Philadelphia, which translates to “The City of Brotherly Love”, is a community created from the very beginning to foster freedom, religious tolerance and individual choice. Today, this compact metropolis is a beacon of light and an excellent place to experience the very best of American culture.
William Penn, an English nobleman, founded the city of Philadelphia in 1682. Penn was a religious dissenter from Buckinghamshire, England who professed the religion of the ‘Quakers’.
Possibly the most famous of the City’s residents was Benjamin Franklin. Perhaps you may have seen him on a $100 bill? As one of the Founding Fathers and also a publisher, Franklin played a big role in the development of the city. He is credited for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity as well as founding the city’s first public library and its first fire department. In more recent times, the city has garnered fame as a backdrop for television and movies as well as an important sports capital with five professional teams; the Phillies (Baseball), the Eagles (American football), the 76ers (Basketball), the Flyers (Hockey) and the Union (soccer).
If you fly to Philly you will arrive at Philadelphia International Airport which is located 15.9 km (9.9 miles) from the city. A taxi downtown will cost less than $30. Alternatively, the SEPTA Airport Line serves each terminal throughout the day until midnight. It takes about twenty minutes to reach the city. One of the things I love most about Philly is that it’s a walkable city and there is no need for a car. When you do need it, public transport is easy and efficient and all major rideshares are represented.
Philadelphia is an incredible city with so much to do, both old and new, that I could spend hours venturing through the historic district. Here are my top picks:
- Independence Hall – Load up on your knowledge of American history at this important site where both the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were signed. Take an informative and historic tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site which is arguably one of the most important buildings in the world.
- The Liberty Bell – This iconic symbol of independence is located opposite Independence Hall at the Liberty Bell Centre. The bell was commissioned in 1751 and has overseen patriotic gatherings and protests. It obtained its iconic crack in 1840 during an abolitionist rally against slavery.
- City markets – Observe the hustle and bustle of local life and speak to people who have been running these small stalls for so many years. My favourites are the Reading Terminal Market and the Italian Market.
- Magic Gardens – Philadelphia’s beloved mosaic artist, Isaiah Zagar, has created this beautiful outdoor gallery that encourages your imagination to run wild. He sourced scrap items such as bottles, tiles, broken mirrors and even old bicycle wheels to create this space.
- Philadelphia Museum of Art “Rocky” Steps – You don’t have to be a movie fan to know THAT famous scene from “Rocky”. Seize the perfect photo opportunity on the 72 steps that lead to the entrance of Philly’s Museum of Art in Fairmont Park.
- Museums – Philadelphia has a multitude of museums that are catered to attract just about anyone. These are my top picks:
– The Franklin Institute – Devoted to the study of science, this museum gives you the chance to walk through a space command station and pretend to be an astronaut.
You’d be dome to miss Philly’s museums!
– Philadelphia Museum of Art – Beyond those iconic steps, this beautiful building is home to 227,000 items and features the works of Picasso, Rembrandt and Warhol, to name a few
- Spruce Street Harbour Park is a great place to spend the day. This urban beach opens during the summer season, May to September. With restaurants on floating barges, beer gardens, entertainment and even floating yoga classes, you’ll never feel bored!
- Sporting Events – with five professional teams and numerous university teams, there is an exciting sporting event every week of the year. Philadelphia is one of the greatest sports cities in the world and you are sure to find a game that excites you.
Philadelphia has plenty to offer your rumbling stomach! Famed for its creative food trucks and markets, there are so many dining options to choose from. Here are my top spots that are quintessentially ‘Philly’:
- Geno’s Steaks – A market leader in the iconic Philly cheesesteak battle, this take on this classic dish is absolutely delicious. They’re open 24/7 so when your late night craving hits, you know exactly where to go.
- John’s Roast Pork – The cheesesteak isn’t the only sandwich in town. This joint has been on the scene for more than 80 years and kept within the same family for 3 generations. Their roast pork with provolone can rival a cheesesteak any day.
- Dos Hermanos Tacos – Sample the flavours of Mexico in this food truck ran by two brothers. Options range from meat and fish to veggie and all come with lashings of guacamole and lime.
Here’s another pro-tip: If you have a sweet tooth like me, then check out Federal Donuts. The chain features several outposts dotted throughout the streets of Philadelphia where you can indulge in fancy and scrumptious treats. Follow your nose and beat the queues.
The fun doesn’t stop when the sun sets in Philly. I love to mix things up and find unexpected new places to visit. These are my top picks:
- Spruce Street Harbor Park – If you didn’t get a chance to check this urban beach out during the day, then make an after-hours date here instead. Enchanting twinkly lights and hammocks hanging from the trees make this a romantic evening option.
- Cherry Street Pier – This early 20th century pier has been transformed into a hub of art studios and market stalls with a popup beer garden that overlooks the Delaware River. Depending on when you visit there may even be a festival here.
- Voyeur Nightclub – Whilst many venues in Philly close by 2am, this club continues deep into the night! With incredible light shows and EDM music played by top DJs you may find yourself dancing until the sun comes up.
When you need to rest your weary head, you’ll be delighted by the options in town. Check out my top accommodation choices:
- The Rittenhouse Hotel – Located in the famous Rittenhouse Square, this prestigious hotel is an excellent choice if you’re looking for something homey yet sophisticated. It features both an indoor and outdoor heated pool as well as a beautiful tearoom serving classic British afternoon tea.
- Warwick Hotel – This modern hotel offers state of the art rooms with all the amenities you could need during your stay. It’s centrally locatedand you may wish to experience their formal dining at their Prime Rib Restaurant.
- Morris House Hotel – This sought-after hotel is a national historic landmark now renovated into a luxury boutique hotel. It offers cosy accommodations and 18th century charm. Uniquely decorated rooms offer lovely views of their gardens.
Philadelphia is pretty in pink!
Philly has so much to offer, This friendly and walkable city presents so many opportunities to experience its history and culture. Expect to fall in love with the city’s vibrant neighbourhoods and incredible food scene, I’m sure that you’ll want to plan a return trip before long.