Category Archives: Winter

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.


View Larger Map

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

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 ?

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

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!

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

Phoenixville Firebird Festival – Bonfire and Fun!

OK, most of the cool ‘Main Street USA’ kind of towns like Manayunk, Doylestown, Chestnut Hill, Skippack, etc. near Norristown feature events a couple times a year

Bridge Street Phoenixville
Bridge Street All Lit Up

that closes the streets and brings the community together.  We’re talking events that feature bands playing outside, food vendors offering caloric delights, bold displays of art, vendors hawking their wares, shop staying open off-hours, you know the routine.

 

Do you want a change this routine?  Are you looking for something a little different? Then what is it?  Think about that question for a second….. if your answer is “Well, in addition to bands, food and art,  I want to see guys eating and juggling fire!!”

 

Normally, a response like this I’d be like, “Eh, seriously? Eating…. fire?” I’d think you just jumped the funny farm or something. That said, I found an event in Phoenixville, PA that has all the usual fun, plus guys eating fire.

 

Let’s say though that your gastronomic flame request didn’t quite satisfy your, eh, appetite for fun.  Maybe you said, “Yeah, I want guys gargling fire and I also want to see a giant wooden bird that is something like 30 feet high.  Oh, and make it Phoenix!”

 

Again, normally I’d be thinking you were nuts. I’d probably be searching for your medication or something (because I’m nice like that). However, I also have found a place where you can see a giant phoenix, right in town, along with fire guzzlers, bands, art, and other unique performance art stuff.

 

Did I mention that when it gets dark, they burn the giant, wooden Phoenix to the ground?  OK, now I sound nuts, but, yes, the light this giant wooden thing on fire and a 30 piece drum band plays tribal music the whole time while it disintegrates into ashes.

 

Sounds pretty cool?  It is!  It’s also a total family event and a good time.  Welcome to the Phoenixville, Pa  Firebird Festival.

 

When is The Firebird Festival in Phoenixville, PA held and What is It Like?

 

Check out This Post I wrote For Firebird Festival Website, Dates, and Location

The link above will also give you a general overview.  The rest of this post below though will also give you the details on 2012′s Firebird Festival

 

The 2012 Firebird Festival Times

 

In 2012, the festival started around 3:00 and hits its peak around 8:00 when they burn the giant wooden Phoenix like we’re in Salem or something. I’d suggest getting there slightly before 5 or 6 when people start pouring in and parking gets limited.

 

Who Goes to The Firebird Festival?

I was surprifirebird-festival-phoenixville (1)sed at the age of the crowd there.  I thought it would be a young, rocking, crazy, crowd in their twenties.  The people at the Firebird Festival were mainly a relaxed 30 and 40′s something crowd though there were all ages at the event. Families, some elderly and a good deal of 20-somethings but by far it was a 30-40 year old crowd. 

 

Are The Restaurants and Watering Holes Crowded?

 

Yes! Not overly packed but definitely crowded.  Again, I was surprised at the age range and how well behaved and not-very-crazy it was. Festive for sure but we’re not talking Mardi Gras and beads and all that.

 

So What is Bridge Street Phoenixville, Like During The Festival?

 

It is comfortably crowded once it gets dark. During the day there are people milling around but things don’t begin to pick up until 5 or 6 O’clock.

Bridge Street is lit up with strings of lights and all of the stores remain open.  A lot, I mean A LOT of the stores, big and small, offer some sort of musical acts that are pretty talented.  Hey, we aren’t talking Bruce Springsteen or anything (which is probably good since his raspy voice makes me want to clear my throat every five minutes) but the acts are good and eclectic musically.  Blues, singer-songwriter, Spanish, even belly dance / Indian music.

 

It wasn’t all musical entertainment though.  The art galleries remained open for you to check out their creations and one store was even giving art lessons and BYOB art lessons at that.  The local smoke shop featured a glass artist creating a miniature phoenix. Very cool to watch.

Speaking of music, the musicians were on the streets too.  One very entertaining act was an Irish performance band playing right in front of the Colonial Theater.  This was not the usual, same-old, bag pipe band. Actually, there were no bag pipes but there was plenty of singing, drumming, dancing and about 20 Irish performers clashing baseball bat sized sticks together in a very well coordinated, percussive, upbeat,  Irish performance.

Off Bridge Street – More Performances and The Bird-Bonfire

Just down Main Street behind Molly’s (one block off Bridge) there is a big lot set up. This part of Main Street and the lot is closed off so only pedestrian traffic (no cars) can get it.  Back here there are tents where vendors sell their crafts and there is also carnival style food for sale as well.

There is also a large stage set up where bands play.  The band I watched was a very good sounding blues band.firebird-festival-phoenixville (2)

The huge wooden Phoenix is also back in this lot and the fire jugglers juggle and eat fire around and on top of the bird.  These guys made me want to drink a giant glass of water.  They juggled fire and stuck on their tongue. They lit their arms on fire and licked it off their arms.  They set their tongue on fire and lit torches off their tongue….. what the frig man?  Cool to watch but, man, don’t licking fire off your carcass at home, or anywhere, ever…EVER!

The Burning of The Bird

 

The highlight of course is the burning of the bird. Here is where things get really firebird-festival-phoenixville (10)crowded. About eight o’clock they set the Phoenix on fire.  While the phoenix burns at 30 piece (or more?) drum band plays tribal music while it burns.  I’ll bet it burns for a good twenty minutes or more. It is actually very dramatic and fun to watch. The crowd cheers, the drums play, and that little pyro in all of us gets a big kick out of it.  You’ll love it when the fiery head comes off the Phoenix and crashes to the ground.

