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.
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.
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.
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
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)
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.
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?
Well, 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.
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 spotin the area.
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…..
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. 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.
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 animals 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
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
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.
When it comes to going to a football game, I love watching the Philadelphia Eagles. The problem with Eagles football though is that it is a hectic drive along he Schuylkill Expressway or 95 and the tickets are wicked expensive. Watching a good, live football shouldn’t be so difficult on the car, wallet or piece of mind.
Sitting around one day I thought to myself, why not check out some local college football? Perhaps something less expensive and easier to get to. I considered going to a Temple or Penn game but then I figured I’d run into the same pain, suffering and misery that I experience en route to an Eagles game. After all, they are both in the city and not particularly close to my area when it comes to the drive. Choosing one of those games to replace an Eagles game would be like replacing Lima beans (which I can’t stand) with brussel sprouts (which make me vomit).
Slightly disclaimer here, before the Penn and Temple football teams break down my doors and beat me to a pulp, I love both teams and suggest people go to their games. For the sake of this article though, I’m just looking for some inexpensive, quality football near Norristown. If it makes my collegiate friends happy, I’ll name my next two kids Owl and Quaker, okay? To even things up? Promise.
Villanova Wildcat Football
OK, if you are looking for College Football in Montgomery County or Delaware County, PA, Villanova covers both. Villanova’s location spans both the Delco and Montco borders. I considered West Chester out in Chester but figured I’d save that for another article. I’d love to check out Ursinus too sometime in Montgomery County, again, another article another time.
The Level of Football
‘Nova football is division I-AA football. Not bad. Not exactly the big leagues of College but still pretty good. When I went to the game the action on the field was fast, hard hitting, talented and well coached. It didn’t look like some minor college ball. There was some big players, big plays and big hits.
Villanova Stadium holds something like 12,500 people. The seating is assigned based on the seat and section number of your ticket. The seats are bleacher style seating.
Villanova’s football stadium has a big screen ‘Phanavsion’ style screen where they
run sport highlights, scores, advertisements and entertainment clips just like the the big screens at Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field. Granted, ‘Nova’s screen isn’t nearly as huge as the ones those parks have, but it is plenty big enough.
The Game Day Atmosphere
The atmosphere has all the feel of a major sporting event only with a production less polished than say what you’d see at an NFL or Division I college game. I mean this as a compliment actually. Villanova doesn’t have all the resources for a massive splash that say the Miami Hurricanes have to pull off a game but they certainly don’t spare any resources and give it all they got. I mentioned the big screen TV above…. they’ve got it. Marching band… they’ve got it. Cheerleaders…. they’ve got it.
Concessions…… yep…. not a lot… but they’ve got it. ‘Nova football shirts, hats, etc. for sale…. yep… they’ve got it. I bought a ‘Nova jock strap and I’m wearing it now. It’s called the WyldCap or something like that. The logo on the elastic band is very cool to look at. Kidding….. Mom, please don’t believe what I just said. I’m commando right now.
The fans are great. The game I went to against James Madison drew 6,617 people. Fans were friendly and seemed to all get along well. This wasn’t the typical battle scene you’d see at an Eagles game, it was a nice crowd in Lower Merion. Looking at the 2012 season attendance record on Wikipedia, Villanova drew between 3,000 and 10,000 people for their games. Not a crazy bunch or particularly loud but there was enough people to give a nice roar when the Wildcats put the ball in the end zone.
There is both a Lower Merion police presence at the game as well as stadium security both inside and outside the stadium.
The referees call out penalties over the loud speaker just like on the big-time games (though I suspect they do this at some high school games too?).
There is also a giant office / press building in the stadium. Looks pretty impressive but I have no idea what they could be doing in all those rooms. I could probably write another article just on the purpose of that facility. I’m thinking that’s were there they moved all the UFO aliens after Area 51 started getting too much press, I don’t know. If you know, feel free to comment. Superboxes at a ‘Nova pigskin match maybe?
Can you drink there? I know some of you boozers are thinking this. No. I didn’t see anything that provided adult beverages inside the stadium. Pretty family oriented football game. G rated through and through.
Parking for Villanova Football
Parking was pretty easy. I had no problem getting a spot right across from the stadium. It was about a five minute walk at most. I think it cost me $10 to park in the non-tailgate lot. I think the tailgate lot where, of course, you are allowed to tailgate, was $20
You can buy tickets on line or at the game. They run $15-$20 at the time of this post. You can also get season ticket and group ticket plans, some of which include discounted parking.
I found that I couldn’t buy on-line on game day so I bought tickets at the stadium. I’m not sure if this is Villanova policy or if there was a problem with the website or if I’m just stupid (probably the latter)
Overall What Did I Think?
Actually, I really enjoy it. The trip was 15 minutes from Norristown. Parking was easy in and easy out. The stadium is very nice, the fans were friendly, plenty of security to keep things safe, the quality of football was great and each ticket came with a free back waxing and massage, which I enjoyed immesely. OK, the ticket only gave a discount to a sporting goods store. In otherwords, just kidding on the waxing and massage…. my back is still ape-hairy.
