Never underestimate how much fun it is to be a tourist in your own town. Even for those of us who were born and raised in the Philadelphia area, it's always nice to find new pockets of the city you've never ventured into, or look at the well-traveled with new eyes.
Irene Levy Baker is the author of 100 Things to Do in Philadelphia Before You Die, a guidebook pointing both out-of-towners and residents to the must-do attractions around our fair burg. Some of the suggestions are old faithfuls ("Run up the Rocky steps"), some are insider tips. Want to get a glimpse of Elfreth's Alley? Hit up the Old City street on Fete Day in June or during Deck the Alley in December.
Baker started gathering string for the book while working at the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau. She was tasked with escorting "jaded" travel writers around town. They had seen some of the greatest cities in the world, and it was her job to wow them with what Philly had to offer. Her go-to? South Street's Magic Gardens (1020 South St., phillymagicgardens.org), where you can walk through artist Isaiah Zagar's gorgeous mosaics.
The book isn't specifically geared toward those who are experiencing Philly for the first time. "I like to call the book 'What should we do this weekend?' People get so bogged down doing laundry or something, but it's a great guide for people to open up a page and have an adventure. Or give it to their children or grandchildren," Baker said, "and tell them to circle things to do together."
Baker is offering a special to readers of this column. Order the book directly from www.100thingstodoinphiladelphia.com, mention this column, and Baker will sign your copy.