Weekend in Philadelphia | 4th of July

I’m super behind in blogging about trips I took this summer, but that’s ok. Summer is about having fun, traveling, and relaxing—all of which I certainly did.

My boyfriend and I stayed in Philadelphia for a night over the July 4th weekend. We had plans to visit my family in New Jersey and since he had never been to Philly, it was the perfect overnight trip for our long holiday weekend . I grew up outside of Philadelphia in Bucks County and spent a summer living in Philly so I was excited to share a city with him that was so familiar to me.

I knew the weekend would be crazy with patriotism in the city of Brotherly Love. The city is big on celebrating because it’s essentially the birthplace of America—the Declaration of Independence was adopted in Philadelphia on the 4th of July. We were thrilled to score a room at the beautiful Latham Hotel in Rittenhouse Square for $150.

latham hotel philadelphia

Source: Latham Hotel

In order to give him the full Philadelphia experience, I took my boyfriend for his first real Philly cheesesteak. While the Pat’s vs. Geno’s rivalry is fun, I’m a big fan of Jim’s Steaks on quirky South Street. Great steaks and eclectic shops puts Jim’s on the top of my list, not to mention it was more convenient on our walking route.

jims steaks cheesesteak south street philadelphiaThe line wrapped around the corner when we arrived, but it moved fast. It was a nice day out to wait in line and I enjoyed hearing all of the (other) tourists talk about their visit. Having grown up outside of Philly, it’s hard to consider myself a tourist, but considering the touristy agenda I had set up, it was a given.

Knowing that travel means nothing but eating, drinking, and walking, we opted to split “1 steak, American. Mushrooms and onions, please.” Pro Tip: When you go to a busy cheesesteak place in Philadelphia, order the right way by quickly and clearly ordering:

  1. The quantity of steaks
  2. Type of cheese (the classic Whiz, American, or Provolone)
  3. Add-ons (veggies, extra Whiz, etc)
  4. Then quickly moving down the line.

If you’ve been waiting in line for 30 minutes and cannot articulate your order in less than 10 seconds, you will get the stink eye. Guaranteed.

jims steaks cheesesteak philadelphia south street

After we stuffed ourselves on Jim’s Steaks, we headed to Old City, the more historic area of Philadelphia. We walked through Society Hill, an old affluent neighborhood that, according to Wikipedia, has the largest concentration of original 18th- and early 19th-century residential architecture of any place in the United States.

We visited Carpenter’s Hall, Benjamin Franklin’s House and Print Shop, and Franklin Court.

ben franklins print shop philadelphia

Demonstration at Ben Franklin Print Shop

Since no trip of mine is complete without craft beer, on the way back to Independence Mall, my boyfriend and I stopped by 2nd Story Brewing Company for a flight of their craft brews.

second story craft beer philadelphia

Philadelphia was in full party mode for the 4th of July weekend so our stop by Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the Constitution Center was thwarted by street fair crowds and Philadelphia POPS concert. We made our way through the throngs of people, grabbing free flags and enjoying the spirit of the holiday. I squealed with delight when we passed a Tastykake stand, snagging free Krimpets and shoving my childhood treats down my throat. Mmm, so good!

A longtime fangirl of Stephen Starr, I made dinner reservations for myself and my boyfriend at Buddakan, an Asian concept restaurant. Ah-amazing! We split the Dim Sim Platter with mind-blowing edamame dumplings. My boyfriend ordered the Wasabi-Crusted Filet and I got for the Wasabi Tuna Tatiki. For dessert we split the Chocolate Banana Decadence.

buddakan philadelphia asian restaurant

Source: Temple News

The night was beautiful so we walked to the then-empty Independence Mall and scoped out the Liberty Bell through the glass.

liberty bell philadelphia

The evening with a nightcap at Parc in Rittenhouse Square before retiring to The Latham Hotel to take elevator selfies and relax after a long day of walking.

latham hotel philadelphia

The next morning was July 4th and we had big plans to meet my family for a 4th of July celebration in New Jersey. Before we got on the road, we walked to Continental MidTown, also part of the Starr Restaurant Group.  From the suspended wicker birdcage chairs to the grenadine cocktails named after movie stars, the 60s style concept restaurant doesn’t miss a beat. The biscuits and gravy was some of the best I’ve had.

continental midtown restaurant rittenhouse philadelphia

grenadine cocktail continental midtown philadelphia In less than 24 hours, we ate and walked our way through Philadelphia on one of its busiest weekends of the year. We can’t wait to go back to explore and eat some more!

