Shortlist of Best Things to do in Philadelphia
Arts & Culture
Food & Wine
For me, this is home. I chose to live here because of the amazing attributes the city has to offer along with its affordability. This place has so much history, after all it is the birthplace of America. Aside from the history, the food scene is incredible, night life is bustling, and there is always something to do.
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Where to stay
Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center
Discover the modern lifestyle of Philadelphia in this five-star property that hosts luxury rooms, exquisite culinary experiences and an infinity-edge pool.
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Sleek modern high-rise located in the heart of the Philly features breathtaking views of the city skyline through its floor-to-ceiling windows, and a rooftop pool and garden.
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The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia
The city’s unofficial grande dame delivers decadent interiors and a plum location near all the city sights.
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Things to do
Visit Old City
This is where all of the history in the city lies. From Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Elfreth's Alley and many charming cobblestone streets, there is a lot of historical culture to be found here. Aside from the history, Race Street Pier, Blue Cross RIver Rink, Franklin Square and the Bourse Food Hall can also be found for some other fun things to do in the area. If you need a break or want to grab a drink, Independence Beer Garden is a great spot to enjoy a beer outside in the heart of the historical sites.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Most commonly known for the famous "Rocky Steps" and statue, but those aren't the only factors that make this museum worth a visit. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the most beautiful and profound buildings in the city. When you climb up those steps, yes, just like Rocky, there's a very picturesque view of the city to embrace. However, the outside is just the beginning of the beauty the museum has to offer. Inside the museum you'll find over 240,000 objects including sculptures, paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, armor, and decorative arts.
Try a cheesesteak
When in Rome.... One of Philly's most iconic offerings is the cheesesteak and the city does not fall short on options. Be careful not to fall victim to the tourist trap of Pat's & Geno's (these are not that good in my opinion). My favorites are Jim's (sadly just caught fire, but may reopen soon), Joe's steaks, Sonny's, and Angelo's. However, my absolute favorite cheesesteak is from the STARR restaurant and steakhouse Barclay Prime. This cheesesteak is unlike any other. It's made with wagyu beef and truffled cheese whiz and comes with a half bottle of champagne. This luxury cheesesteak costs a whopping $140!!! If your budget can handle it, I highly recommend.
Reading Terminal Market
Philly loves its Phood. This indoor Farmer's market is thriving with delicious local foods. Some fan favorites include the Roast Pork Sandwich from DiNic's, Beiler's Doughnuts, Termini Brother's for a cannoli, and Miller's soft pretzels just to name a few.
Great option for kids and adults. The Franklin Institute is a science museum named after Benjamin Franklin and also houses his memorial. It offers many interactive hands on experiences and is great for people of all ages. Check their website for the current exhibits as they change every several months.
Eastern State Penitentiary
America's most famous prison lies haunted in Philadelphia. The Eastern State Penitentiary is known for once holding "Slick Willie" Sutton and "Scarface" Al Capone to name a few, and is now famous for the spirits that haunt the cells today. So if getting spooked and scared is your thing, then you should definitely check this out. They offer both daytime and nighttime tours and seasonally offer a Summer Beer Garden and the Fall Halloween Tours.
Concerts and Comedy Clubs
For something a little less touristy, check out one of the concert venues or comedy clubs. For concerts, I enjoy the smaller more intimate venues and enjoy Union Transfer, Underground Arts, Franklin Music Hall, and the Fillmore. For a comedy show, check out Helium Comedy Club or Punchline Philadelphia.
If you didn't already know this, take this as your warning that Philly sports fans are CRAZY! If you happen to be in town for a home sporting event, there's nothing like seeing the passion that the local fans exhibit. All of the major sports stadiums are located in the same area and you'll always find a rowdy tail gate happening in the parking lots before the game. After any sporting event, fans love to head over to Xfinity Live with over a dozen food and drink spots inside. If you're feeling adventurous, try riding the bull at PBR!
