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The Great Escape: Top Picks for a Special Date

Rachel Morgan

Contributing Writer

Posted June 6, 2016

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You’re tired, overworked, and ready for some time away from the little ones. In other words, you’re in the mood for more than just dinner out. Book a sitter — or better yet, grandparents — and buckle up. We’ve got the perfect thing.

1. Play Mad Men for a night

Try an indulgent meal at Butcher & Singer. Nosh on an artfully-prepared steak and sip a dirty martini while admiring the unmatched Art Deco design. Continue the theme of decadence with some shopping at the neighboring Vince and Intermix, arguably some of Walnut Street’s most high-end destinations. End the evening with a nightcap at a.bar. May we recommend the whiskey punch?

Butcher & Singer, 1500 Walnut St.

Vince, 1701 Walnut St.

Intermix, 1718 Walnut St.

a.bar, 135 S. 18th St.

2. Take a hike

If nature adventuring is more your style, head to Wissahickon Valley Park, an urban oasis just a half-hour’s drive from Center City. Take a leisurely stroll down Forbidden Drive, or if you’re feeling adventurous, lace up your hiking boots and make your way to Devil’s Pool. After you’ve had your fill of the great outdoors, swing by Chestnut Hill for some shopping and the legendary Schmitter from McNally’s Tavern.

Wissahickon Valley Park (enter at Valley Green Road)

McNally’s, 8634 Germantown Ave., Chestnut Hill

3. Road trip: the Iron City

Swallow your preconceived notions of the city’s western neighbor and make a quick weekend getaway to Pittsburgh. Stay in Shadyside at the quaint Inn on Negley. (They have an afternoon tea service!) On Saturday, make a day of touring Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece Fallingwater in neighboring Mill Run, followed by lunch at Out of the Fire Cafe, a cozy, new American eatery with sweeping views of the surrounding countryside. The next morning, channel your inner Warhol with with a boozy brunch at Point Brugge Cafe, then a trip to the Andy Warhol Museum. It is his hometown, you know.

The Inn on Negley, 703 S. Negley Ave., Pittsburgh

Fallingwater, 1491 Mill Run Road, Mill Run

Out of the Fire Cafe, 3784 Pennsylvania 31, Donegal

Point Brugge Cafe, 401 Hastings St., Pittsburgh

Andy Warhol Museum, 117 Sandusky St., Pittsburgh

4. Go underground

Dress to impress and head to El Rey, but don’t plan on eating Mexican. Instead, tell the hostess you want to go downstairs to the well hidden Ranstead Room, a secret speakeasy underneath the kitschy Mexican eatery, with period music, red leather booths, excellent drinks and a romantic atmosphere to match. Even the bartenders dress the part.

El Rey, 2013 Chestnut St.

5. Hunt houses

Grab breakfast and coffee at Le Pain Quotidien in Old City, then meander through the charming streets of the city’s historic district. On any given Saturday, you’ll find a dozen or so open houses. Pretend to be in the market and wander from place to place. Realtors are great hosts. Plus you may even get lucky and come across one of the area’s multimillion-dollar gems. Who hasn’t wanted to take a peek inside?

Le Pain Quotidien, 801 Walnut St.

6. Enjoy summer with an outdoor table

Philly has lots of great al fresco options, but here are three amazing choices:

Sip rosé at a charming marble table at one of Audrey Taichman’s best works, 20 Manning. (It’s even better than her namesake Audrey Claire!) The pork chop garnished with peaches (only available with peaches when they are season, sadly,) is excellent.

20 Manning, 261 S 20th St.

Make reservations to sit outside at Parc. Order the mussels and fries and red wine and eat with the stunning view that is Rittenhouse Square. Afterward, wander through the park. You may even run across its resident painter, a man who recreates lifelike scenes from around the city with stunning detail. Close your eyes and you could just be in the Marais district in Paris. Très romantique!

Parc, 227 S. 18th St.

Try one of South Street’s best-kept secrets, Miles Table. (Just check the hours first, as they can be finicky, especially on Sundays.) Have the short rib fries, then take advantage of your kid-free time and wander down South Street to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s South Street Beer Garden. The vintage vibe, replete with string lights, private lounging areas, Adirondack chairs nestled around fire pits, and custom cocktails, is one of the best of PHS’ best efforts yet.

Miles Table, 1620 South St.

PHS South Street Beer Garden, South and 15th St.

7. Snuggle to sweet music

Really want to make a romantic night of it? Buy tickets to see the soulful crooner Ray LaMontague, who will play June 18 at Festival Pier. If his soulful rendition of Jolene doesn’t put you in the romantic mood, upbeat love ballad You Are the Best Thing certainly will.

For tickets, visit FestivalPierPhilly.com.

8. Get scared

Hold hands while you tour the spooky, (and cold, always cold) halls of Eastern State Penitentiary. Don’t forget to check out the larger than life exhibits in the prison yard, which illustrate incarceration in the U.S. Afterwards, revel in your freedom at Zorba’s Tavern. The atmosphere is almost as good as the the authentic Greek fare.

Eastern State Penitentiary, 2027 Fairmount Ave.

Zorba’s, 2230 Fairmount Ave.

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