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Independence Hall National Constitution Center Philadelphia Zoo Jersey Shore

Unless you’re a famous Hollywood celebrity or multimillionaire, a lot of people, especially the average working Joe, or even someone who’s on a limited income, cannot afford to take exotic vacations every year. With millions of people in this country out of work, and even working at jobs where they’re barely getting by, there are plenty of places to see and do right there in your own hometown.

Take the Philadelphia area, where I have lived all of my life. A majority of Philadelphia area residents go down to the Jersey Shore for some sun, fun, and action. In fact, a lot of them have vacation homes down there. In Atlantic City, they can get their stakes up high at the casinos, see top-name entertainment, enjoy drinks at a beach cafe, go shopping, stroll along the Boardwalk, lie on the beach, and swim in the ocean. Wildwood (especially the Morey’s Piers amusement park) North Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, Long Beach Island, Ocean City, Cape May (with its Victorian homes), Beach Haven, Brigantine, Longport, Margate, and Sea Isle City, are also popular with Philadelphia area residents as well. In June, right after graduation, many area high school seniors go down to Wildwood for “Senior Week.”Hotel accomodations and restaurants run the gamut from cheap to expensive. Check out the hotels in the area just to see if they offer any special family rates and vacation packages as well. Why spend a fortune going to some fancy beach resort in the Carribean, or even to Hawaii, Cancun, Florida, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Costa del Sol in Spain, Rio, de Janeiro, or even the French Riviera? Go to the Jersey Shore.

In the city of Philadelphia alone, you can take your family to the Franklin Institute, the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Philadelphia Zoo, Independence Hall, the National Constitution Center, Betsy Ross’ House, Elfreth’s Alley (the oldest residential street in America that’s still in use),Carpenters’ Hall, the Please Touch Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Out in the suburbs, you can go to Valley Forge, where George Washington and his troops spent the winter, Go over to Camden to the New Jersey State Aquarium, or even take the kids to Sesame Place in Langhorne, Bucks County.

If you love the mountains, especially if you want to go skiing in the winter, or go on a romantic honeymoon, go up to the Poconos; which is just a few hours drive north of Philadelphia. Why spend a fortune going out to Colorado or even over to the French, Swiss, Bavarian, and Austrian Alps, or over to Paris?

For shopping, you can go to one of the various area malls such as the King of Prussia Plaza, the Gallery in downtown Philadelphia, Neshaminy Mall in Bucks County, or the Cherry Hill Mall (the nation’s first enclosed shopping mall) in New Jersey; plus the various Walmarts, Targets, and K-Marts scattered throughout the area.

Or better yet, go join a local swim club, the YMCA, or country club. In this area, if you love golf, there’s the Springfield Country Club. the Llanerch Country Club, the Merion Golf Club (where the 1981 U.S. Open was held), and Paxon Hollow. Right here in Upper Darby, where I Iive, there’s a public tennis court right by Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High Schools. Why go all the out to Pebble Beach, or even down to Hilton Head Island, or to Florida?

If you have a pool at home, you can simply put on your bathing suit, lie out in the sun and work on that tan (just be careful and don’t get yourself overexposed to the sun); or you can invite the neighbors over for a fun-filled pool party. You can even have a Hawaiian luau right there in your own backyard. Why spend a fortune going to Hawaii?

For a picnic on a nice summer day, there is Fairmount Park.

For a night on the town, you can have dinner at Le Bec Fin and go see a concert or a show at either the Academy of Music, the Merriam Theater, or the Kimmel Center. Why go to New York to see a Broadway show, when many Broadway shows come right here to Philadelphia. For gambling, besides Atlantic CIty, there Harrah’s in Chester and the Philadelpha Park Casino. Why go out to Las Vegas? For rock concerts, there’s the Wachovia Center. Why go to Madison Square Garden.?

If you want to just simply get away from it all, check out the various hotels here in the area to see if they offer any special packages, as well as lower rates.

Yes, Philadelphia offers just as much as New York, Las Vegas, Hawaii, California, Europe, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific; only much closer to home.