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So what is Philadelphia like?(22 posts)

So what is Philadelphia like?Kristin
Jan 24, 2003 7:34 AM
Climate? Traffic? Hows the riding? Flat? Mountains? Rolling? Hows the hiking? When does spring start? When does it start getting cold in the fall? How are the summers? Do you get many storms? (That's on thing about Chicago, we get awesome and frequent summer thunderstorms.) Is it pretty there?
Some AnswersLen J
Jan 24, 2003 8:00 AM
Philadelphia, and it's suburbs, is an area of Neighborhoods. Depending on Where you live, the answer to your questions would change. That being said, I'll try to answer. (I grew up in Phila., lived there until I was 27, moved back when I was 35, lived there for 10 years and then moved away again. My family still lives there)

There are more areas set aside for Parks within the city of Phila then any other city in the country. There are many beautiful sections of Phila (as well as many ugly sections, just like any large metro).

Check out:

For some specific info re events etc.


Winter. Usually 2 to 5 Major storms. Can be ice as opposed to snow. Usually gets mild most of the time. Winter temps are 20 to 35 with usually 2 weeks colder than 20.

Spring & Fall are wonderful and last longer than in Chicago. Both can be rainy but not crazy. Fall usually starts late Sept and can stretch beyond Tgiving. I remember New Years days that it was 72 and others where it was 5 degrees.

Mid March it begins to warm up.

Summers (especially Aug are Hot with high humidity. Not Atlanta Hot, but hotter than Chicago

Riding is varied, with rolling hills. Get North, West or Southwest of the city and you are moving into the Appalacian foothills. The further you go the hillier it gets.

If your thinking of moving there, let me know & I'll get you some info & connections.

Ever see the Mummer's Parade? Yo, pal!Tig
Jan 24, 2003 5:31 PM
My wife is from south NJ (Pennsville area) and talks about how wonderful the Mummer's Parade on New Year's Day is. Her sister actually taped it for her this year and I have to admit, it is impressive. Just one of those Philly things, eh?

I also hear about Cow Town and The Atlantic City Boardwalk.
Yous guys are killin me......Len J
Jan 24, 2003 5:48 PM
The mummers are pretty impressive...........once. After that, all the music sounds the same. It is mainly an excuse to get drunk.

I can honestly say I never had the pleasure of Cowtown........ Now 2 street, or South street on a Sat night, now you are talking.

Some answers....mleptuck
Jan 24, 2003 8:05 AM
I grew up in the Philly suburbs, still live there, and might be able to offer some good info, hopefully.

Typically, a cold winter day is 25-30. Most winters intersperse lots of high 30s-low 40s with sub-freezing days, so if you're into riding in the high 30s and up, you can effectively cycle all year, I'd think. (I wuss out when it's below 45, personally). Summers can have stretches of 90-degree-plus days with high humidity (think sauna) which make riding a challenge, but an 'average' summer day is 83-87, with moderate humidity, I'd say.

Traffic can be a complete nightmare, depending on where you're planning on being (city limits, NJ suburbs, western suburbs, etc), though having done a lot of work in Chicago, it's probably not as bad as you might be used to. Bike-friendly roads are kind of non-existent in the suburbs, and fortunately I live in a rural-enough area where my main road hazards are the piles of manure left by the Amish horses. Obviously, Center City is congested, as are the routes from NJ into the city. The western and northern suburbs (King of Prussia, Willow Grove areas) can be complete nightmares as well in terms of traffic. I can probably give more specific answers if you have an idea of where you might be looking to live and commute to.

The riding terrain offers just about anything you'd want, I'd think. South NJ is completely flat, and heading N or W from Philadelphia, the landscape becomes VERY rolling. A little further N and W (and even SW into Maryland), and you've got some pretty hairy climbs (nothing too big or long, but generally they can be VERY steep, compared to the Rockies, or even my experiences up in New England).

Spring riding season can start up in mid-late March; again, depending on how much chilly riding you can tolerate. The Fall stays ride-able until mid-late October, with the same caveat.

Summer late-afternoon thunderstorms are fairly frequent, though not seemingly as bad as what I remember from Chicago, either.

If you've any more questions (or need me to clarify some of my points), let me know!
re: So what is Philadelphia like?KeeponTrekkin
Jan 24, 2003 8:09 AM
I used to live there and have spent a lot of time in Chicago on business. Philly is a kinder and gentler climate than Chicago, also, not as dramatic - fewer NOAA alert events and less snow. Summer heat and humidity can be stifling. I'd say Spring is 3 weeks earlier and the first frost is 2 weeks later. There's some topography, but it's a long way to real hills. I considered it a friendly city but I think Chicago is more so.