Before and After The Game
If you are looking for something to do before or after the game, you might want to consider going to Wayne, PA for a bite to eat, a movie or to just stroll around. I wrote a review on Wayne, PA here if you want to learn more. Actually, if you are going up there in the morning or just need a pick-me-up at the end of the game, Wayne has a cool coffee shop I reviewed here as well…..
Getting to a Wildcats Football Game
If you are coming up from Norristown for example just hop on the blue route to the Villanova exit and go right on Lancaster Avenue for about 10 minutes and you’ll be there. Parking on left, stadium on right.
For better directions, maps and more…..
Thanks for Checking Out This Article…..
Thanks for visitng my Things to Do Near Norristown site! Keep visiting because new posts will be added regularly giving you some great, fun ideas to do in the area. Do you like the zoo? Not in the mood to drive all the way down to West Philly this time around? Norristown, PA has a zoo that includes free parking, easy commute (if you live in the area) and some cool animals for a small zoo. Please read my review of the Elmwood Park Norristown Zoo here.
Baseball season? Interested in professional baseball without the hassle of driving to a Phillies game? I wrote a post on Allentown’s own professional team, please check out my experience at this sporting event.
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
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?
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 surprised 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.
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 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.
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….
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!
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.
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!
Every December Phoenixville, PA holds it’s annual Firebird Festival. The Firebird Festival is a way for Phoenixville to celebrate their town pride with local members of the community and with tourists from other regions of the area. It is typically held on a Saturday (in 2012 the event date is Dec 8th). This is a festive and cultural event.
Performers take to the street where they play music, perform tricks, do dances and other artistic performances Most if not all of the stores are open for this event. Visitors can shop and browse the window displays. Restaurants and local watering holes are open too for food and drink.
The Firebird Festival is largely an artistic and creative venue. In addition to the musicians and performers that I mentioned above there is a significant art and crafts fair that lines the walkways of Phoenixville during this festive day. Paintings, blown glass, fired clay, jewelry, photography, garments and other art painstakingly created by talented artists will be in full display.
The crescendo of the Firebird Festival is the lighting of the Phoenix. Basically, there
is a giant Phoenix (I’ll says it is about 20 feet tall by my guess) constructed out of
wood and after the fire magicians do their performance the giant Phoenix is lit into a giant bonfire for all to see.
When Does it All Start?
Check out their website for the exact schedule time. Events begin around three o’clock but the actual burning of the bird isn’t until early evening after dark.
The trip by car is easy enough but leave yourself plenty of time. If you are out in the Norristown area, your best bet is to travel from Main Street to Egypt Road until it dead ends at Bridge and then make a right. Some more seasoned visitors might take Egypt out to Pawlings but I’ll provide a map below.
Is Phoenixville a Cool Place to Visit When There’s No Event?
Actually it is a pretty good place to visit. I’ll talk more about that another time, but it is definitely has one of those small-town, fun things to do, artistic, cultural, food, drink, kind of vibe to it. More on that another time though.
Another Post By Me
If you live near Norristown or if you find yourself in downtown Norristown sometime, I might have just the place for you to stop in for not just a sandwich but for a step back into time. When I go into this sandwich and pizza shop it doesn’t feel anything like the usual run of the mill take out / eat in joint. Everything looks like it has froze in time from an era almost forgotten, the old time local eatery. Check out my post on this great, old school, sandwich shop in downtown Norristownand see if you think you’d like to eat here some time. Be sure to stop back here to check out some other fun things to do near Norristown.
My purpose of creating this site is to give good people like yourself some fun ideas to pass the time in Montco and the surrounding areas. Thanks for coming by and please stop back, bookmark us, sear the though of this site into your brain
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.
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.
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
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.
Driving through Germantown one day I stopped at the Cliveden house and was wondering what the heck I was doing there? It isn’t the most exciting looking place to look at and there was no way it was as hip as nearby Mount Airy or quaint as nearby Chestnut Hill. I mean, staring at the Cliveden house didn’t seem like something a cool, handsome, single guy would be doing on a Saturday afternoon. Then it dawned on me, that I’m ugly and lame and it all suddenly made sense to me why I am there.
Kidding. I am ugly and lame but, trust me, cool and beautiful people like you will enjoy a trip to Cliveden as well.
Here’s a little background…. The Cliveden grounds used to be owned by the Chew family. It served as their Revolutionary War-era summer home when they were away from their regular home in Philadelphia. The Chews were both influential and controversial during the years we struggled for independence. They were influential in legal in business matters and controversial as the the Chew family didn’t fully support the revolution. Historically they hold some infamy too as supporters of slavery.
Flash forward to the present time and the Cliveden grounds is now a registered historic site. While the Chew family history might have some of you falling asleep or removing my website from your coveted bookmark space, trust me, it really is interesting. In addition to their history, there is something even more interesting about Cliveden…. the battle of Germantown.
