Weekend Escape: Philadelphia’s Hidden Treasures Revealed

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Who says you have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to have a fabulous travel getaway? Just a short drive from most locations on the East Coast, Philadelphia is one of my new favorite cities to visit. With an array of restaurants, cultural attractions, and hotels, why not escape to the City of Brotherly Love? If you’re like me, perhaps you want to enjoy a relaxing getaway. Unknown to many, Philadelphia is the perfect spa destination, whether for a girlfriends’ trip or a couples retreat.

Unsure of what to do? Need help planning a trip of your own? has top choices for your spa weekend escape in Philadelphia.

What To Do:

I’m sure I’m not the only person still living in the stone age of waxing my brows. I was in for a new treat at Washington Square West’s Anjuthreads, where the preferred method is the ancient Eastern technique of threading. First timers beware, it definitely hurts the first go-round, but the key is to keep going for healthy, perfected eyebrows. Headed by eyebrow-shaping guru Anju Treohan, estheticians use only cotton thread to remove hair from anywhere on the neck and face. Treatments are followed by Aveda toners to close pores and calm the skin. The plus? Your brows stay cleaner for a longer period of time! Waxing, no more!

In all honesty, I had my best facial experience ever (or even spa experience for that matter) at Rescue Spa Philadelphia. The resident ethnic skin specialist, Linda Harding (aka the skin diva) specializes in services for people of color. Her guidance during and after the facial kept my face glowing for weeks! An urban oasis in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, Rescue Spa Philadelphia is the brainchild of Danuta Mieloch. Among the signature services: the instantly transformative “BioLift” facial, impeccable waxes and nail services and great massages. Rescue’s technology-oriented beauty treatments include eMatrix, a fractionated bi-polar radio frequency that helps reduce hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, and acne scars.

Philadelphia creates a comfort zone for body, hair, and skin treatments. Not to mention, if you’re looking for an upscale retreat Richel D’Ambra Spa & Salon at The Ritz-Carlton offers special services which include couples’ massages and aromatherapy treatments that incorporate seasonal natural flower essences and a four-handed massage.

Want to also experience the best cultural attractions that the city has to offer? Devote at least an afternoon to the city’s chief museums on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Start out at the Barnes Foundation ($18), which houses one of the finest Impressionist and early modern collections—181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes, 59 Matisses, and 46 Picassos—in the world. The paintings have been placed exactly as they were in Albert C. Barnes’s Merion home. Afterward, visit the The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collections, which include more than 225,000 pieces and are considered among the world’s best. A personal treat during my experience at the Philadelphia Museum of Art was the Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love exhibit, which shows how the American-born, Paris-based designer challenged racial and cultural boundaries with his fashions and presents Kelly’s inspirations—his own African-American and Southern roots and the club scenes of New York City and Paris.

Where To Eat:

Pick up a bottle of wine at the local state store (the only place wine is sold in Pennsylvania) before dinner at longtime neighborhood favorite Mercato, a welcoming Italian BYOB. The emphasis is on fresh, local ingredients at Mercato, where Chef R. Evan Turney infuses the slow cooking traditions of Old World Italy with an experimental style at this airy, neighborhood cash-only BYOB.

Soul food lovers unite! Relish fuses traditional and modern Southern cuisine, along with a side of live jazz Wednesday through Sunday nights. In the dining room and lounge, patrons enjoy mouthwatering dishes such as parmesan-crusted fried green tomatoes, seafood jambalaya, and my personal favorite: smothered turkey wings.

What’s a weekend without brunch? Sabrina’s Cafe is a cozy former bakery around the corner from the Italian Market which offers a wide selection of delicious brunch options. Here’s what everyone is waiting for: apple and sharp cheddar omelets, stuffed and caramelized challah French toast with vanilla-bean maple syrup, and the barking Chihuahua breakfast (a burrito filled with scrambled eggs, black beans, red peppers, and pepper-jack cheese).

Where To Stay:

Philadelphia’s hip Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel recently debuted an extensive redesign. Each of its lavish 301 guest rooms and the grand lobby now reflect the signature contemporary style of the Radisson Blu brand, yet retain the charm of the landmark hotel. Amenities include a business-class floor with private lounge, Nespresso machines, and free, high-speed Internet access throughout the hotel. The hotel lobby offers a wonderful hangout area if you want to meet with friends while you’re on your weekend escape.