Little Big Town Concert in Boston with Hampton by Hilton

I mentioned in my last post that I have attended 8 concerts in Boston this summer. The 9th and final concert this summer wrapped up just before Labor Day with the Little Big Town show.

I love Little Big Town so when I was approached by the good folks at Hampton by Hilton to be an Ultimate Seekender and attend the concert as part of their We Go Together Ultimate Summer Tour sweepstakes I was happy to participate. Collaborating with Live Nation, Hampton by Hilton hosted the sweepstakes to give 4 lucky winners tickets and a VIP experience to chart-topping acts like Kelly Clarkson and Brad Paisley.

little big town tour boston

I received 5 tickets to attend the Little Big Town concert at Boston’s Blue Hills Bank Pavilion. I brought 3 of my closest blogger friends (Kate, Jodi, and Alli) and my boyfriend, all of whom were already fans of Little Big Town. The evening of the concert was a beautiful end-of-summer night in Boston—clear skies with just enough of a breeze off the Seaport to require a light jacket.

little big town bank of american pavilion boston

We arrived at the concert as Ashley Monroe took the stage, performing songs from her new album The Blade. Country bad boy, David Nail, followed, taking us down his long road of mistakes and redemption.  While the songs are heavy, the vulnerability with which he sings has stuck with me since I first heard “Let it Rain.”

Our seats were in the uncovered portion of the Pavilion around a table, a nice change from the jungle gym of rows of seats in the main concourse. One of my favorite things about concerts is sitting outside enjoying music with friends. These seats enabled us to relax, munch on snacks, and enjoy each other’s company on the beautiful night.

little big town boston

Photo Credit: Country 102.5 WKLB

Little Big Town took the stage just as the temperatures started to drop so we were happy to be able to stand up and dance. Another benefit of these seats was being able to dance without having to worry about blocking another concert goer’s view. The band was awesome and the energy in the venue was great. They performed songs from their Painkiller album as well oldies like “Boondocks” and “Tornado” that hooked me years ago.  Little Big Town ended their 2 hour set with their latest mega-hit “Girl Crush” and their summer-fun song “Pontoon.”

little big town concert

As part of my experience as an Ultimate Seekender, I was encouraged to seize the weekend. To me that meant living it up and purchasing some concert merchandise, something that I rarely do at concerts. Long lines turn me away but I made an exception for this one because I was with my friends on a beautiful night and we ALL wanted some of Little Big Town’s fun merchandise. The hands-free koozies that we bought were super convenient to use while dancing at the concert and will be perfect for summer days on the water next year.

My Ultimate Seekender experience was the perfect ending to a fun summer of great concerts with friends and loved ones. Thank you Hampton by Hilton for the opportunity to be an Ultimate Seekender and attend the Little Big Town show as part of the We Go Together Ultimate Summer Tour.

Disclosure: I was hosted by Hampton by Hilton to attend the Little Big Town concert in Boston as an Ultimate Seekender to share my weekend experiences on my social media as well as on this blog. The opinions expressed belong to me and are not indicative of the Hampton by Hilton or their partners.

Boston Summer Concert Series

One of my favorite things about summer, other than having an excuse to eat ice cream, is summer concerts. There’s nothing better than relaxing outside in nice weather listening to live music. I’m lucky that I’m dating someone who also loves live music and was able to take full advantage of summer concerts with him. This summer we attended 8 concerts and still have one more to go. Here’s the wrap up.

Country 102.5 Street Party

The summer concert series started out cold and wet in May at Country 102.5’s Street Party outside of the House of Blues by Fenway Park. The weather was iffy from the get go but we decided to chance it and meet up with my friend Kate to enjoy some country music. Caitlin joined us on the crowded Landsdowne Street and we all managed to enjoy a few songs just before the skies opened up and Kate and Caitlin took their party to Eastern Standard.

country street party boston landsdowne

My boyfriend and I decided to make the most of the day and, with the help of some gut-warming beverages, enjoyed singing and dancing in the rain. I was happy that I had brought along my trusty rain jacket and camo hat to complete my country concert hillbilly look.


