Category Archives: Within 1 Mile of Norristown

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

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

Theater In Norristown – Centre and Horizon Theaters

It seems that people either love going to see live performances at local community theaters or they have no motivation to step into a theater unless a friend or family member is involved in the production.  If you fall into the latter category, I know how you feel.  Theater tickets even at the community level are not always cheap, the setting isn’t always that comfortable and the performances can be a little hit or miss.  With that in mind, even if you loathe the thought of going to see live plays and musicals, you really should reconsider.   Whenever I drag myself to a musical or play I wonder to myself why I am doing this all the way up until when the production starts, then all my regret stops.

 

When you see people perform at the community level they do it with such passion and pride.  They simply love it.  You can imagine the hours spent learning the lines and rehearsing. There is little or no money involved so this is something the performers can not fake, they do it for the love of doing it.

 

I remember years ago watching a local production of Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”  You may of heard of it?  Lenny is a muscular hulk of a man with the mentality of a five year old and George is the smaller, much smarter one who takes care of Lenny as they travel from job to job hoping for a better life.  The end of the play brought the house to tears, it was that spectacular.    My point being, the rewards of checking out community productions are worth the risk of a few bucks out of pocket and time.

 

If you live in or near Norristown, there are a couple places in downtown Norristown to catch plays and musicals.  They only do a few productions a year though. There is no year round schedule.

 

Both theaters are very close to one another just off Main Street in Norristown.  Both are not far from Lou’s Zeps (check out my review) if you are familiar with that iconic Norristown sandwich shop.

 

The Theatre Horizon

 

The Theatre Horizon is right on main street (the Bell building) and runs a few performances throughout the year.  Theatre Horizon also has educational programs.

 

This is a professional theater company that performs classic plays and musicals as well as original productions.

 

Theatre Horizon Website

 

If you want to learn more about Theatre Horizon, here is their website – Click Here

Where is Theatre Horizon in Norristown

 

The Centre Theater in Norristown

 

The Centre Theater is also a professional theater in Norristown.  Originally a 75 seat theater being renovated into 130 seat multi-purpose performance center.  This theater is just blocks away from Theatre Horizon mentioned above.

 

There are only several productions a year so be sure to keep an eye on their schedule so you don’t miss any plays or musicals on the agenda.

 

Centre Theater Website

 

For more info on the Centre Theater check out their website here

Where is the Centre Theater?

Here is a Map to find the Centre Theater

 

 

Be sure to check out some of my other posts for things to do near Norristown.  We’ll be adding posts regularly so keep checking back. As we increase the amount of articles on this site, you’ll find more and more great ideas to get out and have some fun in the area.

 

We’ll talk about near by events such as festivals, concerts, etc as well as standing, regular fun stuff to do that you may or may not have heard of before in the area.  We hope to see you again!

Ever Go to Nearby Wayne, PA? Check Out This fun place to g0 

 

Enjoy!

 

Lous-zeps

Lou’s Zeps – Great Old Time Sandwich Shop in Montco

I felt guilty creating a website called “Things to Do Near Norristown” and not writing Lou’s.  Afterall, Lou’s is located in the heart of downtown Norristown and has been a stalwart eatery in the area for years.  To not write about Lou’s on a “Norristown” website would be like not bringing up Babe Ruth on a Yankees website or Mike Schmidt on a Phillies website or Dolly Parton on a breast enlargement site.

 

Anyway, Lou’s is famous for their zeps. If you think the word “zep” here is some sort of typo it isn’t misspelled at all and you should know what one is before stepping into Lou’s. Stepping into Lou’s and not knowing what a zep is would be like stepping inot the marine corps and not knowing what a rifle is, only Lou’s is a lot nicer. Very friendly folks, but more on that in a minute….for now, let’s talk about the zep.

 

What the Heck is a Zep?

 

If I describe a zep in novice terms it is essentially a hoagie without the lettuce and it just has one kind of meat.  Sounds boring right? Wrong! The zep defines the less-is-more rule of thumb.  It is very tasty, fresh and satisfying.   Basically, they take a long roll, short roll or round roll and put salami, tomatoes, provolone cheese, and olive oil on it.  You can add other ingredients too. Some people put peppers on it or sometimes I add mayonnaise to mine but to get an authentic one stick to the basic ingredients I described.photo lous zep sandwich

Keep in mind you can also get pizza, cheese steaks, fries and all the other fixings you’d usually find in this sort of establishment.

