Lara Nicotra is the Social Media Specialist for Liberty Travel
. She loves to discover new cities around the world and share them with the travel community. Favorite quote: “Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
A Traveler’s Guide to Visiting Philadelphia
Philadelphia is a bastion of American history dotted with premier cultural venues, gourmet restaurants, upscale shopping and a vibrant nightlife. From its renowned Philly cheesesteaks to the iconic Liberty Bell, Philadelphia offers an unforgettable travel experience that is unmatched. The city has wide array of hotspots that form its cultural landscape.
The Philadelphia Skyline
A Step Back in American History
The Independence National Historic Park is home to America’s most historic square mile and a sure hit with history buffs. Famous landmarks are the Liberty Bell Center, Independence Hall
and the Declaration House. Visitors can view the sites in their own Ben Franklin way or hook up with a Constitutional Walking Tour. Independence Hall is the location where Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and their rebellious compatriots announced the Declaration of Independence and penned the U.S. Constitution. True to the ring of freedom that the building represents, admission is free.
The Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell Center is a must-see in Philadelphia. Along with viewing the famed bell, there are also films, historical documents and visual displays to learn how this bell became a symbol of freedom. Directly outside of Liberty Bell Center is the President’s House. There is an archeological dig on the site of the home used by John Adams and George Washington when they stayed in Philly.
The National Constitution Center is a fun place for all ages. A multi-media theater presentation outlines the major points of the U.S. Constitution. The center is a family-oriented museum with cool engaging activities. Visitors can take the presidential oath of office or vote for their favorite president.
Museums and Theaters
For art aficionados, the Philadelphia Museum of Art
features a stellar collection from artists such as Picasso, Monet, Rodin, Van Gogh and Pissarro. There is also a great showcase of surreal and pre-modern artwork from the likes of Magritte, De Chirico, Guardi and Canaletto. On Friday afternoons, the Art-after-Five Restaurant turns the museum into a cocktail party with hors d’oeuvres and live music. The art museum is also famous because in the first Rocky movie, Sylvester Stallone ran up these stairs.
The Philadelphia Art Museum
Also known as the College of Physicians of Philadelphia Museum, the Mutter Museum is an interesting museum of medical oddities that is definitely not for the faint-of-heart. The museum is a chronicle of medicine throughout the ages. Some of the artifacts include Albert Einstein’s brain, conjoined twins and petrified body parts. If you need a break from the gruesome, you can always take a stroll through the exterior medicinal gardens. The garden features over 50 types of medicinal herbs with medical properties and history.
The University of Philadelphia Museum of Anthropology and Archeology features one of the best anthropology and archeology collections in the nation. Inside, there are over 25 galleries that showcase items from all around the globe. The museum’s impressive collections include ancient Greek coins, Egyptian mummies, Native American totem poles and musical instruments from Africa. For kids, there are hands-on exhibits and a museum shop just for children. Overlooking the museum’s courtyard garden, there is a great café serving up some of the best Philly cheesesteaks.
The Avenue of the Arts is the hub of the city’s cultural arts. Stretching about eight blocks down South Broad Street, the area is home to the Merriam Theater, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the Wilma Theater, the Suzanne Roberts Theater and much more. The many fine performances keep the lights shining on the avenue every night of the year. The magnificent Kimmel Center is home to the Pennsylvania Ballet, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and Perelman Theater. The center is well-known for its professional Broadway shows and African jazz ensembles. Guests can even purchase souvenir cups and fill it with their favorite libations for some down-to-earth Philly fun.
The Merriam Theater
has some of the most popular Broadway musicals, including “Les Miserables”, “Drumline” and “Sister Act.” Along with toe-tapping scores and dazzling staging, the New York Times and the London Times always rate the shows at the Merriam as five-star hits. For some classical ballet, the Kimmel Center features world favorites like “A Midsummer’s Night Dream,” “The Nutcracker” and “Giselle” by the Philadelphia Ballet.
The Merriam Theater
Restaurants and Cafes
Philly offers an eclectic array of diverse cafes and restaurants to suit any discerning taste and style. Monk’s Café is legendary for its Belgian beer and European menu with all foods cooked with beer. The All About Beer Magazine named Monk’s Café as one of the top ten places to drink beer before you die. From delightful dishes of mussels to serving up Belgian burgers with seven toppings, even those who do not drink beer will enjoy the culinary fare.
Enjoy an Italian seaside holiday experience right in Old City Philadelphia at the Positano Coast Restaurant. Decked in the scene of the Amalfi Coast in Italy, the cobalt blue floor and life-sized Amalfi postcards are breathtaking. The menu is modern Italian with delights like crudo, and food is served on small plates designed for sharing. It is a dining experience unlike any other in the area.
The Zahav Restaurant is the only upscale Israeli restaurant in Philadelphia that captures the taste and spirit of the country. Combining a modern approach with ancient recipes, the chefs serve up savory delights that keep the locals coming back again and again for old favorites. The restaurant is intimate, romantic and lively enough for families, couples and friends.
The Reading Terminal Market is the historic farmers market that has been in Center City Philadelphia since 1893. You can find over 100 merchants, three who are descendants of the original merchants, with an assortment of fresh foods which include product, meats, seafood and poultry. When traveling to Philadelphia, you want to be sure to visit this market. It is located at 12th and Arch Street. There are a small number of Pennsylvania Dutch merchants who only operate Wednesday-Saturday.
The Philly cheesesteak is well known and a trip to Philadelphia is not complete without a visit to the famous restaurants of Pat’s and Geno’s. Both are famous for their cheesesteaks and are located adjacent to each other at 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue. They are also open 24 hours. When placing your order, be sure to mention whether or not you want cheese whiz or fried onions on your steak sandwich. If you want both cheese whiz and fried onions, you should place your order by saying “Whiz Wit”
Shopping in Philly
The city’s Antique Row along Pine Street features curiosity shops and high-end stores for both novice and seasoned collectors. Nestled between the antique stores are furniture shops that showcase handmade works. Between 9th and 11th Streets, there is a high concentration of upscale furniture stores and galleries.
The 9th Street Italian Market still boasts with the old smells and sounds from the early 1900’s. Those on a quest for fresh cheese, seafood, pastries, herbs and pasta will find a wide selection from both the quaint sidewalk carts and store-front businesses along the street. The 9th Street Italian Market isn’t just the best destination for fresh gnocchi, visitors can lunch on authentic Spanish tapas and Vietnamese sandwiches. There are also vendors selling everything from jewelry to cookware.
With everything from iconic historic landmarks and professional art performances to chic shopping and fine dining experiences, William Penn’s City of Brotherly Love will not disappoint even the most discerning traveler. Philly is all about forever fun.