A stark contrast to country, we attended the AWOLNATION show inside the House of Blues in June. My Electronica for Studying Pandora station first introduced me to the band over the winter, so I was super happy to  learn that my boyfriend was also a fan and even happier to get the chance to see them live in Boston.

awolnation run concert tour house of blues boston

Not fans of being grown ups, we dressed in our Millennial concert finest—cutoffs, jeans, graphic tees, and Converse sneakers. The show was great, with opening acts from Parade of Lights and Family of the Year. I was previously unfamiliar with both bands but have since downloaded some of the tunes.

rock concert outfit awolnation

Imagine Dragons

Another indoor concert, we headed to the TD Garden in Boston to see the Imagine Dragons Smoke and Mirrors Tour. Imagine Dragons is one of those bands whose music you hear but never know who sings it. I found myself singing along to songs that I didn’t even know I knew.

imagine dragons concert boston garden

We had floor tickets at the Garden which were amazing! It’s a great experience to be so close to the stage at a show, especially in such a large venue.

Outside the Box – Kasey Musgraves & Guster

Outside the Box Boston is a free 6 day summer arts festival on the Boston Common. Ted Cutler, the philanthropic visionary behind the event teamed up with local sponsors to put on the shows. If you don’t live in a city where some rich guy wants you to enjoy the arts outside in the summer, you should move to Boston because this event is awesome!

I had heard of Outside the Box last year but was unable to attend any events. I had almost forgotten about it when I saw Instagram posts about Kacey Musgraves on a Friday night. Within 10 minutes, I was out the door, boyfriend and picnic blanket in tow. We met up with friends to watch the show sponsored by Country 201.5, the only country station in Boston. Kacey Musgraves played a great set, including my beloved “Mama’s Broken Heart”.

outside the box boston kacey musgraves

Guster, a Boston-born jam band of the 90s and early 2000s, also played as part of Outside the Box. A fan since high school, I jumped at the chance to see them live. I planned a double date picnic with my friend and her then-fiancé-now-husband and we enjoyed a night of Upper Crust Pizza and music. It was a surreal experience for me to be time-traveled back to high school in Pennsylvania while sitting in a park in Boston.  As usual, we had an awesome time being weird while people pretended not to know us.

outside the box concert boston

If you weren’t able to check out Outside the Box the past two years, put a calendar reminder in for July 2016 so that you don’t miss it next summer.

Darius Rucker

Keeping with the momentum of outdoor events, my boyfriend snagged last minute tickets to see Darius Rucker’s Southern Style Tour at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA. Darius Rucker was the perfect first country concert experience for him…Kacey Musgraves in a park and a rained-out street party didn’t really count.

country concert outfit

New England country lovers came out of the woodwork for the concert.  There were cowboy hats and girls in boots and songs about homegrown love. Darius played some of his famous Hootie and the Blowfish songs from the 90s that we sang and danced along to before realizing that having attended high school in the 90s, we were part of the oldest cohort of concert attendees and left early to beat the traffic to go home and sip tea.

Australian Pink Floyd Show

Flipping the switch, we found ourselves to be some of the youngest hippies at the Australian Pink Floyd Show at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion in Boston in August. I had never been to a Pink Floyd anything and this cover band was certainly an experience. We had floor seats at the outdoor venue which put us inside of the light show action.

australian pink floyd show

I took the opportunity to indulge on stadium nachos covered in cheese and chili which, if I have to make a ruling, is the best way to enjoy a concert.

Counting Crows

Rounding up the second to last of our summer concerts was Country Crows and Citizen Cope also at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion. For concert outfit consistency, we attended the 90s throwback concert in our grungiest baggy pants. Feeling the need to outdo our previous concert outfits, we pulled out all the stops—I rocked a belly shirt and choker, my ringer tee-clad boyfriend pushed a hoop earring through his cartilage piercing, and we took pictures to send to our pearl-clutching moms.

90s grunge style

We probably looked like fools to the normally dressed people at the show, but we were loving every moment of reliving the 90s and dancing to songs that we hadn’t heard in years.

We’ve got one more concert to wrap up the season. Look for a post on Little Big Town after tonight’s show!

