Summer Fun Guide
37 great options close to home.
We do appreciate everyone’s Shore cravings this time of year—including our own. But we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t share our list of fun, affordable, educational, interesting, quirky and decadent happenings. All are nearby, and none involve sand and salt water. So grab your shades and your wallet, and mix it up for a change.
If you’ve always fantasized about driving a Formula 2000 racecar and you can handle a manual transmission, suit up, sign up and strap in for a full- or half-day driving course at the Bertil Roos Racing School at Pocono Raceway. After the obligatory classroom instruction and live demonstration, you’ll be ready for two 20-minute racecar sessions (more than 30 laps on the track)—and that’s just the half-day experience. Classes are scheduled for July 3, Aug. 12, 23 and 31, and Sept. 6. Call (800) 722-3669 or visit racenow.com.
Get Buzzed (on Nature)
Head to Swarthmore College and recline in the shade of the majestic swamp white oak trees for Sunset Sippin’ at Scott Arboretum June 12. Chill out with a sip (or a few—who’s counting?) of Victory Brewing Company’s Whirlwind Wit, a refreshing interpretation of this classic Belgian white beer. The evening also includes a raffle and tours by arboretum staff. Call (610) 328-8025.
Watch Them Tumble
Show your support for our hardworking gymnasts June 19-22 at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials at the Wachovia Center. Competition begins with the men’s and women’s all-around preliminaries, followed by the all-around finals (broadcast live on NBC). Call (800) 298-4200.
Here are two history lessons you’ll find hard to pass up. Thursday evenings through summer, enjoy the spirits of Philadelphia via Once Upon a Nation’s Tippler’s Tour. Sip traditional drinks at former 18th-century watering holes as your colonial guide shares tales of the taverns of old. Saturday evenings this summer, see American history through your kids’ eyes with a picnic supper and tour of Washington’s Headquarters as part of Once Upon a Nation’s Valley Forge After Hours Tours. Following the trek, you and your weary militia can kick back around the campfire and listen to encampment tales. Call (215) 629-4026 or visit onceuponanation.org.
At Linvilla Orchards in Media, kids can have their fun and eat well, too. Linvilla hosts several family-friendly fruit and veggie festivals throughout the summer: the Strawberry Festival June 7, Raspberry Festival June 21, Blueberry Festival July 5, Sweet Corn and Blackberry Festival July 26, Peach Festival Aug. 9 and Tomato and Pear Festival Aug. 23. When you aren’t meeting the likes of Elmo (at the Strawberry Fest) or Sully from Monsters, Inc. (at the Blueberry Fest), you can pick your own produce right on the premises. But start early—there’s only so much to go around. Call (610) 876-7116 or visit linvilla.com.
Are You XPerieNced?
Three stages, four days, 40 performers—all stellar reasons not to miss WXPN’s 96-hour XPoNential Music Festival: All About the Music July 10-13 at Wiggins Waterfront Park in Camden. Formerly known as Singer-Songwriter Weekend, this unrivaled event unites an eclectic mix of musicians and artisans with an equally diverse audience, all in the name of original music. The 2008 lineup includes the Blind Boys of Alabama, Beth Orton, the Refugees, Shelby Lynne and regional and local acts spanning folk, rock and blues. Visit xpn.org.
West Is Best
Take a trip to the American West this summer through the eyes of distinguished landscape photographer Ansel Adams. Through Aug. 17 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Transcending the Literal: Photographs by Ansel Adams from the Collection affords a black-and-white view of desert peaks, rippled sand dunes and frosted lakes molded around shadowy cliffs. The more than 40 photographs reveal nature’s abstractions and simplify the relationship between light and darkness, all with Adams’ marked attention to detail. Call (215) 763-8100 or visit philamuseum.org.
Global Good Times
Thursdays in July, the Kimmel Center showcases a variety of world music acts. Before every concert, crews strip the Perelman Theater of its seats (main level only) to create a dance floor. For those who really want to get their groove on, this is the only time of year patrons can actually bring drinks into the venue and dance throughout the concert. DJs spin tunes beforehand. July 10, it’s Babylon Circus; July 17, Pistolera; and July 24, Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar. Call (215) 893-1999 or visit kimmelcenter.org.
A few hours of live theater shouldn’t mar your summertime swagger—especially something as uplifting as The Color Purple, the poignant saga that put Oprah Winfrey in her dream role and elevated Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to one of the top five most re-read books in the country. Philadelphia is the first city to host the North American tour (presented by Winfrey), which runs June 17-July 13 at the Kimmel Center, and the cast and crew tout a bevy of theatrical accolades. Call (215) 893-1999 or visit kimmelcenter.org.