When in Philadelphia, there are two options when it comes to being on the water. You have either the Schuylkill (Western border of the city) or the Delaware River (Eastern border of the city and NJ). Both have a variety of things to do and each offer something different. If you're looking to get in some exercise, the Schuylkill River trail offers a great place to run, walk or ride bikes. Along the trail, you can find some extraordinary views of the landscape and a few pop-up beer gardens along the way. If you're spending most of your time on the Eastern part of the city, then the Delaware waterfront is great place to spend and afternoon. On the Delaware, you can spend time lounging in the hammocks and local food vendors at Spruce Street Harbor Park, roller-skating at the Blue Cross River-rink, taking a lunch or dinner cruise on the Spirit of Philadelphia, checking out some local art at the Cherry Street Pier or having a drink at one of the many bars and restaurants on the water. My favorites include: Liberty Point, Morgan's Pier, or The Deck at Moshulu.
Bar hopping in the Gayborhood
If nightlife is your thing, the gayborhood in Philadelphia is well know for its bars and night life. For a classic Irish Pub, check out McGillin's (the oldest bar in Philly) and any of the surrounding bars in this area.
Places eat & drink
This is my favorite restaurant in the city. The cuisine is Lebanese and is so incredibly flavorful and great for sharing. On Fridays and Saturdays, it is required that you do their tasting menu, but this is truly the best way to experience Suraya in my opinion. This is a great spot for either brunch or dinner and you can dine either in its well thought-out indoor space or the beautiful outdoor garden (probably the nicest outdoor dining space in the city).
Mediterranean food in Philly is incredible and this place is Isreali. Also, Zahav requires that you do the tasting menu which provides a TON of food so plan to arrive hungry.
You can't go wrong with any of the STARR restaurants in Philly. They are all so uniquely themed and offer a different type of cuisine at each. Parc is probably my personal favorite and offer French cuisine. The second you arrive at Parc, you'll feel like you've suddenly transported to Paris. My favorites are the Warm Shrimp Salad, Beef Bourguignon, and the Plateau Classique, but you truly can't go wrong with any dish here.
Alpen Rose is a speakeasy-style steakhouse. When you arrive, you'll knock on the door with the gold rose and wait for the host to peak his/her eyes through the small window in the door. This is a truly unique experience with delicious food and an unbelievable atmosphere. Try the Bone Marrow toast, the Dry-Aged NY Strip, and ALL the sides.
If Japanese fusion is your thing, you must try Double Knot. The atmosphere in the downstairs dining area is my favorite and feels as though you've dove into a sunken ship. Some of my favorites are the edamame dumplings, duck scrapple bao, crispy brussels sprout, and the double knot big eye tuna roll. This is a great location for sharing!
Carbs, carbs, and MORE carbs! Fiorella is the place to go if you want some amazing pasta. World renowned chef, Marc Vetri, who spent years studying and cooking in Italy, opened up this little pasta spot in the midst of the pandemic. Even during the peak of the pandemic, it has always been a challenge to secure a seat here.
Butcher & Singer
Butcher & Singer is another one of the great restaurants from STARR. So cleverly curated with a 1940s Hollywood vibe and serving what many would claim their favorite steak in the city. The menu caters to not only meat lovers but pescatarians as well with many delicious seafood options.
Ambrosia is my favorite Italian BYOB in the city. While its very small and intimate inside, the outdoor chalets are also a great option. Their focus is on homemade pasta and classic Italian dishes all made with fresh ingredients. And the best part is, you can bring all the wine you want!
Part of the Zahav Family (CookNSolo), Laser Wolf has a similar menu to Zahav's with a more funky casual vibe. The hummus and pita is unmatched, and the entrees just take this place to the next level.
Vetri Cucina is located in Marc Vetri's original home. This restaurant is notoriously recognized by the James Beard Foundation and brings Italian and globally inspired food. The menu is the Quattro Piatti 4-course tasting menu in order to fully showcase the chef's creativity.
Need to Know
If you have extra time during your trip, an afternoon trip to Longwood Gardens is always a day well spent.
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