be shopped for. This area is also super close to Geno’s & Pat’s cheesesteak places.

Top things to see/eat:

  • Italian Market (919 S 9th Street): A fun area of Bella Vista on 9th Street between Christian and Washington with outdoor vendors and cute shops.
  • Isgro Pastries (1009 Christian Street): The place for delicious Italian pastries. Make sure to get a Cannoli.

Old City / Society Hill

Old City and Society Hill are the historical parts of Philadelphia. You will find Independence Hall, Independence Mall, the Liberty Bell, the Constitution Center, and more right in this little area. It’s all brick. It’s pretty adorable. And if history isn’t your jam you can see the bell from the outside of the building to check it off the list. There are a bunch of cute shops and this is where First Friday happens. During First Friday all of the art galleries open their doors up to the public, vendors set up shop outside on 2nd Street between Market and Race. (Clearly this is something that’s better in the summer than the winter.)

Society Hill is the second most swanky part of town. There are extra fancy houses, great brickwork, and plenty of places to eat near Market Street. Totally worth walking through.

Top things to see/eat:

  • The Liberty Bell (6th and Market): The Liberty Bell Center is located at 6th and Market. Admission is free. That said, you can totally see the Liberty Bell from the outside of the building near 6th and Chestnut Street if history isn’t your thing.
  • Independence Hall (5th and Chestnut): You can get free tickets by going to the Independence Visitor Center early in the morning. The tour is about an hour.
  • Elfreth’s Alley (Elfreth’s Alley): This is the oldest, constantly inhabited street in America. It’s pretty flipping adorable. There’s also an Elfreth’s Alley museum open on the weekends.
  • Tartes (212 Arch Street): This is a cute little pink hut that sells delicious pastries (especially the tartes).

Tartes, Photo by Chrystina Noel


Market Street, Photo by Chrystina Noel

Market Street

The Waterfront

This is the Delaware River Waterfront that separates Philadelphia from New Jersey. It is another up-and-coming area of the City, but not in a residential way. The way the City is laid out I-95 stands between 1st Street and the Waterfront, which is kind of obnoxious. There are only certain streets which cross over to the Waterfront, but recently Philadelphia has been making more of a push to get people out there.

Top things to see:

  • Winterfest/Summerfest (101 S Christopher Columbus Boulevard): This is a designated area on the waterfront that is a roller or ice rink depending on the season. There is also an arcade, a tent full of food and beer, and lots of cool seating.
  • Spruce Street Harbor Park (301 S Christopher Columbus Boulevard): This is a huge park during the summer months with hammocks and large chess boards, food and a floating pier beer garden.
  • Race Street Pier (Race Street and N. Columbus Boulevard): A fun outdoor space with a great view of the Ben Franklin Bridge – and free yoga on certain mornings if that’s up your alley.

Race Street Pier, Photo by Chrystina Noel

Race Street Pier

I-95, Photo by Chrystina Noel


Northern Liberties

North of Old City you’ll find Northern Liberties. Northern Liberties was the “hipster area” of town when I moved to Philadelphia 10 years ago. Now it’s just a stepping stone to get to the more hipster areas. There’s still a lot of artists, trendy shops, and delicious restaurants though.

Top things to see:

  • The Piazza at Schmidts (1001 N 2nd Street): This is an area open to the public in the middle of an apartment complex that has shops on the ground level mimicking some of the piazzas you find in Europe.
  • Café La Maude (816 N 4th Street): This is one of my favorite brunch locations in town, everything is delicious.
  • Yards Brewing Company (901 N Delaware Avenue): There’s a pretty wonderful tasting room and they do free tours on Saturday and Sunday from 12pm to 4pm.
  • Barcade (1114 Frankford Avenue): A fun bar with videogames – like pac man and centipede and a lot of other games I don’t understand. A great way to pass the time – and there’s something to do besides just drink.

Barcade, Photo by Chrystina Noel



Fishtown is a really fun neighborhood. North of Northern Liberties, it hosts many trendy restaurants, adorable shops, and some delicious beer. There are also a lot of trashcans that are shaped like fish, so that’s cool.

