Keeping it local this summer

The summer season has crept up on us — but before you start thinking about where to jet off and spend your hard-earned cash, consider this: Some of the best and most affordable summer pleasures can be found right here in your own backyard.

There are an abundance of local activities that many consider to be a must-see. The aspiring history buff can take a tour through the timeless Independence Hall or pay a visit to the National Constitution Center, Franklin Square or the Liberty Bell Center, just to name a few. Families enjoy the Please Touch Museum, Franklin Institute, Philadelphia Zoo and Adventure Aquarium.

Or you can lose yourself in the galleries of the Philadelphia Museum of Art or the newly opened Barnes Foundation Philadelphia Campus.

Still not convinced you can stay busy this summer? How about attending some of the best local summer events you may not have heard of yet? For example, July 20 through 22, you can enjoy three days of music festivities at the 2012 XPoNential Music Festival ( festival-2012) right on the Camden Waterfront at Wiggins Park and the Susquehanna Bank Center.

All across the city from July to August, free movie nights (

summer-nights-roundup-our-guide-to-outdoor-movie-screenings-in-philadelphia) are featured every other Thursday night at the Schuylkill Banks, every Thursday night at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, every Saturday night at the Race Street Pier with the Awesome Film Fest and more.

Thrifty types can head to the Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll ( in University City on July 19, Aug. 16, and Sept. 20 to support participating businesses offering $1 snacks, drinks and more with festivities featuring live music and street performances.

As the animals at the Philadelphia Zoo settle for the night, the evening will just begin for attendees at the Zoo’s Summer Ale Festival on July 21 where they can enjoy a variety of local foods and craft beers.

For the French revolutionary in you, the 18th annual Bastille Day Cabaret, which has become one of Philadelphia’s most popular summertime events, will present a cabaret, an entertaining reenactment of the Storming of Bastille and a flurry of thousands of Tastykake’s hurled from walls of the Eastern State Penitentiary (

The event will be followed by lively French-themed performances and dinner and drink specials at surrounding restaurants.

And during the week, unwind after a day at the office from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Wednesday with Center City Sips (, where a large variety of participating restaurants and bars offer drink and food specials for the light spender.

So why not stay and get comfortable in Greater Philadelphia this summer? There’s certainly plenty to do — and all that’s missing is you!

– Rob Wonderling is the president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. His column runs the second Wednesday of every month.

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