The typical internship recruiting cycle for Wharton students goes something like this: go to a million EIS's (Employer Information Sessions) in the Fall semester of 1st year in hopes of making good contacts and good impressions enough to score an invitation to interview in January. Return to class from Winter Break just in time for the DIP (Designated Interview Period) to begin (and, BTW, you'll be learning an entire language of acronyms here). If you are lucky enough to be offered the internship of your dreams, or any internship for that matter, you will most likely be whisked off somewhere far from Philadelphia. And it's crazy; the entire Wharton population vanishes into thin air. You can even notice it in the street parking - suddenly there is tons available on the west side of Center City.
So, then, what happens to the families of these interning students? Many of them go along. Some of them are having huge life adventures, living in the most exotic of locales. My best friend at Wharton is summering (or wintering, actually) in Cape Town, South Africa where her husband is interning for a PE firm.
Not all Wharton families are so lucky to be able to accompany the student to his internship site, though, and traditionally two options are considered: 1) the mom stays back in Philly alone with the kids all summer, or, 2) goes to stay with extended family so that she can at least have a little help with the kids while their dad travels and works.
Having no idea who, what, when, where or how my husband's internship may end up, I spent the year contemplating how I would spend this summer. Moving myself, our two kids, and our Marley & Me-esque Chocolate Lab in with my parents, their six pets and my tattooed 22 year old brother in the Washington, DC suburbs all summer wasn't exactly ideal. But, cramming us all into a tiny, expensive apartment in New York City while my husband worked 80 hours a week didn't seem that appealing, either. So, like many moms in the Kids Club, I told myself, "It's only 10 weeks. I can do anything for 10 weeks" and awaited my fate.
So, when over the Christmas holiday my husband made the scary but exhilarating decision to forego internship recruiting and instead pursue the entrepreneurial venture he came to Wharton to develop, my summer took a decidedly different course. Suddenly, I was going to be (stuck) in Philly all summer.
An entire summer in a strange city that never really felt like home (even after a year). No family. Two little kids to entertain. Best friend on another continent until September. Husband working out of the spare bedroom. Yikes.
Our first course of action: Move. After wrapping the concept of "I'm going to be in PHILLY the WHOLE summer?" around my head, I realized that I had been thinking of our time at Wharton as one 9 month period of time for 1st year and one 9 month period of time for 2nd year, and 4 months away for Franz's internship. I really did need to embrace Philly as my home, and suddenly the relative charm of my beautiful, 150 year old vintage apartment vanished. I needed central air, parking, laundry. We found a great townhouse with lots of modern amenities and I was on my way to accepting it as my (semi) permanent residence.
My next step was to figure out what in the world I was going to do with my kids. Having a handful of fun friends still in town, and a gaggle of interesting new neighbors to call on, I have accidently happened upon a glorious several weeks.
My "Summer in Philly" has turned out to be... well.... kind of magical, actually. And it's not even July.
Never in their lives have my kids had more down-home, old-fashioned good fun and been so giddily exhausted at the end of every day. From sightseeing out of the iconic hot air balloon at the Philadelphia Zoo to strawberry picking in rural New Jersey and everything in between, we have had just one great day after another. And, of course, the best part of all is having our dad here and the simple pleasure of all being together after a very, very busy 1st year.
I have asked my summer-dwelling friends and permant-resident neighbors to give me their seasonal favorites: destinations, activities, foods, etc. so that I can publish them here to maybe be read by incoming families and to hopefully inspire and excite you by the fun that awaits you here!
Below is our list (many thanks to my great pals Sherri and Erin, Philly experts who brainstormed with me), which is by no means complete, and we hope you find it helpful. And one practical tip for any new Philly parents: subscribe to DailyCandy Kids Philly http://www.dailycandy.com/kids/philadelphia/ and Dancing Meatballs Philadelphia http://www.dancingmeatballs.com/philadelphia. These online newsletters will keep you in the loop of all goings-on for your kids. They are great, great resources! And, also, make sure to visit the Wharton Kids Club website at www.whartonkidsclub.com to keep up with the summer club activities. Enjoy!!
Playgrounds and Parks- Having been utterly spoiled by the phenomenal public park system in our home town of Chicago, I was at first a little dismayed at what I perceived to be a lack of playgrounds in Philadelphia. But what I've come to learn is that what this city lacks in quantity, it makes up in quality. Each of the listed playgrounds is very special in its own right boasting a carousel, a water park, a live railroad complete with friendly, waving CSX engineers, etc. Seek them out, even if they aren't in your immediate vicinity. You won't be disappointed.
Taney Playground - 26th and Pine, adjacent to the Schuylkill River Park
Seger Playground - 10th and Lombard
3 Bears Playground - 4th and Delancey
Smith Memorial Playground - Fairmont Park
Franklin Square - 6th and Race
Clark Park - 43rd and Baltimore
Rittenhouse Square - 19th and Walnut
Fitler Square - 23rd and Pine
Kid-Friendly Restaurants- One thing about Philly is undeniable: the food here is GREAT!
Mama Palma's Pizza - 23rd and Spruce
DiBruno's Upstairs - 17th and Chestnut
Pietros's - 16th and Walnut
Marathon on the Square - 18th and Spruce
Johnny Rockets - 5th and South St
Ikea Cafe - S. Columbus Blvd
Le Bus - Main Street, Manayunk
Ice Cream Parlors and other Sweet Treats (!)- One of parenting's best perks: endless opportunities to shamelessly eat ice cream and cupcakes
Scoop de Ville - 17th and Chestnut
Capogiro - 20th and Sansom, 13th and Sansom
Sweet Beginnings - 18th and Chestnut
Yogarino - 20th and Locust
Brown Betty Petite - 20th and Spruce
Rita's Water Ice - 15th and Spruce
Festivals - (there are a million, here are just a few)-
Penn's Landing Ice Cream Festival - July 3
Amish Festival, Reading Terminal Market- August 6 -8
Littlest Friends of Rittenhouse - June 17
Summer Solstice at The Kimmel Center - June 20, 21
Destinations- A major perk of living in Philadelphia is its proximity to other major metropolitan areas. Besides the below short day trips, you are just a few hours from New York City, Baltimore and Washington, DC.
Johnson's Farm for apple, pumpkin, blueberry, strawberry, cherry, etc. picking, plus Fall festival and other-worldly cider donuts
Please Touch Museum
Camden Children’s Garden
Jersey Shore - Ocean City, NJ is the among the most family-oriented with an alcohol-free ordinance and a great board walk
Activities and Classes -
Barnes & Noble Story Time
Philadelphia Public Library - toddler story time, clap & tap, bedtime stories, Be Creative
WXPN World Cafe - check for amazing children's programming
Walnut Street Theater - Children's Series
Hall Mercer - large variety of developmental classes
Gymboree - 20th and Spring Garden
Koresh Dance Studio - 21st and Chestnut
Yoga Child - 9th and South Street
The Little Gym- Narberth, PA, Cherry Hill, NJ
Bounce You - Cherry Hill, NJ
UK Elite Soccer
The Tennis Farm