Category Archives: Spring

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.

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 ?

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

Good Thai Vietnamese Food in East Norriton Near Norristown

Thai Vietamese SoupI’m usually the first one to admit that I’m not an expert food critic by any means. When I started my “Things to Do Near Norristown” website I had decided that if was do food reviews, I’d probably stick with only places that really had something a little extra to offer.

 

I was asked on a date not too long ago and we went to a great little Vietnamese place in East Norriton.  East Norriton as you may know borders Norristown Borough and is also super close to Blue Bell, Collegeville, Plymouth Meeting to name a couple of places.  My date had suggested this place and since I was starving both for food and, sadly, some attention staring over a pair of chopsticks, I gladly accepted.

 

We went to a place called Pho Thai Nam.  I had driven by this place before. It is tucked away in a strip mall set back about 100 yards from Germantown Pike.  I really thought this place would be just another tiny, austere, linoleum-looking Asian take out place where you were handed a bag of food lined with bags of mustard, soy sauce and fortune cookies.  Boy was I wrong. Really wrong.

 

When we walked into Pho Thai Nam I found it spacious and adequately decorated in what I presume is Vietnamese or Thai style.  The decor was tackful (not tacky) and pleasant.

 

We were immediately seated.  Initially, I thought I could fool my date into thinking I was a culinary expert (which I am when I dine at Lou’s Zeps in Norristown by the way, or Kentucky Fried Chicken) but I soon realized she had me completely out-classed and I gladly surrendered the menu over to her.  She perused the menu and immediately knew what she wanted and with complete faith I decided to select the same thing.

 

We both got the Pho Ga Chicken Pho soup with crispy sprouts on the side. It is basically a large bowl of beef noodle soup topped with tender chicken breast.  When it was delivered there was a huge pile of crispy bean spouts, jalapenos, basil and limes on the side.  You basically add as much of this pile of sides as you want to the broth of your soup.  There is also a zesty brown-black sauce and a hot orange-red sauce (did they actually call it ‘poison’) on the side too to add for taste.

 

So how was Pho Thai Nam you wonder?  It was AWESOME. It was truly great and, believe it or not, it was filling.  I can eat with some of the best championship eaters in the country and this bowl of Pho Ga Chicken soup had me full.  Even better yet, each bowl, which keep in mind is a meal in itself, was only  $8.95 .  Even better yet, she (my date) paid for the dinner.   I needed the pampering so I gladly accepted

 

I finished the meal with Vietnamese style coffee. If you like coffee, I highly recommend it.  Highly, highly recommend it.  Basically you get a thick, dark, super strong coffee poured over a separate and very visible layer of condensed milk.  There is also hot water provided on the side.  There is a reservoir on top of the coffee cup where you can add water that will filter down and ‘cut’ the strength of the coffee to your taste.  It kind of works like an espresso pitcher if you have ever used one. (Here’s an espresso pitcher lesson but it isn’t exactly what you’ll see at this Thailand / Vietnam establishment)

 

Overall, the restaurant was much bigger than it looked from the outside.  It was quite spacious feeling, yet fairly intimate.

 

The staff was extremely friendly, quick to serve, and helpful.

 

The price was extremely right. Very inexpensive. Great first (or second) date place if that someone special enjoys cuisine from Thailand and Vietnam.  Nice place to take someone yet it lacks pretention and is quite comfortable.  By the way, this would be a great place to eat alone in as well. Seriously, I am serious. Get that table for one, which reminds me…….

 

OK, I’m sure some of you, like the more gossipy types, are wondering how the date went.  It went great at first then spiralled into total disaster. I’m not kidding. I’m a real good guy but I just couldn’t do anything right around this woman.  She seemed really great too. A wonderful person.  I couldn’t figure out if it was because I enjoyed eating my Pho Ga Chicken Pho soup with my feet or if I just acted rude at some point.