A Totally Old-School Joy of an Establishment

 

Walk into Lou’s and it really is a go-back in time sort of place without feeling intentionally done up to do so.  This really IS an old-school sandwich shop.  I was born in 1970′s and I remember places like this my parents would take me too long before all the pomp and circumstance of the contrived, flashy, trendy restaurant scene so popular right now.  At Lou’s you sit right up at the linoleum counter only feet away from the cooking, the waitresses and the cashier on the other side. There are a couple booths just behind the counter stools.  The place looks well-worn and weathered as if nothing has been updated for generations, yet it feels welcoming and clean.

 

Patrons look largely local and seem welcoming and nice enough. Talkative customers chat as if they are familiar with each other and the more quiet ones take it easy behind the local newspaper as their orders sizzle across the counter.photo inside lous zeps

 

Friendly Staff

 

Lou’s is a family run place for a quick bite.  Most quick meal family eateries I run into, especially pizza joints in the area, seem to carry a certain negative attitude when they speak to their patrons.  Not at Lou’s though.  You’d think this blue collar looking establishment would have the same swagger as a truck stop diner but it doesn’t. Lou raised his family and staff right, they treat you nice from the moment you pick up the order until you check out.

 

A Norristown Tradition?

 

If you are spending time in Norristown, I kind of get the impression that Lou’s is a kind of Norristown tradition. This is a place you should stop for lunch if you are in the area for work, business, courthouse (yikes! ;-), post office, etc.  It has been around forever and does a nice job serving up simple grub with friendly service.

 

Where is Lou’s?

 

I’ll be honest, if you are used to strolling the streets of Whitpain and Blue Bell you’ll find the area Lou’s is in to be a bit of culture shock. This is one of the more grittier areas in Montgomery County but I’ve never had a problem.  You can typically get street parking by Lou’s, their patrons seem to have no problem filling the place on a regular basis, and there is plenty of car traffic.  By the way, the local theaters are just a few blocks away if you are considering planning a show with a trip to Lou’s.

 

Lou’s is on 414 East Main Street, Norristown PA 19401

 


View Larger MapLou's Sandwich Shop on Urbanspoon

 

If you are up for a cool coffee shop somewhat near Norristown you might want to check out Gryphons.  I wrote a review on Gryphons near Norristown in Wayne on this site and hope that you check out my post and see if this place is right for you.

 

Please stop back to this site “Things to Do Near Norristown” from time to time as I’ll be updating regularly.  My goal is to give you ideas of quick, easy and fun things to do when you are out of ideas yourself.  Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Chester County, Delaware County and Bucks County all have cool things to do and I’ll try to continuously update this site with new ideas.   Please bookmark us or check back regularly.

 

Do You Fish or Boat at All In the Norristown Area?

 

If you have already grabbed a sandwich at Lou’s You Are probably already familar with the area and may be wondering where to do some boating and fish.  Check out my review on Riverside Park in Norristown.  This place might not be for everyone but if you are looking to tie in some other activities around getting food at Lou’s this is very near by.

Find The Norristown Library – Free Books and Fun

Picture Norristown Free LibraryWhen I was a kid I would go to the library all the time. Then the cool big box bookstores came along and I gave up the library. After all, at those giant B&N or Borders you might not be able to check out a book, but you can still sit and read a brand new, untouched book in those stores all day. Even better yet, you can buy yourself a fancy coffee and sit in a billowy chair to boot.

 

When I became more Internet savvy, spending countless hours reading free material on the web, the library was pushed even further from my mind.  Of course, other things continued to bury the library in my conscience such as when I discovered some hip used bookstores and learned you can buy books dirt-cheap on sites like Amazon and Ebay.

 

It wasn’t until years later that I gave the library another shot.  I started to realize that the big box stores, the used book stores, and other so-called-cool places to read for ‘free’ like coffee shops start to cost a lot of money over time.  Half the time I go into any of those kinds of stores I wind up spending something on coffee, new books, a magazine or maybe a snack to eat.  Ever go to a Starbucks to read and wind up spending money on a latte and one of their pathetic little snacks? It costs a fortune. The military makes tanks for less.  Buyone 400 page paperback at the local Barnes and Noble and it can run you $25-$30 bucks. That’s a lot of loot for something you’ll read once or twice and put on a shelf to collect dust forever.

 

Anyway, you can save a ton of money and have a little fun too by going to the free public library. Since this site is all about cool things to do near Norristown, PA, I’ll focus on the Norristown Free Library.

