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One of the Beautiful Morris Gardens

Morris Arboretum Germantown Pike Philly Review

Morris-butterflies
Many Butterflies at Morris in the Summer

For years en route to Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia I had passed by the University of Pennsylvania’s Morris Arboretum.  I always figured it was just some big park loaded with a bunch of boring trees.  So a few weeks ago during a trip to Cape May, New Jersey I was surprised at how green this beach town was and how little I recognized the names of all those wonderful plants.  Figuring the Morris Arboretum to be my botanical salvation, albeit a boring botanical salvation, I jumped in my car and visited Penn’s Arboretum.  I loved it.  It was way, way, way better than I ever thought it would be.

Arriving at the Parking Lot

There is plenty of parking at the Morris Arboretum but your experience will start much quicker if you are able to park in the limited spaces at the very top of the lot. If not, you’ll park a couple thousand feet further down hill and have to walk up like a Tibetan Sherpa or take the shuttle a few minutes up the winding road to what is essentially the entrance to the whole experience.

The Arboretum

Pretty cool. Your trip pretty much begins at the museum gift shop where you can pick up a map for free, buy some cool stuff (I bought some delicious, locally produced wildflower honey) or grab a snack at the cafe.  From there, you walk a short distance to a really interesting observation deck about 30 feet or so in the air (don’t worry, you don’t have to climb up, you are already that high when you park, you’ll see what I mean) and you more or less get to experience what seems like a giant tree house in the canopy in the trees. Pretty neat and unexpected.

Gorgeous Lake For Swans at Morris
Swan Lake at Morris

From there there are several really neat gardens to walk through with various flowers, herbs and plenty of butterflies. Again really neat (and, trust me, I a totally bad – a$$’d guy so don’t take what I say lightly ;-) and quite educational too.  Most of the trees and plants are identified by placards along the way.

There is a short but sweet greenhouse filled with tropical plants  (more on this here )…. and tropical weather too…. it’s only about a two minute walk through but pretty hot and steamy so if you are prone to heat stroke, you might want to just poke your head in the door.  Actually it wasn’t that bad, I’m sure the dead guy outside was just sunning himself… kidding.  Here’s a picture of the greenhouse

There are miles of paved trails and some wide open spaces that would make for a very nice picnic (only on summer Thursday nights as of the date of this post).  There are also some wonderful little shaded trails that take you back along tiny streams, fountains, and other pleasant nooks and crannies of the park.

On thing that surprised me about the park was how small it seems from the outside but how utterly massive it is on the inside.  The park, if you’ve ever driven by it along Germantown Pike looks big for a suburban Philadelphia park but when you get inside I assure you that you can not see from one end of the park to the other. The rolling hills filled with plant life and paved trails takes up a wonderfully deceptive amount of space that you can really lose yourself in (but without actually getting lost)

The Trains

I never thought I’d like this but I loved it. Not sure if this is a year round exhibit or not but the Morris Arboretum train set is pretty impressive too.  To my surprise, I like it.  They are miniature trains not large enough to ride on but probably slightly bigger than what you would put around the living room.   Each set had a little theme that would take the trains by famous places both locally and around the world.  Check it out. I thought it would be dumb but I enjoyed the whimsical nature of the set up.

Visitor Center at Morris Arboretum
Visitor Center at Morris Arbor

Amenities and Admission

There are public bathrooms, a cafe, gift shop and free parking.  There is admission to the museum $16 for an adult when I went but check out there website below for up to date info.

Penn’s Morris Arboretum website  -  U of P Arboretum Near Norristown 

 

 

 

 

Morris-in-the-trees
At Morris Arboretum You Can Spend Time in the Tree Top Canopy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check Out The Location of the Morris Arboretum below.  Very easy to get to. (If you are still interested in the great outdoors consider reading my review of Valley Forge Park

 

Where is It

 


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Market East Railroad Tracks

Take SEPTA Regional Rail To Philly – Cheap Fast Easy

I live in the Norristown area and absolutely love to take little trips to downtown Philadelphia.  Since I love it so much you would think that I have taken Philly’s mass transit regional rail line, SEPTA, into Philadelphia a thousand times.   No, no, up until recently I never took the ‘ol Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority into Philly or anywhere.

Market East Railroad Tracks
View of Market East Station Rail Lines

Why Not?

Well, I guess I was always a glutton for punishment.  For some reason, for years, I simply drove down the dreaded Schuylkill Expressway ( I 76 ) to get into center city.    If you aren’t familiar with this torcherous piece of macadam you clearly haven’t lived yet.   Traffic is non-stop, stop and go.  You are barreling down the road one minute (or one second might be a better way of stating this) and slamming on your brakes the next.  Most of the road is two lanes of congested, exhaust filled filth that promotes nothing but road rage and demoralization.     I swear I take this road sometimes way late at night and still hit a lot of traffic.

Enjoying a nice drive into town does not apply to Philadelphia, at least not from the west.  Enjoying this road would be the equivalent to enjoying cold brussel sprouts marinaded in spoiled milk or simply a good clubbing.

What Other Reasons Did You Drive Into Town?

Well, honestly, I liked the freedom of being able to come and going into town as I wished without being a slave to a train schedule.  This perceived freedom, as proved to me over years of travelling that God forsaken road, is a myth.  SEPTA regional rail trains even on off peak hours run an hour apart at the latest.   It could take you an hour alone just to get off Schuylkill’s Conshocken curve or to find decent parking in the city (especially if you are new to driving in town).

Why SEPTA?

I hate to sound like an ad for SEPTA. Honestly, I could care less about SEPTA, the train system could be called “Satans Serpent” and I’d still be writing this article (a bit reluctantly, but it wouldn’t stop me from taking the train over that, that, ugh, road).   Anyway, for one thing, SEPTA upgraded all of their trains recently.  They are pretty nice for commuter trains.  This is not the same train as the old El that was one of the most wildest rides from Frankford to Center City. These trains are in pretty good shape and fairly comfortable.

