Great locations to go RVing in 2022
Spending January in 70° F weather has its perks but that’s just part of what makes New Smyrna Beach especially inviting. The city also boasts 17 miles of white sandy beaches and wave action that’s great for surfing.
Some “new-to-you” activities can include:
Fresh-caught Dinner – Since New Smyrna Beach is located on a barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and Indian River Lagoon, both saltwater and freshwater fishing are available. Book a charter with an experienced captain to catch an oh-so fresh seafood dinner. Many local restaurants offer a “catch and cook” option where the chef will prepare your fish almost any way you like it.
A Trio of Water Views – A visit to Smyrna Dunes Park delivers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, Indian River, and Ponce de Leon Inlet. The park has two miles of wide, elevated, handicapped accessible boardwalk, along with access to the beach.
Florida’s Tallest Lighthouse – Climb 175 feet for a spectacular, sweeping view of coastal Florida. The world-famous Ponce Inlet Lighthouse was constructed in 1887 and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1998. The site includes all the original structures, including the homes of the principal keeper and first and second assistant keepers. On January 17, the lighthouse hosts its monthly “Climb to the Moon.” Get spectacular views of the sunset and full moon, along with a private tour with a lighthouse keeper.
NASCAR’s Prestigious Track – The Daytona International Speedway, which is just is 15 miles from New Smyrna Beach, is an iconic track that hosts the internationally known Daytona 500. A track tour includes a: visit to the start/finish line; close-up view of the pit stalls; photos in Gatorade Victory Lane; stunning view of the trioval and infield; and access to the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. For those who’d like to see racing in person at the track, the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association's Classic MotoFest will be held January 7-9, 2022.
RVers can spend the night at New Smyrna Beach RV Park and Campground.
This French, Creole, and Cajun city literally beckons travelers to try something new.
NOLA Curiosities – The neighborhood of the French Quarter was the original city of New Orleans established by the French to control commerce on the Mississippi River. Today, it’s the epicenter for activities and eccentricities. Start with the curiosities of Jackson Square that include unusual street artists, fortune tellers, and brass bands. Visit the 200-year-old Jean Lafitte’s Old Absinthe House which became famous in the 19th century for its absinthe frappe – a mixture of absinthe and sugar water – and the popular legend that pirate Jean Lafitte met with Andrew Jackson at the establishment. Finally, it’s not a sure thing but jazz funerals are still held. Catching one is just by luck since they’re typically conducted only after the death of a significant resident or musician.
Ghost Tours – New Orleans is home to two well-known women of mystery. Marie Laveau was a powerful voodoo priestess from the 19th century and Anne Rice is the best-selling author who wrote the Vampire Chronicles series. Set fears aside and book a nighttime walking tour that shares the city’s “dark side” and takes visitors to above-ground cemeteries, haunted locations, and voodoo shrines.
Boiled Crawfish – Whatever name you use – crayfish, crawfish, crawdads, or mudbugs – the crustaceans are synonymous with New Orleans. Crawfish are in season from January through July and can be served boiled, sauteed, baked, or fried. However, locals insist boiled is the best. Crawfish boils abound throughout New Orleans so get courageous and make a reservation.
Swamp Tours – Explore the watery world of Louisiana’s swamps and bayous aboard an airboat, skiff, or kayak. Travel through channels edged by cypress trees dripping with Spanish moss and learn how the waterways still provide a living for locals. See alligators, nutria, wild hogs, and other wildlife.
Founded in 1845 and known for its German heritage, New Bruenfels is in Texas Hill Country between San Antonio and Austin and provides a gateway to exciting adventures.
Fly Fishing – From December to February, Texas Parks & Wildlife stocks more than 20,000 rainbow trout in the Guadalupe River and Canyon Tailrace. Action Angler, a stream-side fly shop and guide service, provides seasoned pros, rods, flies, waders, and boots for fishing on the Guadalupe River. For those who aren’t quite ready for fly fishing, nature tour float trips are available.
Spelunking – At 180 feet below ground, Natural Bridge Caverns is Texas’ largest show cave with dramatic stalagmites, stalactites, flowstones, chandeliers, and soda straws formed by minerals in water drops. For the bold, a Discovery Adventure Tour delivers an “off trail” experience in an undeveloped section of the cave. Gear is provided but be prepared to get muddy while crawling, wiggling, and climbing to explore deep sections of the cave. For those who’d like a more predictable visit, a walking path tour is available.
