Getting outside and stretching our legs on the weekends and our off time is a must for us. Recently, with Joe being back at a full-time job and me balancing bartending and freelancing, we’ve had less time than ever to get out and about. Which is why we’ve fallen in love with Wissahickon Valley Park, a 1,800 acre park with 57 miles of trails available for hiking, walking, biking, and running.
First things first, what is Wissahickon Valley Park?
Wissahickon is a 20-minute drive from Center City, Philadelphia or a lovely 6-mile bike ride to get to the entrance. There are numerous parking lots and access points to get onto the trails scattered around the outskirts. It is incredibly convenient and yet, a walk in the woods here totally transports you out of the city. I still find it really cool that there is hiking within the city here. We had it in New York, but it never felt quite as accessible.
Of course, we don’t do anything without considering the food we’re going to eat afterward. In fact, half of the reason we try to discover different places is so that we can also check out new food spots. This is why we made sure to run through Florence instead of walk to see the sites, planned out noodle stops for after our NYC marathon training runs, and ensured we hit the English Market in Ireland after a long run.
Win win, right?
Hiking Wissahickon Valley Park
In this case, we don’t feel we have quite enough experience hiking in Wissahickon to put together a comprehensive post on hiking it–we hope to soon! We have, however, made sure to eat everything in the surrounding area of the park to give you, dear reader, the best possible chance of eating well after your walk through the urban woods.
If you’re interested in a hiking map, check out Friends of Wissahickon Valley Park and purchase one from them for a nominal fee. They’re the non-profit behind the park, and do an amazing job taking care of it.
Hiking is a joy in itself, but you gotta eat, right? This is where you can find the best food near Wissahickon Vally Park.
**None of these were sponsored or promoted to us in any way. These were visited without us identifying ourselves, are unbiased, and just places we genuinely enjoy and think you might too.
Vault & Vine, 3507 Midvale Ave, Philadelphia, PA
Distance from Wissahickon: 0.8 miles from the closest point. It’s an easy bike ride. You could walk, but it’s not as nice of a road. Driving would be a couple of minutes. Neighborhood: East Falls
There are a few guaranteed ways for me to fall in love with a business as a consumer and Vault & Vine hits all of them. As a flower shop and greenhouse, the whole place smells like you just walked into a botanical garden. The sloping glass roof that covers the cafe and the area where the potted plants are kept allows light to filter into every nook and cranny of the building.
Pets are encouraged and allowed, there are treats and good coffee for purchase, and they have thoughtful, meaningful touches throughout. In the bathroom, for example, there is shelving filled with diapers, spare onesies, and menstrual products to take. They offer giant mugs for your in-house caffeine purchases that, served in a heated enclosed area off the side crammed with small tables and potted plants, help to foster the feeling that you’re at home in this cozy and aesthetically beautiful space. It also looks like a greenhouse.
The pots and plants for sale are beautiful. When we went, we got decent coffee and a delicious Brookie. Another time I stopped I also tried the blueberry bread, another winner. I’m not sure where the baked goods come from but wherever it is, they’re nailing it.
This is a great spot to waste an hour or 5 in the sunny, enclosed patio. There is WiFi, so it can be used to catch up on work post-hike or to just update the gram story from all those gorgeous pictures you took next to the river.
This is now one of our favorite coffee shops in Philadelphia, we try to pop in whenever we’re in the neighborhood.
In Riva, 3507 Midvale Ave, Philadelphia, PA
Distance from Wissahickon: 0.9 miles from Southernmost point. It is an easy bike ride or walk to get here afterward. If driving, there is a parking lot across the street from In Riva.
Neighborhood: East Falls
For some reason, In Riva doesn’t seem that well loved by Philadelphians or get a lot of hype. We don’t get why, it’s actually really good.
A wood oven pizza spot is always going to pique our interest but, to be totally honest, we’re mostly very underwhelmed with the pizza in Philadelphia. There have been exceptions to this–more on this soon!–and while In Riva is not the best pizza we’ve ever had, that title lives in Naples, we found it to be one of the best in the area.
However, the best part about eating at In Riva is probably the riverside deck. It’s covered with ceiling fans, there are bike racks outside, and while you’re on Kelly Drive–a potentially busy road–the views of the Schuylkill are really nice to gaze at over a glass of wine and a slice. Added benefit: there’s a mulched side yard where you can bring your pup to play and socialize with full-service tables.
