Our survival guide for ways to beat the heat in Philly includes getting on the water, seeking out cold AC, frozen treats and more. (Clockwise from top left: B. Krist for GPTMC; courtesy Adventure Aquarium, Sesame Place and Capogiro)
We’re in the midst of what is going to turn into a very hot, week-long heat wave, which means it may get a little too hot for some of your normal summertime activities.
So to fill the void, we’ve put together a quick survival guide with some top picks for the best ways to stay cool in Philadelphia during the hottest summer weather.
Our guide to beat the heat:
Frozen Drinks And Treats
Cool down with bites and beverages perfectly suited to summertime: ice cream, water ice, frozen drinks and ice cold beers abound in Philadelphia.
• Ice cream: Franklin Fountain, Bassetts and Capogiro are the most widely recognized for creamy homemade ice cream (gelato, in Capogiro’s case). Custards and Cakes Creamery in Roxborough, a long-time neighborhood institution, also offers made-in-house concoctions crafted from fresh, seasonal fruit. Bonus: there’s a drive-thru! Scoop Deville in Center City is another great choice, with dozens of mix-ins and toppings; plus, you can order online in advance.
• Water ice: John’s Water Ice in South Philly met recent national fame with none other than President Obama stopped by for a sweet snack. Rita’s, of course, is another Philadelphia mainstay, and Philly Flavors serves up delicious water ice at two convenient locations. Rocco’s has spots in Mt. Airy and further out from the city, and the Philadelphia Water Ice Factory offers an impressive amount of flavors (sour apple, coconut, bubble gum, cappuccino, papaya) at dozens of spots.
• Milkshakes: Viva la bendy straw! It’s milkshake season, and the options for sweet frozen beverages are limitless. To name just a few, nostalgia-themed local chain Nifty Fifty’s, Fishtown’s Sketch, Franklin Square’s SquareBurger, the Snow White lunch counter near Rittenhouse Square, Bobby Flay’s Burger Palace and PYT at the Piazza at Schmidts are whipping up heavenly glasses of frozen froth. For real over-the-top milkshake madness, Max Brenner has a menu of milkshakes that redefine decadence and Jose Garces’ Village Whiskey is serving up new milkshakes, available either spiked or virgin: Irish Car Bomb, house made devil’s food cake, layered with dark chocolate pastry cream flavored with Jameson and Bailey’s and blended with vanilla and chocolate ice creams; Strawberry-Rum, strawberry ice cream, strawberry sauce and Goslings rum topped with sliced strawberries; S’Mores, toasted marshmallow ice cream with chocolate sauce; Vanilla and Chocolate.
• Frozen cocktails: Want a little booze in your blended drink? The Frozen Blood Orange Margarita
at Stephen Starr’s El Vez never fails to deliver summer after summer, and Cantina los Caballitos on East Passyunk offers both glasses and pitchers of Prickly Pear, Blood Orange, Strawberry, Passion Fruit, Mango, Raspberry, Pineapple, Guava or Melon frozen margs, which you can enjoy outside on the restaurant’s makeshift patio. Beyond those, craft cocktails are the calling card of Philadelphia’s drinks scene; we’ve got a full guide to those here. And Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. and Ranstead Room are two great choices for cool, air-conditioned spots to down said drinks during the summer.
Bonus: it’s not quite frozen, but Franklin Fountain’s root beer floats are an authentically rendered timeless Philadelphia drink, made with Briar’s all-natural birch beer and homemade vanilla-bean ice cream. Another bonus: the Lemonnana at Zahav (also not quite frozen) is a glass of pure refreshing spiked lemonade heaven, a quintessential Philadelphia summer drink.
• Cold Beer: Philadelphia is a beer town. End of story. We’ve got thorough coverage on the best places to find cold brews in and around the city. And most importantly, 2011 is the summer of the beer garden (haven’t you heard?) We compiled a helpful pocket guide for where to find the best and breeziest beer gardens in Philadelphia.
Below, we have information on attractions with great A.C., water sports and more.
Attractions With Great A.C.
• Adventure Aquarium: Where better to cool off than at Camden’s riverfront aquarium? Adventure Aquarium is a true waterfront treasure, featuring nearly 200,000 square feet of space, more than two million gallons of water and 6,500 animals. You can win weekly ticket giveaways for free admission all summer long.
• Franklin Institute: Take a breather from the 100 degree weather with a stop-over at one of the oldest and most beloved science museums in the country. Catch the institute’s summer blockbuster exhibition Mummies of the World for even more of a chill.
• Philadelphia Museum of Art: Philadelphia’s premier art museum and one of the world’s finest offers a great refuge from the blasting heat outside, what with the cool marble and refreshing fare at Stephen Starr’s Granite Hill.
• Academy of Natural Sciences: There’s a multitude of interesting and informative discoveries to be made at this natural history museum, one of the world’s foremost. The uplifting Butterflies! exhibit, featuring dozens of butterflies from around the world encased in 1,200 square feet of exquisite gardens, is a great way to beat the heat.
• National Constitution Center: The world’s only museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution has 160,000 square feet of high-tech exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays. The Kimmel Theater, a 350-seat star-shaped theater, features “Freedom Rising,” a multimedia 360° production that’s a great opportunity to enjoy some comfortable shade. Stop by the nearby, newly opened Independence al Fresco for a snack or a drink against a beautiful architectural backdrop.
• Ritz Movie Theaters: Catching a summer movie at Philadelphia’s beloved indie movie theater is a surefire way to lower your body temperature. The popcorns aren’t oversized, the diameter of the sodas is acceptable for human hands and the ticket prices are not more than $9.
Want to get wet? Take advantage of some of the Philadelphia region’s aquatic destinations, from swimming holes to white-water rafting attractions.
• Tubing/White-water Rafting: Raft or tube leisurely down the Delaware River with the Bucks County River Country company or take advantage of a free hot dog lunch and a swimming hole in the middle of a family-friendly rafting, kayaking, tubing or canoeing trip with Delaware River Tubing, which departs from Frenchtown, New Jersey.
• Canoeing/Kayaking: If you want to stay within city limits, head to the body of water on either side of the city; both the Schuylkill River and Delaware River Waterfront offer great kayaking excursions. Hidden River Outfitters is a great resource for customizable kayaking instruction and guided tours along the Schuylkill.
Outside the city proper, the region is stocked with parks and public access points where boat owners can launch their vessels. Water enthusiasts who want to rent have options as well: Montgomery County’s Port Providence Paddle lets you rent a canoe, kayak or paddleboat for a full-day or hourly trip, and Northbrook Canoe Company arranges individual water tours through Chester County’s Brandywine River, the landscape made famous by the paintings of three generations of Wyeth.
• Sesame Place: It’s the nation’s only theme park based entirely on the award-winning television show Sesame Street. Wet fun attractions include Big Bird’s Rambling River, Ernie’s Waterworks, Sesame Streak, Slippery Slopes, Slimey’s Chutes, Count’s Splash Castle, Sky Splash all and Bert & Ernie’s Slip and Slide. It’s a great summer spot for families, but you’ll find you’re never too old to get soaked.
No matter what you choose, just remember to stay cool Philadelphia.