Hometown Edition: A Weekend in Philadelphia

The famous Love sculpture designed by Robert Indiana. It's currently in Dilworth park while the original location, Love Park, is being renovated. (December, 2016)

The famous Love sculpture designed by Robert Indiana. It's currently in Dilworth park while the original location, Love Park, is being renovated. (December, 2016)

Benjamin Franklin, Rocky Balboa, cheesesteaks, and brotherly love...

welcome to Philadelphia. 

In west Philadelphia born and raised...

Just kidding, I’m from the suburbs. However, that doesn’t disqualify me from knowing how to spend the perfect weekend in Philadelphia. I grew up just outside the city in a town called Abington and recently went back for a trip to visit family over the holidays.

Through the years I’ve learned how to explore Philadelphia from both the local and tourist perspective. In this post, you’ll get a bit of both. I'm sharing with you a few of my favorite places and you can pick and choose to arrange your own itinerary. I’ll also teach you how to order a cheesesteak, find the “Rocky Steps”, and discover a bit of Philadelphia’s history.

xxA

The steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, made famous by the 1976 movie, Rocky. 

The steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, made famous by the 1976 movie, Rocky. 

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What to do

Suburban Station

Start your city tour at Suburban station, right near city hall. Suburban is a gorgeous art deco building that's worth stopping at for a quick photo. 

The beautiful Suburban Station. 

The beautiful Suburban Station. 

City Hall

Walk over to City Hall and explore this architectural beauty that was built to be the tallest building in the world in 1894. The Love sign that normally sits at Love Park (see below) is currently outside City Hall while Love Park is being renovated.

Right outside City Hall, Dilworth Park, was decorated for the holidays. (December, 2016)

Right outside City Hall, Dilworth Park, was decorated for the holidays. (December, 2016)

My sister, Vikki, posing in front of this vibrant red door of a church in Philadelphia. We walked by this on our way to Dilworth Park from her city apartment. 

My sister, Vikki, posing in front of this vibrant red door of a church in Philadelphia. We walked by this on our way to Dilworth Park from her city apartment. 

Love Park

When Love Park (aka John F. Kennedy Plaza) opens back up, have lunch by the fountain and take pictures in front of the famous Love sign. The Love sign was designed by Robert Indiana  and placed in the park temporarily in 1976. The city loved it so much, it was returned permanently in 1978. If you hang out for long enough, you’re bound to see a few marriage proposals.

 

Shopping

Stroll down Chestnut Street and Walnut Street for some shopping. There are shops lining both streets, including the Shops at Liberty Place. As a bonus, Pennsylvania is one of 5 states that is fully exempt from a clothing tax.

 

Rittenhouse square

Rittenhouse Square is a gorgeous town square surrounded by great restaurants and shops. Grab a coffee at Elixr a few blocks away and take a stroll through the square. 

Philadelphia has gorgeous street art throughout the city. Philadelphia has over 2,000 outdoor murals and has a reputation of being the Mural Capital of the U.S.

Philadelphia has gorgeous street art throughout the city. Philadelphia has over 2,000 outdoor murals and has a reputation of being the Mural Capital of the U.S.

The Barnes Foundation Art Center

The Barnes Foundation Art Center was founded by Albert C. Barnes, a wealthy Philadelphia chemist who took an interest in collecting art around 1910. The Barnes Foundation Art Center houses an impressive collection including 59 paintings by Henri Matisse and 46 by Pablo Picasso.

Visit the Barnes Foundation to see the personal collection of Albert C. Barnes who spent years of his life dedicated to the study and collection of art. 

Visit the Barnes Foundation to see the personal collection of Albert C. Barnes who spent years of his life dedicated to the study and collection of art. 

The Rodin Museum

Just a few steps away is the Rodin Museum. Don’t miss the newly renovated garden that houses some of Rodin’s sculptures.

The Rodin Museum in Philadelphia is second to Paris in housing the largest collection of his work. 

The Rodin Museum in Philadelphia is second to Paris in housing the largest collection of his work. 

The Franklin Institute

The Franklin Institute is right across from the Barnes Foundation and Rodin museum. This is by far my favorite museum in Philadelphia. Come here to see old trains and planes, interactive science experiments, and rotating exhibits that are sure to teach you something new. 

The Franklin Institute is my personal favorite. 

The Franklin Institute is my personal favorite. 

The Philadelphia Art Museum and Rocky Steps

Continue down Benjamin Franklin Parkway and you’ll see the Rocky Steps in the distance. These are actually just the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, but they were made famous by the Rocky movies. There’s even a statue dedicated to this fictional Philadelphia legend.

 

Yes, I'm aware Rocky is a fictional character. I still love the movie though!

Yes, I'm aware Rocky is a fictional character. I still love the movie though!

The Washington Monument sits outside of the Philadelphia Art Museum at the bottom of the "Rocky Steps." 