 

It didn’t help either that she also had an almost Gandhi-like passion against television violence.  In an act of clearly misguided judgement, I sent her a short movie about a date that ends with a terrible car accident.  (look up ‘Spider on You Tube with Nash Edgerton’, I won’t link it since this is not an R rated site… which this vid definitely is R rated (adult theme, violence)  That too might have contributed to my epic date-fail

 

Here’s a less graphic video that is part of one of my  Things to Do Near Norristown articles. I’m glad I didn’t send this to her either, though the battle is clearly a reenactment.  It is embedded in a post I wrote reviewing the annual reenactment of the Battle of Germantown

 

So Wait! Aren’t You Getting Ahead of Yourself?  Where The Heck is Pho Thai Nam??!!

 

Oh! Sorry, geez.  Ok, if you live in East Norriton or close by, jump on Germantown Pike as if you are heading toward the Bowling alley or the LA Fitness. Don’t go into the LA Fitness parking lot though or you’ll have to walk a few hundred yards and cross traffic barrelling down Germantown Pike.  Instead, pull into the shopping center across the street that is somewhat adjacent to the funeral home and behind the old Friendly’s. Pho Thai Nam restaurant is on the western end  of this strip mall (facing the strip mall it is almost on the left most side).  If you were sitting across the street at Panera, you could probably see it if you were using a Hubble telescope for your contact lenses.

 

If that makes no sense to you then just find Pho Thai Nam below.  It really is good Thai Vietnamese food in East Norriton that, of course, is near Norristown.

Thanks for visitng this post.  Please check out some of my other articles on this site. I am constantly adding new material so hopefully you will keep checking back.  I hope to give you some cool ideas on fun stuff to do in the area.  Here’s a couple other suggestions….

 

If you want to walk off the meal at Pho Thai Nam, I’ve got just the place up the road.  Visit the Norristown Farm park. You won’t even need your trail boots as most of the trails are paved. Click here about visiting Norristown’s Farm Park

 

If you want to try another cool small downtown in the area, check out my Chestnut Hill post on the Harry Potter Festival.  It might not be festival time but Chestnut Hill is a nice area to visit when you are looking for something to do.

 

Pa Veterans Museum in Delaware County WWI, WWII Vietnam and More

If you’ve svet-museum (1)trolled the streets of downtown Media  you might have walked by the PA Veterans Museum a dozen times and never noticed it.   Downtown Media is full of wonderful distractions. There are great places to eat, grab a drink, see a play, listen to music, shop or just walk around and do a little people watching.  With all this fun stuff, it would be easy to walk by the Pennsylvania Veterans museum and never realize how interesting this place is.

 

What Is This Museum All About?

The PA Veterans Museum honors military veterans of all U.S. wars.  Men and women who served during Civil War, World War One, World War Two, Korea, Vietnam, virtually all US involved wars are all honored through various exhibits and educational media.

 

What is The PA Veterans Museum (PAVM) Like?

 

This museum is perfectly situated in the happening, downtown strip of State Street in Media PA.  This is not a large monolithic, metropolitan museum. This is a place where you can spend anywhere from say 15 minutes to and hour or so, then walk out onto State Street to enjoy all the other activities while discussing what a good time you had checking out the exhibits.  Of course, if you hate the exhibits, that will give you something to talk about as well. You see? It’s a win-win.   Enjoy yourself at thisVeteran-museum-delaware-county museum and you’ll have plenty of fodder to keep your future conversations wonderful and stimulating. People will love you and worship your feet.   Hate this event to the point where you walk out in disgust, you’ll also have plenty to talk about.  People will take notice of how angry and passionate you are. They’ll admire you the way Romans admired Caligula (he didn’t live long by the way).  So either way, you’ll leave a more interesting person then when you came.

 

Kidding, sort of, but seriously the more you get out and do things, the more interesting the world becomes, so get out there and do some fun stuff.

