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Burst Out of that Penn Bubble

If you’re anything like me, this is the point in the semester when hearing about schoolwork makes you want to ralph. (Sorry, I just watched Clueless). And seeing Van Pelt is starting to get really depressing, particularly when the sun is beaming through the windows, mocking you. Being from around the Philadelphia area, though, I have a few favorite haunts that could brighten your day during this oppressive time, and I’m laying them out here for you. Check them out!

1. The Painted Teacup

Who knew you could get high tea in a British cottage in Upper Darby, PA? It matches any tea room in Center City in terms of elegance, but the service is unbeatable. Their rooms are so small, there are never more than two parties at once, and the ladies of the Painted Teacup give you each dainty course (and there are a lot of courses) at intervals timed so perfectly, you’ll feel like a real Austen lady of leisure while you’re there. An over-stuffed Austen lady of leisure surrounded by tiny, adorable tea accoutrements (which are for sale, mind you)! Check them out at www.thepaintedteacup.com!

2. Valley Forge Park

For those of you with gentleman friends who may not enjoy being a lady as much as you do, embrace a piece of history by visiting this majestic national park. There are hiking trails for those athletically inclined readers that want to enjoy the fresh air, strolling trails for the less athletically inclined, and the park is a gigantic picnic spot for those of you who value sitting, chatting and food more than exercise (I’m definitely in the latter group). See if their horseback riding tours strike your fancy at www.valleyforge.org, or learn about the history at www.nps.gov/vafo.

3. Chanticleer Gardens

Centered on a historic estate, this lush botanical garden will have you dreaming of a future in which your garden is as diverse and gorgeous. Every step you take, you’ll find new fragrances, new flowers, and stunning views. It’s a mile loop around, making for a perfect-length stroll, and has an amazing ruin you can explore (and maybe even pretend you’re in the Hunger Games). http://www.chanticleergarden.org/.

4. Kennett Square

For those of you who want a Stars Hollow (and that’s the only Gilmore Girls reference you’ll ever see out of me) experience without travelling all the way up to Yale, Kennett Square is an adorable alternative that’s just down Route 3 (Market street). They have tiny stores and boutiques, including a fine spices and tea store, and a witches’ supply store (it’s worth a look). But you’ll have the best time just strolling down the streets, people-watching in the sun, and being in the fresh air, away from the hub bub (and literally, away from Hub Bub) of University City. http://www.kennettsq.org/

5. Salsa In the Suburbs

In Media, this adorable salsa studio has the best beginners’ salsa class I’ve ever taken. The studio owner, Julie Berger, is adorable, encouraging, and will make you feel sexy while having fun. Best part? You don’t need a partner! She always makes sure there are enough men for the ladies, so grab a friend and sign up a couple of days ahead of time! Within your first class, you’ll be ready to break out your salsa with Onda Latina or Penn Latin and Ballroom Dancing club. Julie also teaches the steamier Latin dance, Bachata. Check it out at www.salsainthesuburbs.com

**For directions to any of these locations, check out www.hopstop.com — easy to follow, and you can put in your bus/train/walking preferences.

Let me know what you think—what am I missing? Or where on this list have you been and loved?


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