Craft Breweries – Due to its German heritage, New Braunfels has a long history of brewing that includes the original New Braunfels Brewing Company built on the banks of the Comal River in 1847 by Julius Rennert. Three exceptional craft breweries include a reborn New Braunfels Brewing Company, Faust Hotel & Brewing Company, and Guadalupe Brewing Company – all of which are on the Craft Beer Trail that winds through Texas Hill Country. To be safe and responsible, book a spot on a trail shuttle bus.
Country Music – Gruene Hall is the place to embrace country music. Lyle Lovett, Hal Ketchum, Lucinda Williams, and many other legends have played at this historic honky-tonk. Built in 1878, it’s the state’s oldest continually operating dance hall and hasn’t changed much since its early days.
RVers can spend the night at Hill Country Cottage & RV Resort.
Although New Harmony is home to just 200-some residents, it’s the ideal place for a New Year’s selfie. Who doesn’t want “new harmony” in 2022?
Plus, its setting is picture perfect since it’s surrounded by the peaks of Pine Valley Mountain and close to some of the best recreational areas in the United States.
Water Hiking – Kanarra Falls, which is approximately 10 miles from New Harmony, is a spectacular adventure trek that requires stamina, agility, and surefootedness and, in return, delivers rushing waterfalls in red rock slot canyons. The canyoneering hike includes walking through and along a stream bed, climbing a 15-foot-ladder, and scaling a large boulder. All the effort is worth it to see a natural water slide and pool and two sets of waterfalls in slot canyons. Advance tickets are required, winter hours are limited, and cold weather gear (including neoprene socks) are a must.
Double Arch Alcove – Located in the Kolob Canyons section of Zion National Park, the Taylor Creek Trail is a five-mile roundtrip hike up a “finger” canyon that leads to Double Arch Alcove. The cave-like formation features a palette of beautifully colored streaks thanks to water that seeps through the porous Navajo sandstone. The trail also includes two historic cabins from the 1903’s before the Kolob area became part of Zion. Kolob Canyons is smaller than Zion Canyon but that also means it’s not as busy.
Rugged Horseback Riding – Experience the beauty of southern Utah on horseback. Book a ride that ranges from 1 ½ hours to six. The pace and scenery of the rides can vary from a demanding ride in the steep and rugged Zion Mountain country to a more leisurely trip through the valley to admire the peaks from below.
RVers can spend the night at Zion River Resort - RV Park & Campground.
Those looking for marine adventures will adore Newport Beach. Take sailing or surfing lessons, rent a paddle board, or simply stroll the beach, it’s all possible at Newport Beach.
Whale Watching – December through April is a prime time to see gray whales as they travel 12,000 miles round trip from the Arctic to the lagoons of Baja California to calve and breed. Humpback, Fin, and Minke whales can be seen year-round, along with dolphin megapods with more than 1,000 in each pod.
Electric Boats & Gondolas – Known as the first and finest electric boat since 1970, Duffy Boats are available to leisurely cruise Newport Harbor and take in the beauty of the coast. For a romantic cruise for two, book a gondola. Options range from a casual pizza cruise to a dinner cruise with a three-course meal.
1919 Ferry – A mere $1.25 secures a one-way ticket for a quick ride on the Balboa Island Ferry. Ferry service was established in 1919 to span the 800 feet between the peninsula and Balboa Island. Island activities include a stroll on Marine Avenue that’s dotted with chic coastal shops and quaint island restaurants. Don’t miss the area’s iconic Frozen Banana treat that’s been a signature for 75 years. In fact, the banana stand in the sitcom Arrested Development was located on Balboa Island.
Tidepools – Visit Crystal Cove State Park and its more than three miles of pristine uninterrupted coastline. During low tide, check out four tidepool viewing areas – Reef Point, Rocky Bight, Pelican Point, and Treasure Cove – to spot bat stars, chestnut cowries, purple sea urchins, and other amazing creatures. The tidepools are Marine Protected Areas so picking up or moving animals is prohibited. The area also includes Crystal Cove Historic District, an enclave of 46 vintage rustic coastal cottages originally built in the 1920s and 1930s nestled around the mouth of Los Trancos Creek. It is one of the last remaining examples of early 20th century Southern California coastal development.
RVers can spend the night at Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina.
Where does Santa Claus go for his post-Christmas vacation?
