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A Night on the Town

Jonathan Clements

AS I’VE GROWN OLDER, I have become more willing to open my wallet and splurge. But I still get a thrill from what feels like a bargain. One example: I’ve long been a fan of restaurant happy hours, when you can often get a glass of wine and some appetizers at a cut-rate price.

But I have a new favorite low-cost indulgence. Elaine and I will grab a bottle of vino out of the basement—screw top preferred, so we don’t have to bring a corkscrew—and a couple of plastic cups, and then head to Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia’s iconic park.

On our way to Rittenhouse, we’ll pick up a couple of takeout salads or sandwiches. Then we’ll find a bench, pour a glass of wine, eat our dinner and watch the world go by. No matter the season, the park is almost always bustling. Street performers often provide musical accompaniment to our dinner, while the people-watching is unsurpassed.

Meanwhile, there’s no dinner to make or dishes to clean. The price tag? Maybe $35, including vino. There is, of course, some modest risk we’ll be fined for public drinking, which apparently is illegal in Pennsylvania. But judging by the odor of weed that frequently wafts across the park, I suspect we count as model citizens.

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SCao
SCao
1 month ago

Rittenhouse Square is quite a cool place, and I (finally) got to visit it a couple months ago. As with any big cities, please always be mindful of safety. Glad you enjoy this unique outdoor place.

Rick Connor
Rick Connor
1 month ago

The Philadelphia region is blessed with many fine BYO restaurants. We even have a bunch at the Jersey Shore. Alcohol can be a significant part, if not the majority, of a fine dining bill.

David Lamb
David Lamb
1 month ago
Reply to  Rick Connor

Rick – here in Upstate NY, we’re welcome to “BOOB” but there’s always at least a $15 corkage fee. Yes, that’s less than the wine list price for whatever we might have selected but diminishes what the true savings “should” be. Grrr.

M Plate
M Plate
1 month ago

Whenever I was in doubt about drinking regulations, I carried my brew in an innocent looking milkshake or soda container.

Steve Spinella
Steve Spinella
1 month ago

The important thing is to put your vino in a bolsa de papel….

tshort
tshort
1 month ago

Love this! My wife and I have a couple of variations on your approach, including the one we just yesterday evening with another couple. We grab our bottle of wine (or two, maybe with a couple of cans of good IPA), load up our camping bin with table cloth, dinnerware, charcoal, and bbq tongs, and a couple of nice steaks, and head out to the picnic area at a state park that is a mile down the road from us, situated right on San Francisco Bay.

In other words, we have a dinner picnic. On a weekday evening there’s never anyone around so we have the place to ourselves, and get to watch the birds out on the Bay and the sky changing colors as the late afternoon sun goes down.

Beautiful. And a great reminder that the simple things right on your doorstep are easy to overlook – and some of the best things to take advantage of.

OldITGuy
OldITGuy
1 month ago

Don’t count on simply a fine. My brother-in-law thought the same thing and decided to have a beer on an empty beach at sunset in Florida. I still remember seeing him in handcuffs while his wife tried to talk (ultimately successfully) 2 zealous cops into not arresting him. And no, he wasn’t belligerent or resistive in any way. Being similarly clueless, I remember finding myself in Puerto Vallarta Mexico surrounded by 3 armed security guards when trying to check out with a bottle of booze (and a bunch of groceries) at a big box grocery store. The checker didn’t tell me I wasn’t allowed to buy booze, but rather immediately called security. Apparently even though booze was openly sitting on the shelf, it was against the law to purchase it during certain hours of the day. Who knew? Anyway, my point is I’d be very careful about encouraging willful acts of civil disobedience as others may not share a similar dismissive perspective.

Brent Wilson
Brent Wilson
1 month ago
Reply to  OldITGuy

Easy fix. Corksicle wine chiller or other basic thermos if it’s just red wine. Pair that with Yeti Rambler wine tumblers for each person to drink their wine.

Even overzealous cops looking to bother you won’t ask what’s in your thermos unless you’re causing trouble.

Definitely a risk I continue to take 🙂

Linda Grady
Linda Grady
1 month ago

Sounds like fun. In my little PA town, we have a beautiful, tiny park with benches overlooking the Delaware River. I often walk over near the beginning or end of the day, but don’t usually bring a picnic. Maybe I’ll try that – even get some Mexican from the new place across the street (unfortunately, I don’t think Margaritas to go are allowed 😉).

Jo Bo
Jo Bo
1 month ago

So often in life, less is more. Your dining out sounds idyllic.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jo Bo

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