 

The PAVM exhibit area is pretty small.  You could walk from end of the museum space to the other in about a minute.  There are plenty of exhibits though to keep you occupied.  If you are in a hurry, you could get through this museum in about 10 to 15 minutes and still enjoy yourself.  If you want to take your time you could spend an hour or so and really take in all the information.  You could spend a few hours here if you’d like, but if that’s the case, chances are you either walk really slow (like iceberg slow) or you have a severe reading disability. C’mon, ‘a few hours’… It’s not that big.

 

The atmosphere inside is dark and shadowy.  Displays representing specific wars and events have their own lighting that spotlight each individual exhibit.  This combination of atmosphic darkness and light was a great idea.  It makes the space look bigger and it helps visitors focus on the exhibit rather than feeling like they are being watched by the staff the whole time.  Most exhibits even have a speaker above them designed so that when stand in a certain spot, only you can hear the exhibit and no one else. Great idea.

 

The staff is quite helpful.  One guy, a veteran I presume, walked with me most of the time and explained each exhibit. Since I really felt like checking out PAVM by myself, and I couldn’t get away from him, I came within inches of getting a restraining order on this guy.   I wasn’t sure whether to listen to him or pull out one of those old carbines and tell him to back off.   Ha! Actually, they were great and very knowlegeable.  It was fun hearing an old military veteran adding his knowledge to my experience here.  Keep in mind while you are here, they will want to give you a personal guided tour. It’s like they guide on commission or something. Take them up on it if you want to really delve into this place.

 

The exhibits consist of uniforms from various wars from all branches of the military. There are old weapons and ammunition on display. There are plenty of pictures to look at and plenty of captions to read.  The museum also has a short 10 minute or so movie that runs continously so be sure to check that out as well.

 

Planning Your Visit

 

It is worth while to plan your museum visit in conjunction with a nice afternoon or early evening in Media.   Tour State Street for food, entertainment, drinks, shopping, etc in addition to visiting the Pennsylvania Veterans Museum.Veterans-Museum-Media

 

The museum is open Thursday Thru Sunday from noon to 5:00

 

The cool part about this trip is that the museum is free. Yep, no charge, no cost, no moolah needed to tour it.  It’s all non-gratis if you know what I mean (free). That said, they do take donations so consider a donation but it isn’t mandatory and they won’t turn you into a POW if you fail to leave a small charitable tip.

 

Don’t take my word for it though. Things change like hours, admission and whether they will enslave your children or not. Check out the museum website before your visit to be sure that what I’m saying above still matches up with their current policy.

 

Where is The Museum?

 

The museum is located:

12 East State Street, Media PA, 19063

 

Thanks for stopping by my Things to Do Near Norristown site!  I definitely add articles on a regular basis so keep coming back.  Right now you might not be seeing something you like to do in the region of Philadelphia, Chester, Bucks, Delaware and Montgomery Counties but come tomorrow or next week there certainly might be a post added that will interest you.

 

 

Thanks for reading this “Pa Veterans Museum in Delawayre County WWI, WWII  Vietnam and More” post.  If you have suddenly found yourself with an itch for more military history and you live in the Norristown area, certainly the Norristown library (click here for my review) will have more, free and comprehensive information.

veterans-museum-delco

The library is not your thing? Why not check out a real, live Revolutionary War battle reenactment?  The reenactment of the Battle of Germantown (click here for my review) is great fun and a cool way to enjoy history in dramatic fashion.  You’ll hear the sound of muskets, see men and women dressed up in Revolutionary War period clothing and a very cool assault on the Cliveden House which I also did an article about and would love it if you read it :-)

Thanks again and stop back please!

Boat Launch and Fishing in Norristown, PA – Riverfront Park

Access to Schuykill in Montgo
Riverfront Park in Norristown

It goes without saying (even though I’ll say it fatuously here) that there are plenty of bodies of water in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. There are ponds, rivers, streams and lakes. The problem with these rippling pools of H20 is that  not all of them are 100% accessible to fish from land.  Much of the land you’d cast from is on private property or simply in accessible on foot.  Sometimes it takes a little research and exploration to find a place to bring your rod, reel and tackle along for a day of angling.

