October 26, 2012
Harry Potter’s Guide To Philadelphia: A Special Hogwartsian Itinerary In Honor Of Chestnut Hill’s Annual Harry Potter Festival
Chestnut Hill is bringing back its bewitchingly popular Harry Potter Weekend for 2012, hitting Germantown Avenue this Friday through Sunday, October 26-28.
We’re huge fans of the festival, and we want to make sure you’re fully equipped for a weekend’s worth of entertainment so wild it will knock you off your broomstick.
So we’ve consulted the sorting hat, picked Dumbledore’s brain and asked Professor Trelawney to read Philadelphia’s tea leaves in order to pull together a special Hogwartsian itinerary for the city.
Check out Harry Potter’s Guide To Philadelphia, below, for the bars, restaurants, museums and other attractions the child wizard would visit if he came to Philadelphia. Definitely let us know in the comments what you’d add to our list.
Note: Check out the photos below pairing a place from Harry Potter’s world with a location here in Philadelphia. Use the slider at the center of the photo to slide the photo to the left or the right to see more of either location.
Is it just us, or does the Hall of Prophecy at the Ministry of Magic remind you of the Mutter Museum? (Left photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures / right photo by B. Krist for GPTMC)
Eat and Drink Like Harry Potter
For the Philadelphia equivalent of Fizzing Whizbees, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, Chocolate Frogs and Butter Beer, check out our picks for places to eat and drink like Harry Potter.
• Zipf’s Candies in Chestnut Hill: Customers that visit this itty bitty candy shop in Chestnut Hill, tucked off a side street perpendicular to the main thoroughfare Germantown Avenue, find it reminiscent of Sugarplum’s Sweets Shop on Diagon Alley. The store has been in existence since the late 60s, and Willy Wonka-esque owner Alena Hackett is always on the lookout for unusual treats — gummy frogs, Bonomo Turkish Taffy, maple candies, chocolate cordials filled with peach brandy, Grand Marnier, cognac and amaretto. They don’t stock Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans… at least not yet.
• Franklin Fountain and Shane’s Confectionery: The Berley Brothers’ two Old City sweet shops, Franklin Fountain and Shane’s Confectionery, tickle your tastebuds with homemade ice cream and candies, respectively, in tons of whimsical flavors. Think Teaberry Gum ice cream at Franklin Fountain and Spiced Pumpkin Buttercreams at Shane’s, handmade and dished up by vintage-dressed soda jerks with a healthy dose of sugar and spice. It’s Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour and Honeydukes Sweetshop right next door to each other.
• Capogiro: Produced in more than 250 flavors, award-winning Capogiro gelato will tempt you with made-from-scratch-each-morning flavors at its four Philadelphia gelaterias. Seasonal fouse favorites, all made with the freshest and most natural local ingredients from Pennsylvania’s rich farmlands, include Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, Sweet Potato With Pecan Praline, Saigon Cinnamon, Pera con Wild Turkey Bourbon and Bourbon Butterscotch. If Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour leapt off your bookshelf, it would be this.
• Random Tea Room & Curiosity Shop: The super quirky Random Tea Room & Curiosity Shop serves more than 40 artisanal teas and house-blended herbal infusions. This community-oriented tea spot in Northern Liberties also features interesting vintage and antique pieces for sale. It’s like Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop transported to Philadelphia.
• Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.: Channeling speakeasies of the Prohibition-era and named after the largest alcohol ring in the country during Prohibition, The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company is the perfect destination for Potter-esque imbibing. Bartenders at the dark and mysterious underground bar confidently navigate a wide array of bottles, jars and concoctions used to create The Franklin’s cocktail masterpieces. There are even a few Potter-perfect sips: Witch Hunt (Laird’s bonded apple brandy, angel’s envy bourbon, Ron Zacappa rum, house caramel syrup, butter) and Dungeon Master (Rittenhouse rye whiskey, Smith Woodhouse port wine, Zucca Amaro, Batavia Arrack, benedictine, vermouth, Peychaud’s bitters). The proprietor of J. Pippin’s Potions might as well be a consultant here.