The battle of Germantown was waged all over the immediate area but the real dramatic part of the battle occurred right on the Cliveden grounds, right inside the Cliveden house! It is a really interesting story that I think could easily be made into a great movie someday. I won’t bore you with the details but if you want to learn a little more, I linked an article toward the end of this post that I wrote about visiting Cliveden when they do the Germantown Battle reenactment every year. For now though, let’s skip the annual reenactment and just talk about a routine day visiting Cliveden.
Cliveden is a cool place to divert your afternoon. It won’t take but an hour or so of your time and will only cost about $10 bucks. You can park nearby and walk the Cliveden grounds. You can tour the house the Chew family lived in as well as learn about the British occupation of the home during the battle of Germantown. When you tour the house, keep an eye on the walls not only for some really impressive old paintings but for the bullet holes that still remain all these years later from the fight.
If you are thinking of going, I’d suggest doing it as part of other activities nearby. If you are planning on hiking the Wissahickon or visiting nearby Mount Airy or Chestnut Hill for a bite, a stroll, some theater or shopping, be sure to swing on down to Cliveden on Germantown Avenue. This historical site will give you something new to talk about.
The tour will also take you to the nearby carriage house which features a dynamic video that further explains the relevance of the site.
Cliveden is open year round but be sure to make a special, additional trip in October. For one weekend in October, Cliveden hosts the reenactment of the battle of Germantown. I wrote an article on Germantown reenactment here.
Where is Cliveden?
Cliveden is about 10 miles from Norristown, just a mile or two from Chestnut Hill.
True coffee shop lovers love comfortable, independent coffee shops. I’ve mentioned before that while Starbucks are as common as fleas on mange, they always seem to miss the point. They aren’t cozy at all. Starbucks has the all the coziness of a bomb shelter corridor and their overpriced food really isn’t very good either. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Starbucks hater. The service is generally very good and Starbucks has introduced cafes to areas that never had them before. With that in mind, every so often I find a great coffee house not far from Norristown (or at least kinda not far) and want to mention it to you in case you are yearning for a higher coffee experience.
What makes a great coffee house? I look for comfortable, independent, with some sort of twist that sets it apart from the big chain places (live music, great art, etc)
Which brings me to Tabora Farm and Orchard in Lansdale, PA. Is this really a farm and Orchard? Nah, at least not at this location. Tabora Farm and Orchard in Lansdale is a coffee house that serves up all your coffee varieties, baked goods and plenty of herbs and spices.
The store has a ton of simply delicious, fresh baked goods. Much better than other coffee shops. I picked up a blueberry roll during one stop and just loved it. During another trip I bought a couple of nut bars (pictured) and just loved them too. My mouth was in such heaven I quit kissing as I knew such intimacy could never live up to such great flavor. OK, I’m kidding, I gave up kissing because I’m too damn ugly, but that’s another story. The food is great though.
I haven’t tried their coffee varieties, just their regular Tabora brand coffee. Great stuff. Smooth, full bodied with much less bitterness than other coffees. A pleasure to drink.
The leather seating is comfortable and cozy but with plenty of space.
I love the woody decor that gives the place a rustic, yet still modern feel. The front of the store (along Main Street) is my favorite spot. This corner store has huge windows that allow for people and traffic watching along Main Street, yet the interior’s dark paint and wood keeps the inside of Tabora from being too illuminated like a Kentucky Fried Chicken during a supernova. Tabora keeps it shaded and laid back inside.
The Spices! Almost forgot! OK, honestly, I know as much about herbs and spices as Gandhi does about thermonuclear warfare, however, Tabora has tons of herbs and spices for sale (also pictured). Be sure to check out their huge selection.
Looking For More Things to Do In The Montco / Norristown Area? Try this out….
When you are drinking great coffee or eating delicious baked goods do you find that you are are searching for sporting events on television? Are you a big sports fan that lives in the Montgomery County area? How about football? Do you love the ol’ pigskin? If yes, you should attend a Villanova football game in the fall. ‘Nova is one of the closest college football programs in the area. I wrote a review on Villanova Football that details my experience at the game. Click here for my review of Nova Football.
Still Want Some Great Coffee but in a Different Location?
Please keep stopping back to my website here. I know it isn’t perfect but I’m really putting my heart into it. I want to create a site that gives great people like you some cool little ideas of things to do near Norristown, PA as well as other areas such Phoenixville, Collegeville, Blue Bell, Chestnut Hill, Philly, Conshohocken, West Chester, Media, etc. etc. etc.
It has been a lot of fun so far doing this and hope that you keep stopping by and comment some day on some of my posts…. especially if you are a really nice person, we like nice……loathe mean……like nice. Kidding, sort of, if you have something to say let us know. Would be great to hear from you.
Fun Things to Do In Near and (not too) Far From Norristown