Pretty is in the eye of the beholder and I don't find much pretty about either Chicago or Philly but both have attractive areas and features and both are impressive, imposing, etc. I tend to find more beauty in rural areas but it is a very personal thing.

A very good thing about Philly is being on the east coast. It's near a lot of nice places you can get to with or without a car.
re: So what is Philadelphia like?JL
Jan 24, 2003 8:10 AM
I don't know about the hiking in the area, but IMO, the Philly area is great for cycling, especially once you get out in the suburbs. Most of the area around me is rolling with short, steep climbs thrown in. Not too much in the way of flat, unless you ride the Valley Forge trail between Philly and Valley Forge (and beyond).

Weather-wise, summer is pretty dry with the occasional rain storm, though we just went through a drought. Spring starts around March and Fall starts getting cold in late Sep./early Oct. It's a beautiful area especially once you get out in the open spaces west of the city. The city can be pretty too.

Thinking of moving this way?
Thanks allKristin
Jan 24, 2003 8:40 AM
I'm not sure. I'd really like to move south eventually--I've had my eye on North Carolina; but I wasn't going to do that for at least 3 years. However, my job will likely be eliminated once I finish my current project in about 18 months. I've already received a couple hints from our home office in Philly, and I have a feeling I'd be welcomed there. I'm just not sure I want to move to another part of the northern 48. I think I'd enjoy a warmer climate and the slower pace of the south. I grew up in CT, have lived in VT, NH and NY and Chicago. I was just curious to know what Philly is like--that's what we Chicagoans call it.
re: So what is Philadelphia like?Texican
Jan 24, 2003 8:40 AM
Attended Franklin & Marshall college about 1.25 hrs. west of Philly in Lancaster, PA. Spent a lot of time traveling all over the mid-Atlantic. Southeastern PA is beautiful, especially away from the city. Can be very hilly as you approach the Appalachian mountains. Weather compared to Chicago? Proably a cake walk. As the previous reply stated, winters mostly mean ice. Very manageable. The Spring and Summers of the Mid-Atlantic are truly great. I spent six total years in PA and the spring and summers were always the best. A bit humid at times, but very reasonable. I regret not taking up cycling in college, all that time and all those hills. I now understand why I saw so many smiling faces cycling through the Amish countryside. :-)

Best part about the mid-Atlantic is that if you become bored, then go for a 2-3 hour drive and you're some place completely different!!! 2 hrs to NYC, about 1.5 hrs. to DC. The Atlantic seaboard is a great summer place, NJ's redeeming quality. Ton's of culture in Philly, great history, the best sports fans(if you like the rowdy types), and you've got Pat's Cheesesteaks to make life in Philly a delight. I'd move back, but my the love of my life is waiting for me to move to L.A.

Downside to Philly, PA's highway system is one big pothole sometimes. Traffic in and around Philly can be a pain because the highway system is old and the hill's are in the way. NJ drivers aren't barred at the state lines. Can't find a single Mexican restaurant worth a damn. Deer are serious roadhazards on the I-76 west of the city... nope not much else I can think come up with.

Best of Luck if you move.
Mexican restaraunts & ridingDream plus
Jan 24, 2003 1:33 PM
There is a HUGE Hispanic population almost every where in SE PA now. Mexican resturaunts and groceries are popping up every where to serve that population. Maybe not in Philly but immediately outside. I live in MD less than a mile from PA. SE PA has excellent riding and a vibrant cross and MTB scene. There are a number of racing and riding clubs and teams based in Philly. I can't comment on cycling iin the city though. getting out to a riding spot shouldn't be too hard depending on where you live.
Jan 24, 2003 1:45 PM
Even here outside of Harrisburg (about 2 hrs from Philly, BTW) there are several good mexican restraunts, and have been for quite some time. Philly is a good spot. You are close to NYC, DC, the eastern shore, plus go west, and you've got plenty of hills.
Its probably not comprableKristin
Jan 24, 2003 2:12 PM
Have you ever tried Mexican food made in Texas? There nothing like it--excecpt, I've been told, for Mexican food made in Mexico, which I've never tasted. I spent some time in Houston in 1996 and tasted real Mexican. Suddenly all Mexican food in the north seemed like dog food. I just can't eat it now. Perhaps its the cold air, or perhaps its Americanization; but even the most authentic Mexican in the states is not like real Mexican.

