Philly Winter Bucket List

Philly Winter Bucket ListHappy first day of Winter! On one hand, I’m glad our days are going to get a bit longer each day, but I know the snow and cold have just begun. I’m an extrovert, but even I have to force myself out of the house to try new things during the winter months. So this year, I’m crossing off items from my own Philly winter bucket list.

Riverrink

The Blue Cross Riverrink on the Delaware River Waterfront is a winter classic for a reason! I wouldn’t say that I’m a good ice skater, but I do’t have to grip the walls when I skate anymore. I almost always end up going to the ice rink on closing weekend, but this year I’m determined to make it there at least twice. They also have cozy cabins and wintery drinks so it’s nice to unwind after all your skating.

Philadelphia Distillery Trail

Breweries are a big deal in Philadelphia, and a fun place to spend weekend afternoons. It’s time to branch out though by visiting a distillery — if you’re feeling ambitious, you can tackle the whole Philly Distillery Trail. I think I’ll start with visiting Red Brick Distillery; I enjoy their whiskey and it’s in my neighborhood. Perfect way to warm up on a winter afternoon. Wine more your thing? Take a day trip to a local winery for a tasting — here are some wine destinations perfect for a winter day.

Restaurant Week

Center City Restaurant Week is coming (January 14-26, 2018, FYI)! East Passayunk also usually hosts their own restaurant week in the late winter. I haven’t picked out which restaurants, but it’s always fun to try new places and new dishes you wouldn’t usually order. Emily at Her Philly has great tips on how to conquer restaurant week too!

Winter Hike

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you have to be inside 24/7. Fresh air is necessary, though I’d suggest saving a winter hike for a sunnier day. I have plans to bring Arya to the Wissahickon this weekend, but my new hiking boots are begging me for a trip to the Poconos. (Don’t forget to check out my pet-friendly list of Airbnbs near the Pocono Mountains.) Prefer exercising indoors? Winter is a great time to try a new fitness class or sign up for Classpass!

Philly Theatre Week

I admittedly did not know this was a thing until LaNeshe told me about it! Philly Theatre Week makes theatre more accessible to the community by having free and discounted events (tickets are no more than $30!).  Tickets go on sale Tuesday, January 16 and the celebration runs February 8 through February 18. You can see the shows available here. (Bonus: lots of options in the suburbs too.)

Let me know what’s on your winter bucket list, whether you’re in Philly or another city!

~ Sarah

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Philly Pick: Monarch Philly

Monarch Philly, NoLibs | Shades of Sarah

Just because the calendar says mid-September (already, somehow), doesn’t mean we have fall weather just yet. I love summer, so I don’t mind — and this means I can enjoy my favorite summer spots for a few more weeks. So for my Philly friends who haven’t checked out Monarch Philly in Northern Liberties, get on that.

Monarch Philly, NoLibs | Shades of Sarah

Monarch Philly, NoLibs | Shades of Sarah

Monarch is part swim club, part beer garden, all swanky (and very Miami-esque). You can buy daily swim passes or a membership, or you can just enjoy food and drinks with the ambiance. I usually stick to light bites — the chicken skewers and pork pot stickers are definitely my favorites. And of course, they pair well with cocktails — try the Saint Monarch for something light and fizzy.

Monarch Philly, NoLibs | Shades of Sarah

Monarch is always Instagram-worthy, but it really comes alive during the weekends. This fall, there’s weekend brunch and football specials Saturdays and Sundays. Watching football poolside with with $25 pitchers of mimosas? Yes please.

~ Sarah

American Ninja Warrior Philadelphia

American Ninja Warrior Philadelphia

One thing I don’t talk about too often on the blog is my guilty pleasures. Well, I use “guilty pleasures” for the lack of a better term, because I honestly don’t feel too guilty about my reality tv habits. One of those shows I can watch for hours and find endlessly fascinating is American Ninja Warrior. The show recently came to Philadelphia and I had the chance to visit the set. It was one of the absolute coolest experiences I’ve ever had — and I didn’t even run the course!

For the uninitiated, this is what American Ninja Warrior is all about:

If you’re wondering, I do not have the type of upper body strength.

The course was at the Richmond Power Plant, in Northeast Philadelphia. This was super awesome, because not only is this between my office and my home, but it is an underrepresented, blue collar area of Philadelphia. It’s cool that Port Richmond was in the spotlight, and it made for an awesome set. I had a chance to ask one of the hosts, Matt Iseman, about what it meant to bring American Ninja Warrior to Philadelphia.

What this show is all about is people being resilient and doing things they didn’t know they could do. So I think that’s why it’s so great to be in the city of Philadelphia, and it’s great being in the Northeast.” Matt Iseman

American Ninja Warrior Philadelphia

I also asked Matt and his fellow co-host, Akbar Gbajabiamila, why everyone should be watching American Ninja Warrior.

This is a show where success isn’t always defined by getting to the end and hitting the buzzer, success is defined by doing better than you ever thought you could…This is a sport where everyone, regardless of your age, regardless of your experience, your ability, you all compete on the same course.” Matt Iseman

I think everybody in life wants to be motivated and I think that’s what American Ninja Warrior does. It motivates people to be a better version of themselves. I think it’s relatable when people are watching American Ninja Warrior, they go, “wow, that’s me.” The stories of people who overcome, maybe it’s depression — and these are real-life issues we go through — cancer, maybe it’s the loss of a loved one, it’s those people, they come out here and compete. Akbar Gbajabiamila

American Ninja Warrior Philadelphia

That’s all well and good, but I was still interested in really meeting someone who was like me. I chatted with Caroline Ramsey, one of the competitors, and it blew my mind. She started weightlifting two years ago, rock climbing a year later, and then producers found her on Instagram and invited her to compete — and that was a month before taping! Insane. When I go to the gym for my monthly visit, I don’t even look at the weights. Caroline talked to me about her fitness journey, and hey, she had humble beginnings too!

I found some online forums where they were talking about women and weightlifting and I rolled the idea in my head for about a year, and finally I just got the courage to do it because I had a friend who had been doing weightlifting for a while. So he showed me the ropes. My tip for women is you just have to do it. It can be really intimidating in the gym, and especially when you’re the only female there, but you just have to find the mindset of confidence and just go in there, even if you’re not lifting a lot, just get started.” Caroline Ramsey

I could definitely relate to this — I was reading blogs for almost a year before I finally signed up for WordPress to start writing. Okay, totally different hobbies, but it’s still an important lesson: you eventually have to put your research into action. Another thing Caroline and I had in common? An appreciation for selfies and sweatproof makeup:

I cannot wait to see the episode later this month! I didn’t stay too late during taping (it was an overnight shoot) but I did see at least one person climb up the ninja wall and wow. Season 8 of American Ninja Warrior is currently airing on NBC Wednesday nights at 8 p.m., and the Philadelphia qualifying round airs June 27th. Thanks again to NBC letting me hang out on the set!

American Ninja Warrior Philadelphia

~ Sarah