Top things to see/eat:

  • Frankford Avenue (Frankford Avenue): There’s a lot of cool shops on Frankford Avenue. Start at Girard Street and walk all the way up to Pizza Brain. On the way you will pass all of the following:
  • Pizza Brain (2313 Frankford Avenue): This is a pizza restaurant that has the nation’s only pizza museum inside of it. The pizza is delicious. One slice per person is probably enough, they’re pretty big.
  • Little Baby’s Ice Cream (2311 Frankford Avenue): This is a fun ice cream shop (attached to Pizza Brain!) that has lots of unique flavors. You can get yours in a flight, an ice cream sandwich, or just regular.
  • La Colombe (1335 Frankford Avenue): This is the place to be for coffee lovers (or so I’ve been told). They do cold brews and coffee on tap.
  • Frankford Hall (1210 Frankford Avenue): This is a German-Style beer hall. Make sure to grab an over-sized pretzel with the cheese dip.

Fishtown, Photo by Chrystina Noel


Frankford Hall, Photo by Chrystina Noel

Frankford Hall


If we head even further north, we’ll reach Kensington. This is another neighborhood that people and shops are now being drawn towards. There are some hidden gems throughout the neighborhood and every time I’ve visited I’ve found even more fun places to explore.

Top things to see/eat:

  • The Resource Exchange (1701 N 2nd Street): Technically this is in Old Kensington, but it’s a really cool nonprofit reuse center for materials used for DIY projects. If you’re a creative, I definitely recommend stopping by.
  • Philadelphia Brewing Company (2439 Amber Street): This is my favorite brewery tour in town – and they have delicious beer – my favorite is the Walt Wit! They also own a cider company called Commonwealth Ciders. Tours and tastings are only available on Saturdays from 12pm-3pm.

Kensington, Photo by Chrystina Noel


If You Must Get a Cheese Steak

You may have noticed I haven’t really mentioned too much about cheese steaks. I’ve gotta tell you, I don’t really like them all that much. BUT. If you must. Here’s the breakdown of four of my go-to places:

  • Geno’s Steaks (1219 S 9th Street): This is the flashiest of all the cheesesteak places. There were some social justice issues a while back (and may still be) where you have to order in English. That said, they make a great steak. They chop up their meat. This is one of those places where you need to be on your game when you get to the counter with a “whiz with” or “provolone without” type of answer. (The first word is the type of cheese and the second word is whether or not you want onions.) That said, if you use a few more words, that’s fine, but I wouldn’t recommend starting to ask questions when you get to the window. They’re open 24/7.
  • Pat’s King of Steaks (1237 E Passyunk Avenue): This is located right across the street from Geno’s, and is many people’s favorite steaks. They don’t chop their meat. It’s another place where I would stick to the “whiz with” or “provolone without” –esque ordering system. They’re also open 24/7.
  • Jim’s Steaks (400 South Street): This place is located on South Street and is my go-to. It’s the closest to me, it’s not super prestigious, and they make a great steak. The line definitely still gets long though. Highly recommend. This is also the place to go if you decide you want to make a “Philly Taco,” which means you go get a slice of pizza from Lorenzo’s and wrap it around a cheesesteak from Jim’s. It’s pretty delicious.
  • Tony Luke’s Cheesesteaks (39 E Oregon Avenue): This isn’t super accessible via public transit, but is worth the stop if you’re looking for some cheesesteak variety in your life. These guys also do some pretty great Italian hoagies. So all in all, these guys really just make a solid sandwich.

The Logistics

Finally, I’ve tried many times to write out sample itineraries of what your day should look like when planning your trip to Philadelphia, but I keep failing because I don’t know what you like to do, so that part I’m going to leave up to you. That said, there are a few neighborhoods that are (probably obviously) best grouped together.


What to See in Philadelphia, all in one place.

And if you’re wondering where my must-see and must-eat-at places are in relation to each other, you can also check out this Google Map with my favorites marked.

I’d love to know if you have any favorite places on your tour that I haven’t checked out and/or if you come to visit! If you’re coming to town and want specific recommendations for what to see in Philadelphia, absolutely let me know in the comments below. Bon voyage!

Please note that all of the map screenshots above were from Google Maps.

Plan Your Trip to Philadelphia, a blog post via Chrystina Noel

Weekly Snippets 37


Remember that time I told you I was going to get back on my posting game? Well, I forgot my computer charger in Philadelphia when I hopped a plane to Louisiana so that wasn’t quite as much of a possibility as it should have been unfortunately. That said, I have about 8,000 words of a “what to do in Philadelphia” post written now that I have a computer cord back in my life again, so that’s cool. I can’t wait to get home to make the graphics for the post.