The Washington Monument sits outside of the Philadelphia Art Museum at the bottom of the "Rocky Steps." 

If Rocky was real, this is where his feet would have been. :)

If Rocky was real, this is where his feet would have been. :)

The Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell sits in the Independence National Historical Park and is free to access. It’s worth a quick stop to see the large crack that runs vertically down the center. Right across the street is it's original home, Independence Hall, which is where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were both signed. 

An image of the Liberty Bell in the Liberty Bell Center. 

An image of the Liberty Bell in the Liberty Bell Center. 

The Liberty Bell, a symbol of American Independence, sits at 6th and Market in Philadelphia. 

The Liberty Bell, a symbol of American Independence, sits at 6th and Market in Philadelphia. 

Where to eat

The Reading Terminal Market

The Reading Terminal Market is a great place to grab lunch while you’re exploring the city. The market houses almost 80 vendors with something for everyone, including soft pretzels and Philadelphia cheesesteaks. You can also find bakeries, Amish specialties, fresh meat and cheese, seafood, and so much more.

Reading Terminal Market houses all of the food you must eat in Philadelphia. 

Reading Terminal Market houses all of the food you must eat in Philadelphia. 

Fresh soft pretzels made at the Reading Terminal Market. 

Fresh soft pretzels made at the Reading Terminal Market. 

Yum. 

Yum. 

Steve's Prince of Steaks

A common question I'm asked when someone finds out I'm from Philadelphia is: "Pat's or Geno's?" Well, my answer is Steve's. Pat and Geno make a great cheesesteak, but nothing compares to the perfection of Steve's Prince of Steaks. They serve the perfect ratio of meat to cheese, thinly sliced, on the softest Amoroso rolls that have been freshly baked in Philadelphia every day since 1904. Once you order your cheesesteak, step to the left window and order cheese fries and a cherry soda. 

If you think you've eaten a Philadelphia cheesesteak, but you've never been to Philadelphia, you're wrong. 

If you think you've eaten a Philadelphia cheesesteak, but you've never been to Philadelphia, you're wrong. 

The New Whole Foods

The greatest Whole Foods in the world (in my opinion) is located right on Pennsylvania Avenue, less than a five minute walk from the Art Museum. This isn’t just a grocery store, it’s like a food department store. It has its own coffee shop, two full pubs, a 140-seat food hall, and all of the olives you could need in the world. 

A cute coffee shop in the flagship Whole Foods located on Pennsylvania Avenue. 

A cute coffee shop in the flagship Whole Foods located on Pennsylvania Avenue. 

Olives, anyone? Check out the incredible spread they have at Whole Foods. 

Olives, anyone? Check out the incredible spread they have at Whole Foods. 

Starr Restaurants

Stephen Starr is a food legend, and his restaurant company includes 19 incredible restaurants just in Philadelphia. Interested in Asian food? Try Buddakan or MorimotoParc sits right on Rittenhouse square and has a delicious brunch menu. For a London-inspired gastropub, stop by The Dandelion. Regardless of which Starr restaurant you choose, you’re guaranteed to have a good meal. Starr restaurants are perfect for celebrations and special occasions. 

My little sister says "Sabrina's is a thing." Go here for brunch and order the french toast. 

My little sister says "Sabrina's is a thing." Go here for brunch and order the french toast. 

Sabrina's Cafe and Spencer's Too

Sabrina’s Cafe and Spencer’s Too is a local favorite for brunch on Callowhill Street, though there are a few other branches in the city. You can expect humble, delicious diner food, and great coffee. I recommend the french toast!

It's pronounced Ying-A-Ling and it's made at the oldest brewery in America. You can't get it on the west coast!

It's pronounced Ying-A-Ling and it's made at the oldest brewery in America. You can't get it on the west coast!

TBP INSIDER TIPS

> All of these recommendations are within walking distance of each other and that's my favorite way to explore a city. If it's too cold outside, try using Uber or Lyft.

> To order a cheesesteak, just say the cheese you want and then whether or not you want onions. It’s easy: "Whiz with" means cheese whiz with onions, the Philadelphia way. "American without" means American cheese without onions. 

> Make sure you order a Yuengling at a local bar. It’s from the oldest brewery in the U.S. and it’s the best cheap beer in the world.

> Grab a soft pretzel from a stand on the street or at the Reading Terminal Market. Soft pretzels are a Philly staple.

> If you’re in the city during baseball season, go to a Phillies Game

> Philadelphia is the 5th largest city in the U.S. and it can be hard to know where to stay. I recommend the areas around Rittenhouse Square and Old City. Check out my wishlist to help you decide.

> Philadelphia has four distinct seasons, so make sure you check the weather and pack accordingly. I recommend the spring or fall for a visit. In the spring, flowers start to bloom and the city comes out of hibernation from the cold winter. In the fall, the leaves turn red and yellow and orange and decorate the city. 

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