 

When I drive down route 202 (Dekalb Pike) from the East Norriton toward King of Prussia for example, you’ll cross over a large swath of the Schuylkill River.  This big body of water means lots of places to fish or put a boat in right?   Nope.  Many access points are blocked by private residence, commercial property, no trespassing signs or are just plain hard to get to.  Slowly but surely though, I am finding some places to drop your line in the water and maybe even put a boat in too.

 

Water front View in Norristown
Waterfront View in Norristown

If you live in Norristown and don’t feel like driving far distances to fish or launch your boat, I have a place for you to check out.   It has ample parking, seating to observe the river, a boat launch to get your watercraft in the water and plenty of area to cast that fishing line.  This place is Riverfront Park.

 

The Look

 

Riverfront Park is very narrow.  It is wedged between a dense Norristown neighborhood / industrial site and the Schuylkill River. I’m not a great judge of distance but I’d be surprised if it is more than a 100 feet wide from the neighborhood to the river.  Don’t let me give you the impression that you are fishing or boating in someone’s back yard though.. There is some privacy for residents and park goers alike. You can’t see the houses and they can’t see you.  There is basically a giant natural and man made barrier and land elevation that separates the residents from the park goers.

 

The surroundings are fairly woody but a bit run down looking.  This is park backs straight up to a part of Norritown that is both residential and industrial. This has a more of an gritter, urban feel to it than say a Green Lane or Evansburg park.

 

The surface of Riverfront Park in Norristown is largely the road surface and parking lot.  Between the parking lot and the water is probably another 15 feet of grass and dirt beach with trees lined about 20 feet apart or so along the river. Behind you (if you are looking at the Schuylkill) is more dense shrub, trees, debris along a 20 foot or so high elevation with a neighborhood just beyond.

 

Parking

 

There is plenty of parking and the parking is close to the river so if you intention is to be beside the water (which is about all you can do here), you’ll be up close as soon as you park.  Parking is free.

 

The Boat Launch

 

The Boat Launch Norristown's Riverfront Park
The Boat Launch Norristown’s Riverfront Park

I’ve never put a boat in the water at Norristown’s Riverfront Park but there is definitely a boat launch here.  I don’t see any indication that there are any launch fees so I presume putting any sort of water craft into the water, including using the boat launch is free of charge  (though use at your own risk I’m sure)

 

The Fishing

 

As usual, you’ll need to follow all PA fishing license laws and regulations when fishing at Riverfront Park.  Keep an eye out for any postings but local law enforcement or Montgomery County Park officials for additional rules that pertain to this park.

 

There is ample room to cast out your line and not get snagged on trees and bushes.  Not that getting caught up  is impossible, but there is a descent amount of space between tree trunks and overhanging foliage to keep yourself clear if you are paying attention.

A Nice View By The Schuylkill
A Nice View By The Schuylkill

 

This part of the river is largely known for a variety of fish but it seems to me catfish are what is most often caught around here.

 

Other Park Amenities at Riverfront Park in Norristown

 

There are metal park benches set up for you to sit and watch the water go by.  There is also a biking and hiking trail access point.  Beyond that, there isn’t much else to do at this park other than get yourself access to the water.  I did not see any playground, picnic tables, grills, rest rooms, etc.

 

What did I Think?

 

River-front-park-fishingWell, if you are looking for a boat launch and fishing in Norristown, PA this is one place right in the heart of town you can find it.  I admit that this is probably a place that local and area residents, like me, would be more apt to use. People travelling longer distances probably would choose a more scenic and popular location.   The park is situated behind some old industrial buildings so it isn’t the most beautiful of parks.  It is also fairly narrow in size so it does feel a tad claustrophobic.  To be honest, I could see this park in an episode of a gritty TV show (Sons of Anarchy anyone ? ;-) where some clandestine meeting takes place.   If you feel nervous, take a group of friends or a fishing rod that looks suspiciously like a club (kidding… sort of). Norristown was ranked 59th most dangerous city give or take.  That said, I was glad to have found the boat ramp.  You could definitely back a trailer down the launch to get your boat in for freshwater fishing or just a nice ride down the river.

