In honor of the recent holiday (pardon my absence last week), I thought a post about Philadelphia should be next. I challenge you to find a city more steeped in American history. I mean, we wouldn’t even be able to celebrate our Independence Day without the events that took place in Philly. It’s a city full of history while still being budget-friendly. My favorite!
Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, is perfect for a weekend getaway, and is family-friendly if you have little ones. There are lots of things that make Philly such a great city, no matter what you like to do. Here’s some hints to planning your next trip to our country’s previous capital.
A trip to Philadelphia is incomplete without a visit to the main three historical sites. First is the National Constitution Center, a great museum (and a favorite of school groups) with everything you’ve ever needed to know about the constitution. The last room is by far my favorite part – it’s a replica of Independence Hall, complete with statues of all of the delegates who attended the convention and signed the constitution. The statues are scattered around the room just as the delegates were sitting and standing there. It makes for some great photo ops!
Now that you’ve learned all the history, head over to Independence Hall. Tickets to the hall are FREE, but require a small handling fee if reserved in advance (which is most definitely worth it). The tickets include a designated entry time, so be sure to plan your day accordingly. If you visit after 5pm or during January or February, tickets are not required. Regardless of when you go, be sure to give yourself enough time to get through security clearance – it is a national monument after all!
The third (and probably most famous) of the historic trio is, of course, the Liberty Bell. Like Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell is FREE to visit and requires a pass through security, but does not require tickets; it serves as first-come, first-served.
Philly is famous for some signature dishes, and it would be a crime not to try them when you’re in town! The most famous is definitely the Philly cheese steak sandwich. True Philadelphians will argue with you over the proper way to make it (provolone, cheddar, or cheese wiz?) and who makes it the best. The LA Times has a cheeky article about the rivalry between Pat’s and Geno’s – two long-standing cheese steak rivals with restaurants across the street from each other in downtown Philly. Try them both so you can decide!
Another Pennsylvania favorite is the soft pretzel, and few do it like the Philly Pretzel Factory. Menu choices range from 3 to 100 ‘real pretzels’ available in individual servings or party platters. Pretzel dogs are a big hit too! Hint: check Groupon to see if there are any current deals to save even more money at the pretzel factory.
If you know me, you know I’m a sucker for desserts and sweets of any kind. Federal Donuts is awesome! They specialize in fried chicken and uniquely flavored donuts – what more could you want? Yum! Make sure Fed Donuts is on your agenda for a snack!
And what’s a city without a trip to a local brewery? Philly is full of them, but if you’re short on time, I recommend a visit to Yards Brewing to try their Chocolate Love Stout (or whatever seasonal they have on tap). During the week the kitchen has a small, but delicious, menu. Saturdays and Sundays they also offer FREE brewery tours (must be 21+) and have food trucks outside. It’s a great atmosphere and definitely worth a visit!
One of the greatest things about Philly is the mixture of green space, history, and modern architecture mixed throughout the city. If you wander around, you’ll find lots of parks to visit. A trip to Philadelphia is incomplete without the obligatory tourist photo with the famous LOVE sign in John F. Kennedy Plaza. Unfortunately, at the time of this post, the sign is under restoration and is off exhibit for Summer 2017, with plans to return in September.
Not far from the other historic sites you will find Christ Church Burial Ground, the final resting place of Benjamin Franklin. Visitors often pay their respects by leaving coins on the tombstone. The cemetery is also home to many other historical figures from the revolutionary era.
Walk a little further and you’ll come to Elfreth’s Alley, another favorite spot of mine in Philadelphia. Elfreth’s proclaims to be the ‘nation’s oldest residential street’ and has been given status as a historic landmark. Cobblestone lines the street connecting beautiful old rowhouses, which is now home to festivals and visitors year-round. Just around the corner is Betsy Ross’s house. The house is adorable and free to look at from the outside, but a tour inside the house will cost you just $5. Tickets can be purchased in advance online and can be used any day or time the house is open.
Now that you know all you need to know about Philadelphia, grab some friends and good walking shoes and explore what Philly has to offer! All of the places mentioned here are within 3 miles of each other – central Philly is a great walking city! If you don’t feel like walking, or are otherwise unable, get yourself an all-day pass for PHLASH, the trolley system that connects the most popular historic and cultural attractions around town.