You're not gonna believe this, but I interviewed Santa Claus. It happened like this: About a month ago I was thinking about how much I dislike traveling around the holidays. Call me Scrooge (who, btw, I did not interview—because he is a fictional character), but I just don't like crowds. If I have my way, I take my family somewhere nice after the holidays. I started thinking about who might be an expert on post-Christmas travel and it hit me: Who works harder at Christmastime—or deserves more of a break afterward—than St. Nick? Getting the interview wasn't easy. Apparently there's no 800 number, no website. Jeez, even the Wikipedia entry offers surprisingly little in the way of factual information. But there are benefits to working for an award-winning magazine and website, and it turns out that Mr. Kringle thoroughly enjoyed our "How Not to Be the Ugly American Overseas" and agreed to give me a few spare minutes. (Also, full disclosure: I reminded him that we are the house that leaves him Nutella-stuffed chocolate chip cookies on Christmas Eve.) Here's my interview. Robert Firpo-Cappiello: Thanks so much for speaking with BT—I know this is your busiest time of year. Santa Claus: You know, that "busiest time of year" malarky is hype. We're fairly streamlined up here at the North Pole. Yeah, years ago we sat around nine months out of the year till the "Dear Santa" letters started arriving, then it was a freakin' goat rodeo to fill the orders of the kids who made "Category: Nice." But these days we're monitoring trends via social media, which allows us to start making toys as early as April. RFC: Jolly Old St. Nicholas is on Twitter? SC: Well, I leave Twitter to the younger folks on staff. I do enjoy Pinterest, though. I repinned BT's "Happiness is a direction, not a place" photo badge. I can def relate. RFC: So, Santa Claus, when does your vacation start? SC: We deliver the last toys of the night out in the Pacific, by the International Dateline, then I turn the sleigh north and head back home. Typically my elves are feeding and watering Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon... RFC: You're a Dylan fan? SC: I like his good stuff, yeah. RFC: Please go on. SC: While the elves are taking care of the crew I'm enjoying a cold seltzer and a plate of pierogies on Christmas morning. RFC: What about Rudolph? SC: Rudolph is a fictional character. You knew that, right? RFC: Yes. Of course. SC: Then I crash for what someone once called a "long winter's nap." RFC: Do you take off for vacation on the 26th? SC: Omigosh, no, I won't go near an airport until after New Year's. RFC: And you're willing to share some post-Christmas vacation ideas with BT readers? SC: Happy to make some suggestions. First off is Walt Disney World—in early January the place is pretty quiet after all the holiday hubbub, and hotel rates are much lower than they are in December. RFC: But I'd think you'd get recognized at Walt Disney World—don't people bother you? SC: Wherever I go, people point and shout, "Hey, it's Santa Claus!". I reply, "Yup, it's me, and my elves tell me you ought to be ashamed of yourself!" And we have a good laugh. RFC: Do you always go to Disney? SC: By no means. In fact, last year Mrs. Claus and I had a wonderful getaway to Laguna Beach, down the coast from Los Angeles. It's always a bargain considering that you can stay right on the beach, take a surfing lesson, get some fresh seafood for dinner. RFC: Surfing lesson? SC: Son, when you've successfully wrangled a team of flying antlered ruminants, hanging ten is cake. RFC: Ruminants? SC: Yes, reindeer have four-chambered stomachs. RFC: Gotcha. Any other ideas? SC: Mexico! We've actually been pleasantly surprised at how affordable the all-inclusive resorts on the Riviera Maya can be. For me, all-inclusive is huge. J'adore not having to reach for my wallet when I'm on vacation. You might say, "I gave at the office." Know what I mean? RFC: Ho, ho, ho. Where else? SC: New Orleans is uncrowded and cheaper before Mardi Gras season heats up. And, of course, the Dominican Republic is a great choice for bargain hunters. Mrs. Claus snapped a shot of me riding a horse on the beach in Punta Cana that's just priceless—beard flapping in the breeze and whatnot. RFC: Would you consider pinning that photo on a BT Pinterest board? SC: Don't hold your breath. RFC: Santa, on behalf of our BT audience, I'd like to thank you for your time and your great January vacation ideas! SC: Keep up the good work, BT!