Does The Trip Take Long

Nope. Once on the train, from where I get on,   it takes a half hour tops.  Usually a little less than twenty minutes.

So You Live Near Norristown, Which Station Do You Get On

Well, believe it or not there are two stations in Norristown and I don’t use either of them.  I’m not real comfortable, especially later at night at either of those stops.   If you have any experience with these train stations in Norristown, let me know. We’d love to hear your thoughts.  Plus, from what I understand at least one of these stops, maybe both, aren’t going to be serviced by SEPTA regional rail and instead you’d have to get a shuttle bus to the next stop in Conshohocken.

I actually drive the ten minutes or so to the SEPTA station in Conshohocken.  Parking is free and I like the area.  Plus there is a restaurant or two near by for a quick bite or drink if I get to the stop too early.

Getting on Board

If you’ve never taken the train before, I’ll give you a quick lesson on SEPTA regional rail.  Check out their website and find the destination you want to go to and the arrival time of the train to the stop you are going to get on at.   Time it so that you get there about 10 or 15 minutes early in case the train is running early (which isn’t often but still..)

When the train comes, get on board and wait for a conductor to come by.  He or she will ask you where you are going.  Be sure you know this.  There are a number of stops in Philadelphia.  The two popular center city stops are Market East Station (near the convention center, Chinatown, Old City) and Suburban Station (kind of on the outskirts of Rittenhouse / Center City / Museum / Fairmount but a good stop if headed to Rittenhouse or one of the adjacent areas).

Unless someone is picking you up and bringing you home, get a round trip ticket, not a one-way.  Two one ways cost more than one round trip.

Pay the conductor (exact change is not required, they make change) and enjoy the ride.

 SEPTA Regional Rail Website

Outside Michner Museum

James Michner Art Museum Doylestown

 

Outside Michner Museum
Outside Michner Museum

Have you ever been to the James Michner art museum in downtown Doylestown, Pennsylvania?  I took a drive up from Norristown and visited this museum about 15 years ago and remember liking it but not really being all that impressed at the time.  I couldn’t say there was anything there that made me weep or bow to my knees like I normally do like when I see that cool picture of the dogs playing cards or someone draw a stick figure, now that is art!

Kidding.  Seriously, I was at the Jimbo Michner museum recently and was pretty impressed.  It had a different look and more variety than I remember years ago.

Taking pictures of art at Michner is frowned upon so I took my pictures in a way that do not infringe or dupicate the artists work.  I just want to give you a flavor for the inside of the museum. It is so much better in person :-)

The Look

The James Michner has both an outside gallery of sculptures and an indoor exhibit consisting of paintings, sculptures and furniture.  The look is pretty much everything you’d expect of an art museum though it doesn’t feel monolithic. There are no giant stone walls or Corinthian columns. There are no fifty foot ceilings or a giant flight of stairs into the museum that makes you feel like you are taking some sort of pilgrimage.

Paintings at Michner Museum
One of Several Painting Galleries at Michner

The Feel

This is a cool small to mid-sized museum.  For those of you familiar with local museums it is bigger than say the museum at Ursinus College and the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia but it is way smaller than the Philadelphia Museum of art.  Overall, you can easily spend an hour at this museum taking it all in.  The space is ultra clean and fairly austere. There are no wildly ornate decorations or interior architectural details that would bring the Sistine Chapel to its knees.   The focus here is on the art and there is plenty of room to move around and take in all the works from various angles and distances

The Vibe

This is a quiet place and not crowded at all (I went on a Sunday afternoon)   I’ll bet there weren’t more than ten people in the museum other than me and my eight-hundred friends or so I brought along (I didn’t).   The vibe is very peaceful and somewhat academic at times. There are areas with desks and chairs where I found more often than not,  people sitting down and seriously (as opposed to just half-heartedly leafing through) reading literature on art.

What I liked About This Museum

The Michner Museum’s paintings tend to be rather Impressionist and landscape-ish (you can tell my art vernacular is awesome) in general.

Photograph Gallery at Michner
Michner Photography Gallery

Personally, that is not my thing but to the museum’s credit, they also had a cool photography exhibit, some great furniture pieces,  and a number of works in sculpture (particularly in steel) that I can’t say I loved but was bold and really juxapositioned nicely next to the more conservative pieces.

Some of my favorite paintings there were the William Trego paintings. This guy was basically paralyzed in the hands and still managed some great, detailed civil war battle scenes.

One of the coolest sections was the Nakashima reading room.  This is a very cozy room that feels like a traditional Japanese place of reflection.  You are welcome to sit in the chairs and read or stare out through the big windows leading outside.

What I Thought Could Have been Better

The price of admission was $15 for one adult.  I thought that was a little steep considering I didn’t feel like you got much for your money.  There wasn’t a heck of a lot else going on besides my own self guided tour.  There wasn’t anyone walking around to answer questions, I didn’t notice any guided tours and there wasn’t any movie available as you’d find in many museums (the one section was down for repair)

Overall

Overall the James Michner art museum was pretty cool.  This is a place that I think is better appreciated in the context of its location. Visit the museum and you can spend an hour or two there no problem. Then only a few blocks away is downtown Doylestown where is very small but filled with just about anything you’d want to do after a museum tour.  There are plenty of places to grab a drink, get a good meal, catch a movie, grab a coffee, check out a boutique or buy some books.    If you go to the Michner one afternoon, make a day of it and spend some time in Doylestown.

Sculptures Outside on Michner Grounds
Sculptures Outside Michner Museum

Parking

Plenty of free parking.  Park along the street in front of the museum or park in the lot near the public library next door.

Feeling like el-cheapo?  If you decide to go in town and don’t want to stuff quarters into a meter (when will they take credit card for God’s sake?) or park in a paid lot, leave your car there and walk the three or four blocks into town. You probably keep telling yourself you need the exercise right? Do it!