The Perogie Kitchen, 648 Roxborough Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19128
Distance to Wissahickon: 98 ft. It’s next door! This is definitely the easiest place to get to from the park on our list. You can walk, bike, crawl, or whatever you want to get over here.
An actual hole in the wall–our very favorite kinds of establishments–the Perogie Kitchen is a little Polish spot specializing in…wait for it…perogies! I have a deep and passionate love for these little European dumplings, especially when they are fried properly in butter.
These perogies are some of the best we’ve ever had. The owner learned the how-to’s from her grandma and has been serving them here since 2003. There are classic kinds, potato and onion, and hip new takes like Philly cheesesteak. Since Joe and I are old school and generally speaking don’t like the “new takes” on anything, we opted for the potato and cheese and potato and chive.
The perogies flavors here sell out. By the time we visited a few minutes before closing on a Saturday, there were only a few left to choose from. The kitchen also closes 10-15 minutes before the written closing time. If you want to eat them fresh, plan accordingly and get here earlier.
We ended up with a couple of packages of frozen dumplings and a tub of sauerkraut that we cooked at home, but we’ll definitely be back to sample them from the kitchen.
Wissahickon Brewing Company, 3705 W School House Ln, Philadelphia, PA 19129
Distance to Wissahickon: 0.4 miles from Southernmost Point. Easy to bike or drive there, but the road is busy and does not have a sidewalk so be careful if walking.
Neighborhood: East Falls
Wissahickon Brewing Company is the fun spot. The large indoor space is broken down into a couple of rooms, one that empties out into wide, open space with high ceilings, a scattering of chairs, tables, and park benches and a huge hanging projector screen for games. Another smaller room is located in front of the building where the bar is.
Outside, there is a sunken seating area with games, tables, and chairs for when the weather is a bit nicer. On the sunny Saturday that we visited, the place was packed with pups and people alike. Almost everyone was in a group celebrating something or hanging out.
The beer here is good. The varieties rotate depending on what they have available at the moment. All beers are brewed in house except for a few guest spots that they offer up to other local breweries.
Wissahickon Brewing doesn’t serve food itself, though they always have an on-site food truck. Which one depends on the schedule they have kindly posted on their website. On the Saturday that we visited it was Dekes BBQ.
We got a pulled pork sandwich and some fries which were solid, but nothing crazy. The BBQ sauce was sweet and the sandwich was on what we felt was the wrong bun–we prefer our pulled pork on potato buns. Admittedly, we didn’t get the signature thing that Dekes is known for–Brisket Cheesesteak–which might have been more impressive.
Market at the Fareway, 8221 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19118
Distance to Wissahickon: 0.9 miles. This area makes for a nice walk through residential streets, a solid bike ride–they’re hilly–or quick drive.
Neighborhood: Chestnut Hill
Maybe you can tell from the posts we’ve done on Campo De Fiori in Rome or the English Market in Cork but we LOVE food markets. A place we can go, purchase all the things we like to eat (usually for a low cost) and sample everything? Sign us up every time.
Since moving to Philly, we’ve been to Reading Terminal Market a billion times, give or take, and while it’s a fun tourist thing to do and the food is usually pretty good, we’re kind of over it. So we were really excited to find a new haunt right near where we like to hike.
Market at the Fareway is small and has two empty storefronts right now, but we were told it’s just in a bit of a transition at the moment and new vendors will be in soon–helloooo new dumpling spot. While the market itself has been around for decades, it was recently been remodeled and re-branded in 2013.
Currently, there are 16 vendors operating out of the space. We tried 3 of them: pizza and beers from Chestnut Hill Brewing, “sugar crack” from Barry’s Buns, and vegetarian Pho from Saigon Noodle Bar. Again with the pizza surprise, we thought the Neapolitan style Margherita pizza was really good here. The pho was a nice surprise for me to be able to eat since it’s usually not vegetarian, but it was also really good.
The real star here, though, was this sugar crack. Aptly named because it’s addictive AF, I freaked out when I ate this. It’s baked like a thin flatbread with the consistency of a gingerbread cookie, a bit chewy, and heavy on the cinnamon. On top are large chunks of crystallized sugar. It was the kind thing I could happily eat until I throw up, and afterward, would probably eat more of.
The seating is open and communal with long indoor tables meant for sharing. Outside there are more long tables set on a partially covered patio area. There is a fire pit with oversized plastic chairs surrounding it for chillier nights.
So here you have it! The best places to eat after a long, sweaty day romping in the woods over at Wissahickon Valley Park.