Everyone knows that New York City is famous for its New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square, but for those looking for something a little more unique and symbolic to ring in 2022, these towns are hosting slightly weird yet totally “on-brand” drops on December 31. MoonPie Drop , Mobile, Alabama Photo by Joseph Brooke / Flickr Creative Commons Mobile’s mantra is “Born to Celebrate,” which makes New Year’s Eve a pretty exciting time around here. At midnight, you can witness a 600-pound electric MoonPie drop from the sky, complete with fireworks and a laser light show. Mobile’s big claim to fame is that it’s home to America’s original Mardi Gras. In the mid-1900s, locals started tossing sticky-sweet (but still-wrapped!) MoonPies from their Mardi Gras floats. Spectators went crazy for them and today an estimated half-million pies get tossed during an average Carnival season. Since Mobile loves a good party – and consumes more MoonPies per capita than anywhere else (including the pies’ hometown of Chattanooga) – its citizens decided to create the world’s largest electric MoonPie to help them usher in each new year. Mushroom Drop, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, which is part of the Brandywine Valley, is known as the “Mushroom Capital of the World” because more than 60% of all the mushrooms in the United States are grown here. Celebrate their nickname – and their favorite crop -- by dropping a 700-pound lighted mushroom on New Year’s Eve during the annual Midnight in the Square event. The mushroom will be raised right before 9 p.m. and the drop will be live-streamed across social media at midnight. Marlin Drop, Orange Beach, Alabama Gulf Shores Reelin' in the New Year at The Wharf The Wharf, a popular dining, shopping and entertainment district in the town of Orange Beach, is hosting Reelin’ in The New Year from 5 p.m. to midnight on December 31. The highlight of this event is the Marlin Drop, a fishy nod to one of the many outdoor activities that draw visitors here year round. It’s free admission for the drop, and the whole family can come and ring in the new year Gulf Coast-style. Apple Drop, Winchester, Virginia To celebrate the arrival of the new year, a 400-pound apple is dropped more than 100 feet during the First Night Winchester event. First Night Winchester has been a tradition in the Northern Shenandoah Valley since 1987. Winchester is known as the “Apple Capital” because it’s the largest apple-producing area in all of Virginia and home to countless apple orchards. Giant Acorn Drop, Raleigh, N.C. Courtesy firstnightraleigh.com Each December 31 a giant copper acorn, the official monument commemorating the bicentennial of “the City of Oaks,” is transported from Raleigh’s Moore Square to the roof of the Civic Center where it’s dropped to celebrate the New Year - First Night Raleigh. Clam Drop, Yarmouth, Maine On December 31, Yarmouth's First Universalist Church lowers a giant clam named Steamer 25 feet from the bell tower. The Clam Drop includes music, cookies and cocoa to stay warm. Giant Potato Drop, Boise, Idaho Courtesy mrfood.com This year will be the 9th annual Idaho Potato Drop in Boise, Idaho. From 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., ring in the new year with food trucks, a beer garden, fireworks, and of course, the potato drop in front of the Idaho State Capitol.
Eight things you didn’t know about Hawaii
For most people on the mainland, a trip to Hawaii feels like an international escape. The environment is different, the scenery is nothing like anywhere else in the states, and the culture is unique. So even though it’s a part of the union, it’s not quite like any other place you know. Speaking of things you know, here are seven interesting facts about Hawaii that you probably didn’t. Courtesy of the Hawaiian Tourism Authority 1. A culture of 'leave no trace' Before traveling to Hawaii, this is one of the most important things to know. Natural elements like plants, animals, stones, and flowers carry spiritual significance in Hawaiian culture and beliefs and require respect. Leaving no trace comes from the idea that people are guests and should not disturb the land. This includes cultural sites like volcanos and temples. Do not take stones and do not touch the wildlife. Touching endangered wildlife is not only extremely disrespectful it’s also illegal. So if you come across a Hawaiian sea turtle basking in the sun, steer clear. 2. Hawaii is the only state with a royal palace The Hawaiian Monarchy formed in 1810 when King Kamehameha united all of the islands under one rule. The kingdom only lasted 80 years when American businesspeople and sugar farmers plotted a coup against Queen Liliuokalani in 1893. The entire kingdom dissolved over the next few years as it became a US territory and eventually the 50th state in the union. Liliuokalani was kept in Iolani Palace under house arrest after attempts to resurrect the Monarch. Iolani Palace, located on Oahu, is the only official palace in the United States that belonged to a royal family. The first two floors are available to tour. The interesting and unique history of the Kingdom provides insight into the darker colonial story in Hawaii. The rules of succession in the Hawaiian Kingdom were quite progressive. The monarch recognized any children and adopted children of the ruling families could be eligible rulers. Centuries later, many Hawaiians could be considered eligible successors. 