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Why I love Philadelphia

After trashing Philly neighborhoods, Metro columnist reflects on why the city is so great.
A pop-up beer garden on South Street opened by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. (Cassie Hepler)

Editor’s note: Metro received some criticism for Cassie Hepler’s previous ‘Why your neighborhood sucks’ column. So she’s explaining why Philly actually rocks (it’s a love-hate thing).

I hate Philadelphia.

Just kidding! It’s Pittsburgh that I am not a fan of… or as I lovingly refer to it, Sh--sburgh. That was the first city I trekked to for an internship at City Paper, only to be told they no longer needed an intern. After many other not-so-subtle GTFO signs, I eventually made my way to Philly for a newspaper job.

I soon fell in love with the city, starting with my oasis in Manayunk. I have a yard, fire pit, small herb garden and grass under my toes. I chose to live there because it reminded me of San Francisco, CA with its stucco houses, steep hills and town-like feel including being safe at night.

Then I discovered Fairmount Park, one of the largest urban green spaces in the country and only a five-minute mountain bike ride from home. Over the weekends, it serves as a wooded beach swimming hole, with Devil’s Pool as a prime party spot for grillin’ and chillin.'

Philly is like the birthplace of beer gardens, which are like mini-zen escapes from the concrete jungle all over the city. And it’s not just in booze that the city is killing it, with so many amazing breweries (Yards started on my block in a garage), but the restaurant scene is bangin’!

You can get some delicious duck in Chinatown for a steal or put your fancy pants on at Volver for dinner and a show. Even the army of Philly food trucks offer gourmet and drool-worthy food for a stellar price. And don't forget our beloved gas station-meets-real-foodery Wawa. In the fall and winter, that seasonal coffee is like crack. Sorry central Pa., but Sheetz can’t even compare.

I found its after the 10-year marker that Philadelphians start accepting you as “one of us”. Once you earn your stripes, it’s all about who you know, not what you know.

And the variety of people you find in Philly never gets old - different races, ethnicities and cultures blending together. It's amazing to wake up every day and see such a wide variety of people walking around the beautiful architecture (I love City Hall).

Speaking of location, we are in the perfect spot to go to NYC, DC, MD, NJ with straight shots if you leave missing dreaded rush hour times. You can hit the Jersey shore beaches, burbs or farmland all in a simple day trip. Because there’s so much to do and see, it only made sense to give birth to my blogazine babies, Explore-Philly.com and Explore-NJ.com, in 2015.

As much as I loved the boonies, there was nothing to do and I had aspirations for my own online magazines, and no one wants to read about cow tipping. I still plan on making some more waves in my adopted city. But for now, I know Philly has my back!