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The Philadelphia Flower Show is outdoors for the first time in its nearly 200-year existence. The fields and lakes of FDR Park offer a very different experience than the usual halls of the Pa. Convention Center — including lots more food and drink on site.
Usually, the tens of thousands of visitors migrate across the street to the legendary Reading Terminal Market for meals and snacks. This time, it’s all inside the show grounds.
Spectra Experiences and Brûlée Catering worked with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to set up the food options, and made sure to bring local flavor. Local vendors and big name brands are spread across at least five different areas of the show.
The outdoor setting has pros and cons. During a preview last week, Just Fork It co-owner Jillian Daniels waited out a rainstorm by dancing to “I Want You Back” by N-Sync under a tent near her food truck.
“We’re working out the kinks today,” Daniels said. “But, we’re confident the week of the show will go well.”
Though it was scorching hot, opening day was sold out, according to Spectra spokesperson Blair Cardinal. Inclement weather can be an issue: if lighting looms, food and drink vendors may be asked to pause service, said Jack O’Brien, vice president at Brûlée. (Organizers suspended entry Tuesday afternoon as thunderstorms threatened; there isn’t a lot of room for social distancing if you have to gather under tents.)
Given fairer weather, the show runs daily through June 13. The timed entry tickets aren’t cheap: $45 for older adults; $30 for people aged 18-29; and $20 for people under 18.
Tip: If you don’t mind walking a few extra minutes to the entrance, you can drive around the streets on the north side of Pattinson Avenue and save $20 on parking. When you do approach the entrance, be aware that the line to get in can be long.
You’re not allowed to bring in outside food or drink. So what should you eat when you go, and how much should you expect to spend? There are plenty of choices that aren’t a veggie hoagie.
The major dining options are placed on the perimeter of the show grounds, while smaller, quicker bites and drink stands are sprinkled throughout the center of the show. Here’s a guide to what you’ll find.
After entering the show at what’s called the Design District and doing a round through the central area, the Boathouse is a great place to cool off in the shade, with seating that looks over Edgewood Lake.
The food menu ranges in price from $5 to $22, with a moderate selection of choices like a cheeseboard, burrata salad, or crab cakes. Be forewarned: the servings are small.
Instead, grab a drink — hard kombucha or seltzer are on offer, plus beer and wine — and take in the view of the entire show grounds from the elevated deck.
Set between the Design District and the Garden District is the relatively secluded Beer Garden area. Outfitted with Adirondack chairs, tents and trees that provide shade, there’s a full-service bar and finger food options.
This is where you’ll find the Just Fork It food truck, owned by Jillian Daniels and her mom. The Haddon County, N.J., entrepreneur suggests chicken, pork or veggie tacos to go along with whatever you get from the bar.
Also offering bites at the Beer Garden are vendors Philadelphia Eats and Boardwalk Specialities, both of which also operate counters elsewhere in the show.
Fan of Love Park’s annual Christmas Village? The same company is running this summer version. Nestled in a little grove away from the Design District, you’ll find the cluster of cute brown and white huts that house each vendor.
The array of offerings include bratwursts, sweet and savory waffles, and Belgian fries.
If you’re heading out via the nearby exit, booze-infused sweets company Cynful Bliss — where desserts are named after the seven deadly sins — offers a three-pack to take home.
Situated next to the Hamilton Horticourt — a showcase of award winning plants — the Food Bazaar makes a good pitstop.
At stands set up around the area, you can order a wide variety of dishes. There’s cheesesteaks and burgers, pizza and crab cakes, as well as lighter options like the creative salads at Simply Good Jars.
The bazaar also features “Libations” counters (the brand name Brûlée gave to the show’s official bars) and Ketel One Botanicals drink stands.
You can get beers like Victory Brewing Company’s Summer Love, and a cocktail with lemon and strawberry infused simple syrup. There’s also a nonalcoholic opinion, the Seedlip Highball, made with Seedlip’s distilled nonalcoholic spirits and ginger ale.
There are also stands throughout the Design District — the central portion of the show.
Ben and Jerry’s and Rita’s offer sweet treats that can help you cool off. You can also get Jersey Shore classics like fresh-squeezed lemonade and popcorn at Boardwalk Specialities, or cannoli or lattes at Philadelphia Eats.