Harry, Ron and Hermione hid behind the giant pumpkins at Hagrid’s; at Linvilla you can purchase a giant pumpkin of your very own… (Left photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures / right photo by R. Kennedy for GPTMC)
Harry Potter’s Guide To Philadelphia continues below, with magical creatures, Potter-esque shopping and more.
• Hop Sing Laundromat: The secret and exclusive Chinatown cocktail bar Hop Sing Laundromat has Hogsmeade’s The Hog’s Head written all over it. Craft cocktails are mixed at your table and carts carrying clinking rare bottles roll by. An entrance vestibule contains vintage books, a shoe shine station and a curious selection of art, analogous to the eclectic collection of armchairs and dining sets scattered throughout the Addams Family living room-like main area.
• Han Dynasty: Pick your poison at Han Dynasty, with Scorpion Bowl punch the perfect potion for witches and wizards. Master mixologist Katie Loeb brews up a fiery drink list with everything from the aforementioned Scorpion Bowl (gin, vodka, three types of rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, lime juice, house grenadine) to Double Dragon Punch (brandy, light rum, amaretto, housemade orgeat, dragonfruit, orange juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice).
• Marrakesh: This palatial Moroccan spot has been hiding out in an unmarked, indiscernible building on an obscure back street off South for more than 35 years. Knock at the heavy doors of Marrakesh to be guided through the restaurant’s hefty curtain and be lead to the North African oasis of belly dancing and ethnic-feeling ambience.
• Ranstead Room: From the glittering chandeliers to the gold accents to the leather-bound furniture, Stephen Starr’s Ranstead Room is an awesome back-alley hideaway. The two adjoining “R’s” on the dark doors of the red-brick building are the only sign of nightlife you’ll find, but enter the next set of doors to get a taste of the craft cocktails that make the hunt for this place more than worth it.
• Marigold Kitchen: For a little whizz and bang with your dinner, head to West Philadelphia’s Marigold Kitchen. Executive Chef Robert Halpern whips up molecular gastronomy-like plates including Duck Egg “Carbonara” with House-Made Goats’s Milk Ricotta, Squash “Noodles” and Pancetta; Coffee Fried Sweetbreads with Cauliflower-Saffron Puree, Iranian Pistachios, Cherries, Lentils, Yogurt and Port; Zucchini Donuts; and Apple-Bacon-Cinnamon Rolls with Candied Poached Apple, Maple Ice Cream, Apple-Miso Foam and Peanut-Banana Powder.
• Time Restaurant: Sip on one of about a dozen varieties of rye in the Bohemian Absinthe Lounge or take a walk up the stairs and enter the Parisian-inspired salon to watch the barkeeps pour the traditional towers of absinthe at Time. The ambience of the place is set by the gorgeous 1930s chandelier that sparkles overhead. Intrigue abounds.
Explore Like Harry Potter
Wish you could see inside the Shreaking Shack or enroll in the Durmstrang Institute for Magical Learning? We’ve got suggestions for Philadelphia counterparts to Harry Potter attractions and institutions.
• Eastern State Penitentiary: The closest thing to Azkaban in Philadelphia, Eastern State Penitentiary is especially horrifying during Halloween season. Terror Behind the Walls, the former prison’s epic annual haunted attraction, will give you nightmares. And the ghoulish monsters who greet you at the gates of the penitentiary and usher you throughout its halls are terrifyingly similar to Death Eaters. Beware.
• Fonthill Castle: Fonthill Castle, located in Doylestown adjacent to the Mercer Museum, holds the treasures of Henry Chapman Mercer, who built this Hogwarts-like storybook stone mansion with its turrets and balconies from the inside out, without using blueprints. Modeled after a 13th-century Rhenish castle, Fonthill Castle has Gothic doorways, 32 sudden stairways, dead ends and 44 rooms, each in a different shape. Even cooler, the ceilings and walls are embedded with handcrafted tiles from Mercer’s kilns at the adjacent Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, along with ancient tiles from around the world. His collection of books, prints and Victorian engravings are preserved in this 1910 home, whose stark concrete exterior belies the ornate eccentric style of the interior.
• Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens: Covering an indoor and outdoor space equivalent to half a city block, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens glisten with creativity, urban renaissance and a hint of nearly magical madness. Isaiah Zagar, a local artist who began tiling South Street in the 1960s and never stopped, constructed the space out of cement, bicycle spokes, bottles, ceramic shards and other artistic knick-knacks. The tiled passages of the Magic Gardens weave over- and underground, making for a mystical experience befitting J.K. Rowling’s world of wizardry and wonder.
• Grey Towers Castle at Arcadia University: Named one of 12 Awe-Inspiring American Castles by Budget Travel, Grey Towers Castle at Arcadia University in Glenside, channeling Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, was built by eclectic sugar refiner William Welsh Harrison between 1893 and 1898 and modeled after Northumberland’s Alnwick Castle. The 40 rooms wow with gilded ceilings, tapestries, ornamental paintings and hand-carved walnut and mahogany woodwork while secret passages lurk behind fireplaces and underground tunnels.
• Bryn Athyn Cathedral: The soaring Bryn Athyn Cathedral is situated on a hill overlooking the picturesque Pennypack Creek Valley in the borough of Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania. Unorthodox construction practices — rather than relying on blueprints and plans, almost every aspect of the design was made into scale models before construction, and asymmetries and irregularities were purposely planned into the building — contribute to the Hogwarts vibe of the cathedral.
The landscape surrounding Hogwarts reminds us of hills overlooking the Schuylkill at Laurel Hill. (Left photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures / right photo by R. Kennedy for GPTMC)
• 30th Street Station: Philadelphia’s historic 30th Street Station’s intricately patterned high ceilings, travertine walls and Tennessee Marble floors rival the glorious architecture of the Hogwarts Express‘ King’s Cross railway station.
• Chanticleer: Be prepared for an adventure of the senses as you wander through this botanical wonderland, a 35-acre “pleasure garden” on the grounds of the old Rosengarten estate. The exotic Tropical Teacup garden seems bewitched by a magic wand and the Minder Ruin Garden, set among the remains of one of the family homes, is punctuated with plants, still pools and unusual sculpture. Think a fountain shaped like a large sarcophagus that rests on a mosaic “rug” of tile, granite and slate, and a “Library” where the books are sculpted of stone.
• Fairmount Park Horticulture Center: The Horticulture Center, built for the Bicentennial celebration in 1976, contains a lush greenhouse home to many tropical plants and a fine collection of statues interspersed in the greenery, reminiscent of Professor Sprout’s herbarium. Take a stroll by the tranquil reflecting pool, visit the gorgeous Shofuso Japanese House and Garden and explore the picnic groves and sculptures for an immersive magical experience.
• Franklin Institute Planetarium: Want to read the stars like in Professor Trelawney’s classroom? Head to the Franklin Institute Planetarium, a state-of-the-art aluminum dome that envelopes the audience and provides the ultimate screen for cosmic projections, upgraded video projection and super-fidelity systems.
• Whispering Benches: Though the explanation for the Whispering Benches is best left up to scientists, it is fact that the Smith Memorial Arch on the Avenue of the Republic boasts a stone bench where two people sitting on far ends of the 50-foot bench can whisper yet hear each other clearly. No floo powder required.
• Mutter Museum: The Mütter Museum is a riveting storehouse for the anatomically strange. The Museum’s display of 20,000 provocative items includes a wide smattering of abnormal body parts preserved in fluid, skeletal formations — like that of a 7’6” man — diseased and enlarged organs tastefully displayed within glass-encased oak frames and much more. Careful: looks like you took a wrong turn down Knockturn Alley.
• Philadelphia United Lodge of Theosophists: At 1917 Walnut Street, an unsuspecting castle of the occult resides. The Philadelphia branch of the United Lodge of Theosophists has been home for more than a half a century to followers of Theosophy, a spiritual philosophy developed by charismatic occultist Helena Petrovna Blavatsky that believes in reincarnation. The building’s scrollwork, ornate ceilings, carved wooden inner architecture and spiritual symbols make it easy to manage Theosophy mediums’ seances and ceremonies of times past.
Once the holidays arrive, the Great Hall at Hogwarts begins to remind us of Longwood Gardens… (Left photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures / right photo courtesy Longwood Gardens)
Magical Creatures of Harry Potter
Philadelphia’s got its fair share of magical creatures straight out of the pages of J.K. Rowling’s epic seven-volume series.