Lovesac Event at the Liberty Hotel

Last week I had the opportunity to lounge on couches and drink cocktails with friends and other fabulous people. While I sometimes drink on my couch with people who I would consider pretty great, I’m talking about an event sponsored by Lovesac at Boston’s Liberty Hotel.

lovesac event liberty hotel

Lovesac is  furniture company like no other, bringing the beanbag chair to another level with their pillow-like Sacs and revolutionizing the sectional with their line of Sactionals. My blogger bestie Caitlin and I joined fellow bloggers Elissa and Liz (pictured below) and others for a night of chatting and lounging and picture taking with Lovesac founder Shawn Nelson. Shawn’s a dad of 4 who invented the nearly indestructible Lovesac, Sactional, and the Footsac. All attendees of the event went home with a Footsac, which is pretty much the most comfortable blanket in the world with a pocket for your feet!

lovesac boston sactional event

I had seen the Sacs before but was blown away by the Sactional couches. Boasting a wide variety of colors and styles, the Sactionals can be arranged and rearranged in nearly any permutation that you can imagine. They’re also good for jumping, if you have kids or enjoy acting like a 5 year old.

lovesac sactionalLovesac sponsored the event to create a buzz about their partnership with Gentle Giant Moving Company for Boston’s Annual Moving Day of September 1st. That’s today, so if you’re moving, mention your struggle on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook using #MovingDayLove and you could win big!

Attendance at this event and the Footsac I went home with were compliments of Lovesac, but all opinions and couch love are my own. 

Boston Eats and Newport Mansions With My Mom

Recently my mom came to Boston for the weekend. While she loves Boston, this was somehow the first time she visited since I moved back here over 2 years ago thanks to my frequent trips back to New Jersey to see the rest of the family.

My boyfriend was out of town visiting his family in LA, so my mom stayed with me in our apartment. I’m not sure about you, but I love having my mom stay with me and for her it was like a mini vacation.

My mom got here on Friday and we had one of those beautiful Boston summer weekends, where the humidity breaks for just a few days, and everything is awesome. We spent 3 full days eating and walking, which is pretty much the best way to live life.

Creatures of habit, we often dine at old favorites but I was determined to use Mom’s visit as an excuse to do new things, starting with Bostonia Public House. We met Caitlin for dinner, as no girls’ weekend is complete without my blogger partner in crime! My “I don’t drink” mother had a sangria which she loooooved while Caitlin and I sipped on cocktails—a perfect Manhattan for Caitlin and a Bostonia Sour for me. The three of us split the cheese plate and warm lump crap dip both of which were amazing. My mom and Caitlin both got the crab-encrusted cod for entrées while I nommed on the meatball appetizer until I was too full to move.

bostonia sour bostonia public house restaurant boston

On Saturday I introduced my mom to my favorite greasy spoon breakfast joint, Pour House, and The Salty Pig. Dedicated to the love of pig parts, The Salty Pig is an awesome restaurant across from the Back Bay Train Station on the edge of the South End. While their charcuterie is out of this world, we opted to split two pizzas, as Mom was taking a break from her low-carb lifestyle. Go big or go home!

pizza salty pig restaurant back bay boston

Later in the weekend we lunched at Russell House Tavern, another new-to-Mom restaurant across the river in Cambridge’s Harvard Square. Having only dined there for brunch once before, I was impressed with their lunch options. I ordered the chicken sandwich which was completely upstaged by their amazing Caesar Salad. My mom was blown away by the burger, which for $13 is possibly the most affordable burger in Boston at a restaurant (not including my beloved Shake Shack of course).

russell house tavern restaurant cambridge harvard square

Newport, Rhode Island

On Saturday I took my mom to Newport, Rhode Island. I had been to Newport only once before; my mom had never been. We went to see the famed mansions, opting for the opulent Breakers Mansion of the Vanderbilt Family. The audio tour, included in the price of admission, provided an informative background on the history of the house and the Vanderbilts.

breakers vanderbilt mansion newport rhode island

We ate at the Black Pearl, where we split their famous clam chowder, garlic butter mussels, and baked cod casserole, before proceeding to stop into every little shop in town. The last stop we made before heading back to Boston for the night was to Kilwin’s for fudge—their salted caramel fudge is to die for!

black pearl clam chowder newport

mussels black pearl newport


It was great to spend a weekend in Boston and Newport with my mom and show her around. I can’t wait for her next trip!