Same with Asian food. Even Sushi. Especially Mandarin. Hard to find anything anywhere that is even slightly authentic. But I'm drifting off topic.
Jan 24, 2003 3:02 PM
I've had Mexican from a Mexican woman (my brother-in-law's ex-wife's Aunt!). No comparison. Same with Asian food. My wife is Cambodian. Her family has Thai friends and Vietnamese, as well as Chinese. I'm a happy man! (Love those family get-togethers!)
Southern Chester county............Len J
Jan 24, 2003 5:50 PM
has areas that have more latins than latin america.

I've lives in Texas & didn't have as good mexican food as in Kennett Square, PA.

Still in the area, Len?mleptuck
Jan 24, 2003 6:25 PM
I'm down in Oxford (about 10 miles west of Kennett), and I've met NO ONE down here (yet) with whom I can ride...

If you are still down in SE Chester Co. and might be interested in an occasional riding partner, let me know.

Unfortunatly, No.....Len J
Jan 24, 2003 6:50 PM
moved to the Eastern Shore of MD in 1999.

Try the White Clay Bike club out of Newark (which is about 25 minutes from you or the Brandywine Bike Club. White Clay does a ton of group rides when the weather breaks.

I occasionaly come up to ride hills. If I get up there I'll let you know.

White Clay.Len J
Jan 25, 2003 5:24 AM
Here is their web page

Jan 25, 2003 8:06 AM
I'll check them out, thanks.
Chester County is great for both riding and Mexican foodRay Sachs
Jan 25, 2003 4:19 AM
I grew up in Arizona and now live in Chester County (15-20 mile ride from Kennett Square, so I work it into a lot of my rides). There's a huge ag worker population in southwest Chester County (mushroom capital of the world) and a few Mexican restaurants that are owned and run by Latinos. A couple of them compare well with the best restaurants I grew up around in Arizona.

The riding is great out here. Potholes in places, and traffic can get hairy on the main roads, but enough beautiful little isolated farm roads to spend the day in cycling heaven. Plenty of hills, some really steep, none all that long, where I can watch JL disappear up the road :) Amazing scenery, right on the edge of Amish country so easy to find yourself riding along with horses and buggies.

Oh yeah, one other thing about the city - they've been installing TONS of new bike lanes in the past few years. I like riding in cities anyway and with the bike lanes on the busier roads, Philly is now a really great city for getting around by bike although probably not for rec riding.

It's like East Chicago without the lake.LO McDuff
Jan 24, 2003 9:08 AM
But seriously, I grew up in the inner suburbs, moved away for college, moved back for grad school nearby (sort-of) in Delaware. Philly is a city of great contrasts. There are small pockets of great history, civility, and culture. The rest of the city has gone to hell in a handbasket.

Depending on where the company is located, there are some real nice areas with some good riding. Roads can get quite hilly throughout Chester, Montgomery, and Bucks counties.

After graduation, I moved back (with my new wife) and she absolutely hated the weather. Of course she was spoiled with Boulder weather. It was one of the reasons we moved back to Colorado. Spring and fall are my favorite seasons back there. The native azealeas (sp?) dogwoods, shad bushes, are beautiful in the spring.

The housing prices are relatively low and a good value.

Find out where your company's office is located and I'm sure that fellow posters can give you a more detailed picture of the region. Good Luck!
Move from Chicago to Philly? Why?crosscut
Jan 25, 2003 6:23 PM
Wait a minute, let me get this straight. You want to move away from Chicago to Philly? Girl, you must be desperate for a job. I'd rather wait tables in Chicago. Weather and biking aside, have you ever been to Philly? Have you ever dealt with the people there, at any level? There's a very real reason why Philly fans boo Santa Claus at half-time at the Vet.
some comments on areaDaveG
Jan 26, 2003 6:05 AM
I take it you may be moving to the Philly area? I've lived around the greater Philly area all my life in both Pa and NJ, although never in the city itself. I live about 15 miles east in NJ currently. I think the answer depends on whether you plan to live in the city or suburbs. Philly is an old east coast city with a lot of history. It suffers from the same ills that many cities its size have - traffic, crime, decay, etc. Terrain can vary. To the west and north there is rolling terrain and some nice hills can be found. About an hour north can get into some steeper climbing. To the east is flat all the way to the Atlantic. You really don't have to go that far to find some rural areas. There are several clubs in the area. Bicycle Club of Philadelphia, Suburban Cyclists Unlimited, White Clay Bike Club (Delaware) and Outdoor Club of South Jersey to name some (they all have websites). Weather can be hot and sticky in the summer and thunderstorms are a possibility. Winters are milder than Chicago - expect about 20inches of snow average although area drivers are notorious snow-wimps. Snow is very unlikely before mid-December so you can ride though November if you choose. You can find averages at the Weather channel website or National Weather Service. Good luck