 

So What Did I Think?

One of the most edgy, yet G-Rated family oriented event around the Chester and Montgomery county areas that I’ve ever been too.  I highly recommend it for all ages.

Parking

firebird-festival-phoenixville (11)Get their early and parking is not a problem.  I made a day out of it and time flew by quickly. I got there at three o’clock. Did lunch, walked the town, got drinks, watched some musical acts and before I knew it Phoenix was engulfed in flames.  You’ll need to park in the neighborhood.  The festivities don’t really ramp up until like 5 or 6 o’clock then I noticed a dramatic increase in the number of people.

How To Get There

 

Well, from Norristown, PA  just go up main street to Egypt road and take Egypt all the way out to Bridge Street and make a left.  Anyone not familiar with this route or coming from other locations check out below….

 

Thanks for Checking Out This Post!!

 

Need other ideas for things to do?   Well… Phoenixville isn’t such a bad place to visit even when there are no events going on, here are my thoughts on Phoenixville sans Firebird Festival – Click Here

 

Do you like Biking, Hiking, Sledding, Fishing, Bird Watching, or just taking in the great outdoors? Well… if you don’t, this article will be a disaster for you, if you do, check out this cool place to get your outdoor activies revved up near Norristown – Click Here

Food Music Art History Phoenixville PA Near Norristown

I love little towns that offer something for everyone.  We’ve all had those days where we just want to get outside and plan our own little pleasant adventure without travelling too far to do it.  Phoenixville is one of those cool small towns that let’s you pretty much dictate what kind of day your want to have. Want to explore art? They’ve got it. Music? They’ve got it. Movies? Yep, got it. Food, drink, upscale, down scale, yes, yes, yes, yes. Fun Events… yep! Get it? Keep reading my friend….

 

What is Phoenixville Like ?

 

Phoenixville, Pennsylvania is one of those small-town-USA kind of places that have seemed to sprung up out of the ashes in and around Montgomery County, Chester County, Bucks County and Philadelphia.   The sort of town that offers  restaurants, coffee houses, music venues, bars, novelty shops, etc etc that line a main street that draws visitors from around the area.  Similar in style to Manayunk, Skippack, Conshocken (kind of), Doylestown, West Chester and Media.

 

What is nice about Phoenixville is that there really is something for everyone in this town along the main-drag, Bridge Street.  I must say it is one of my favorite spots near Norristown to visit.  If you feel like watching a game or chatting with friends at the local watering holes, there are plenty of them within just a few blocks of each other on Bridge in Phoenixville.

 

We aren’t just talking drinks here though.  This does not feel at all like college party town. This place has a lot to offer. If you need to pack your belly with some good food, there is everything from cheap finger food to fine dining in Phoenixville. There are probably a dozen or more places lining Bridge Street to grab a bite.

 

If you want some good coffee, there are a couple of great coffee shops. My favorite being Steel City where you can also check out some great bands and local art displayed on the walls while sipping your favorite cup o’ Joe.

 

Speaking of local art, there are plenty of art galleries on Bridge street where you can peruse that next painting or sculptures for your home.  Interested in learning about art?  Some of these galleries also offer lessons. Some also make their space available for rent for special events.

 

Some Cool History

 

Did you know that Phoenixville is one of the local areas where the film “The Blob” was filmed?  Ever hear of The Blob? It is one of Steve McQueen’s first movies. Ever hear of Steve McQueen? No? God, euthanize me now oh young ones!  He is considered one of the great actors of the 60′s and 70′s until his premature death, but enough about Stevie here.  The Blob has a scene where the monster chases everyone out of the Colonial Theater. Where is the Colonial Theater? Right on Bridge Street in Phoeniville. To commemorate, every year Phoenixville allows folks like you and I to reenact the ‘running out of the theater’ during the summer. It’s called Blob Fest. Basically, the whole town pays tribute to a B-movie and let’s you act out one of its scenes. Is that cool or what?

 

The Colonial Theater also has some great live rock and eclectic music performances as well as great old and new films.

 

Fun Special Events in Phoenixville

 

OK, I mentioned the BlobFest above right?  The whole town, celebrates their moment of cinematic fame on this day but there are other events too throughout the year.  The most notable, besides BlobFest, is The Firebird Festival!   Not sure what the Firebird Festival is? Check out my post on the Firebird Festival here. You’ll be impressed. This features great music, art, a fun parade and the burning of a giant wooden Phoenix.

 

Who Will Like Phoenixville?

 

This town is small town but still urban in some ways. I do occasionally get stopped by a pan handler looking for spare change but that somehow just adds to the appeal of this place.  I’m in my 40′s and feel just fine visiting this town, very comfortable actually. There is a hipster scene, 20 something yuppie (if that word is still used) scene, stuff for people in their 30′s and 40′s, stuff for musicians (including an instrument store), artists, theater lovers, etc.  Check it out sometime. Cool town.

 

How to Get to Phoenixville, PA

 

Other Things to Do Near Norristown…..

 

There are other cool things to do in the area as well.  All within 20 miles and certainly different from hanging at home watching the television (also one of my favorite pasttimes :-).   Click on some of these links…… Want to check out some revolutionary war history and maybe stop in nearby Chestnut Hill for good times, visit the Cliveden House in Germantown PA.

How about Lansdale, PA? Are you ever in the area?  OK, I probably would not go out of my way to visit Lansdale as I would Phoenixville but if you live around the Lansdale area or find yourself nearby, check out downtown Lansdale and my review here….

Keep coming back to our site here at ThingsToDoNearNorristown.Com for more great things to do in your spare time.  We love having you here! More great articles on things to do added regularly!