3. Hawaii is the only state to grow coffee and chocolate commercially It’s the only state that falls within “the coffee belt,” where the warm temperature makes it suitable to grow. A Spaniard colonist planted the first coffee plant in 1817 that failed to take but inspired the Hawaiian Monarchy to pursue it again in 1825. Over the next 50 years, experimental coffee growers explored the different islands, finding Kona the most promising. Kona’s rich volcanic soil nourished the plants, so they thrived in the valley sheltered by volcanoes. While coffee production remained steady, it barely compared to the number of colonial sugar plantations. Over the years, Kona coffee continued to grow, drawing more and more attention for its unique flavor. The secret, they say, is love. Everything made in Hawaii must be done with Aloha. Photo of island chickens provided by Kylie Ruffino 4. You'll see tons of wild chickens Tourists may be surprised by the number of chickens just walking around random parts of the islands (especially Kaui), but locals aren't. In fact, it's kind of a sore subject. The local legend has it that 1992 Hurricane Iniki destroyed much of Kaui's farmland including crops... and chicken coups. The chickens escaped into the wild and no one was able to tell who's chickens belonged to who. Some speculated that the domestic chickens used for farming started breeding with the jungle fowl brought to Hawaii a thousand years ago. National Geographic proved both correct. Their genetic testing showed how the wild chicken population grew so much. It's definitely a shock to walk around market streets and just see chickens, but when you're interacting with locals, it's better to keep your surprise amongst yourselves. It's not a particularly pleasant topic and they hear about it a lot. 5. It has its own language: Pidgin Hawaii is the only state to have two official languages. English and Hawaiian are both recognized but don’t be surprised to hear a third, informal language called Pidgin. Though the language can sound foreign, it comes from the communication between Hawaiians, plantation owners, and international laborers. It’s a mix of English, Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and Portuguese words. You’ll see Pidgin the most among signage and hearing local slang. For example, “We Stay Close” is Pidgin for “Closed.” Any traveler knows that learning local languages can enhance your trip. In Hawaii, learn Pidgin. It’s a culmination of mixing words, cutting words out, or saying things in a different pretense. 6. There are roughly ten million visitors a year When a state’s population is less than 1.5 million people, bringing in 10 million visitors like they did in 2019 is impressive. In 2019, the islands could expect over 200,000 tourists walking around on any given day. Visitor spending was over 17 billion dollars in 2019 and supported 200,000 jobs. While tourism in Hawaii remains down by 60% since COVID, the Hawaiian Tourism Authority last month noted a 1.1% increase in visitors compared to March 2020. The first increase in a year. They also report bringing in some international travelers, including Japan and Canada, but it still doesn’t compare to the millions in past years. Despite the obvious importance of travel for Hawaii’s economy, the disparity between locals and tourists can strain the culture and environment. Hawaiian tourism is hoping to use insights gained by COVID and the ability to control how they open up travel to set more intentional tourist practices. Hawaiian beaches courtesy of the Hawaiian Tourism Authority 7. Hawaii has 14 different climates to explore In fact, they have ten of the world’s 14 climates across the islands. Eight of them exist on the Big Island. The Koppen Climate Classification System, the most accepted method by climatologists, helps categorize the world’s climate zones. It’s kind of crazy to think that so many can be found on an island that is only 4,000 square miles. Many of the ten zones found in Hawaii are tropical climates, including Tropical Continuous Wet Zone, Tropical Monsoon Zone (which is actually quite rare), Tropical Winter-Dry Zone, and Tropical Summer-Dry Zone. Some of the more unusual climate zones in Hawaii are the Periglacial Climate Zone and Desert Climate Zones. The first one describes the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. The temperatures reach below freezing, with a treeless, tundra-like landscape. Some areas near certain beaches qualify as desert zones with hot, year-round temperatures and less than ten inches of rainfall. 8. You can send coconuts in the mail Let me repeat. You can MAIL coconuts. While you can mail them from any post office in Hawaii, a few things need to be noted. You can’t mail a coconut you find on the side of the road or in a supermarket because that interferes with agriculture inspections. Don’t worry, several shops around the island will sell decorated coconuts that are ready to mail. In theory, you can send it anywhere in the US, but Postmasters in Hawaii are more familiar with coconut mail than your average USPS.