 

Where  is Riverfront Park?

 

If you are coming down 202 / Dekalb Pike from say the Montgomeryville, Blue Bell, East Norriton area drive almost all the way through Norristown until you reach Main Street and then turn right on Main.   Take Main a short distance to Haw and make a left on Haws.  As you dead end on Haw you’ll see the road split in two.   If you want to be arrested, fined or beaten by hikers or bicyclists, drive your car up the right side of the road.  Kidding…. don’t do it!  The right side is to access the bike path and cars are not allowed.  Do not go up the right lane or people will hate you ;-) You’ll wind up squashing someone or getting your car stuck.   Instead, drive down the left lane. The left lane is a road goes down under an overpass and leads directly to the park. It looks a little confusing when you first do it. Just remember to bear left and go under the over pass if you are taking your car….. or else :-)

Here’s a Map. Last time I checked the arrow / marker on this map pointing to the park is a little off.  Make sure you go all the way down into the “L” of Haws or put another way, all the way to the end of Haws.

 


View Larger Map

Thanks for stopping this website! Things to Do Near Norristown is a site intended to give you some great ideas when you’ve run out of ideas.  Bookmark this site or keep checking back.  I’ll be updating with new posts for some great fun in the area.

 

Another Things to Do in the Norristown / Montgo Region

 

If Riverfront Park doesn’t sound like your cup of tea there are other parks in the area with more creature comforts like picnic tables, grills, restroon, and a great nature center where you can see tons of animals for free.  Check out my post on this terrific nature center and fishing spot in the area.

 

 

See Turkey Wolf Fox Owl and More in Royersford, PA

If you have never seen a live Wolf in Pennsylvania, you can see one safely and up close in Royersford, PA in Montgomery County. You can also see foxes, live turkey as well as a slew of other animals for free in Royersford.  “Where?” do I hear you say? At Upper Schuylkill Valley Park.   I’ve been living in the Norristown, PA area for a while and never realized Upper Schuylkill Valley Park is only at 20 minute drive away.   It isn’t easy to see Upper Schuylkill Park while barrelling along in a car.  From the road, the park just looks like a big, old barn but it is much more than just that…..

 

The Park

 

There are two driveways into the park. One is called the “Park Entrance” and the other is the “Nature Center Entrance.”  If you take the “Park Entrance” you’ll be led down a long narrow driveway that ends in a large parking lot. The lot is in the back of the park and is very close to the Schuylkill river.

 

The view here is very pleasant.  The current of the Schuylkill River slowly runs the length of the park. Trees line both sides of the water providing shade to anyone sitting in the numerous picnic tables, grilling on the many grills or fishing along the grassy beach.  You are far enough from the noisy road to enjoy the quiet of the outdoors (providing your kids aren’t crawling all over you :-) and forget for a moment there is a bustling metropolis not too far away.

If you are a serious hiker or outdoorsman, this park probably won’t have what you are looking for unless your activity includes the Heritage Trail, The Heritage Trail runs through is frequented by bicyclists and hikers. This trail runs through multiple towns and is only a tiny portion of this park.

 

The terrain  of the park is flat, mowed grass and scenic tree lines.  There is nothing hard-core about this place but it is immensely pleasant and wonderful for a leisurely day of picnicking, fishing and relaxation.   Upper-Schuylkill-Park-Nature-Center (3)Don’t bring your pets though unless it is a service animal. More on this later.

The Nature Center / Animal Exhibit

 

The Upper Schuylkill Valley Park nature center really was a surprise to me.  I had little expectations and wound up completely enjoying my time.  In addition to the scenic river and park picnic amenities, there is a fairly extensive, and free, nature center.   I felt like I was at a miniature Elmwood Park Zoo (my review of Elmwood Park Zoo here) only this trip cost me nothing to get in.   The nature center is between the barn and the river and is a cool place where you can walk right beside turkeys, a burro, a couple of big red foxes, goats, and, believe it or not, a couple of wolves.