Worth the Tummy Ache
As if one sweet tooth wasn’t enough. Add 15,000-plus to the mix, and you’ve got the 10th annual All-You-Can-Eat Super Scooper Ice Cream Festival July 4-6 at Penn’s Landing. No need to throw elbows, though—with over 15 ice cream vendors, they shouldn’t run out. An easy $5 buys you a spoon (your ticket) and a brochure about the event’s organizer and beneficiary, the Joshua Kahan Fund (jkf.org). If you’re looking for a more low-key experience, taste-test the 11th annual Victorian Ice Cream Festival July 12 on the grounds of the Lukens National Historic District in Coatesville. Turkey Hill serves up cups at $3 each, while the Lukens Concert Band strums its strings and blasts its brass. Visit pennslandingcorp.com and lukensnhd.org.
This year’s Philadelphia Folk Festival Aug. 15-17 is being hailed as “not your father’s Philadelphia Folk Festival.” But that doesn’t mean you can’t bring him—or the kids. And with headliners like Judy Collins, Janis Ian, Tom Paxton and Al Stewart mixing with younger acts like West Chester’s Hoots & Hellmouth, the Ryan Montbleau Band and Philadelphia’s Espers, there’s plenty of good vibrations to go around. The festival also features glassblowers, metal smiths, artists and candle makers at work, plus hands-on crafts for kids and performances by the Give & Take Jugglers. Visit pfs.org.
Known locally as the Manayunk Bike Race, the Philadelphia International Championship is the final leg of Pennsylvania’s Triple Crown of cycling events. Scheduled for June 8, the 156-mile race for $59,500 begins at Benjamin Franklin Parkway and makes its way along scenic Kelly Drive onto historic Main Street in Manayunk, where riders must tackle the infamous Manayunk Wall for the first 10 laps. Special events include a Cycling Expo, Family Fun Ride, Manayunk Amateur Hill Climb and more. And on July 5, the streets of downtown West Chester play host to hundreds of professional and USCF-licensed cyclists for the 2008 Iron Hill Twilight Criterium. The race covers 60 laps around a .8-mile circuit. Visit procyclingtour.com and ironhilltwilightcriterium.com.
How many times have you thought about taking a hot air balloon ride? Too many to count, right? So why not make 2008 the year you soak up magnificent views of the Brandywine Valley and Wyeth country. All summer, the United States Hot Air Balloon Company offers two rides daily. See the sunrise firsthand or feast your eyes on the sunset—your pick. You can even help inflate the balloon. Call (800) 763-5987 or visit ushotairballoon.com.
Round ’Em Up
Unless you’re headed to a dude ranch this summer, the 54th annual Cowtown Rodeo may be the closest you get to a real cowboy (or girl). Watch grown men and women tackling steer, navigating a barrel course and conquering a bucking bronco Saturday evenings through Sept. 27. Shopaholics can cop a fix at the flea market (Tuesdays and Saturdays) or take buying local to a new level at the weekly livestock auction (Tuesdays). Call (856) 769-3200 or visit cowtownrodeo.com.
Sure, the crowds are huge—last year’s final count was 350,000—but don’t let that keep you from one of the best street parties of the summer June 28-29. Featuring 275 international artists in a wide variety of mediums, the Manayunk Arts Festival is a delightful balance of highbrow culture and down-home fun. Mix it up with artists and musicians while sampling homegrown favorites like Jake’s crab cakes and Winnie’s Le Bus breads. Created by more than 750 students from 30 area schools, this year’s Children’s Clothesline Art Exhibition centers around kids helping kids and was inspired by Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Visit manayunk.com.
Live the Fantasy
It’s easy for imaginations to run wild in Winterthur Museum’s Enchanted Woods, a 3-acre kids’ fairyland that comes to life June 21 for an Enchanted Summer Day. Saunter along with the Irish music duet Danaher and MacCloud, while your kids snoop for Soot the troll under his wooden bridge or climb to the nest of Lark the music fairy. Meet Mother Nature in all her eco-friendly glory and welcome the season with Tatnall School students as they stage a maypole dance. Visit winterthur.org.