It’s been another week of vacation for me this week, which has been wonderful – and I actually managed to disconnect this time, which is cool. As you have probably realized, most of my vacations are about seeing people and catching up with people in person because I’ve found that’s the best way to stay in touch through the years. I’ve gotten to spend time with so many cool people in the past week, it’s been pretty wonderful. So here goes –

  1. I grabbed dinner with Lisa & Chad, Sara & Robert, and Laura & Luke on Friday night in Lancaster. (Yes, I was the 7th Wheel, but I didn’t feel like it, so that was cool.) It was my first time meeting Laura & Luke (although I’ve been listening to her/their podcast for a while now), I hadn’t seen Sara in almost a year, Robert in almost two years, and I promised Lisa & Chad a visit to / invited myself over to their new home. It was so fun to talk blogging and life and creative life and being a twenty-something with all of them. Very cool.
  2. I went to my first Barre class in years in Lancaster (and I’m about to go to another one in New Orleans). It’s flipping hard. And I’m no where near in shape enough to do it. It makes me realize 17-year-old Chrystina didn’t know how good she had it.
  3. Lisa, Chad, and I went to Building Character on Sunday, a marketplace for reused, recycled, and handmade goods. Towards the end of our walk through we were stopped by the guy who works at .918 Club, an organization that educates people on the history of letterpress. The guy talked to us for over an hour about the history of letterpress. It was probably the highlight of my trip to Lancaster. And now I want to buy a letter press. Goodness handmade stuff is cool. Highly recommend checking them out if you’re ever in town.
  4. On Sunday (on the ride back from Lancaster) I went to visit Johanna & family to meet the newest baby! And I held him! And I didn’t drop him! And he was only 8 weeks old! It was very good to get to catch up with everybody, it had been far too long.

(Then I drove from Coatesville, PA to Philadelphia, PA and hopped a plane to New Orleans, LA.)

  1. When I landed in New Orleans I drove to Lake Charles to go hang out with BJ & his husband, Heath. (But not without stopping to get the best burrito ever at Izzos in Baton Rouge on the way there.) It was so good to catch up in person and hear about what life looks like these days. We hung out on the porch, drank some wine, and chatted until late in the evening. I also angered their dog a lot by merely existing.
  2. On Tuesday night I got to go to happy & chorus rehearsal with the Baton Rouge Chorus. It was so good to see everyone AND to sing again. I haven’t really sung in almost a year. Let alone made good use of my bass-tendencies.
  3. Tuesday night I stayed with Molly, one of the Baton Rouge Chorus ladies and I got to play make believe and live in the country for a little bit. During this adventure I got to hang out with dogs, watch some horses get fed, scrub a bunch off possibly poison ivy off of myself with dawn, and witnessed the purchasing of hay. So much different than my daily life. We also got to have some great conversations with a cup of tea in her living room and on her front porch (see above). Some things never change, the Baton Rouge Chorus ladies are just some of the coolest ladies I’ve ever met.
  4. The rest of Wednesday I snuck in seeing as many people as I could before leaving Baton Rouge. I got to see some of the people who work at the client I used to work at (over Rotolos calzones) and I got to see people from the hotel I used to stay at (over PJ’s coffee). Always so good to catch up with everyone.

(Then I returned the car to the New Orleans airport and Stephanie picked me up.)

  1. Thursday was the first day that actually felt like vacation. I sat at a great coffee shop, got some bubble tea, shopped my way down Magazine Street, cleared up my inboxes (because Stephanie found me a computer charger), and watched over 5 hours of HGTV while Pinteresting. It was exactly what I needed.
  2. Thursday night Stephanie taught me how to make red beans & rice (which, yes, in order to be culturally correct we probably should have done on a Monday, but I won’t be here on a Monday, so y’all will have to deal). I’m looking forward to making it for one of our #wepretendtobecooks nights. Always happy to bring a little bit of that southern hospitality up north.

And that’s it. I feel like I cheated. I feel like that was way more than 10 things. Oh well. If you’re still reading, thank you. And now for the weekend I’m off to the VenturePOP conference. Real life starts again on Tuesday. We’ll see how that goes. Until then -enjoy, y’all!