Renowned as the birthplace of American democracy, Philadelphia is a city bursting at the seams with history and iconic landmarks. Set on the east coast of the United States, Philadelphia lives up to the reputation of its fast-paced neighbour, New York City.
A diverse population has lead to an equally diverse social landscape, with Chinatown, Germantown and Little Saigon offering up culture and cuisine in spades. With excellent sightseeing, nightlife, green spaces, retail therapy and a charming personality to boot, Philadelphia is one to watch.
The historic monuments associated with American independence are likely to be first on your list of sights to see in Philly. Located in the Center City precinct, world-famous Independence Hall, Liberty Bell and Independence National Historical Park all make for fascinating viewing. For a more recent addition to the history books, make your way to the Philadelphia Museum of Art where you’ll find two of Philly’s most iconic landmarks – the Rocky Statue and the Rocky Steps.
The Society Hill Historic District is well worth a wander around for its stunning architecture, while the National Constitution Center is a must-visit for those wanting to glean a deeper insight into American history. The diversity of local cuisine is rapidly becoming one of Philadelphia’s major draw cards, so a food tour of the city’s eateries is a must.
Eat and Drink
With its rich ethnic diversity and distinct foodie neighbourhoods, Philadelphia is quickly emerging as one of the United States’ prime dining cities. Rittenhouse Square is home to trendy upscale restaurants, while Fishtown offers a great collection of eateries and bars. Center City leads the charge in international cuisine, East Passyunk takes the cake when it comes to café culture and South Philly is the place to be for Italian fare.
Cheesesteaks (thin slices of beef smothered in cheese and served in a crusty roll) are a Philly obsession and a must-try while visiting the city. For nightlife, bustling hipster bars, live music and vibrant dance clubs are firmly on Philadelphia’s agenda. Try the Northern Liberties neighbourhood for live music, Rittenhouse Square for glamorous A-list parties, or the Old City for Philadelphia’s pick of Latin beats and salsa bars.
Where to Stay
Center City is the obvious choice for tourists looking for accommodation close to the majority of attractions. This bustling hub of activity offers a range of accommodation options, from affordable hotel rooms to stylish apartments and independent boutique hotels. Hotels around Center City will place you within walking distance (or a short cab ride) to the delights of the historic district, the Avenue of Arts, the plethora of city museums and sprawling green parklands. If you don’t want to break the bank, head a little further out to University City and take public transport into the centre and its attractions.
The shopping gods have really smiled on Philadelphia – clothing and shoe purchases here are tax-free. Splurge on high-end fashion on Rittenhouse Row or go mad at one of King of Prussia Mall’s excellent range of department and specialty stores. For something with a little more character, head to Northern Liberties for quirky vintage finds.
Be sure to save enough time to explore Philly’s excellent markets. The Reading Terminal Market, one of the oldest farmers’ markets in the U.S., offers international cuisine and the finest quality meats, poultry, seafood and specialty fare. In addition to that, the rich aroma of South Philly’s Italian Market is sure to have you drooling within minutes.
Philadelphia Like a Local
After you’ve seen the tourist sights, spend some time looking at the city through the eyes of the locals. Check out up-and-coming music acts in Fairmount and Northern Liberties, wander through the Magic Gardens off South Street and take a tour of the city’s stunning public art. Then rest assured that you’ve caught a glimpse of the real Philadelphia.