Alumna vs. Newbie: Drexel Staff Members Offer Campus and Philadelphia Recommendations
Feeling overwhelmed navigating Drexel University’s campus and the city of Philadelphia? We’ve all been there once. For DrexelNow Editor Alissa Falcone, who attended the University as an undergraduate and graduate student, it was several years ago, but for Staff Writer Nat Kaemmerer, who just moved to Philly at the beginning of June, it’s only been a few months. We put our alumna and newbie minds to work to come up with more detailed recommendations of where to go, what to do and what to eat, so enjoy our differing points of view.
Best place to sit outdoors on campus:
- Nat: I’ve become fond of the Adirondack chairs on the grass at Perelman Plaza, especially for eating lunch. Usually, you can find one in the shade, but there are other shady spots in the plaza, too. It’s a good place to take a deep breath, watch city life go by and touch some grass if necessary.
- Alissa: If I need a quiet (and shady!) place to relax outside, I head over to the Rush Alumni Garden outside of the Rush Building. It’s a beautiful and secluded place and I swear that the babbling water of the fountain is like a white noise machine drowning out all the cars and people nearby.
Place where life feels most collegiate:
- Nat: I didn’t go to college here, but I’m only three years removed from attending my alma mater in the Midwest. When I want to revel in working on a college campus and relive the good old days, I head to Lancaster Walk. Plenty of students pass by and it’s a busy artery through campus, so it’s a good place to soak up the atmosphere and hustle and bustle of college life.
- Alissa: Main Building is the first place I visited as a prospective student (like everyone else) and even though I’ve had classes in the building and now work here, I’m still in awe of the interior and exterior. Learning and writing about this place — its newly painted ceiling, the faces on the Chesnut Street archway, the Peterson Ryder Memorial Clock and the founder’s art collection and Steinway grand piano scattered throughout the building — made me realize that Main Building has always been an essential part of Drexel throughout the decades.
- Nat: I’m new here, so a lot of places seem new or hidden to me. This one might be obvious, but I recently discovered Ross Commons and the cozy space on the second floor. It’s full of cushy chairs and there are phone chargers in the room, too. The armchairs and college memorabilia remind me of a common room at Hogwarts, and I imagine it’ll get even cozier in winter.
- Alissa: It’s literally hidden by the stairs either on Market Street or by the bike rack entrance of the Bossone Research Center, but the patio on Bossone’s second floor usually has a table open to sit at, which is helpful when trying to find outdoor seating space. (Maybe I shouldn’t have picked this.)
- Nat: Treats abound on and near campus, but I like stopping by Board and Brew for a jolt of caffeine or serotonin. I’m a lavender oat milk latte girl, and theirs is fantastic. They also have refreshing teas and lemonades, and now, they’re rolling out their fall menu.
- Alissa: Boba King opened when I was working remotely during the pandemic, so it took a while for me to go there. Should have tried it sooner! I’ve been steadily making my way through the drinks menu for an afternoon pick-me-up. So far, the taro milk tea is my favorite.
Best place to relax:
- Nat: It’s a bit far off the path for Drexel folks, but I love taking a book to Matthias Baldwin Park when I’m done working for the day. It’s located at 423 N. 19th and usually has cute dogs running around for your viewing pleasure, plus there’s a lovely view of Center City. It’s a nice, calm place to find some green space and shade.
- Alissa: Walking along the Schuylkill River Trail in Philly — specifically on the bridge over the water from Locust Street to South Street — is how I stop overthinking. It’s a different way of being outside and by the water. At night, you can time your walk to see the sunset over West Philly. Plus: you can veer off and watch dogs at the Schuylkill River Dog Park!
Best typically touristy thing to do:
- Nat: I moved here in June, so I’ve been trying to knock out the typical touristy things so I can get acquainted with the city ASAP. I’ve snapped the requisite LOVE Park photo and run up the Art Museum steps, but one of my favorite things to do is wander through Reading Terminal Market. You’ll probably have to weave your way through groups of tourists in matching shirts, but if you persevere, you can find an amazing soft pretzel at Miller’s Twist and a very good cheesesteak at Carmen’s Famous Italian Hoagies and Cheesesteaks.
- Alissa: I was going to say Reading Terminal too! I’m excited about the new Saami Somi opening for Georgian food. My second pick is Elfreth’s Alley — if I need to kill time before going somewhere in Old City (I am known to be excessively early), I just walk up and down the street and look around.
Must-do cultural experience:
- Nat: You should definitely go to the Art Museum on a Friday night. It’s open until 8:45 p.m. rather than just 5 p.m., so it’s easier to get there after classes and work your way through the galleries at a leisurely pace. They also have live music playing and drinks and snacks to buy on Friday nights. It’s a great vibe at a great place, and my favorite work of art to see is Claude Monet’s “Japanese Bridge and the Water Lily Pool, Giverny.”
- Alissa: Agree on the Art Museum! When I was a grad student at Drexel, I had a student membership. All of Philadelphia’s museums are excellent (and several have some sort of student discount). The Academy of Natural Sciences is free with a DragonCard and there’s a free Drexel shuttle there. I love the Rodin Museum and the Penn Museum, where you can also sit in the beautiful outdoor courtyards without buying a ticket. The Mütter Museum is such a unique place — I can guarantee you haven’t been anywhere like it.
- Nat: Head to Bar Hygge. I’m lucky enough to have this cozy spot in my neighborhood, but I’d make the trek even if I didn’t live nearby. They serve up hearty brunch food every Saturday and Sunday, plus cocktails with and without alcohol. I’m sort of in love with the Jacked Up Hygge Home Fries, and I alternate between a nitro cold brew and a lavender lemonade to go with it.
- Alissa: It’s a bit of a fancy cliché, but grabbing at outdoor table at Parc overlooking Rittenhouse Square is a special treat. The breakfast pastries basket is great to share.