• Drexel Dragon: “Mario the Magnificent,” the 14-feet-long bronze statue of Drexel’s school mascot, the Drexel dragon, is the work of renowned Philadelphia sculptor Eric Berg. Check it out at 33rd and Market Streets. Kind of resembles Hagrid’s Norwegian Ridgeback Norbert.
• St. Joe’s Hawk: St. Joe’s University’s mascot The Hawk is thankfully not as menacing as the tarantula hawks that infested Hogwarts in the 1992-93 school year. But it could very well be the inspiration behind the Hawkshead Attacking Formation, a Quidditch tactic in which the team’s Chasers fly together in an arrowhead towards the opposition’s goalposts.
• Temple Owl: The owl, like Harry’s beloved Hedwig, has been the symbol and mascot for Temple University since its founding in the 1880s.
• Phillie Phanatic: Born in the Galapagos Islands, the beloved and ridiculous Phillie Phanatic is a magical under-sea creature straight out of the pages of Harry Potter. Happily, there’s no real Potter equivalent for him — he’s all our own.
• Philadelphia Zoo Reptile and Amphibian House: Step, slither and slide through 47 naturalistic exhibits inside the Philadelphia Zoo Reptile and Amphibian House, the perfect local equivalent to the reptile house from which Harry Potter made a boa constrictor escape using just his mind.
Harry met Buckbeak in the Forbidden Forrest; you can meet all kinds of exotic creatures at the Philadelphia Zoo… (Left photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures / right photo by B. Krist for GPTMC)
Shop Like Harry Potter
Take a stroll down Diagon Alley at these Potter-esque shops in Philadelphia.
• Harry’s Occult Shop: A sign outside this South Street occult stronghold reads “Help light a torch for the good; Cross swords against evil.” Take a step inside Diagon Alley’s Slug and Jiggers Apothecary-meets-Borgin & Burkes to browse candles, powders, magical stones, oil mixes, incense and more.
• Hats In The Belfry: For 30+ years, South Street’s Hats in the Belfry has been a trusted source for premium quality hats and caps. They’ve got everything from fedoras to derby bowlers to cloches to visors to berets to baseball caps to newsboy caps and everything in between. It’s like Twilfitt and Tatting’s in Diagon Alley, or McHavelock’s Wizarding Headgear in Hogsmeade.
• Peddler’s Village: Charming Peddler’s Village, the Philadelphia region’s equivalent of quaint Hogsmeade, boasts 70 specialty shops, five restaurants and a 70-room inn spread across 42 acres of landscaped grounds and winding walkways.
• Stadler-Kahn: This elevated five-and-dime shop underground off Sansom Street near Rittenhouse Square offers a quirky selection of offbeat knick-knacks, beautiful handmade scarves, costume jewelry, stationary, home goods and more. Definitely a would-be favorite of the wizarding world.
• Blendo: Vintage-inspired furnishings, knick-knacks and clothing cram into fun little Blendo on Antique Row. Resembling an eccentric aunt’s attic, it’s chaotic but charming, stocking everything from silly fridge magnets and bottle openers to funky handbags and rare prints and posters. It’s like Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Knockturn Alley but with a much less sinister vibe.
• Mostly Books: The muggle world equivalent of Flourish & Blotts magic book store, Mostly Books, located at the intersection of the Society Hill, Queen Village and Bella Vista neighborhoods, offers book lovers a veritable treasure trove of vintage and rare finds. Mostly Books is housed in a series of 19th century stables and workshops, so shoppers wind their way through room after room of volumes. They also stock movies, music, photographs, posters, artwork and more.
• Halloween jewelry store: This teensy Washington Square West jewelry haven from Henri David could be the city’s best-kept secret, a chock-full jewelry studio announced only by an orange business card in the window. You have to buzz to be let inside, but once you are, your senses are treated to a visual and tactical feast, with baubles of all colors, shapes and sizes.
• Duross & Langel: Steve Duross and James Langel’s Midtown Village soap shop is a whimsical playground as bright and bubbly as their products are. Colorful, hand-crafted soaps — offered in such scents as mojito, chocolate mint, patchouli spearmint and pumpkin oat — are made daily, and worth a trip for their scents alone. Candles, balms, butters and bath salts are equally intoxicating. Madam Primpernelle’s Beautifying Potions comes to life.