 

The Setting

The Norristown Free library I admit is not in the best of neighborhoods but I’ve never had a problem.  If you feel funny about going into downtown Norristown, check out there website and you’ll find other local libraries also afflilated with Norristown’s in other locations.  Like I said, I never had a problem and there are security officers on the library grounds at all times.  It is located on 1001 Powell Street, Norristown, PA.

 

The Inside

 

The inside of the free library is pretty spacious and there is no problem getting an available seat among the rows of books and magazines.Norristown Library Inside photo

 

OK What’s In it For Me When I Visit The Library?

 

The library in Norristown offers a ton of cool things for free.  If you are an avid reader who generally just reads a book once this might be the place for you.  Seriously, add up all the books on your shelf and multiply it by $10 or $20 bucks.  Adds up right?   What are they sitting there for anyway?  Trophies? Do you put books on your shelf like  hunters put rhino heads on the wall?  Borrow books (no rhino’s available) at no charge from the library, turn them in on time so you don’t get hit with any late charges, and you’ve saved yourself a ton of loot.

Magazine subscriptions?  The library might just be carrying your favorite magazines as well. Save loot on subscriptions and check out some mags.

 

Are movies your thing?  Depending on how you watch your movies, you might be able to save some money here.  DVD movie rentals typically run $1.  Is that a good deal for you?  Hmmmm….. I’m not sure you’d have to figure that out.  If your local cable bill covers all your movie costs maybe you can skip the DVD from the Norristown free library.  If you have no cable or find yourself renting from a more expensive place check out what the library has to offer.

 

Video games…. same thing. $1 to rent.  Is this a savings for you?  Again, you’ll need to determine this but the library does have video games available.

 

Ebooks…. yes you can borrow ebooks as well.

 

Library Programs at No Charge

 

Keep checking the library website for new, free programs offered to the public.  At the time I wrote this post there is a program offered where you will write a 50,000 word novel.  Do you feel like the next Melville or Hemingway? That might be the motivation you need.

 

There are also programs on long term care planning for yourself and loved ones.

Programs on how to how to borrow eBook on Kindle, etc.

Book discussion groups and whatever else the library has on their events calendar.

 

The Montgomery County / Norristown Library Website

 

Here is the site for the library. Also links out to other libraries in their system Click Here For Website

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Norristown-Farm-Park Pond

Norristown Farm Park – Free and Fun For Active People

Norristown-Farm-Park PondI’m throwing out the gauntlet here.  The challenge is to find someone who hates everything and I mean everything the Norristown Farm Park has to offer.  Ready?  OK, read this list…. walking, running, hiking, rollerblading, sledding,bicycling, fishing, bird watching, enjoying nature, exploring the great outdoors, walking the dog (or iguana), picnicing, skiing, sledding…. whew enough….

 

OK, from that list, is there one thing, just one, that you like to do?  If there isn’t one thing that you enjoy from that list you might want to stop reading because the rest of this post will just depress you to no end.   That said, if you liked one or more ideas on that list, I think I’ve found something for you to do.

 

The Norristown farm park has all those things to do and more. It is a pretty cool place for people who like to stay active and be outdoors. Even better yet, if your cheap, like me, the cost to go there is completely free. The Norristown Farm Park has lot of open spaces and paved trails.  It’s actually more like Valley Forge Park, flat and rolling, than say Fort Washington State park,  if you are familiar with those cool place.  Norristown farm park is more grass and meadows rather than thick clusters of trees.  Cool place. Let’s look at some stuff to do….

 

The Paved Trails

There are over eight mileNorristown Farm Park Paths of paved trails at the Norristown Farm park.  The trails are easy to walk on but expansive enough to give you a good work out.   If running and hiking are not your thing, you are more than welcome to ride your bike or rollerblade on these trails.

 

The trails also provide a way to get out and see the great outdoors.  The park is diverse with rolling grassy plain, cornfields, meadows, stream, forest and even a trout hatchery and pond to boot.

 

 

 

Horseback Riding! Eh, No…

 

Whoa Tonto!  No, No, No horseback riding is allowed.  I mean, you can try it, but the park patrol is on the look out for this sort of activity and will glady turn your horse into dog food if they catch you.  I hear they make you eat the dog food too but I’m not sure if that is just a rumor…

Kidding…. Unless your horse is on a vicious rampage, no park ranger will shoot the beast and make you eat equine steak. That said, if you are riding in the park there is likely a big fine and possible incarceration. Leave Man O’ War at home, in the living room.

 

Fishing

 

Fishing is allowed. There are stocked streams and a trout pond (which I included some pictures of)    Fishing is permitted with a PA fishing license and trout stamp. Be sure to check the park rules and website for more information regarding park regulations.