 

Wolf in Upper Schulkill Park
One of Two Wolves in Royersford, PA

Wolves?! Don’t worry, you aren’t going to get mauled like meat in a blender.  All of these animals are behind fences and cages but you can get pretty close to them.The wolves were donated as pups by the New York zoo.  It was interesting to see a wolf up close. For their own comfort I kind of wished they were in a bigger cage but it wasn’t exactly a kennel either. They have space to walk or jog (for lack of a better word ) around  and it appears that the Montgomery County Park service makes significant efforts to keep the animals comfortable and in as natural environment as possible given the resources they have.

 

The Nature Center Barn and Hawk Area

 

When you get up around the ‘barn’ area you’ll find an array of aUpper-Schuylkill-Park-Nature-Center (17)nimals all indigenous to Pennsylvania.  All kinds of cool birds to look at. Vultures, owls, red tail hawks, a bald eagle and pheasants.  Some where even gorging on what looked like some sort of meaty carcass that the staff put in the cage.  It was strange to see a pheasant with such blood lust.

 

Kidding…. the pheasant was pretty much eating seeds. They don’t eat meat but the vultures do  were eating carcass of some sort. Pretty cool and not as horrible sounding as you might think.

One cool bird they have is a crow that says “Hello.”  I know what you are thinking that this guy has gone off his rocker but seriously it said hello to me.  Very strange.  Then I read the sign on the cage and they mentioned that this bird does imitate sounds of other birds and can even make a sound very similar to a human “Hello.”  It made me jump up and take notice.

 

How to Prepare for This Trip

 

OK, remember that no pets are allowed.  No pets.  If you are thinking of bringing your pet dog, cat, iguana, giraffe or whatever to Upper Schuylkill Valley Park, don’t do it.  They disturb the animals on exhibit. Of course if you have a service animal for a handicap of some sort, they are welcome but I’d suggest contacting the park first in case they need to make some sort of accomodation.

99.9% of the exhibit is outdoors so dress accordingly.  I suggest going when the forecast is favorable.   Parking

 

If you want to check out the river and picnic / fishing area in the bak, take the “Park Entrance” driveway.  If your focus is the animals only, I’d suggest parking in the nature center lot which is just past (or just before depending on which way you are coming) the park entrance.  Both lots can only be accessed from route 113

Getting There

This guy was very curious and friendly
This guy was very curious and friendly

 

From Norristown, I took Main Street to left on Egypt Road (about 3-4 miles) to right on Black Rock Road (about 3-4 miles) to left on 113 (about 1/2 mile) with the park coming up on the left.  Easy to miss, so keep an eye out. From all other points use directions / map below

 

 


View Larger Map

 

Thanks for stopping by my Things to Do Near Norristown website.  Keep stopping back as posts are updated regularly with things to do in the Norristown area, the Montgomery County area, Bucks County area, Chester County Area, Pennsylvania area….. oh, heck, there’s something for everyone here.  Please bookmark this site and come back for more.

 

Still Want Some More To Do?

 

Largest Bird in PA or Just a Big Party

 

If you aren’t tired of animals yet, you might want to save a December date on your calendar to see the biggest bird in Pennsylvania burned mercilessly to the ground.  Sounds horrible right?  Like Michael Vick gone mad or something?  Actually it is great fun and no animals (or people) are harmed.  Every year Phoenxville constructs a giant bird called, naturally, a Phoenix and they burn it to the ground bonfire style.  The whole town opens up and celebrates this event.  Check out my post on What The Wooden Phoenix Buring is All About. It is a fun party. The post I linked also has links to my 2012 review. Check both out to see if this event is right for you.

 

Theater Culture in Downtown Norristown

 

You don’t think that downtown Norristown has much to offer culturally?  It sure does.  Consider going to a musical or play in Norristown.  Click here to read about live theater in Norristown