Book Review: 100 Things To Do in Philadelphia Before You Die


Irene Levy Baker knows Philly. She moved here 25 years ago when she began working for the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, giving tours to travel writers. “I noted what surprised and delighted them,” she says. Ten years later she started her own PR firm that specializes in restaurants and hospitality, which gave her a window into the world of dining, tourist attractions and hotels in the city. Her friends were always asking her for ideas on what to do when they were in the area.

When a publisher approached Baker to do a book on the must-see venues in Philadelphia, she had plenty of knowledge to draw from. And so was born 100 Things To Do in Philadelphia Before You Die (Reedy Press, 2016, $16). Staged as a bucket list of can’t miss sights and experiences within categories like Food & Drink and Music & Entertainment, the book provides brief but valuable snippets about some of the best and least known places to explore in Philly.

According to Baker, keeping the list to 100 venues was the hardest part of writing the book. “If the book was 1,000 Things To Do In Philadelphia Before You Die it would have been much easier. I tried to include both tried-and-true attractions and hidden gems so that it would be interesting to tourists, newcomers and long-time Philadelphians. And to make the book even more useful, I included a tip with each one, like how to get reservations at the city’s trendiest restaurants, the best time to visit a crowded attraction or how to get discounts. I reveal where to get the best hot chocolate and how to get into a secret speakeasy in Chinatown that has no sign, where to be serenaded by opera singers and where to hear free concerts and much more.”

Baker has some suggestions on how readers can use the book:

  • Cross out the things you’ve done, circle the things you haven’t done and try to do one thing each weekend.
  • Find ways to keep your kids busy over the Thanksgiving and winter breaks.
  • Send the book to your grandkids, and ask them to circle things they’d like to do with you.
  • Give the book as a gift to your children’s teachers, your neighbors, babysitters and family members.

The end of the book suggests various itineraries selected especially for couples on dates, young families, parents with teens and empty nesters as well as by season.

With so much more to share with visitors and residents alike about the city of Brotherly Love, Baker is already considering a second book. She says, “In the three months since the book has been out, I’ve seen that there’s a real hunger for this information. People don’t want to spend the weekend doing laundry; they want to get out there and have more fun. Philadelphia has grown and changed so much, and there are lots of things that even lifelong Philadelphians haven’t seen and done. So now I’m considering a second book that is food & drink focused.”

You can find the book at, and if you note that you read about it on, the author will sign it for free. Bulk discounts are available, and they can be personalized. Contact the author directly at [email protected].


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