Philadelphia, in Southeastern Pennsylvania, is the sixth-largest city in the US. Known for Cheesesteaks, the Liberty Bell, Rocky, and Constitution Hall, it is both full of history, and full of everyday life. Often called the “Birthplace of America,” this “City of Brotherly Love” played a big part in the American Revolution, as the city was the site of the writing of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Philly even had a short stint as the nation’s capital, from 1790 to 1800. Here are some of the top things to do in Philadelphia.
Take a walk through history
Philly is bursting with history, and because it’s a very walkable city, you can cover a lot of historical ground in a single day of hitting the pavement. The Liberty Bell is right in the middle of Philly, near Independence Hall. A popular walking route is the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, home to several museums including the Franklin Institute and the Museum of Art. If you’re looking for a guided walk, check out the Constitutional Guided Walking Tour of Philadelphia, a 75-minute, 1.25-mi walking tour of the historic district which showcases over 15 of Philadelphia’s most popular tourist attractions including Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Benjamin Franklin’s grave site, and the house where Thomas Jefferson wrote much of the Declaration of Independence. Other historical venues include Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site and the Philadelphia Zoo, the first zoo in America.
Shop ’till you drop
Foodies should flock to the Reading Terminal Market, an indoor public market that opened in 1893 and is now part of the Philadelphia Convention Center. Some of the vendors have been there for over 100 years, and there is a section for Pennsylvania Dutch (or Amish) vendors. Third Street Corridor in Old City has the city’s best in high-end, independent retailers and Antique Row, on Pine Street between 9th and 13th offers a mix of antique stores and local boutiques. Check out the open-air Italian Market in South Philly for more fresh produce and food or head to Chinatown for Asian food, art and crafts.
Play in a park
Philadelphia is home to dozens of green spaces, perfect for picnicking or relaxing and watching life go by in the city.Fairmount Park, the largest urban park in the U.S is home to the Smith Memorial Playground, Dell East Concerts, and a driving range. West Fairmount Park (which has been renamed The Centennial District) also includes the Mann Music Center (where The Philadelphia Orchestra plays in summer), the Japanese TeaHouse, and the Please Touch Museum for kids. In the Wisshickon Valley park, you’ll find hiking trails and a walking/biking, horseback riding trail known as the Forbidden Drive. Other popular parks include LOVE park, FDR park (or The Lakes), and Pennypack park.
Find out why you should add Philadelphia to your RTW trip itinerary.
Take a tour
For tourists who want to see a lot of Philly in a short time, a tour is the way to go. And the city offers tours for nearly every interest. Take Big Bus tour on an open-top double-decker bus, follow colonial-themed tour guides through the Once Upon A Nation historical tour, see cinematic sights showcased in movies like Rocky and Philadelphia on the Philadelphia in the Movies Tour, or get scared silly on the Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour. Those who want a budget-friendly tour can guide themselves on the Philadelphia Phlash, a trackless trolley ride that goes between downtown hotels and 19 Philadelphia locations, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Old City and Logan Square, and cost just $5 for an all day pass.
Root, root, root for the home team
Philadelphia is home to some rabid sports fans, and you don’t want to get caught cheering for the competition! See the Phillies, Flyers, Eagles, 76’ers, or even the Independence, a women’s professional soccer team.
Bring your own, and drink up
Philadelphia, like a few other select cities, has a wonderful liquor law that allows restaurants to implement a BYOB policy. Customers can bring their own beer or wine to consume with the meal, saving money on the high cost of booze at restaurants. Just look for the BYOB sign at any restaurant. Philly also has a great bar scene, with neighborhood bars on nearly every street. Local beers include Yuengling, Yard’s, or Troegs; Yard’s and Philadephia Brewing Company are two newer microbrews.
Try one “wit”
You could go to Philly and not try its namesake food, the Philadelphia Cheesesteak, but you’d be missing out. Instead head to South Philly to try this sandwich made of a fresh roll filled with grilled shaved beef and cheese (as well as onions, mushrooms, and other optional sides). Pat’s King of Steaks is the birthplace of the concoction, while nearby Geno’s Steaks claims to have perfected it. Either you can’t go wrong. Just specify the kind of cheese you want, and weather it’s with or without (“wit” or “witout” in the local slang) fried onions. Other local favorites include soft pretzels, Tastycakes, and scrapple (a mix of pork and cornmeal, cooked into a thick pudding, formed into a loaf, sliced, and fried).
Philly is a fun city, and one in which you could easily spend several days exploring. But there’s plenty to see and do within a short drive as well, so if you have time, plan on at least one day trip. Get your chocolate fix at Hershey Park, visit Lancaster, home of the Pennsylvania Amish, or relax in a mountain retreat in the Poconos.
>> Check out more top things to do in Philly from IGoUGo.