In an attempt for one of us to get work done and the other to explore (with some quality time in between), we headed out for Northern Liberties. Just a subway ride away from West Philly (about 25 minutes), we arrived a bit after lunch time. So glad we took the trip out.
The walk from the subway station to the main areas of Northern Liberties took between 5 and 10 minutes, and it was quite enjoyable. Here you can see what used to be. Although it is boarded up, it is still eye catching and beautiful.
On 3rd and Spring Garden, this vibrantly colored strip of buildings (below) is super eye-pleasing. Though the buildings are not open for business (or do not appear to be, at least), they are an asset to the steadily growing neighborhood. This block gave the walk from the subway a first impression of the uniqueness of the area.
Upon researching coffee shops, we decided to go to Higher Grounds, located at 631 N 3rd Street. It turned out to be the perfect spot for lunch, coffee and tea, quiet conversation, and independent studying. We ate lunch at a cozy, private table in the back corner (with a view of the exposed brick and unique tables and artwork), and transferred ourselves over to a couch and coffee table for ‘work time’. We both chose not-your-average grilled cheese sandwiches (brie cheese and apples? yes, please.) and were definitely satisfied with our choices.
My favorite part of the day happened next, when I took a solitary walk through the streets of Northern Liberties. I thoroughly enjoyed my walking tour, and found each location was within about a half mile of the next (if that). Northern Liberties is super walkable, and I felt comfortable navigating with just the use of my phone’s GPS (as, I assume, the rest of the world does!).
Not sure what to call the metal pieces, but these types of things can be found up and down the streets in Northern Liberties, in addition to the awesome murals.
My first stop as a solo traveler was Art Star Gallery & Boutique, located at 623 N 2nd Street. A mere .2 miles from our coffee shop (and my hard-working husband), the walk was certainly brief and enjoyable. The inside of the shop reminded me a lot of Vix Emporium. There were items on sale from the same Philly vendors that I have often seen in West Philly. It was a pleasant shop, and I had a great time perusing the trinkets, clothing, etc. and noted a few things to go back for for birthday shopping throughout the year. Definitely an ideal location to buy gifts. From Art Star, I wandered to SWAG, which housed an equally impressive collection of gifts. Though different from Art Star (less home made, maybe?) it was another enjoyable shopping location. Here I splurged and purchased a couple of items. It is definitely a small space but contains a vast collection.
My last stop for the day was for a cup of Chai Tea. I had read great reviews for The Random Tea Room (713 N 4th Street) on Yelp and took a number of reviewers advice to order some. I was a little disappointed because I had hoped to sit inside to read and drink, but the space was quite small. I was offered a table out back where there is apparently seating and a garden, I believe, but on a chilly Winter day I decided against it. I took my tea to go but changed my mind about outdoor seating upon feeling the warm (unexpected) sun. I sat comfortably on a chair with a small table for my tea out in front of the shop. The cup of tea was okay (it had a very strong ginger taste) so between that and the higher-than-usual price for a small cup, I probably would not order the same thing again. But it’s definitely a quaint little place and I would recommend it.
I returned to Higher Grounds for one last cup of tea and we headed back to West Philly. An unexpected treasure of Northern Liberties is that when catching the train back west, this is the view from the platform:
Since we went to Northern Liberties on a Saturday morning with a limited budget, I feel that Northern Liberties would offer a different experience when going for a meal. I would like to go for brunch and/or dinner, since between shopping and coffee/tea destinations, I passed a ton of bars/pubs/restaurants offering drink and food specials. This will definitely be another trip in the future.