Archive for August, 2012

A Closer Look at Skippack Village

August 31, 2012

Once a stop on an early 20th century trolley route, Skippack added village to its name in the 1990s, opened some antiques shops and restaurants, and waited for the people to come. They did, and 20 years later it has managed to keep its quaint look without letting the chain stores take over. I have always treated Skippack as an ideal half-way point to meet friends from Bucks County and Collegeville. The Skippack Roadhouse and Mal’s Diner are pleasant places to get a drink or have a relaxing meal, and the Hotel Fiesole (formerly the Trolley Stop) is as sleek and sophisticated as any big-city restaurant.

Until recently, I tended to ignore the dozens of little shops and art galleries tucked into buildings dating to the 1700s. But they are truly the heart of Skippack and what give the village its character and staying power. My advice: park for free near Hotel Fiesole and just start wandering. Here are some of things you’ll find: a covered bridge built by Amish carpenters, a tiny woodcarver and cabinet-maker’s house, a doll hospital, a 1920s-era fire station, and shops selling dreamcatchers, cupcakes, Wilbur chocolates, Vera Bradley bags, furniture made from reclaimed barn wood, organic strawberry wine, and cheese soaked in Yuengling.

Peeking in windows or pausing on all those inviting front porches is OK, even encouraged.

Piece of advice: Avoid Mondays because just about everything is closed, save for a handful of restaurants and the Village Irish Shop.

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Mini-golf at Franklin Square

August 24, 2012

When the kids are about to wig out from Birthplace of our Nation overload, Franklin Square is where you want to go. An easy walk from Independence Hall and Constitution Center, it was transformed in 2006 from a neglected open lot into a kid-friendly oasis with a carousel, playground, hamburger kiosk and vintage marble fountain. Best of all, it has the most interesting miniature golf course around — one whose designer obviously knew how to showcase the city’s best features. All 18 holes are Philly-themed: there’s Old City, the Museum of Art, the Liberty Bell, Ben Franklin bridge, and even the LOVE statue. At $9 a game for adults ($7 for seniors and kids), it’s no bargain, but it’s a fun break amid all the heavy history lessons swirling around it. Mini-golf and carousel are open daily through September, then they scale back to Friday through Sunday in October.

Best festival name ever: Roasting Ears of Corn

August 18, 2012

Allentown’s Museum of Indian Culture hosts the Roasting Ears of Corn Festival this weekend (Aug. 18 and 19). The name alone makes me want to go, but check out all the neat activities they have lined up: tomahawk throwing, drumming demonstrations, fire dancing, quill making and culinary booths serving up all kinds of things you won’t find in your local food court: fry bread, buffalo stew, Indian tacos and corn soup. A kid’s activity area features Navajo sand art, dream catchers, cornhusk dolls and other Native American arts and crafts. The event, Pennsylvania’s oldest American Indian Pow-wow, is in its 32nd year, so its organizers must know what they are doing. The museum itself is closed during th festival, but the event just might intrigue you enough to come back and learn more about the Lenape and other American Indian tribes. Admission is $5-$7; kids 7 and under are free.