Amenities

The museum does have a very small cafe that serves light fare, soft drinks and coffee. There is also a decent gift shop.  There is a room where you can hang your coat or saddle so you can walk around unencumbered.

Bathrooms are located on the second floor of the museum but I didn’t check them out so I can’t say if there is a baby changing table or even a plunger for that matter. Have you been in their powder room?  I guess I must have held it in that day.

Very handicapped accessible.  The museum is pretty much confined to one floor and there ramps to get you in.

Location

138 S Pine St, Doylestown, PA 18901.  Basically if you are coming from Norristown, Plymouth Meeting, Ambler etc.  get on 202 North and take it all the way in town. Figure about a half hour, forty minutes. Pretty easy right?  A moron could do that right?  I screwed it up. There are bypasses and a new sort of express 202 that takes you up there that you might find confusing if you are as dumb as I am (which I doubt you are nearly as dumb as I am, or as ugly).  Here’s a map just to play it safe  check it out so you don’t get messed up on your way to the James Michner museum.

That’s it!  Thanks for stopping by my website Things to Do Near Norristown.   I like to kid around but in all seriousness, please come back again, like us on Facebook and pass this note along to your mother because we want you back.  I’ll be updating this site fairly often so stop back when you are stumped for an idea of something to do.  We look to help you figure out what to do for fun in Montgomery County, Chester County, Bucks, Philadelphia … you name it, but especially around Norristown.

Here are a couple other posts you should check out:

How about a free art museum near Norristown  ?? Cool place if you live up near the Collegeville area and have a minute to spare

Do you like art on people.  It’s only once a year but check out the tattoo art at the Philly Tattoo convention.  There is some serious “ink” there

St Patrick’s Day Parade in Conshohocken PA

I live in nearby Norristown and only accidentally stumbled upon the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Conshohocken. This is a surprisingly fun event. People line up along Fayette Street, sometimes about five people deep along the numbered cross streets, and watch the parade go by. There are food and drinks galore at this event and all the restaurants and local watering holes stay open for business.

 

This is an all ages event. Adults and kids will enjoy this event, though, as with any St. Pattys day theme, there is probably more enjoyment for festive grown ups than the ‘well-behaved’ kids.

 

The parade is pretty good and runs very consistent and for a long time. Tons of bag pipes, fire trucks, marching bands, baton twirlers and floats. Not bad for a ‘small down parade’

 

The firehouse (closer to Butler) is opened up as a food and drink garden and proceeds benefit (at least when I went) the firehouse.

 

If you are looking for more of a family atmosphere I’d suggest watching the parade from say 7th, 6th, 5th streets. The further down you get toward the day to day party zone in Conshy (down around Boathouse etc) the crowd is more younger and a tad more rowdy, though nothing to be intimidated by.

 

Parking is free. I didn’t have too much trouble finding street parking back in the neighborhoods.

 

I was able to use the Firehouse indoor rest room and outdoor porta pottys as I needed it so there are plenty of public rest room facilities up in that area.

 

Overall a good, clean family event that also has a bit of an adult edge that grown ups will like

 

The Conshocken St Pattys day parade is typically held around the 2nd or 3rd Saturday in March typically starting around 2:00 in the afternoon. It runs from the high numbered streets on Fayette down through the low numbers. Traffic is closed in these areas. In 2013 it will be held on March 16th. For furture events check the Conshocken website.

tickets for time out for teal

Time Out For Teal Cancer Charity Event In Drexel Hill

tickets for time out for tealWho thought giving to charity could be so much fun?   For quite a few years in a row now I’ve been attending the Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation’s “Time Out For Teal”  This event is open to the public and really is a lot of fun.

 

This event is held once a year so as you read this, bear in mind that some of the info below is subject to change in the following years (but it’s been pretty consistent so far :-)

 

Background

 

 

The Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation is a nonprofit organization that helps organize events to raise money in the fight against ovarian cancer. Sandy Rollman herself was a victim of ovarian cancer.  According to their website http://www.sandyovarian.org/about-us-2/her struggle eventual death inspired her sister, Ariana Way, and her nurse, Robin Cohen, to start raising funds in memory of Sandy and in hopes of preventing other women from suffering from the same disease.

 

This event is special to me as I am a big fan of Sea Isle City, NJ.   Sea Isle is a great, fun shore town with some very wonderful, standout, beloved, people.  One of these people is , Melissa Light Dougherty.  A respected local bar tender in Sea Isle, Melissa survived ovarian cancer and now helps continue the fight for others.  She plays a big part in organizing this event.

 

The Venue

 

Time Out For Teal was held in Anthony’s in Drexel Hill, PA.   Anthony’s has been the regular location for several years now.  It is a big space and a lot of people show up but there is plenty of room for more.

 

Tickets

 

This past year the tickets were $40 and well worth it.

How Worth It?

Very worth it! For $40 bucks you get the satisfaction of giving to a very good charity.  You also get free food (roast beef, pasta, potatoes, vegetables, etc) as well as multiple great bands and DJ constantly pumping out some great tunes.

 

The Atmosphere

 

Anthony’s is fairly upscale looking  banquet / wedding hall  but don’t think mistake Time out for Teal for some pretentious center city ball.  You aren’t standing around here formally dressed waiting in line all night for a drink.  There was no waiting for beverages, the food was hot and served quickly and there is no dress code so come comfortable as you are.   The service was really friendly too.

 

I’d say the event has the feel of a beef and beer but in the comforts of a  really nice establishment.

 

The Crowd

 

Anthony’s is a pretty big place. There was plenty of room for more people (so please come next time) but the event didn’t feel empty.  It was pretty lively with everyone having a good time dancing to the bands, eating good, simple food and enjoying a few drinks (cash bar)

 

I put the majority of those in attendance at around 35-50 in age. This is a largely a crowd of Sea Isle City summer-regulars.  A very friendly, festive bunch who continue to enjoy a good party even though they (we) aren’t in out 20′s anymore.

