36 Hours in Philadelphia: Christmas Edition

Over the weekend, I went to Philly (for the third time this year). I drove down with my sister to visit our cousin and her husband and to get some of the fun city Christmas lights without dragging our butts through the tourist-filled nightmare that is New York City.

We made a list of fun Christmassy activities and unintentionally had an entire day devoted to meals at Michael Solomonov restaurants; so I'm going to split my posts into two. One post will be dedicated to the Christmassy activities and the other to our experiences at three Michael Solomonov restaurants. We also did a little holiday shopping and burned at least a thousand calories walking around the city, so that'll be mixed in here too. It was a lot of fun.
After grabbing some breakfast from our favorite local bagel shop, we hit the road nice and early on Saturday morning.
We were blessed with the most amazing weather. It was 65F and sunny when we arrived in the city of brotherly love.
We said hello to Cat, enjoyed S and E's Christmas decorations, and then set off to explore the city.
We did a little eye shopping at Bloomingdales, felt immediately underwhelmed by the lackluster merchandise and frankly, annoyed by the long queues, and then enjoyed the tree for a bit before heading over to the Love Park.
The Christmas Village set up around the Love Park is super quaint and beautiful (and I'm sure much more attractive in the evenings with the lights). We took a lap around to see all of the amazing booths but because it was so crowded, we didn't hang around too long.
To get a break from the crowds, we stopped by to say hello to the giant board game pieces.
We enjoyed the people watching at the City Hall ice rink and the giant tree in the atrium. The tree wasn't much compared to Rock Center, but it was still pretty and at least it wasn't as crowded.
We stopped by the Good Dog Bar to grab a drink and to rest our feet briefly. They have photos of dogs all over the walls (submitted by owners from around the city) which, as a dog lover, I really enjoyed. I need to find out how I can get GM involved.
After some window shopping along Walnut (at Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie, mostly for home decor inspiration), we stopped at the park to rest our feet again. We met a 3 month old corgi pup that was super friendly and so adorable, I wanted to cry (and then steal the dog).
As it got darker, we started walking back towards center city and we got to see City Hall lit up along with the Christmas Market.
At around 7PM, we went to Franklin Square to watch the light show. It starts at 4:30PM and repeats every half hour. It was a fun way to get in the holiday spirit.
Two blocks away from S and E's place we ran into the Miracle on S 13th. Individual houses along the block decorate with lots of lights and animated figurines and evergreens. It's super festive and a pretty aggressive Christmas explosion.
I had to share this photo of a tree that has cherry blossoms (it's confused because of the warm weather!) and Christmas lights. I wonder how often that occurs. I'm pretty sure that a year ago, we were trudging through snow.
On Sunday morning, we headed over to Kindy's to browse discount Christmas decorations.
There were so many baubles and lights and animated figurines and a mini Christmas village. Even if you're not in the market to spend any money, it's a fun place to peruse and enjoy.
This little creeper and I made friends.
For lunch on Sunday before we headed home, we stopped by Same Same in the Northern Liberties area. It was the first meal we enjoyed that wasn't at a Michael Solomonov eatery.
We started the meal with beef skewers to share. They were a daily special and each piece of beef was stuffed with cheese. It was so good.
For my meal, I had the pork confit lettuce wraps. It came with a pile of lettuce, cilantro, Thai basil, rice paper and a spray bottle to moisten the rice paper, a huge pile of pork, vermicelli noodles, pickled carrot and daikon, and a dipping sauce. The pork had a delicious and crispy exterior with an unbelievably tender interior. The wraps were superb.
S got the caramelized pork broken rice.
M and E each got the bun bo hue. The broth tasted deliciously rich but also really clean and fresh.
We also loved their jalapeno hot sauce. It was bright and spicy and didn't have the typical vinegary flavor of regular hot sauces.
After lunch, we hopped across the street to browse at Art Star. They had so much cute stuff (I have lots of DIY inspiration now) and I bought two prints - one French bread and one French pastry - to hang in the kitchen. We want to update our gallery wall.

This shop is a great place to buy little knickknacks and local art. It's a great place to pick up last minute Christmas gifts.
I loved this quad of animal portraits. The titles and captions were hilarious.
After shopping, we headed back to pick up our bags and then hopped in the car to go home. If you're a food lover, come back for my Michael Solomonov post. It's going to be so good.