Exploring Philadelphia

Quick deets from my adventure....

CO-WORKING: The Yard, 21 S 11th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
theyard.com/philadelphia-coworking-office-space/center-city

CHAI LATTE FIX: The Random Tea Room and Curiosity Shop, 713 N 4th St, Philadelphia, PA 19123
therandomtearoom.com

ARTS + CULTURE: Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, 1020 South St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
phillymagicgardens.org

NOT SO RANDOM: The Strange and Unusual, 523 S 4th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
thestrangeandunusual.com

Local Finds

I don’t take advantage of living in the NYC area as much as I should which is going to change. NYC is perfectly positioned in the northeast to make other awesome cities easily accessible via train and bus. So I decided, on a whim, to hop on a Megabus and curtail my booty to Philly.

Full disclosure: Before I booked my ticket, I had done some simple research because I had always been curious about Philadelphia and I didn’t want to totally waste my time while exploring this city.

There are 4 points of interest with my wanderlust adventures. I will always be an entrepreneur so these trips have a hustle vibe to them which means I need to check out local working spots.

The 4 go-to points of interest include:

  • Co-working space
  • Chai latte fix
  • Arts + Culture
  • Not So Random

As the inaugural day trip, I wanted to get inspired without losing my focus. I don’t want to visit for the sake of visiting. I want to explore and imagine myself living there.

I ask myself:

  • What would a typical day look like?
  • How can I integrate travel without disrupting my workflow?

I figured with Philly being so close to NYC, I wouldn’t lose too much momentum with my week especially since I was essentially playing hooky on a hot Thursday.

My day started at 7am, in order to make sure I had all the things I needed for my excursion. As an over planner, this meant bringing a DSLR camera I barely use because “you never know” which meant a heavy ass messenger type bag because although I have a backpack for my camera, I thought the messenger bag looked “cooler.”

By the time I reached the pick-up spot for the Megabus I realized how much I misjudged that call. It was hot and there was nothing cool about bumping strangers with my bag.

I disregarded the 45-minute late bus and quickly knocked out on the bus. Traveling on a bus with Wifi means nothing when the Wifi barely works and you’ve got no Dramamine for the motion sickness. I also figured that since I would be spending 6-7 hours in a different city, I should preserve whatever energy I have.

There’s something about arriving at a new-ish city and I emphasize “city” because coming from NYC, the city of all cities, there’s a level of comfort that comes with having to navigate a place you’ve never been to.

I didn’t feel like a tourist even though I was. I also didn’t feel at home because I wasn’t.

I saw the grungy streets, train station, locals in a rush to get to work and instantly felt at ease with my day. I GOT THIS! I also “got” Croissant, an app that connects me to co-working spaces and there was a nice spot minutes away from the bus drop-off spot.

This app also makes daytripping easier for the 24/7 entrepreneurs!

Place of Interest #1 – Co-Working Space: The Yard

I’ve been to the Yard in Manhattan and Williamsburg so I was already familiar with this brand and felt in my element the moment I walked in.

The front desk attendant was nice enough to tell me about the rooftop terrace which I am glad I wanted until I did my work before making my way upstairs because I would have NEVER gotten anything done.

Once I had completed my short to-do list for the day, I set my heart on walking. I didn’t come to this city to take Uber so I scouted an indie bookstore that was a 25-minute walk.

Since I am also considering a move, I wanted to see how I liked Philly. So walking through Society Hill and Queen Village helped me envision myself living there. I’m a sucker for curbside appeal and I felt like I walked onto the set of some period film about the American revolution, but with cars.

I’m still not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.

Place of Interest #2 – Not So Random: The Strange and Unusual

The indie bookstore I had scouted was closed so I had to pivot and figure out where to go. Luckily, my next destination was relatively nearby so I walked over. En route, I found this random hole in the wall. It piqued my interest and I knew it was the kind of shop I would always remember – for a number of reasons!

I can go from loving the feminine stuff to odd shit real quick so there was no way I was NOT going to peruse this shop. I’m not a fan of vintage dolls and it is my hope that the souls stuck in these don’t come back to haunt me.

Place of Interest #3 – Arts + Culture: Philadelphia’s Magic Garden

I was on the fence about seeing this exhibit. To be honest, with all of the walking I had done, I was really close to staying inside a Starbucks for the remainder of my trip. It was hot, my bag was heavy, and I was feeling guilty for not working.

Nonetheless, I bought my ticket and am eternally grateful that I did.

The Philadelphia’s Magic Garden is a must-see destination for anyone looking for creative inspiration. I walked in and it felt like some kind of street art version of Wonderland and walking through the exhibit definitely had me feeling like a quirky Latina version of Alice.

Isaiah Zagar is an award-winning mosaic mural artist whose work can be found on more than 200 public walls throughout the city of Philadelphia and around the world.

I had forgotten how much art is a part of my passion. Whether it’s a museum or street installation, being able to experience someone’s creative expression is sacred.

Adventures hit that sweet spot when you can transport to another vibrational level and that’s what this exhibit did for me.

Place of Interest #4 – Chai Latte Fix: The Random Tea Room and Curiosity Shop

One of the deciding factors that led to me wanting to explore Philly was this spot. With a little over an hour left before I had to catch the Megabus back home, I had to make the bold decision – do I scratch visiting this spot or do I risk venturing out via public transportation? I had a one-hour window to go and come back, which turned out to be perfect timing.

You can’t be a New Yorker and get lost on any train system. Once you master the MTA then you can tackle any other train systems so I felt confident in my decision to trek out to where this spot was.

I had to factor in a 15-minute walk to and from the train station, going and coming, so I was definitely cutting it close but it was totally worth the effort because the chai here was *chef finger kiss* perfect!

I was able to also sit down for 15 minutes to simply absorb the ambiance. I reflected on my trip and had many moments of clarity for how I want to spend the next few months of traveling.

What I learned that I have to unlearn is that to be in the moment means surrendering which I have to practice doing. Also, no more heavy camera bags. I had to constantly decide between capturing vs experiencing. I’m either taking the perfect picture or I’m experiencing the perfect moment, but both cannot happen at the same time.

Here’s to hoping the next city is full of quirky moments of wanderlust adventures!

Vicky Ayala

My name is Vicky & I am a brand strategist & visual storyteller. By day, I work with multi-passionate entrepreneurs to organize their creative genius into a memorable brand experience with engaging design, authentic storytelling and strategic online marketing. When I'm not conjuring brand magic, you can find me musing about the entrepreneurial journey which includes everything from finding the perfect chai latte to plotting my domestic move to Miami.