 

The Entertainment

 

Multiple, reputable, local cover bands rocked the house in two separate rooms.  The music never really stopped. When one band stopped playing, the other would jump right in and keep the music going.

 

A DJ was there as well to fill in with some dance songs in an area designated for dining.   Each room had ample dance floor space.

 

There were also some great raffles and silent auctions.  Sports memoriabilia, 50/50 raffle, basket of cheer, gift certificates, etc.  There seemed to be dozens of prizes available.

 

Where is The Event Held?

 

The last several years this event has been held at Anthony’s in Drexel Hill

 

When is The Event Held?

 

The event date may vary from year to year but typically it is held near the end of February or the beginning of March on Sunday afternoon.

 

How Do I Get to Anthony’s in Drexel Hill?

 

Anthony’s is located 4990 State Road, Drexel Hill, PA   19026

 

If you are familiar with the area, I took Route 1 into Drexel Hill and continued straight on State Road. You’ll see Drexeline shopping center on the right. Pull into the shopping center and drive behind the Superfresh food market. Anthony’s is in the back.


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Thanks for visiting my Things to Do Near Norristown site!  I’m hear to hopefully serve you the best ideas for fun and inexpensive (hopefullly) things to do in the Montgomery County, Chester County, Philly, Chester County areas and more. Please stop back as this site will be updated often.

 

Still looking for more ideas…. how about one up in Lehigh Valley?  This isn’t far from Norristown and the surrounding areas go to a minor league professional baseball game.  Check out the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in Coca Cola Park

IronPigs Manager Over Looking Field

Go To Lehigh Valley IronPigs Phillies Minor AAA Baseball Game

IronPigs Manager Over Looking Field
IronPigs Manager Over Looking Field

It doesn’t matter if you like baseball or not, you’ll still love watching an IronPigs (aka IronPigs as I’ll spell it both ways in this post) baseball game.

 

The Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs are an affiliate baseball team of the Philadelphia Phillies.    Affliate teams of Major League Baseball ( MLB ) teams  are referred to as minor league teams.  MLB teams are of the highest element of talent. Each MLB team has minor league affiliates that range from the most talented AAA ( triple A ) level down to A (single A) level.   Players in the ‘minors’ are working for their respective affilate teams for the opportunity to play professional baseball and hopefully be promoted to the major league.

 

Where Do The IronPigs Play?

 

The Iron Pigs play in a roughly 8,000 seat stadium called Coca Cola Park in Allentown, PA.  It is a great park.  I’m going to say something that might get some boos here but I ask you not to bust on my opinion here until you have actually been to Coca Cola Park.  Ready?  OK, I’ll quote myself “Coca Cola Park is actually as nice if ironpigs-stadium-game-baseball 023not a better park than Citizens Bank Park (where the Phillies play).  I know, I know, strong words but the IronPigs’ stadium is simply gorgeous.  It is clean, easy to get around, the landscaping is gorgeous, and there isn’t a bad seat in the house.  There are also tons of spots to get a drink or a bite.  The park also has a giant screen phanavision-esque screen similar to the ones big league parks have.

 

The staff at Coca Cola park are super nice too.  There’s not an ounce of Philly-attitude when it comes to the employees here. You can tell they really want you to have a good time.

 

OK, But How Good Are The Games ?

 

Iron Pigs players
IronPigs Baseball Players Take the Field

The IronPigs play at the highest level there is in the MiLB (Minor League Baseball league) so the games are of the highest quality you can imagine without seeing a major league team.   The play is snappy, professional and a lot of fun to watch.

 

I Don’t Like Baseball So Should I Still Go To A Game?

 

Yes! The tickets are wicked cheap and so is the cost of parking.  The last time I went you could get into the park easy for about nine bucks a ticket and parking was something like three dollars.

 

The stadium as I mentioned is beautiful and all of the games are of a highly family-oriented production.  There is entertainment, contests, and prizes between every inning.  Each between inning activity is intentionally light hearted and occasionally hilarious.  One thing I took note of was how much the kids love the games. They really get into it.  Plus the IronPigs have two really great mascots, Ferrous and FiFi.

Iron Pigs Mascots
One of The Great Iron Pigs Mascots “Fifi”

Two fun loving Phillie-Phanatic-esque mascots that you just want to run up to and hug.  You’ll love them as much as the children do.

 

They do some oddball stuff too.  I was at one game where they had professional wrestling matches (G rated wrestling matches of course) on the concourse during the game. As if that wasn’t crazy enough, between one of the innings Ferrous and FiFi jumped in the ring and did a tag-team against the pro-wrestlers.

 

What Do The Tickets Cost?

 

Well, I have to be careful to say I can’t promise this will be the same price as when you attend, but tickets on the ground level cost $9 each.  That is a lot cheap than the nine-gazzillion dollars the Phillies hit you with (though I do love my Phillies).  Upper level are about $15 or something like that.  I love the ground seating but since there are only two levels of seating at Coca-Cola park the upper level seats are considered more premium than the lower level.

 

How Do I Buy Tickets?

 

Go to the IronPigs Website  

Parking?

 

Parking is only a few bucks.  Close to the stadium.  If you are getting there right before the game or leaving right after then you might find it hard to get in and out.  There are only two ways in and out of the lot.

 

How To Get To Coca Cola Park

 

 Coca Cola Park isn’t too far off the PA NE extention if you are travelling from Norristown, Lansdale, etc.


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Bottom Line

This is a really fun family event.  All ages will enjoy a visit to Coca Cola Park to see the IronPigs play.  This really is a great product of Philadelphia Phillies Minor League Baseball (MiLB)   The views are great, the ticket prices are reasonable, the baseball is pretty good, the food and drink are plentiful, parking is cheap, and everyone in general seems pretty happy to be at the game.  Oh, and as I mentioned, the staff there are a lot of fun to deal with too.