• Garland of Letters: Head to South Street’s new-age-y Garland of Letters for books, incense, essential oils, wind chimes, tarot cards and crystals. If Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment existed in Philadelphia, this is what it would look like.
The long tables in the Great Hall at Hogwarts remind us of the long tables at Frankford Hall, both inside and out. (Left photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures / right photo courtesy Frankford Hall)
Channel Your Inner Brit
Prefer to live like a muggle? Check out our guide to being British in Philadelphia.
• The Dandelion: Stephen Starr’s London-style pub,The Dandelion, treats diners to a traditional full English breakfast and an afternoon tea menu featuring English teas served in imported Brown Betty pots alongside a selection of cakes, scones and biscuits served on traditional tiered serving trays. Sit in the plush “dog room” upstairs, tricked out with canine imagery, for an especially magical meal.
• Elephant and Castle: Take a trip to England without the pricey airfare, or the need for an umbrella and galoshes. Just look for the signature red telephone booth in front of this Center Cit pub which serves up classics like shepherd’s pie, fish-n-chips and bangers and mash. It’s the perfect place to feel like an Anglophile.
• London Grill: London Grill co-owners Terry Berch McNally and Chef Michael McNally serve up a mean fish-n-chips with plenty of beer and cocktails to go along. Or try the signature London Burger for a special across-the-pond fix.
• The Four Seasons Hotel’s Swann Lounge: From Monday-Friday, 2-3:30 p.m and Saturday 3-4:30 p.m., the Four Seasons Hotel’s Swann Lounge offers a “Social Tea” and “Royal Tea.” Both options include tea, scones, finger sandwiches, desserts and fruit tartlets. The “Royal Tea” includes the addition of an alcoholic beverage like sparkling wine or the signature cocktail, the Pink Swann.
• The Rittenhouse Hotel’s Mary Cassatt Tea Room: Located inside the famous Rittenhouse Hotel, the Mary Cassatt Tea Room serves afternoon British tea and cocktails in a beautiful parlor or outside in the garden. You can even add a glass of champagne to couple with your “Queen Victoria Tea.”
Harry caught the Hogwarts Express at King’s Cross Station in London; the Grand Hall at the Pennsylvania Convention Center is located in what use to be Reading Terminal’s main train station… (Left photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures / right photo courtesy Pennsylvania Convention Center)
• Cups and Chairs Tea Cafe: Located in the heart of Queen Village, Cups and Chairs features a selection of more than 55 kinds of loose-leaf tea, which can be brewed at home or enjoyed in the cozy, multi-room cafe along with light snacks.
• Premium Steap: For a quick stop for all of your tea needs, Premium Steap in Center City offers the finest, full-leaf, premium teas from around the world. More than 100 varieties of tea are also available from the take-out tea bar.
• Duke & Winston: This Northern Liberties boutique owned by Seun Olubodun and his English Bulldog, HRH the Duke, features a Philadelphia-based men’s clothing line (and a limited dog line!) inspired by refined and simple UK clothing styles. The Duke & Winston name pays homage to both HRH the Duke and Sir Winston Churchill.
• Bus Stop Boutique: London-born Elena Brennan opened Bus Stop Boutique in 2007, dedicated to carrying hard-to-find designer labels and styles for men and women. Brennan opened the boutique with the mission that every person should can dress in the styles of the fashion capitals of the world without having to travel there.
• Jack Willis: Rittenhouse Row’s Jack Willis, the original University Outfitters, creates quality goods designed to reflect British heritage and style. Their tagline, “fabulously British,” can become yours once you don your tartan skirt or warm winter jersey.
Harry Potter Weekend 2012
When: October 26-28
Where: Throughout Chestnut Hill
Cost: Free; some activities carry nominal fees
More info: www.chc.edu
Previously: Harry Potter Weekend In Chestnut Hill Returns! The Neighborhood To Transform Into Diagon Alley With A Quidditch Tournament, Harry Potter Pub Crawl, Sorting Hat Ceremony, Horcrux Scavenger Hunt And Much More, October 26-28