I recently spent a long weekend in Philly, and it was perfect.
Since it looks like I may be back later this summer for a concert with a friend who’s never visited before, I made sure to pay attention to all the best spots!
I can’t claim credit for any of these . . . kudos to my college roommate who lives in Philly and always has the scoop on the latest destinations, restaurants, shops, and things to do!
So, for those of you who may also be bound for the City of Brotherly Love sometime this summer, here’s a few of my favorites . . .
Magic Gardens – I first visited this South Street gem a few years ago during a mini-reunion with my college roommates. For just $10, you can check out the totally unique mosaic art space. I think it may be the best ten bucks you can spend in Philly!
Bird Feed mural – Internationally known Philly based artist, Meg Saligman, has created all kinds of INCREDIBLE murals throughout the world, including several of the largest murals in America. But just down the street from the Magic Gardens is a Philadelphia favorite, “Bird Feed.” The Insta-famous mural depicts an eagle clutching a tiny, defeated Tom Brady in its claws, and you can see why it resonates with residents.
Eastern State Penitentiary – Another find from my college roommate reunion, this is arguably one of the cooler history-based tours I’ve been on! It’s only $14, and will take you on a totally creepy (and educational!) tour of the ruins of what was once one of the world’s most famous and expensive prisons. It’s definitely not something I would have decided to do if left to my own devices, so cheers to friends who make you try new things! If you happen to be in Philly on July 14th, you should check out their Annual Bastille Day Festival. It’s an over-the-top, quirky event complete with “song, dance, and ‘Let them eat Tastykakes!'” among other highlights.
Museum of the American Revolution – Philly is filled with lots of awesome and well-known museums (So much art! The Franklin Institute!), but the Museum of the American Revolution is relatively new. I’ve yet to see it first-hand, but my parents went to a preview there earlier this spring, and really enjoyed it. Plus, it’s nice for those of us East Coasters who took a school trip to practically every museum in the Mid-Atlantic region to see something new for a change! Pro Tip: buy a timed ticket online in advance and save $6, making adult tickets $19.
One Liberty Observation Deck – The $14 price tag is worth every penny, as it comes with 57th floor panoramic views of the city. It also has this very cool interactive tech system that lets you zoom in on sections of the city and identify various landmarks and regions. A pretty nifty way to cover lots of ground!
Bok Bar – If you prefer to see your skylines through rosé-colored glasses, then Bok Bar is the place for you! A seasonal rooftop bar in South Philly, from which you can see the entire city, it’s a fun, low-key spot to grab a drink and soak up the city lights.
Reading Terminal Market – Ahhh, a Philly staple. Established in 1893, if you want to eat your way through Philly, this is a great place to start. You can find EVERYTHING your appetite never knew it needed, all under one roof.
Night Market Philly – If food trucks are more your thing, check out The Food Trust’s once-a-month summer food truck rally. From 6-10 pm one Thursday night each month, the Night Market rotates neighborhoods to host the city’s numerous food trucks and celebrate food, music, and community – a triple threat!
Ralph’s – There is SO. MUCH. GOOD. FOOD. IN. PHILLY. In my opinion, it’s one of America’s most underrated foodie cities. Don’t get hung up on the cheesesteaks, though, because there’s so much more to eat! While I could do an entire post just about Philly food, Ralph’s deserves a mention because it’s so unique. It’s the longest-running Italian restaurant in the United States, it’s a Philly icon, and as soon as you take your first bite of pretty much anything on the menu, you’ll understand why. They’ve served everyone from Frank Sinatra to Taylor Swift, and they show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Beer Gardens – Philly has some stellar beer gardens as well, and I don’t even drink beer! My favorites are the Independence Beer Garden, which has a killer view of Independence Hall, and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Pop Up Garden on South Street, which is something out of an Instagrammer’s dream.
La Colombe – You could honestly spend a full weekend just checking out all the good coffee shops in the city, but if you’re only in town for a few days, be sure to stop by the La Colombe flagship location in Fishtown. It’s a dying breed – a Wi-Fi free café where you’ll have to bring a book or befriend your neighbor. It’s also part coffee shop, part restaurant, part bar (featuring their signature rum, among other things), and it’s all housed in one very, very gorgeous space.
The Rail Park – This unique outdoor space opens June 14th, and I could not be more excited! After stumbling upon NYC’s The High Line a few years ago, I’ve been kind of fascinated by high-rise parks. This one boasts twice the space of The High Line, and is opening in three phases, with the first phase laucnhing this month.
Rittenhouse Square – Philly has plenty of green spaces, but I’m partial to Rittenhouse. Maybe it’s the prime location, or maybe it’s the history, but I love this little park. Last time I was there I heard two beautiful violinists, saw a very interesting photo shoot, and admired a painter’s landscape of the park. It also houses my favorite sculpture in the entire city (sorry, Rocky!) – Lion Crushing a Serpent – which was created by a French sculptor in the 1800s. I know this, because last time I was there I admired it so much I had to Google it and find out more!
I hope this helps you enjoy a long weekend in Philly sometime soon! It’s definitely a city worth a vistit . . . or several.