 

About This Site

 

Hey! Thanks for stopping by my website Things To Do Near Norristown. This isn’t some static website. I post new great things to do near Norristown articles regularly so bookmark us and stop back often.  My goal is to always be able to give you great ideas for the family, a date or a day out with your friends or even a day alone by yourself.  Stuck for a new idea for something to do in the Montgo, Delco, Chesco,Bucks, Philly and nearby surrounding areas?  Visit here and hopefully I’ll have some great idea that you’ll really take a shine too.

 

Here are some other posts that might interest you:

 

Do You Enjoy Art?  There is an Art Museum Near Norristown, check out my review.  This isn’t a place as large as say the Philly art museum but it might be a nice, quick, free way to hang out in the area and pass a little time.

 

How About Some Local Division Ia College Football? Check out my post on this great, low-cost, local sporting event in a pretty nice 12,000-plus seat stadium

Art Museum Building

Free Art Museum in Collegeville PA – Berman at Ursinus

museum of art
Berman Museum

If you live in the Norristown, PA Montgomery County area you don’t have to travel all the way in to Philadelphia or up into New York to see an art exhibit. There are a number of small art museums in the area where you can enjoy the creative works of established artists without all the travel and parking.

I went to one of these museums recently.  The first thing that jumped out at me was the price, free.  I love free.  When I say “free” keep in mind I am not talking about the kind of “free” that the Philadelphia Museum of Art offers.  The Philly Museum of Art claims to be free but you basically have to humble yourself at the admissions desk and refuse payment in exchange for a ticket.  In other words, they take the money first and then let you argue that the museum is in fact free (and it really is, the price of admission is ‘donation’ though I don’t ever remember claiming it on my income tax)

The free art museum I am talking about is the Berman Art Museum.  There is no hassle for money at the admissions desk though there is a visible money donation box that I do suggest you drop a buck into if you visit.

Berman is located right on the campus of Ursinus College in Collegeville, PA and is considered, according to their website, to be one of the best College art museums.  Now, this really isn’t saying much considering it is their website that makes this claim.  I liken it to Wendy’s claiming they have the best Hamburger….. of course they are going to say that.   With that in mind, while this museum is pretty small, it takes itself seriously as an art showcase.  More on that …….

The Outside of The Museum

When you walk up to Ursinus’ Berman Museum you instantly know for sure that you are heading into a Museum of art.  This isn’t just some converted, unused Ursinus-Modern-Artwork-galleries (5)classrooms.  This museum has its own stand-alone building, three floors high with staircases on each side of the building leading into the gallery.  Numerous sculptures adorn the outside entrance patios.  Berman takes itself seriously as a museum.

The Inside

There are three floors. When you enter the museum you will be greeted at the (free) admissions desk on the second floor. As you walk by the admissions desk you’ll be in a comfortable room suitable for study or watching the video screen play videos related to the present exhibit. Note a could not take many pictures as using a camera in the gallery is frowned upon.

Video Lounge
Video Lounge

Just beyond the video room is a gallery that features rotating exhibits.  It is a very high, echoing,  bright room.  It is one of those super quiet, large, museum galleries where you feel like you are making all the noise simply by moving around on the hardwood floor.  The space was so calm and serene that every time I took a step I felt as though I was introducing a volcanic explosion but it in fact was just the floor boards under my delicate tip-toes.

The exhibit I saw was African American art which consisted of a number of weaved baskets and plenty of information explaining the exhibit.  I have to be honest, the only baskets I know anything about are the Longaberger baskets (spelling?) that a friend of mine collects.  Beyond that, I know nothing about basket weaving and realize this isn’t my thing.  If it isn’t yours either, don’t let that stop you from going. The exhibit is very professional, displayed as well as any major museum, and it was neat to see something I normally would not have jumped in my car to see.  Don’t forget there are two other floors also.

Using a short but sweeping spiral stairwell, I went down to the first floor (or perhaps this is the basement floor and I just left the first floor… either way….) and found some paintings and sculptures.  There was one sculpture that reminded me of an impossible combination of the Adam’s Family cousin “It” and a slinky. The other art on this floor was more in the traditional sense of paint and sculpture.

The first floor also features a very bright, sun-lit library area with a book shelf of art literature.  The seats are cozy and you can read all you want while the sunlight is

Library and Reading Room at Ursinus' Berman
Library and Reading Room at Ursinus’ Berman

drawn in through the 8-10 foot high floor to ceiling, wall to wall windows.  It’s a pretty cool space to check out.   I can also imagine Ursinus students studying in this area.

The third floor was bright but much less narrow and airy than the second floor. It was also the third floor also featured a rotating exhibit.  This was a photography exhibit that combined large, color photographs and the very personal stories of several Iraq war veterans.  Very moving accounts of how the war has shaped their emotions.

Overall

This was a nice, short, punchy, free trip.  Something to check out if you live in the area or are passing through with a minute to spare.   You can literally spend 10 minutes in this museum or an hour if you take it all in.   The overall size is comfortable, spacious feeling but not very big in terms of linear distance.  You could walk the whole museum in about 3 minutes if you didn’t want to look at anything.

Accessibility

Berman Museum clearly has thought about making the exhibits accessible to those with mobility handicaps.  This is a very accessible museum to visit.

Ursinus-Modern-Artwork-galleries (6)Parking

Parking is free.  Use the Ursinus Visitor’s lot which is in close proximity to the museum

Facilities

There are bathrooms and a water fountain but that is about it.  Don’t expect a gift shop, baby changing stations or a cafe as this place is too small to warrant one.

Hours, Admission

Here is their website,  admission is free. See website for hours in case they change

Directions to Ursinus Berman Art Museum

From Norristown I took Germantown Pike west all the way into Collegeville and veered onto Main Street.  From this route, I turned into the very first driveway I came to leading into Ursinus College.  You’ll see the visitor lot on the right. Parking is free.

