2012 Road Trip – Philadelphia (Part 2)

(Read about the first part of our trip here.)

Sunday morning, we made the drive to downtown Philadelphia.  Alex is a huge history nerd and had never been to Philly before. Since it’s the birth of our nation’s independence, we opted for a bit of a history lesson while we were there.  We swung by the Liberty Bell on the way to tour Independence Hall.

Do we look like tourists, or what?

Yeah, he was pretty stoked.

Apparently the park ranger that we were stuck with for our tour time was aiming for an Oscar nod in her performance of tour guide.  And, she hated kids.  If my kids would make so much as a peep, she would take a dramatic pause, glare at us, and inform us of the exits if we needed them.  I simply smiled through a completely red face.  Kill ’em with kindness, that’s what I say.

KIDS – STOP EMBARRASSING ME!
(George Washington’s chair in the room where the Declaration of Independence was signed.)

We made it through Independence Hall in one piece (and without flipping off the witchy Park Ranger) and Alex was excited to have soaked up some history.  But, the fun wasn’t going to end there.  Outside of Independence Hall, you could board a ‘Ride the Ducks’ tour.  We rode the Ducks once in Branson, Missouri, and knew that they would be a bit more welcoming of children, so we went for it.

Much more our style!

The tour took us all over downtown Philly so we could see a ton of the historical sites.  We even went for a little float in the Delaware.  Even for a non-history geek, it was pretty cool. We saw a TON of Philly landmarks (City Hall, The Philadelphia Mint, Ben Franklin’s grave , Betsy Ross’ home,  LOVE Park, etc…) in a relatively short amount of time.  Since we weren’t planning on going back to stop at any of those places, it was perfect.  Bang for the buck – worth it!

Soak it in, kids.

Rocky, Rocky, Rocky

After the tour, we loaded in the car and set out to find our very first authentic Philly cheese steak.  Alex is a bit of a foodie, so he had taken it upon himself to research where to go.  We ended up at Pat’s King of Steaks.  The kids were asleep in the car, so Alex bravely ordered for us.  Apparently they have a whole new language when it comes to cheese steaks.  Alex ordered his ‘whiz wit’ (with cheese sauce and onions/peppers).  I decided against that, and opted for provolone.  Bigtime mistake. Alex’s was WAY better than mine.

Pat doesn’t lie – he is the king. And his cheese steak melts in your mouth.

Maybe not the most appetizing to look at, but looks are so, so deceiving.

Regretting my decision, we headed back to Sesame Place for another round at the park.  At the park, we watched ‘Elmo’s World Live’, rode some more rides, ate dinner, and caught a glimpse of the parade. Anna’s Sesame Street cup runneth over.

Let’s play ‘Chopsticks’!

Hi, Oscar!

Monday, we were up with the sun.  Really no different from any other day of our lives since bringing children into this world.  We drove into rush hour toward the Philadelphia Zoo.  We’ve decided that we’d like to try to visit a zoo in every state in the US.  We’ll see how that goes… Anyway, we can now cross Pennsylvania off our list.  Bonus – the Philly zoo was the first in the country.  I don’t think the animals are original to the zoo, but some of the structures were.  It was neat to see how everything was set up and how the exhibits were laid out in a tiny space.  The downside was that the zoo was expensive and all but one food stand was closed due to lack of traffic.  Not my favorite zoo, but not horrible by any means.

Mom! Those birds are PINK!!! *GASP!!!*

And this bear is … WHITE!

We managed to find some food for the kids at the zoo, but Alex and I decided to swing back through at Pats King of Steaks for another round of cheese steaks.  I was still disappointed that Alex’s cheese steak from the day before was so much better than mine.  I wanted a redo, and Alex was more than happy to oblige.  Heck, he was now a pro at ordering them.  Could have passed as one of the locals…

Alex and I managed to eat our cheese steaks in the car while the kids napped.  ‘Whiz wit’ is the way to go – I made that sandwich my ‘B’.  We made it back to the hotel just as the kids were waking up.  The plan was to check out of our hotel the next morning, so I needed some serious time to do our laundry and pack.  There was no way to fit enough clothes for all of us for the entire trip, so I was planning on doing laundry mid-week.  Alex took the kids swimming while I schleped our dirty clothes to the laundry room and started packing our stuff up.  It’s amazing how quickly stuff scatters and expands.

I’m not quite sure how we managed it, but all of our crap made it back into bags and was loaded into the car the next morning.  It was like a real-life game of Tetris.  Literally – floor to ceiling bags.  We grabbed breakfast at the hotel, checked out, and pointed the car toward Camden, New Jersey and the Adventure Aquarium.  The aquarium was nothing short of awesome.  There weren’t many people there because it was a weekday, so the kids were able to run around like crazy people.  They had a blast.  Heck, we all had a blast.

One with the fishes

Inside a tank … pretty cool!

Bravely touching all the sea creatures.

We grabbed lunch at the aquarium before loading back into the car.  The plan was to make the relatively short drive to New York City while the kids took their afternoon nap.  (Napping in the car served us well during our trip.) We waved ‘goodbye’ to Philadelphia and set out for the big city…

— To Be Continued —

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2012 Road Trip – Adventure Aquarium

Just across the Delaware from Philadelphia sits Camden, New Jersey.  Camden is home to Campbell Soup, and (as it turned out) one of the largest, coolest aquariums in the United States.  We swung by there on our way out of Philly, before heading toward New York City.  It was well, well worth the time and cost to get in!

The tanks were amazingly big and the whole place was so interactive.  The kids had an awesome time running around, exploring, and touching everything they could get their germy hands on.  We were lucky to be able to visit on a weekday, so there weren’t many other people there with us.  We basically had the run of the joint! Just us and fishes. Lots, and lots of fishes…

This was probably the biggest fish tank I’ve ever seen.

Luke was clearly not scared of anything. Hope that glass holds, kid.

They had a stingray room where you could touch some pretty massive rays.  I declined because I have a healthy fear of those little dudes after being stung by one when I was a kiddo.  That’s a story for another day.

Watch out Alex – they are liable to take your finger off!

They had a whole floor devoted to tiny tots.  It was a toddler’s paradise!  There were things to climb on and crawl through.

Doesn’t he look thrilled to be taking a picture with his old mom?

Tanks that you could go under and feel like you are inside.

I’m not sure who was more excited – the kids or Alex.

I’m not sure Luke knew what to think.

And even more animals to touch and learn about!

That Alex … always touching things.

They also had sharks to pet.  I have to wonder, who wants to pet a shark?  I’ve seen ‘Shark Week’ too many times to be kosher with that.

Na na. Na na. Na na. Nana. Nananananananana. Shark tunnel!

Apparently, Alex has missed out on the ‘Shark Week’ experience.

Nerves of steel!

The Details:

Adventure Aquarium

1 Riverside Drive

Camden, NJ 08103

Phone: 856.365.3300

http://www.adventureaquarium.com/

*Open daily – 10am – 5pm

– Admission is $17.95 for children 2-12 and $24.95 for 13+, Parking is $10, Food available for purchase