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6 Pennsylvania Residents Share What Makes Living There Unique

Natives, newcomers dish on some of their favorite places to eat, enjoy the arts or go for a date night.

By Brittany Anas on September 30, 2022

Pennsylvania farmhouses
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania / iStock.com

When it comes to quality-of-life metrics, Pennsylvania checks all the boxes. Here, you can find world-class universities and museums, top-notch healthcare, affordable housing plus fascinating historical landmarks. But there are also some subtleties that enrich life in Pennsylvania — whether that’s cozy coffee shops where baristas remember your name or a community of creatives that support one another.

Here, six residents — a mix of natives and newcomers — share what makes living in Pennsylvania so unique and dish on some of their favorite places to eat, enjoy the arts or go for a date night.

Emily Gallagher, Philadelphia

Emily Gallagher
Emily Gallagher

Occupation: Cinematographer, editor and co-founder of Fishtown Films, a zero-waste film studio.

How long have you lived in Pennsylvania: 12 years

What brought you to Pennsylvania? My partner and I moved from D.C. to Philly after spending a weekend visiting the city. We fell in love immediately. Philly’s underground art and music scene drew us in, and its gritty, scrappy attitude matched us beautifully.  My father was a diplomat and so I grew up moving around the world, lived on four different continents, never living anywhere longer than three years at a time.  Philly hit me the same way London hit me. I felt at home immediately. Bonus: It’s directly between NYC and D.C., where many of our clients are based.

What makes living in Pennsylvania unique? Philadelphia is unique in the strength of its diversity. I love that you never know who you are going to meet on a given day, but almost everyone will be willing to share a beer on their stoop with you and have an actual conversation. You know your neighbors. You support each other in your life pursuits.  Philly businesses support the artists who are working hard to generate new and exciting works. I cannot tell you how many incredible businesses have opened their doors to us so that we can make indie films in their gorgeous, unique spaces.  We might be surly, but we love deeply.

Best place for a date night: My favorite date night spot is at The Head and the Hand bookshop. You can rent an entire bookstore for your date and have the most romantic evening devouring books together while sharing a bottle of wine.

Best place to grab a happy hour: Without a doubt, the best happy hour is spent at The Monkey Club. Between the free pool, the wonderfully kind owner, and the overall fabulous dive aesthetic, there is no other bar that compares. Bonus: we filmed most of our upcoming feature film, “Citywide,” at The Monkey Club.  

Justin Mosebach, Lancaster

Justin Mosebach
Justin Mosebach

Occupation: SEO analyst and account manager working remotely for Sterling Sky Inc.

How long have you lived in Pennsylvania? 31 years

What makes living in Pennsylvania unique? You can go from big city to small town to countryside in a matter of minutes. From the nation’s founding in Philadelphia, to the Amish of Lancaster County, to the Gettysburg battlefields, there’s everything an American history-lover could want all in one state. My family enjoys the endless number of state parks for camping and cabining, many of which have lakes or even waterfalls.

Best place to grab an ice cream cone? Pine View Dairy is a dairy farm in Lancaster that makes their own ice cream. It’s perfect for families with kids because you can walk around and see newborn calves.

Quinn Kirby, Pittsburgh

Quinn Kirby
Quinn Kirby

Occupation: Owner of Quinn Kirby Photography, a creative personal branding and commercial photography studio.

How long have you lived in Pennsylvania? Since March 2022.

What brought you here? I was born and raised in Michigan. I love the people and places that raised me, but I felt like I had this string pulling at me, tugging me out of state. When my partner moved to Pittsburgh in September of 2021, I started visiting about once a month and fell for the area and its people. It was just a very serendipitous happening that the person I love conveniently moved to a place that moved me, too.

What makes living in Pennsylvania unique? People in Pittsburgh are different from folks in my hometown. The significance is subtle, but after interacting with people over several weeks, I’m convinced that they’re just a bit more open than folks back home. Just a bit more excited to share stories. Just a bit more trusting, yet not blindly. I will say, most of the folks I’ve connected with here so far are also transplants, which may affect my perception, but I’m really happy to be curating a community for myself.

Best coffee shop? I’m a regular at de Fer Coffee and Tea in The Strip District. Their baristas are always so friendly (I’m somehow already on a first-name basis with two of them). The cortado is incredible.

Marty Ferrill, Glen Mills

Marty Ferrill
Marty Ferrill

Occupation: President at Philly Pretzel Factory

How long have you lived in Pennsylvania? My entire life.

What makes living in Pennsylvania unique? As you travel through the state you get to see so many different cultures and food. Pennsylvania is famous for many types of foods — pretzels, cheesesteaks, hoagies, birch beer, tomato pie (and don’t forget scrapple, which is made of pork). One of other things that makes Pennsylvania unique is its proximity to both the mountains and the beach. You can spend the day at the mountains and come home and go over into New Jersey and be at the beach on the same day.

What is your order at Philly Pretzel Factory? Original Philly pretzel with extra spicy brown mustard and a mango frozen lemonade.

Kunal Gandhi, Pittsburgh

Kunal Gandhi
Kunal Gandhi

Occupation: Founder and CEO of EZPT, an at-home fitness app

How long have you lived in Pennsylvania? 5 years.

What brought you to Pennsylvania? Studying at the University of Pittsburgh.

What makes living in Pennsylvania unique? Pittsburgh has many different flavors. Downtown is filled with restaurants. Shadyside is filled with fun places to eat and hang out. Oakland has the young college feel to it. Southside has some of the best wings and burgers in the country!

Best place to grab happy hour? Coop DeVille because there is an arcade, a mini bowling alley and pool tables where my friends and I can stay active!

Jonathan Russell, Perkasie

Jonathan Russell
Jonathan Russell

Occupation: Attorney at Drake, Hileman & Davis

How long have you lived in Pennsylvania? My entire life.

What makes living in Pennsylvania unique? Living in Bucks County, PA, is ideal.  You can enjoy the best of all four seasons with easy access to the city, the mountains or the beach. You have the benefit of accessing all that Philadelphia or New York has to offer from sports to entertainment, while still living in a bucolic setting, which residents such as lyricist Oscar Hammerstein, writer Pearl S. Buck and poet Dorothy Parker all found so appealing. 

Favorite landmark? In Bucks County, Fonthill Castle and Moravian Pottery and Tile Works Museum are fascinating both in its story and architecture. However, if you like Impressionism, combining a trip to the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown with a trip to the Barnes in Philadelphia would be tough to beat.

This article was sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

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