From fitness classes to spas to boutiques, here's a roundup of suggestions for how to make the most of those extra daylight hours with friends.
Wouldn’t everyone like to hang out with their friends more? If only there were more hours in the day. During summer, there are — daylight hours, that is. Need ideas on how to make the most of girl time?
“We have been going to Jen Kades’ morning workout class at Liberty Me in Bryn Mawr,” says Debbie Ellick Wallace, co-owner of Narberth’s Barbara Ellick Designs. “It’s a regular 9:30 a.m. class with a true Main Line cult following.” Liberty Me (libertyme.com) offers children’s ballet, jazz and hip hop as well as yoga, hip hop, Zumba and Pilates classes for adults. The studio was founded by Meegan Rubin, a former member of Koresh Dance Company who studied at NYU’s Tisch School of the Performing Arts and Philadelphia’s University of the Arts.
Dancing isn’t the only workout Wallace does. “Lexi and I both love to meet friends at FlyWheel,” she says. Lexi is her daughter and FlyWheel (flywheelsports.com) is the spinning class that merges cycling with upper body exercise, all set to high-energy music. FlyWheel also offers FlyBarre, a body-bending, off-bike class that combines dance, weight training and core work. Created in New York by a team of cycling professionals, including Ruth Zukerman, FlyWheel now has 23 locations, including those in Bryn Mawr and Center City.
Spinning is big-time girl time in Bucks County, too. Farrell Friedenberg, co-owner of Jay Ann Intimates in Huntingdon Valley, says that RIDECycle (ridecyclingstudio.com) in Southampton is a popular spot. Spinning yarn (and yarns) is all the rage at Knitting To Know Ewe in Newtown. The picturesque shop was built in the 1830s and now features products, classes and special events about knitting, sewing, weaving and spinning.
As for grabbing a bite with the girls, Friedenberg suggests Oishi in Newtown. The family-owned BYOB features Thai, Korean and Japanese food. In March, the restaurant moved into a bigger, swankier spot that is in the same shopping center but now near McCaffrey’s.
Yoga is another great way to spend time with friends. Rabbi Jill Maderer, of Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Center City, is a fan of Wake Up Yoga, which has studios in Fairmount and South Philadelphia. Rabbi Annie Lewis, assistant rabbi at Germantown Jewish Centre, gets into the groove with a Banyan Flow class at Blue Banyan Yoga Studio in East Mt. Airy. Blue Banyan offers vinyasa classes for folks of all ages and at all stages, including toddlers, teens, pregnant women and people with special needs. The studio was founded by Sophie Simpson who, along with her husband Chris, previously owned Wine Thief Bistro, which was also located in Mt. Airy.
“I also love going for coffee with friends,” Lewis says. “Some of my favorite Philly coffee spots are High Point Cafe and Infusion in Mt. Airy, Chestnut Hill Coffee Co. in East Falls, Cedars House on Forbidden Drive, and Joe and Elixr in Center City. The pour-over coffee at Joe is my favorite.”
Coffee shops are perfect places to catch up and caffeinate. “Lots of us like to meet friends at Green Bean in Gladwyne,” Wallace says. Nestled next to the Gladwyne Pharmacy, Green Bean is one of the secret treasures that locals cherish. Open for breakfast and lunch, Green Bean has great sandwiches and salads. But the cafe does keep eccentric hours, so call before going. (358 Righters Mill Road, Gladwyne, 484-412-8266)
Of course, coffee isn’t the only beverage that fuels girlfriend gatherings. “I love girls’ nights at Bar Savona” in Gulph Mills “and The Saint James” in Ardmore, Wallace says. “And, as silly as this sounds, my store, Barbara Ellick, is a favorite destination for girlfriends of all ages. My own friends, my mother’s friends and my daughter Lexi’s friends all regularly drop by for meet-ups. It’s small — and we always have chocolates on hand — so it feels like a bit of a party. Another retailer that has a similar ‘meet-up’ social vibe is my friend Liz Bloom’s store, Home Grown, in Haverford.”
There are plenty of ways to have fun girl time down the shore. Mother-daughter adventures definitely qualify, even if parent and child work together on a daily basis. That’s the case with Ruth Krass and her daughter Sabrina, the wonder women behind Bedazzled Boutique in Newtown Square. The Krasses just opened a second store in Margate, near their longtime Longport shore home. “Sabrina and I go to the classes at the JCC in Margate,” Krass says. “There are tons of classes at all different times throughout the day, from yoga to Zumba.” The Milton and Betty Katz JCC has an extensive roster of fitness classes that includes t’ai chi, chi kung, Piloxing, Pilates, spinning, barre, kettle bells and aquacize water aerobics.
“For breakfast, we love Hanna G’s in Ventnor,” Krass says. “They have plenty of healthy breakfast options, like whole-grain pancakes with blueberries. If we want a nice lunch, Lisa’s Italian Market in Ventnor has the best salads with grilled veggies. Some of our favorite dinner restaurants are Chef Vola’s in Atlantic City, Steve & Cookie’s and Tomatoes in Margate, and Domenico’s in Ventnor.”
Rabbi Andrea Merow of Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park says that biking and beach-going are two of her favorite shore activities. But something else tops her list. “I love Beth Sholom’s Shabbat at the Shore,” Merow says. The ninth iteration of this annual event will be Aug. 15 at 7 p.m. at Cedar Grove and the beach in Margate. Merow recommends bringing a chair, beach blanket and dinner.
Shabbat services are both relaxing and rewarding — but so are spa days. The ultimate girlfriend indulgence, spas are bond-inducing, stress-free zones. Plus, summer skin, hair and nails need extra pampering to counter the effects of sun damage. Where to go? Visit Philadelphia, formerly known as the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, suggests investigating hotel spas. Tops on the list is Adolf Biecker Spa and Salon in The Rittenhouse Hotel. There’s an entire Day Of Beauty package, and a Mini Day Of Beauty for those with busy schedules. Richel D’Ambra Spa and Salon in the Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia is another top pick. The spa occasionally offers great package deals; check the specials section of its website. Another luxurious option: the spa at The Four Seasons Hotel. Pricey? Definitely. Worth every penny? Definitely. And there are spa services for men, if the guys want to tag along on a girls’ day out for some reason.
Mimi James is always up for finding new ways to get together with her friends, but she reserves judgment on spinning. This article originally appeared in This Summer, a Jewish Exponent publication.