Get your history fix in Philadelphia
There is plenty to splurge on in Philadelphia, from rooftop cocktails at the Hotel Monaco to High Tea at the Rittenhouse Hotel. And while hitting up a pricey art museum and then indulging in Vetri Cucina's quattro piatti for dinner is a good time, Philly doesn't have to be expensive - especially if you're a history buff. Luckily, most of Philly's top attractions are easily accessible via public transportation, which is very affordable. One-way subway rides are just $2.50. For just $13, you can get a one-day SEPTA Independence Pass, which allows you to switch between modes of transportation. Then there's the tourist-friendly Philly PLASH bus which stops at the city's main tourist attractions for just $2 per ride or $5 for a day pass. Here is our guide to taking in Philadelphia's history and culture without breaking the bank. Philly's top historical sites Entrance to the Liberty Bell Center is free, and it's open on a first-come, first-serve basis with capacity restrictions in place. While the bell is visible from outside the center, there are benefits to waiting in line to get inside. One side of the hallway is lined with exhibits, and there's also a space for rotating temporary exhibitions. And once inside, you get an unobstructed photo op of this American icon. Independence Hall tickets must be reserved online in advance. They carry a $1 reservation fee, which is less than the cost of a small "wooder" ice anywhere in Philly. Guided tours last 30 minutes and run every 15 minutes, with the last one each day starting at 4:45 PM. Between the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall sits the President's House, an outdoor exhibit that explores the contradiction of freedom and slavery during the founding of the United States. The 24-hour open-air display sits on the former grounds of America's first executive mansion. George Washington and John Adams lived here while James Hoban was constructing the first White House. Beneath the large glass vitrine at the south end of the exhibit, you can see the foundations of the predecessor to The White House. Philly's best history museums under $10 The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall get most of the much-deserved attention when it comes to historic sites in Philly. But both are surrounded by history museums that are affordable and family-friendly. Just a couple blocks east of the Independence Visitor Center, you can tour the Betsy Ross House with an audio guide for under $10. Each tour includes a Q & A with a Besty Ross reenactor dressed in period clothing. For no additional fee, you can find out why she kept the name "Ross" after remarrying twice and learn what George Washington was like to do business with. Before you reach the Betsy Ross House, you'll pass Benjamin Franklin's gravesite, which you can visit between noon and 4 Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $5, but many choose to experience Ben's final resting place by throwing pennies onto his gravestone through the cemetery gates. You are better off saving your $5 and using it to enter the Benjamin Franklin Museum, located just one block south of his final resting place. You'll get much more for your money, including five rooms of exhibits, videos, touchscreen interactives, and hundreds of artifacts. Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Photo by Sean Pavone, iStock Explore America's oldest residential street A couple blocks east of the Betsy Ross house is Elfreth's Alley. This well-preserved, car-free cobblestone street is widely recognized as the oldest continuously inhabited street in the United States. There's a small museum halfway down this short, narrow alley, sandwiched between homes that date back to 1755. The museum is open from noon to 4 Friday through Sunday. Admission is just $3, with an optional audio guide for an additional $3. Even if you cannot stop by during their business hours, you can't leave the City of Brotherly Love without visiting Elfreth's Alley. The Fireman's Hall Museum is located one block north of Elfreth's Alley. This restored 1902 firehouse has various tools of the trade on display, some of which date back to the earliest days of the Philadelphia Fire Department. Reservations are free but must be made in advance, and donations to the fire department are appreciated. Live our your Rocky fantasy for less than the price of a movie ticket Regardless of the time of day or year, the Rocky Statue is a major attraction. You may have to wait in line to get your picture snapped with the world's most famous fictional sports hero, but it's an essential Philly experience! From there, you should climb the 72 steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Some run like young Rocky did, while the rest ascend at a more leisurely pace reminiscent of an aging Rocky in the first Creed movie. Once atop, you can take in the view of Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Logan Square, and the Philly skyline. Get lost in a public market Reading Terminal Market dates back to 1893. Before Philly had the subway system that we know today, the Reading Railroad Company operated the city's main market. Back then, it had 250 specialty vendors and up to 100 farmers on any given day. Today, the National Historic Landmark market operates daily from 8 to 6 with more than 70 vendors. Inside, you'll see (and smell) Philly cheesesteaks, as well as a mix of fresh fish, meat, and cheese. You can also purchase treats sold by Amish vendors from nearby Lancaster County. If you're driving in and plan to explore the area for a couple of hours, it's worth making a $10 purchase at the market. That will get you two-hour validated $5 parking at two of the nearby garages. But it's even more affordable to take the SEPTA Regional Rail to Jefferson Station or the underground MFL to 11th Street ----- SPONSORED BY GEICO Carefully crafted collaboratively between GEICO, Budget Travel, and Lonely Planet. Both parties provided research and curated content to produce this story. We disclose when information isn’t ours.