Philadelphia is the birthplace of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Oh, and cheesesteaks. You cannot forget about the cheesesteaks, like the tender, juicy offerings at Pat’s King of Steaks. Although known for its historical landmarks, Philadelphia also offers culture, art, and culinary wonders. By day, you can take a tour of the Liberty Bell, and by night, enjoy fine dining and a nightlife that will leave your dancing feet aching.
Philadelphia has plenty of nicknames, like “Philly” and “City of Brotherly Love.” But before it garnered these monikers, it was—and still is—the Birthplace of America. No East Coast trip would be complete without a visit to Historic Philadelphia, the go-to spot for immersing yourself in American history. Begin by heading to Franklin Square, one of Philadelphia’s original five squares, which features children’s attractions like mini-golf and a carousel.
Not far from Franklin Square is the Betsy Ross House, the former home of the famous Quaker flagmaker. Then, be transported into the American Revolution on the Lights of Liberty state-of-the-art 3D tour in the Peco Theater, inside the Historic Philadelphia Center.
For an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, experience Philadelphia’s serene countryside. Roam around the 3,600 acres of Valley Forge National Historical Park, which is filled with monuments, statues, and buildings that narrate more than 225 years of American history.
If you’re itching for even more history, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a majestic beauty in itself, is home to impressive Renaissance, American, Impressionist, and Modern art. One of the city’s most famous pieces of art can’t be found in the museum, although it is within walking distance. Embrace your inner Rocky and reenact the iconic scene from the movie: Head to the east entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, trek up “The Rocky Steps,” and pose with your fists in the air next to the Rocky Balboa statue.
After that workout, you’ll likely have worked up an appetite. Stop by one of the many Italian markets in South Philly, where vendors line the streets, hawking everything from produce to spices. Or, just a mile away, find the Famous 4th Street Delicatessen, known for its overstuffed sandwiches. The hot corned beef and hot pastrami are local favorites.
If you’re in the mood for more exotic flavors, head to Pod in University City for shrimp dumplings or tuna rolls. This pan-Asian restaurant specializes in dim sum and sushi, and has a superior sake selection. If you’re salivating for Spanish cuisine, the tapas-centered menu at Isla Verde will overwhelm you with options. Located in the heart of Philadelphia’s Latino community, Isla Verde will make you feel like you’ve been transported to a Caribbean island.
If you still have room in your stomach, top your meal off with dessert. Did someone say chocolate? Lore’s Chocolates, in Market East, is a warm and inviting chocolate boutique where you can relish yummy handmade chocolates, truffles, fudge, and non-pareils. The café even offers an espresso bar that serves quality coffee from a local roaster.
After you’ve gotten your cocoa buzz, catch a cab to Standard Tap, one of Philadelphia’s original gastropubs, in Old City. Sip on cocktails, hear live music, and mingle with the diverse crowd of artists, musicians, and business people.
Philadelphia’s neighborhoods are close together, so it’s no trouble to hop from one to the other. In just one day, you will have had an American history lesson, trained like Rocky, and eaten like a Queen, befitting a place that’s become known as the “City that Loves You Back.” DW