Traveling to Philadelphia? Use this Philadelphia Travel Guide to make sure you have an incredible trip.
Philadelphia is a city full of things for everyone to love. There’s a reason it’s the one of the most populous cities in the US – there’s so much going on there. There are tons of museums and historical landmarks for all the history buffs. Philadelphia is home to some pretty popular sports teams. The city is home to an array of different cuisines for even the pickiest eaters. There’s endless shopping, beautiful parks, incredible galleries and unique attractions that make Philadelphia a must-visit city for everyone.
My first trip to Philly was very rushed because we only had a few hours to explore the city, but this go-round, I got an entire weekend to explore the City of Brotherly Love. One of the things I love about Philadelphia is that it’s very walkable. Once you’re in the city center, you’re steps away from so many things to do, and you can walk from park to park, visit galleries and museums, grab a bite to eat and admire the beautiful architecture of the city without having to drive anywhere.
With the Liberty Bell being a free attraction and an important part of America’s history, you don’t want to miss being able to see this iconic symbol. Inside Liberty Bell Center, located in Independence National Historic Park, you’ll also get to read up on all of the history surrounding the Liberty Bell before making your way over to see the bell itself.
Confession: I’ve never actually see any of the Rocky movies, but if you’re a fan, you’ll definitely want to take the opportunity to stand in line and snap a photo with the Rocky statue. And of course, you can’t miss the chance to run up the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art aka the “Rocky Steps.” If you caught my story on Instagram, you know I did.
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN’S GRAVE
History buffs can visit Benjamin Franklin’s grave at the Christ Church Burial Ground. There is a fee to enter the cemetery, but his grave can be viewed from outside of the fence. It’s not uncommon to see his grave covered in pennies, as he coined the phrase “A penny saved is a penny earned.”
READING TERMINAL MARKET
Our hotel was located right next to Reading Terminal Market, so when we got off the train from the airport, that’s where we ended up. It’s one the country’s oldest and biggest public markets, and there are so many things to see and enjoy. You can find anything from food to books to flowers. Plus there’s a huge selection of restaurants, and we enjoyed a couple of them on our visit that are mentioned below.
EASTERN STATE PENITENTIARY
Admittedly, visiting the Eastern State Penitentiary wasn’t on my list of things to do in Philadelphia, but it was on my boyfriend’s and I’m so glad it was. I wouldn’t call myself a history buff when it comes to classroom learning, but I love visiting museums and places like this where it feels like I’m experiencing history in the present.
At the entrance, they give you headphones and an MP3 player for an audio tour (voiced by Steve Buscemi), and if you follow the tour, it takes about 35 minutes. After that, you can explore the penitentiary at your leisure. Throughout the penitentiary, they have all sorts of audio clips you can listen to about different aspects of this historical site, so you can pick and choose what you actually want to hear and learn about.
At Independence Hall, you can visit the room where the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were signed. Tours are free, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t make a quick visit to see this important room in America’s history.
JOHN F. KENNEDY PLAZA aka LOVE PARK
Probably one the most Instagrammed places in Philadelphia, LOVE Park is home to the famous LOVE statue.
SISTER CITIES PARK
The LOVE statue’s sister statue, the AMOR sculpture, is located in Sister Cities Park.
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN PARKWAY
If you’re at a loss of what to do in Philadelphia, start at Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Many of Philadelphia’s most popular attractions lie right on this parkway, which stretches from City Hall to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A few of the things I’ve already mentioned, including the Rocky statue, LOVE Park and Sister Cities Park, are located along this mile-long parkway.
We accidentally discovered Washington Square on our walk to dinner at Talula’s Garden. In the past, it served as a burial ground, but today, it’s a beautiful park and walkway that’s home to over 60 species of trees. It also houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to honor those who fought in the American Revolution.
Franklin Square is home to a gorgeous fountain, which was apparently built in 1838. Also housed in Franklin Square are the Parx Liberty Carousel and Philly Mini Golf, which makes it a perfect place to bring families.
Confession: I have a slight obsession with cheese plates. I like cheese in general, but I loooove me some cheese plates, so before we went to Philadelphia, I told my boyfriend that I wanted to get a good cheese plate in Philadelphia. He found a list of the best cheese plates in Philly (pause because I’m so grateful for the internet), and that’s how we ended up at Talula’s Garden. We sat at the bar with the intention of getting wine and cheese, and while neither of us got wine, we devoured our cheese. They have multiple different cheese plates, y’all. I was in cheese plate heaven. I tried sheep cheese for the first time. I would go back to Philadelphia just for that cheese plate. We also shared some Tangy Ricotta Ravioli, and I 10/10 recommend, especially if you’re a fan of mushrooms.
CARMEN’S FAMOUS ITALIAN HOAGIES & CHEESESTEAKS
You can’t leave Philly without getting a cheesesteak, unless, of course, you’re a vegetarian or gluten free, then by all means, live ya life. But if you don’t have any dietary restrictions, you definitely have to get a cheesesteak. We opted to go to Carmen’s, which is located in the Reading Terminal Market. I got a traditional cheesesteak, and surprising even myself, ate the entire thing. It was so good.
We went to Jones for brunch on a Saturday morning, and of course it was crazy busy. I’ll admit that the food at Jones was just okay. I got the smoked salmon benedict, which is one of my favorite breakfasts. It wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t go back just for the food. What I would go back for are the Bellinis. They have a bottomless Bellini special where they give you three small jars of different flavors and start you out with an entire bottle of champagne. When I finished my bottle, he offered me another, which I obviously declined because it was the afternoon, and I still had a wedding to go to that night. The Bellinis were so tasty though. All of the flavors were delicious, and it’s a pretty good deal.
Chinatown is always a fun place to visit in any city. Yamitsuki was our first taste of Philadelphia cuisine when my boyfriend and I met up in Philly because I had never had actual Ramen before. The service was amazing, and my ramen was delicious, as was the Himawari cocktail I ordered, which was so refreshing and had fresh strawberries in it.
Molly Malloy’s was our meeting place with my boyfriend’s friends before we ventured off to Jones for brunch. We enjoyed some delicious mimosas while we were sitting and chatting at the bar. It is located in the Reading Terminal Market, so you can enjoy the fast-paced atmosphere of the terminal while grabbing a drink. They have over 30 beers on tap.
MACE’S CROSSING PUB
Stumbling upon Mace’s Crossing was a happy accident. After dinner one night, we walked over to LOVE Park and then over to Sister Cities Park, and I don’t do well in the cold (it was super windy), so I coaxed my boyfriend into stopping here. It’s a small little pub with a pretty fun atmosphere. We enjoyed watching some Olympic ice dancing while we had some libations and warmed up.
OCF COFFEE HOUSE
On the non-alcohol-related side of drink recommendations, we visited the OCF Coffee House to get some warm drinks after our visit to the Eastern State Penitentiary. We got our drinks to go because we were waiting on our Lyft to get back to the airport, but the coffee house itself had a vibrant atmosphere, and the hot chocolate was pretty dang good.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a person who can be bored in Philadelphia. There’s a little something here for everyone no matter what their interests may be.
Have you ever been to Philadelphia?