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Day Trip with Kids: Destination Philadelphia


In July, we moved to Annapolis, Maryland. After living for so many years in states like Florida and Texas, which are so dang big that you could drive for a day or more and still be in the same state, that’s not at all the case in Maryland.


“Have you ever had a cheesesteak sandwich from Philly?” Andy asked.


“Yes,” I replied. I did when I drove from Miami to live in Seattle for a few years, but that was over a decade ago.


“Well, I haven’t. It’s two hours away. C’mon, let’s go on a Sunday day trip.”


My mind whirled with the possibilities of states to explore in earnest when COVID finally disappears. It will, eventually, even if it’s not today. For now, an outdoor picnic by the Liberty Bell with carry-out Philly cheesesteaks seemed like the perfect way to spend an unseasonably warm and gorgeous December Sunday. Washington, D.C. is about 30-45 minutes away, depending on traffic. Within a short couple hour drive, there’s Delaware, Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania. If we’re feeling extra ambitious, New York City is three and a half hours away. Likewise, North Carolina is about three hours away if we drive south. When I was a kid growing up in Miami, if we wanted to drive out of the state, it would take forever. Florida just went on and on. Andy and I moved here from Texas and we took plenty of road trips through Texas. Driving in Texas, like when we would visit family in El Paso, takes forever. Here, a day trip to a new state can be done in no time.



Driving to Philadelphia was easy. With the kids strapped into their car seats, they both stared out the window, lulled by the gentle hum of the car, and soon enough, they both fell asleep. They woke up a couple of times, at least Maggie did. She’d look around, see Andy and me in the front, see sister gently snoring next to her, then doze off again. Car trips are pretty boring for kids, which is why they tend to sleep as much as they do when the drive gets long.


Online, I found a sandwich shop that has gluten-free cheesesteak sandwiches. Campo’s Philly Cheesesteaks on 214 Market Street, Philadelphia, could not only turn nearly everything on their menu gluten-free, but it also had a wide variety of cheesesteak sandwiches. I’m no cheesesteak connoisseur, but as implied by the name, I figured a cheesesteak is a simple configuration of cheese and steak on bread. They have that, but they also offered a wide variety of cheesesteak sandwich variations using different types of cheeses, an assortment of add-ons, and extra flavor combinations that all sounded delicious. I went with the Flyers Ice Steak, which was a rib-eye steak inside a gluten-free roll covered in Philly cream cheese, fresh tomato, and hot pepper cheese sauce. Andy had a Cheesesteak Hoagie, which was a rib-eye steak served with lettuce, tomato, onions, and provolone. Campo’s had a lot more to offer besides cheesesteaks, but we didn’t consider those items. After all, we didn’t drive two hours for a chicken sandwich. Hazel had a hot dog (she’s been annoyingly picky recently and likes hot dogs) while Maggie had her packed keto lunch consisting of sliced turkey, provolone, mayonnaise, mustard, red bell pepper, and some diluted cream as “milk.”



For it being a sunny 60-something degree Sunday, there were very few people out and about, especially in the touristy area surrounding the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. All of these places were closed, so we couldn’t go into the building to see the Liberty Bell up close or any of the historical documents in the museums, but that was okay. The kids were more interested in an open field and a gravel lot. We ate our lunches on benches and Andy and I took turns chasing after the kids. Maggie would run up to me and tap my leg, then run away as if to say, “Chase me, Mommy! Chase me!” Hazel joined the fun, everyone running around with tummies full of cheesesteak.


The rest of the trip went downhill from there. We began to hear a rather loud and hostile string of expletives coming from the subway, my guess from a man screaming into his cellphone. Hazel is now a parrot who repeats nearly anything she hears. We certainly didn’t want this angry and inconsiderate fellow to contribute to her budding vocabulary so we moved on, packing the kids in the double stroller and making our way to the Liberty Bell.



Hazel didn’t want to be in the double stroller, especially after being in the car for the two-hour drive, so she tried to unfasten her seatbelt. Failing that, she started screaming and trying to wiggle her way free from the seat. I pulled her out and let her walk holding my hand. Maggie got upset as if to say, “Hey! Why does Hazel get to be out of the stroller?” We left Maggie in, for the time being, checking out the Liberty Bell through the window.



Both kids got progressively fussy. We let Maggie out, who proceeded to run, trip on her feet, and crash knees first to the gravel. I held her as she cried. Hazel was crying because she didn’t want to be carried by Daddy who was keeping her from running off into the street. With both kids crying, barely any sightseeing, Andy and I shrugged and headed back to the car.


The kids whined and cried for most of the drive back to Annapolis. They were tired, and their routine had been thrown off by our excursion.


Was the cheesesteak sandwiches worth a four-hour round trip with a couple of crybabies? Actually, yes. If you’re ever in Philly, check out Campo’s.


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