Electrifying Philadelphia: Exciting Happenings in Historic Philly

Franklin Square Chinese Lantern Festival

Philadelphia was where NYC schoolchildren went for historic tours when I was growing up. The city is still filled with well preserved old buildings and artifacts, but it also has moved squarely into the 21st century.

View of Philly from One Liberty Observation Deck

Historic Squares: Franklin Square

Franklin Square, one of the original five public squares laid out in city by William Penn, lights up every night from the beginning of May through June 30. The annual Chinese Lantern Festival features 29 giant illuminated displays. The park, at the edge of Chinatown, also has a carousel and miniature golf course (filled with tiny replicas of Philadelphia landmarks).

Dog friendly Chinese Lantern Festival

Chinese Lantern Festival

The festival is worth a visit to Philadelphia, and appeals to kids, adults – and dogs. Since this is a public square, leashed dogs are welcome. During the festival, you can see nightly performances that include Tai Chi, dancing and contortionists. In addition to the Square Burger (which sells a veggie burger) there are stands selling Chinese food. And a Beer Garden has local brews on tap, along with craft cocktails. I sampled the Lantern lemonade, made with Thai basil and vodka, and the Ginger Blossom, with bourbon, jasmine and ginger.

Dilworth Park, next to City Hall

The festival is worth a visit to Philadelphia, and appeals to kids, adults – and dogs. Since this is a public square, leashed dogs are welcome. During the festival, you can see nightly performances that include Tai Chi, dancing and contortionists. In addition to the Square Burger (which sells a veggie burger) there are stands selling Chinese food. And a Beer Garden has local brews on tap, along with craft cocktails. I sampled the Lantern lemonade, made with Thai basil and vodka, and the Ginger Blossom, with bourbon, jasmine and ginger.

Daytime at Franklin Square during the Chinese Lantern Festival

You have to pay to enter the park for the nighttime festival, but you can see the lanterns, not yet lit up, during the day, for free.

Electrifying ride

I drove a Chevy Bolt EV to Philadelphia. This all electric car has a range of up to 238 miles, depending on use of heat, air conditioning, and driving. The car was roomy – we also took our friends upstate hiking and the back seat was comfortable.

Keeping track of battery power in the Chevy Bolt EV

The Bolt EV had luxury touches like WiFi, a leather steering wheel and heated front and rear seats. The heated seats are also practical. If you only have one person in the car, you only have to heat her space. Charging the car was easy; there are apps that tell you what charging stations are nearby. My local Whole Foods even has free charging.

The Bolt EV picking up a little juice from a regular plug

At home, you can slowly charge the Bolt EV in a regular outlet. You get about 4 miles per hour. At one of the faster chargers, like at Whole Foods, you get 25 mils per hour. There are also super chargers which give you 90 miles of range in 30 minutes. My cousin has this at his house for his Tesla, but you can find these public chargers with the apps (Note; for many of these, you have to pay).

Charging the Chevy Bolt EV at Whole Foods in Brooklyn

More green – space in Philly

Dilworth Park, next to City Hall, has a splash pad for kids in summer, and a soft grassy area that welcomes dogs. The park also has spots for dogs to relieve themselves, (and waste bags) and has programming like a free outdoor boot camp. We saw a large group working off Philly cheesesteaks one evening, doing planks, burpees and mountain climbers. Dilworth Park has a cafe, benches where you can brown bag it, and an ice rink in winter.

Showing some love

JFK Plaza, aka Love Park

The LOVE sculpture is the highlight of the newly renovated JFK Plaza, aka Love Park. The park also has a grassy area, (larger, but not as well manicured as Dilworth’s) along with new benches and bathrooms.

The Rail Park elevates Philly

Much like The High Line in NYC, Philadelphia has a new elevated park that was part of a rail line. We didn’t have time to see it, but the park is dog friendly. A giant swings are for children and grown ups.

The Aloft Hotel lobby in Philly

Where to Stay

We stayed at the dog friendly Aloft Hotel, across from City Hall. The hotel uses a garage that has a couple of electric charging stations, so we plugged the Bolt in over night and had a full charge the next day. The Aloft Hotel, in a former bank, has a grand lobby with soaring ceilings and giant windows that flood the space with natural light. The lobby has free popcorn and a pool table, to encourage guests to hang out. And there’s an outdoor patio where you can have drinks and a light meal (and bring the dog). The basement gym is in the bank’s vault.

The vault door in the Aloft gym

Note: I was a guest of Visit Philly, which covered my hotel, and Chevrolet loaned me the Bolt EV. Opinions are all my own.

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