On the to-do list this week: It’s an expensive time of year — holiday shopping, holiday parties, trips home to see family — and that’s not counting the pandemic-related price increases that are expected to hit, too. In other words, we all need some free fun. After you check out our free calendar, save yourself some money and get a Free Library card. The library has more than just books. Really. And we have a guide to all of the great free stuff your library card gets you.

On my personal to-do list: I’m going out for a beer and $6 burger at Fountain Porter in East Passyunk.

We’ve collected our best Philly tips all in one place here. Stay healthy, stay safe, and get vaccinated.

Jillian Wilson

Fall toolkit

Fall weekend planner

Here is one highlight from our weekly events calendar:

Opening of Dilworth Park Ice Rink ⛸️ (Seasonal / in-person / kid-friendly / multiday) It’s time to lace up your skates and welcome winter back at Dilworth Park. Skaters of all ages can enjoy sessions on the ice rink, and cozy up in the cabin for warm drinks and food. Reservations and masks are encouraged. ($5-$17, Nov. 5-Feb. 27, 1 S. 15th St., centercityphila.org)

🔎 Find more of this week’s events, and we even have a kid-friendly events calendar, too.

Get a library card

My favorite semi-recent discovery is all of the great things I can access thanks to my Philadelphia Free Library card. We’re talking physical books, e-books for my kindle, audiobooks, borrowable musical instruments, baking supplies, yoga equipment, and access to online tutoring and language-learning tools — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Your library card is an entry point to a world of free things to do, both in-person and from the comfort of your home, and anyone who lives in Pennsylvania or pays taxes, works, or goes to school in Philly can get one. For free. Sadly, the Free Library is constantly hit with budget cuts resulting in fewer resources, fewer staffers, and shorter hours. But, by getting a library card and using all of the great things it gets you, you can help the library get more resources. It’s a real win-win.

Here are a few very cool things you get with your free library card and here’s a full guide to the Free Library of Philadelphia.

  • Access to the Libby app. You can access e-books, audiobooks, and digital magazines through OverDrive, or through the OverDrive app, which is called Libby. You can download the Libby app on your smartphone or e-reader for fast access to the library’s digital collection, including current bestsellers, classic novels, and books by up-and-coming authors.

  • Crafting kits. You can borrow a crochet kit, or one of several knitting kits containing needles in various sizes.

  • Lynda.com or LinkedIn Learning. This online tool can help you learn professional or personal skills, including web design, SEO basics, animation, and marketing.

  • The Business Resource & Innovation Center. This center at the Parkway Central Library branch can help you look for a job thanks to resume review workshops, free headshot days, and more.

  • Read, Baby, Read kits. As part of their early childhood literacy program, the library has themed backpacks that come with books, toys, and other baby-friendly items to help babies and caregivers get excited about reading.

  • Free wifi. All Philadelphia public library branches have free wifi for library card holders’ use.

» READ MORE: Your ultimate guide to the Free Library of Philadelphia

Go here

Philly’s jazz roots run deep. Did you know that our city was once home to jazz greats like John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday (who was also born here), and Nina Simone? Today, we continue to be an important place for jazz thanks to top-notch jazz programs at schools like Temple and Drexel, and large and small music venues offering live jazz performances nearly every night of the year.

We have a guide to 12 spots to visit for live jazz, and I’ve highlighted a few of my favorites, below.

Chris’ Jazz Café. At it since 1989, this intimate Center City spot is probably the best-known — and longest continuously running — jazz club in Philadelphia. The spot has live jazz Wednesday through Saturday, with performances from local, national, and international jazz musicians alike in its “bigger, but still intimate” performance space, says Kim Tucker, program director of local nonprofit Jazz Bridge. And the happy hour (held before shows) and menu — which features Southern-inspired fare from chef-owner Mark DeNinno (a Le Bec-Fin alum), is worth the trip, too.📍1421 Sansom St., 📞 215-568-3131, 📷 @chrisjazzcafephilly, 🌐 chrisjazzcafe.com, 🎟️ Buy tickets

South Jazz Kitchen. This spot from Philly hospitality stalwarts Benjamin and Robert Bynum is another classic, even though it’s only been running since 2015. Here, you’ll find modernized Southern classics (think creole deviled eggs or rosemary turkey wings) served alongside live jazz Friday through Sunday in the restaurant’s cozy jazz parlor. One popular show is Gerald Veasley’s Unscripted Jazz Series, which showcases jazz across a range of styles from the likes of pianist Alex Bugnon and smooth jazz guitarist Nick Colionne.📍600 N. Broad St., 📞 215-600-0220, 📷 @southjazzkitchen, 🌐 southjazzkitchen.com, 🎟️ Buy tickets

Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts. Originally founded in 1935 as the social club of Local No. 274, Philadelphia’s Black musicians union, the Clef Club today is an educational institution for developing jazz musicians that also brings in accomplished musicians for “wonderful concerts” in its intimate performance space, Veasley says. While sidelined recently by the pandemic, they typically hold six large concerts annually, with past performers including the likes of organist DeFrancesco, bassist McBride, and saxophonist Tia Fuller, and plan to resume shows in January 2022.📍736 S. Broad St., 📞 215-893-9912, 🌐 clefclubofjazz.org, 🎟️ Buy tickets

» READ MORE: 12 spots to hear live jazz in Philadelphia

Insta inspo

Holiday season is dessert season. Am I right? You’ll likely need to bring sweet treats to work functions, family gatherings, and neighborhood parties. If you don’t plan on baking all of those desserts (I don’t), I suggest getting a dozen of my favorite cupcakes ever. They’re from Dia Doce in West Chester — I mean, have you ever seen a more photogenic bunch of cupcakes?

Their cupcake menu is seasonal, rotates weekly, and currently promises flavors like chocolate-dipped banana, dulce de leche toast crunch, pumpkin whoopie pie, and more. Honestly, even if you live in the city, these cupcakes are worth the drive to Chester County. The shop did once win Cupcake Wars on the Food Network.