Philadelphia is a historical hot spot with so many things to see and do, you'll want plan out your trip ahead of time to make sure you hit the highlights. Below, our suggestions on everything from what to eat to where to stay:
What to do
The founding city has many historical landmarks, but the must-sees are Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the National Constitution Center. All three of these are within a four-block walk from each other. Start with visiting Independence Visitor Center to pick up your ticket for the Independence Hall tour (unless you go in January or February when you don’t need a ticket). The tour is about 30 minutes and shows you the various sites where the three branches of government met.
Although it’s not part of the guided tour, make sure to stop into Congress Hall before leaving Independence Hall. In that very room is where the first inauguration happened. After the tour, stop by the Liberty Bell Center, where you can see the international symbol of freedom. At the National Constitution Center, start your museum visit with a live performance of our country’s history – don’t worry, it’s only 17 minutes and will still leave you plenty of time for the other exhibits. You can also snap a photo in Signer’s Hall, where there are 42 bronze statues of our Founding Fathers.
After you’ve had your history fix, step out of the Historic District for some current fun. Reading Terminal Market (pronounced "Redding") is a hub of local vendors – think an oversized, indoor farmers’ market. Stroll through the aisles to see fresh seafood and meats, local fruits and vegetables and gifts to take back home for the family. You can also grab a snack or lunch while you browse. Nearby, make sure to take a stroll down Jewelers’ Row, the oldest diamond district in America.
Last but not least, you have to run like Rocky. After the trek of running up the “Rocky Steps,” you’ll be able to see the beautiful, unobstructed view of City Hall several blocks away. It’s especially stunning at night with the lights and flags. If you journey the steps during the day, plan to peruse the Philadelphia Museum of Art as the steps will lead you to the entrance of the museum. The art collection spans more than 2,000 years and has various media including sculptures, paintings and even arms and armor.
What to eat
If you’re in the mood for a Bloody Mary, grab brunch at Jones on Chestnut. Start your meal off right by building your own bloody: pick your style – Mary (your choice of vodka) or Maria (tequila). Add your flair with your choice of rim seasoning and mix. Now for the fun part with garnishes, ranging from cucumber ice cubes to pickled asparagus, to my favorites: blue cheese, stuffed olives and bacon. To accompany your breakfast in a glass, Jones offed sweet Southern favorites like BMW Pancakes (caramelized bananas, warm maple syrup and toasted walnuts on a stack of buttermilk pancakes) and traditional brunch items like Eggs Benedict.
City Tap House is a great spot for sharable plates, including flatbreads. Add an order of foie gras mousse and ten-spice wings to satisfy your rumbling stomach after the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Since you ran up those steps like Rocky, treat yourself to one of the local brews on tap.
Before you decide on dinner, make sure to do a little research on BYOB spots. Stop by the Fine Wine & Good Spirits on Chestnut Street. If you want a local bottle of wine, stop in Pinot for a tasting and you can purchase a bottle of your favorite for dinner. Wister is an up-and-coming restaurant in the heart of Old City, so make sure to make a reservation. What looks like a hole-in-the-wall place from the outside, this intimate restaurant has a rotating, seasonal menu with entrees like a Berkshire Pork Chop with an offal-stuffed potato and turnips and Ora King Salmon with heirloom carrots and lentils. You’ll want to save room for the Nutty Buddy dessert: chocolate peanut ganache with caramel and Franklin fountain chocolate.
Last but not least, you must grab a Philly cheesesteak when you’re in Philadelphia. If you didn't, it would be like visiting Texas without getting barbecue. Check out rivals Geno’s Steaks and Pat’s King of Steaks. Did you know there’s more than one way to build a cheesesteak? Order like a local and get it “wit” (with) or without onions. You also choose your cheese: Cheez Whiz, provolone or American. Both are open 24/7 so you can stop by whenever your craving hits. We’ll let you decide which one does it better.