 

Bird Watching

 

I don’t see many ornithologists hanging out at the park but this is definitely a good place to do some birding.  There are bird houses all along the trails and there is a pretty cool bird blind (a hut you can sit in and watch the birds without them noticing you) in a scenic spot near the trout pond.

 

The Trout Pond

Bird Blind near trout pond

I hear this is fun when they stock it with trout. The hatchery is close by.  The pond isn’t easy to find. There is no paved trail that leads to it. It is visible from the trout hatchery and the  Stoney Anglers club. If I park off Sterigere Road and walk along the path that runs between the state hospital and the hatchery, just as I pass the small wooded patch that has the hatchery and Stoney Anglers, you can see the pond way, way, way, way, down to your left.

 

Cross Country Skiing and Sledding

 

When the snow falls, get out the cross country skis or, more my speed, the sled and start taking advantage of the snow.  The park allows sledding and skiing under the assumption that you accept all the risks of your activities (isn’t that what everyone says…. including me….. like if your eyes burn out reading this article, you accept all responsibility… right? Right?)

 

Getting There

 

The farm park is easy to get to.  It is located on West Germantown pike just one mile west of Dekalb Pike.

 

Park Link

 

To go to the park website click here

Other Things to Do Near Norristown…..

 

Tired of the Great Outdoors? How About Nearby Philly in Chestnut Hill? Only Minutes Away 

The Norristown Zoo – Elmwood Park

Hey, I’ll admit,  Norristown’s Zoo, The Elmwood Park zoo is not nearly as sophisticated as the Philadelphia Zoo.  Not even close.  If the zoo in Norristown and the zoo in Philadelphia decided to step into a wrestling ring, Philly would resemble Hulk Hogan and Norristown would look more like a kid swinging outside pre-school class. I don’t watch much wrestling, but in terms of size and talent, my money would be on the Hulkster.

Unlike Philly, Norristown has no lions to get eaten by, no giraffes climb up high on, no bears to eat your picnic basket and no elephants to trample you.  That said, Norristown’s zoo has plenty of animals, is easy to get to,has free parking and other cool stuff.

Let’s run through what they’ve got at Norristowns Zoo

The Area

The Norristown Zoo is situated in a nice area on the outskirts of Norristown not far from Swede Road and 202 (Markley)

The Parking

Parking lot parking is ample and free. It is also close by so it doesn’t feel like you have to walk across barren desert or frozen tundra to reach the zoo. No shuttle or survival rations needed to go from lot to entrance gate. It’s literally a minute walk for the average person who doesn’t walk on all fours.

 

Getting In

There’s never a big line to get into the Elmwood Park Zoo.  It’ll just take a minute

As of the date this post was written figure about $12 to get in as a grown up and $8 as a child.  Since I’m cheap and ugly (according to my mother anyway), I’ve tried to sneak in with only paying the $8 kid-price but my beard gives it away everytime.  I guess children don’t grow beards anymore?

The Animals

For such a small, local zoo they do have a lot of different animals and some nice surprises.  I very much enjoyed the bobcat and the panther exhibits.  The bison were pretty cool too. Bald eagles, snakes, bats and other neat animals

There’s plenty of others as well. I don’t want to spoil it but some cool stuff.

The Layout

The park is easy to get around and all of the paths are paved for easy access whether on foot, stroller or wheelchair.

On thing that is nice too is the paths are laid out so you can get pretty close to the animals in their pens and view them from all different angles for a nice close up.

Food

Small concession area where you can get a hot dog, burger, sodas or other snacks.

What Did I Think?

I wouldn’t travel long distances to visit the Elmwood Park Zoo but for anyone who lives in the Norristown, Landsdale, Conshohocken, Collegeville, etc etc areas nearby, if you haven’t been there, definitely make a visit sometime. The zoo is small enough to not be intimidating or take up a lot of your time, but it is big enough to spend a couple hours in the afternoon and really learn a thing or two.

Who Will Like it?

Children will like it. There is a petting zoo, fun demonstrations throughout the day and even the little ones will be able to see the animals clearly and easily from many angles.

Grown-ups, if you are not expecting a full blown African safari complete with a wildebeast trying to gore your guts out, you’ll enjoy Elmwood Park for what it is. It is a small, locally run, clean zoo, that does a nice job giving you some lessons on these animals you may or may not see everyday.

For More Information Click Here For Elmwood Park’s Website

Where is The Zoo?


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