After you park, get out of your car and walk back toward the drive way and you’ll see the Museum sitting there in all its glory (and it is pretty impressive for a small art museum) just to the right.    If I confused you here, I’ll rephrase this way….. when you drive up the driveway you’ll see the visitor parking lot entrance on the right side and ahead another 100 feet to the left you’ll see the museum sitting there like it is the Acropolis or something  (sort of).

If you are really fouled up or coming a different way, here are more detailed maps to help out.


View Larger Map

Thanks so much for stopping by our Things To Do Near Norristown website.  I want to continuously add new posts over the years so eventually this will be a site rich with information on great things to do in the Montgomery County, Delaware County, Philly, Chester County and Bucks County areas.  My goal is to keep you from getting bored and hope you check back from time to time while new info is added.

Want to Check Out Another Museum?  There’s a cool Veterans Museum that represents Vets from All Wars, see my review.

How about tattoo art?  Ever visit the Philadelphia Tattoo Convention ?

Model at Philly Tattoo show

Philly Tattoo Convention – Tats Piercings and More

I have to admit I have no tattoos.  You might say that I’m a rather boring guy who isn’t particularly edgy at all.  There is no ink on my skin, no brandings, no scarifications,no piercings, nor are their giant hoops in my ears, lips or anywhere on my carcass. Maybe that is why for years when I’d see the Philadelphia Tattoo Convention on the news year after year I’d not only be riveted to the screen but I’d feel all down and melancholy like a sorry little lamb for missing it.

 

OK, maybe not that sorry, but I have to admit I’ve always had an affinity for those who willingly to stray from convention and do their own thing.  One of many ways people set themselves apart, besides becoming a Buddhist Monk of course, is to get  tattooed.  Tattoos have been around for thousands of years and look better than ever.  You rarely see the blurry, illegible, green tattoos that your grandfather has anymore.  Now tats are sophisticated and mark a sub culture of people who view their bodies as very personal works of art.

 

The Philadelphia Tattoo convention brings tattoo artists from all over to show off their art, show off their ink, show off their tools and, most of all, show off their ability to tattoo.

 

The Tattoo Convention  held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia PA. I can’t say for sure if this is held every winter or if the show date changes from time to time.  I do know that this is held year after year and I was fortunate enough to attend this year.

 

What The Set Up Is Like

 

The convention was set up in a room that felt pretty big. How big?  Geez, I can’t say for sure. Football field size?  Probably smaller than that but still a pretty big venue.  There are dozens of rows perhaps 100 feet long (more? less?) with booths on both sides. 80% of the booths are tattoo artists working live and displaying the variety of tat art they specialize in.  Most of the booths have someone actively getting a tattoo put onto their body.

 

The giant concrete floor room is very austere looking with high ceilings with exposed heating and air conditioning apparatus.  Perhaps appropriate considering getting a tattoo is a very blue-collar, rugged form of personal expression.

 

What The Crowd Was Like

 

Before attending the Tattoo Convention,  I honestly thought this event would be a crazy display.  I expected loads of people showing off extreme body art.  It really was not that sort of circuls event. There were some folks of course with tats covering the face and body, some with spiked Mohawks, some with plenty of studs drilled into their skulls but I was able to count the number of these peopleTattoos-show-Philadelpha (3) on my fingers.

 

The visitors to the Philadelphia Tattoo at a large population of heavily tattooed people but not to the point where I was shocked.

 

There were plenty of wimpy folks like me there too so at no time did I feel as though someone was going to rough me up, pound me down, berate me or force a Mike Tyson-esque tattoo on my head.  Not at all.  I’m joking about this but my point being, if you feel as though you will be out of place, you won’t be. Broad spectrum of people. All races.  Probably 60-70% male, teen to 50′s) and the rest, I’ll saying being a guy, a rather a attractive tattooed female population of all ages probably up to 40′s.

 

That Isn’t To Say This is a Wimp-Crowd

 

Don’t get me wrong, for every one pansey-looking visitor like me there were two tough looking tattooed guys.  That said, everyone was very nice and courteous even with the crowd swelled.   At one point in the dense mob I came chest to chest with a bunch of guys who probably could audition for Orange County Chopper or Sons of Anarchy.  I immediately made a mental note of how I wish my funeral would turn out, but they were all really friendly, excused themselves etc.  I didn’t suffer one beat-down and everyone seemed pretty happy to be there.

 

How Were The Displays in Each Artists Booth?

 

The displays after a while looked rather redundant.  Ever go to a big rock concert and see those black booths selling the dark and brooding concert jerseys? At first glance this is how the entire event looked.  The fun though, is in the details.  Each booth had someone getting a tattoo in just about every (G to PG rated ) area on their bodies imaginable.  The art displays were fun to look through and the tattoo artists and their staff were all very ready to answer any question in a friendly and engaging manner.

 

What Else Was on Display Besides Besides Tattoos?

 

There were tons of booths that did not focus on doing an actual tattoo on the spot.  Whole booths were filled with tattoo tools and needles.  It was neat to see all of the Tattoo Ink Choicesstyles and some of these tools looked to me to be handmade works of art themselves.

 

Some booths were full of a bizzillion varieties of tattoo ink on display for sale.

 

There were also plenty of artists that specialize in piercings, scarification, branding and just about any way you could stab, pound, cut, twist, gouge and burn your epidermis into a work of art, if that’s your thing that is.  I saw a guy laying on his back and someone jammed this giant rod into it.  I overhead someone say it is Japanese tattooing.  It looked more like Sepuku to me.

 

There were a couple displays that featured hoops of all sizes.  If you ever watched National Geographic, you might recall some tribes that  increase their ear piercings to the point where you could pass a trash can through the ear lobe hole. A Tattoos-show-Philadelpha (16)couple displays had these hoops and it was neat to see the variety of sizes and colors.  I didn’t see someone getting a hoop in their lip or ear or wherever but I’ll be you could have gotten one right there on the spot.

 

There was a rather large area in the corner of the room that featured body painting. There were a dozen women or so (give or take) getting their bodies painted for the event.  I think there was even a contest involved but I didn’t investigate enough.  I was too busy likely drooling over the models. Kidding… sort of….