Feel the Fourth
When it comes to celebrating our independence, there’s no place like home—Philadelphia, that is. And why wait until July 4 to show your pride? Sunoco Welcome America! kicks off with a feel-good outdoor movie series featuring Rocky June 28 (fittingly, on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art) and Happy Feet June 29 (on the Battleship New Jersey). Spice up the party with salsa, samba and an enormous domino exhibit July 3 at Fiesta on the Parkway. NBA Nation’s interactive bus tour rolls into town the same day, offering fans the chance to get a pro player’s John Hancock. It all heats up July 4 with John Legend in concert and a fireworks display. Festivities continue July 5 with food galore at A Taste of Philadelphia on Penn’s Landing, followed by Boyz II Men and another round of fireworks. Visit americasbirthday.com.
Let them eat Tastykake at the annual Fairmount Bastille Day Celebration at Eastern State Penitentiary. Get to know your fellow revelers at the French Fling bar crawl July 11, featuring French-themed movie screenings, Kronenbourg beer, and French wine and champagne specials. July 12, unleash your inner rebel with period attire and a revolutionary spirit. Kids’ crafts, a “Tricycle Tour de France,” a French-themed pet parade and plenty of other activities keep everyone occupied until dozens of armed French revolutionaries capture a pleading Marie Antoinette and drag her to the guillotine. Festivities conclude July 13 with champagne brunch at local restaurants. Call (215) 236-3300 or visit fairmountbastilleday.com.
Step onto the “green carpet” of the Model Airplane Field at Valley Forge National Historical Park for the Valley Forge Star Parties June 14, July 12 and Aug. 9, and view everything from the moon and planets to star clusters, nebulae and distant galaxies. From sunset to 11 p.m. (weather permitting), Delaware Valley Amateur Astronomers focus their ’scopes on any and all of these celestial bodies. Visit dvaa.org.
Remember when it wasn’t so taboo to scalp tickets? We do. However you can find a way to score seats to James Taylor at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts June 1, Tom Petty at the Wachovia Center June 5 and R.E.M. at the Mann Center June 18, we recommend you do it. Otherwise, you’ll be the only one not gushing over what everyone witnessed. Visit manncenter.org and comcast-spectacor.com.
If you believe the three pillars of fun are quality, value and convenience, jump in line for one of the hourly QVC Studio Tours—or sign up for QVC’s All Access Tour on Fridays, when you can walk right onto a QVC set and open the fridge if you want, watch technicians work their button magic, and maybe even meet program hosts as they bustle past you behind the scenes. Guests can view live broadcasts on either tour. And after you’ve learned everything you’d ever wanted to know about this mega-multimedia retailer, do some hands-on shopping at the Studio Store. Visit qvctours.com or call (800) 600-9900.
Let It Fly
Remember that scene in A River Runs Through It where Brad Pitt is standing knee-high in a sparkling river, rhythmically tossing his line back and forth? That could be you, with a little instruction—and a lot of practice. Both are yours for the taking at TCO Fly Shop’s one-day crash course June 22 in Bryn Mawr. Once you get your waders wet—and a taste for trout—sign up for private “on stream” sessions all summer long. Call (610) 527-3388.
Pack your bags and head west for a cool weekend on the Brandywine River June 20-22 at Brandywine Valley Wine Camp. Go behind the scenes at five different wineries and learn how the process works. This three-day, two-night package includes meet-and-greets with the proprietors of five wineries, plus lodging at area B&Bs, five meals, an evening picnic concert at Chaddsford Winery, and complimentary admission to nearby Longwood Gardens. Call (800) 566-0109.
Pull an All-Nighter
Now’s your chance to prove to yourself and your kids that you’ve still got it. Head to the Kimmel Center’s annual Summer Solstice Celebration, an all-day, all-night musical extravaganza that begins the afternoon of June 21 and winds down at dawn June 22. Family-friendly performances are followed by an entertaining mix of classical, blues, gospel, R&B, jazz, folk, dance, Latin, world music and more. Visit kimmelcenter.org.
Tapping into the kid in all of us, Longwood Gardens presents a different look at its manicured grounds from Nature’s Castles: The Treehouse Reimagined, an elevated exhibit of three large-scale treehouses created by U.S. designers, on display through Nov. 23. The cedar “Birdhouse” rises 20 feet into the trees of Peirce’s Woods, and “Lookout Loft” features two viewing platforms, both handicap accessible. The two-story “Canopy Cathedral,” with its elaborate glasswork, overlooks the Italian Water Garden. Visit longwoodgardens.org or call (610) 388-1000.