The Franklin Institute + Harry Potter™: The Exhibition

Devan Zimmerman at Harry Potter Experience

I’ve been posting somewhat on Instagram about the writing retreat I took in March and realized I never wrote a post about the experience as I had intended to do.

So, here we are.

The Franklin Institute has been showcasing an interactive Harry Potter exhibition that I absolutely had to attend, so I bought myself a ticket earlier this year. I had a couple months to wait before I could actually visit the exhibit, and the more I thought about the trip, I decided it needed to be a weekend getaway.

I don’t live that far from Philly and have been to the city many times, but I wanted to give myself an ✨experience✨ after a drought of traveling. Plus, I was visiting purely to live out a childhood dream, so why not further indulge my inner child?

I booked an Airbnb in the center of Rittenhouse Square fitted with my locale must-haves: a writing desk, a bathtub, and a view of the Philadelphia skyline. I live in an apartment with a stand-up shower and don’t often have the luxury of a bubble bath with a glass of wine and a novel.

The first night I arrived, I made myself dinner and took said bubble bath, simply enjoying the solo night away from my apartment. I was on vacation.

My admission time for the museum wasn’t until the late afternoon on Saturday, so I walked to the Barnes & Noble a few blocks over. It was still early March, mind you, and bitterly cold. I reached the shop in about 10 minutes’ time and was grateful to be embraced by its warmth. I had a couple hours to kill and it was the best (or worst) place for me to do so.

Devan Zimmerman Philly Barnes & Noble

My only goal was to find a book about crystals to assist in my research for the beginner’s guide post I was writing for The Witch’s Quill, and Women of Sand and Myrrh for book club in a couple weeks. It was my first time in the Philly B&N, so I spent a good deal of time walking around the three levels and perusing. Naturally, this led me to leaving the store with more than just the crystal book, and I had completely forgotten about the book club pick altogether.

Devan Zimmerman Philly B&N Book haul

As of this writing, I have only read half of the six books I bought. The other half remains on my TBR shelf.

After my shopping spree, I walked back to the Airbnb and dropped off my goods before driving over to the museum. I had initially intended to walk the 10 or so blocks, but I was cold enough from the walk to and from the bookstore. Plus, I ended up saving money parking in the museum lot than if I had remained on the street (the cost to park in downtown Philadelphia is astronomical).

I made it to the museum just as my admission time slot was opening up for entry, and then I was in.

Devan Zimmerman HP Exhibit Entrance

Now, I went on a Saturday and it was incredibly packed. The lines for the interactive elements were long, and kids were doing their best to cut in front (I am not ashamed to admit that I did not allow them to cut me off).

I especially loved the Herbology greenhouse and Gryffindor common room.

Overall, I loved the entire experience despite only doing a few of the activities. I did, however, read nearly every description about the props and costumes displayed throughout the exhibit. Seeing the costumes with my own eyes and further learning about their evolution along the course of the movie series was enlightening. I could have easily spent more time looking it all over, but being in close quarters with hundreds of people for a couple hours was taxing, so I didn’t dally long.

After escaping the exhibit, I spent a few hours walking through the museum itself. I had been when I was a kid, but it was fun experiencing it as an adult. The Planetarium was unfortunately closed, so I wasn’t able to check that part out.

I tapped out at that point and went back to the apartment. The weather was calling for snow that evening, and I wanted to be back before it started. It had just begun to snow as I pulled up to my rented space, and I managed to find a parking spot right in front of the building.

I relaxed that evening and spent Sunday morning on the writing part of the writer’s retreat. Though there was a desk in the bedroom, it was quite small (I tend to work better sprawled out on a large surface), so I did my work at the dining table. Not only was it a much bigger workspace to allow easy access to my laptop, notebook, and a pile of books for research, it was facing the city skyline.

It was incredibly scenic: the snow falling as I drank my coffee and wrote, a candle burning beside me.

Devan Zimmerman Writer Retreat

I wrote most of the day and ended up deciding to go home a day early. While it had stopped snowing, more was in the forecast for the next day. I didn’t want to get stuck there, nor did I want to be driving in the snow (I don’t have the best track record there). So, I packed up and headed home that evening. I didn’t mind the early end; I was welcomed home by my cats and enjoyed a day off in the comfort of my own home.

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