 

A few booths were dedicated to more traditional art as well. Some paintings, clothing, and sculpture. Not many but enough to add a little variety to the program.

 

So It’s Pretty Clear I Can Get a Tattoo Here Right?

 

Yes, you definitely can get all inked up at the Philadelphia Tattoo Convention for sure.  One observation I made though was that some artists were clearly more popular than others.  It takes sense as some of the artists in the esoteric tattoo world are quite famous. There were a couple celebrities there too. We stopped to chat very briefly with Sarah Miller, a former contestant on the show “Inked” who had her own tattoo booth going as well.

 

My suggestion is that if there is an artist you like, you target them early for an appointment.  I noticed some tat artists telling potential customers, “Hey, I can get you in, in about 4 hours”  Other artists look like they’d take you on the spot.  For the most Tattoos-show-Philadelpha (17)part though, the vast majority of artists were actively tattooing someone as I walked by.

 

What If I  Want a Tat Design That I Personally Created?

 

There was a table near the Convention Center entrance where people were handing in drawings of their own tattoos.  This booth would then scan the drawings in and hand them a template to take to the artist.  If you have that tweedy-bird riding a Harley image you created, they can get you inked no problem if you bring it with you.

 

Overall 

 

Good way to pass an afternoon.  If you like tattoos, you’ll be in heaven here.  If you don’t but want to experience a whole other side, check it out.

 

Where is This Event?

 

It was held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  This is typically a yearly event and subject to date and venue change.

 

Thanks for Visiting Our Website

 

Please check out some other really cool things to do near ( and far ) from Norristown, Pennsylvania.  Here is a great coffee shop with some of the best music in the area.

 

Live in East Norriton and just want an easy picnic or close by playground with the kids?

Playground Picnic Near Arch Road, Mercy Suburban, Dekalb Apts

arch-road-park (3)OK, you live somewhere in the East Norriton, Norristown, Plymouth Meeting areas and the kids are just driving you nuts. I mean seriously nuts and you want to start spanking everyone from four to forty years old you might want to consider why they are acting like UFC fighters in the Octagon. My best guess is that they need to get of the house and do something.  You probably want to get out of the house too but you don’t want to drive far. You want to keep it quick and local.

 

What do you do?  I might have the answer but first….

 

…. let’s look at another scenerio.  The weather is nice and warm.  Sunny perhaps with a gentle breeze.  You are on a budget and don’t want to spend a ton of money but you also want to do something nice with that special person or people in your life.   You are thinking of getting out of the house for a nice meal but you don’t want to be cooped up inside like a political prisoner, nor do you want to put a giant dent in your wallet.

 

What do you do?

 

We’ll there are a lot of different cool, cheap and fun ideas to do near Norristown, PA but for this post lets focust on Old Arch Road Park.   Arch Road park is nestled between two neighborhoods just off Arch road.  If you live Northtowne Shopping Center, Dekalb Apartments, Suburban Mercy Hospital, Cole Manor Elementary School, the formerly Kennedy Kendick High School, Corrpolese Bakery,  Germantown and Arch, etc. etc. you are close to this park.

 

What Can I Do There?

 

OK, if you have the kids and want to get them out of the house before they turn the place into rubble, Old Arch Road Park might be your answer.  For the particularly young ones, there is a decent playground with swings, slides etc where they can occupy their time as children do.

 

If the kids are a little older or if you want some more open space to toss a frisbee, play croquet, set up a lifesize chess board or practice Ninjutsu there is a pretty substantial amount of level, open grass with the occasional tree to plow into (be careful :-)

Arch-road-park (2)If you are looking for a cheap outdoor meal away from home there are a few picnic tables that, honestly, I’ve never seen anyone use.  They are in good shape with plenty of trash cans near by to toss what you don’t want to take home.  I dont remember seeing any grills at this park so you might want to stick with sandwiches and other foods you don’t need  to cook.  If you were considering grilling a nice ostrich or pheasant you are out of luck here.

 

Pet Walking

 

Bring a pet for a walk. Pet dog, cat, cheetah, gorrilla whatever you have as long as it is on a leash. There are pet clean up bags offered in dispensers hanging up in the park (you’ll need more than one bag for the gorrilla my guess is)

 

Jogging

 

Honestly, there isn’t much room to run here. There is only one path that bisects the park between New Hope Street and Old Arch Road. I’d say its about 100 years long. So why did I bring up the jogging?  Because I’m a jerk I guess….. kidding… it is still a decent place for a run.  There are two neighborhoods. One is across from the arch-road-park (4)park on the other side of Old Arch Road (Brownstone Drive) and another next to the park (Megann Circle).  Both neighborhoods more or less run in a loop. You can jog one, cross Arch (be careful, fast traffic), take the park’s path down the other other neighborhood.  It’s a good way for a quick jog with limited traffic.

 

Size of the Park

 

Pretty small but not many people use it so there is usually room. It looks like its about 100 yards long by 100 yards wide, though my distance estimation skills are about equal  that captain when he tried to steer the Titanic around that ice.

 

Parking

 

I love the parking at this park.  Plenty of spaces and a wicked-easy pull in pull out.  You’ll see what I mean when you go.  Ample, free parking.

 

Facilities

 

During my visits to this park I did NOT see any Porta Potties or bathrooms of any kind. This is important to keep in mind.  This park is best accessed by people who live nearby.  If you came across a total I-gotta-go emergency, Northtowne Shopping Center is Nearby and you might be able to access a bathroom in a local restaurant.  I can’t guarantee they’ll let you use their facilities and I can’t guarantee they won’t sell your children into slavery in exchange for relieving yourself but I suspect it will go smoother than that if you ask nicely (maybe).

 

Where is Old Arch Road Park

 

OK, it is located between New Hope Street and Old Arch Road in East Norriton. Parking is on the Arch Road side.  Here is a map to help you out.


View Larger Map

What Else Can you Tell Me About Old Arch Road Park

 

Not a heck of a lot actually.  Keep in mind that while you won’t likely be carded, these parks are generally for the residents of the township.  There are homes all around the park so be courteous of their peace and privacy. There are ample trash cans to discard any waste.

 

This is a nice little park for people who live close by and just want to kill a couple hours.

 

What Other Cool Things Can We Do In The Area?

 

Well, this site has quite a few ideas.   If you are looking for a unique, inexpensive Asian meal, check out my post that reviews Pho Thai restaurant in East Norriton

 

If you don’t mind driving 20 minutes or so there are some cool places to check out some original music.  My review of one coffeeshop in Phoenixville has some of the best bands any cafe has to offer. Check it out.

 

Please stop back and read more articles here on Things to Do Near Norristown from time to time.  It was great to have you stop by.  I will add new posts continuously so be sure to bookmark this site or share on Facebook or just remember it with your awesome memory  (or, as I suggested, just bookmark it or share it ;-)

 

Thanks again! We would really love it if you came back often.

 

Steel City – Great Vibe and Live Music In Phoenixville

Sitting in a cozy couch watching from side of stage
Sitting in a cozy couch watching from side of stage

Finding bands covering popular radio top 40 songs is pretty easy to do these days.  Go to any popular nightclub that is open late and you’ll be certain to find the typical bands playing the local circuit of clubs.  Finding local live cover bands in the Montgo, Delco, Chestco, Philly area is as easy as finding as finding a clothes hanger in a Kohls department store.

 

What if you want to find some original music that doesn’t sound like what is blared on the radio all day?  What if you want to find eccelectic music that involves a little artistic license?   There are a number of places in the area that caters to this creativity.   The one we’ll focus on in this post is Steel City Coffeehouse in Phoenixville.

 

Steel City is a coffee house that sits across from Molly McGuires in Phoenixville, PA.  Steel City serves the usual varieties of coffee, snacks and music. Pretty much the same old stuff right? Wrong!  Steel City has great original music, a variety of fun foods to eat and they serve only organic certified coffee from an artisan roaster. The inside of the place is pretty cool too.

 

If you like the indie, folk, soul, world, songwriter, fusion rock/jazz/blues, etc. this venue is for you.  Steel City brings in a variety of acts that keeps the music varied and interesting.  One time I was in Steel City during the Phoenixville Firebird festival (check out my review here of this crazy event) and the band played what I figure was Indian music complete with three belly dancers.  That is the sort of entertainment you may experience during a visit to Steel City.

 

Tickets for the shows at Steel City run from somewhere around $12 to say $40

Inside Steel City
Inside Steel City

depending on who is playing, when you buy your ticket, and how you want to be seated (the Firebird Festival event was free).  Tickets purchased in advance typically cost less than tickets bought at the door.  Tickets that get your reserve seating cost a bit more than at the door and at the highest price level you can get a table with an entree served.

 

Food is pretty basic and fun here. French bread pizza, mac & cheese, salads, sandwiches, all of different varieties and some catchy names.  They also serve teas, juices, etc and even some cold drinks like shakes and root beer floats.  They also have a dessert menu as well.

 

Steel City is long and narrow with high ceilings. Not exactly Sistine Chapel high ceilings, unless the Vatican has seriously redecorated but fairly high tiled ceiling with deep, rich colored walls adorned with art for sale from what I presume are local artists.  At each end of the cafe there are cozy couches and in between are wood, restaurant style chairs with small square dinner tables and small, round cocktail tables.

 

The area behind the stage is a really interesting. I guess you would call it graffiti art

Right in front of band. Notice cool hanging lights and unique design in back
Right in front of band. Notice cool hanging lights and unique design in back

but it looks very tactful and well placed (see pictures).  The stage itself is an excellent size for a coffee shop. Typically I’m used to coffee houses excusing customers as they slide tables out of the way to make space on the floor for a ‘stage’ but Steel City Really has one and it is a decent size. When I was there there were four or five band members plus three belly dancers comfortably performing on stage.

 

Overall, I’d say the place has a bit of a hipster feel, which is just perfect for this type of venue, though the crowd is diverse.  The patrons seem to be the tolerant type that really appreciates original, eclectic music along with a good cup of Joe and nothing else really matters.

 

Steel City Website

 

If you want to check the band schedule or learn a bit more about Steel City, here is the Steel City Coffeehouse web site

 

Where is Steel City?

 

Steel City is Located on Bridge Street in Phoenixville Pennsylvania.  Basically take Egypt Road all the way out to Bridge and make a left.  Here are the directions.

Overall, I really like Steel City.  Steel City’s home, the town of Phoenixville is a fun place to visit as well. Great events and a nice vibe.

 

Please visit this site more often! We’d love to have you stop by.  I created Things to Do Near Norristown with the hopes of giving people some great ideas for things to do when they have no idea what they want to do.  Many of the activities, places and events are located in the Norristown area but there are other things to do a bit further away, but not too far, that make for a nice trip in the Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware counties and a whole lot more.  We’ll add new posts with fun ideas regularly so be sure to bookmark or simply remember it (for those of you with the Einstein type brains)

 

Other Ideas For Something to Do Near Norristown

 

Wolves used to be an animal native to Pennsylvania.  Over the course of hundreds of years they were driven out of PA never to be seen in this area again…. or are they?   I went to a park in Royersford where I saw wolves and a whole lot of other cool animals for freeBe sure to check out this post and let us know what you think of this place. It was a cool and unexpected good trip.

 

I wouldn’t go out of your way to visit this town, personally I think Phoenixville is the more fun of the two, but if you want to get on the bandwagon early, this town is an up and coming town. If you are looking to visit a cool town that isn’t quite cool yet but will be, check out my post. You might not want to plan your whole day around this place but if you are in the area there might be something here for you to do.

Photo of Inside Steel City
Photo of Inside Steel City