48 hours in Philadelphia, PA, the city of brotherly love, Rocky and so much more. Here are a few travel tips if you are visiting for a weekend or a few days. My friend Heather took me around her old stomping ground and gave me the full tour. From where we stayed, what we ate, discovered, and explored, today I will share our quick trip to Philly.
Where to stay?
If you are only in Philadelphia for a few days, I definitely recommend staying in the “Old Town” district or “Center City.” We stayed at the Residence Inn by Marriott while great views from our window. The hotel offered a breakfast buffet that is standard for American hotels (pancakes, waffles, eggs, fruit, coffee, and juices) and had plenty of seating in the dining area.
Center City is located near several restaurants shopping and not too far from the Independence Visitor’s Center and many of the historic attractions. If you do decide to stay closer to Old Town just know the price per night jumps a little bit and parking can be a challenge if it is not included in your hotel. We enjoyed the walking and getting in a bunch of ®FitBit steps.
If you are just visiting Philadelphia for the weekend then here is what you will want to explore.
- Run the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art like Rocky did! Take your picture with the statue!
- Visit the Independence Visitor Center and Independence Hall
- Get your tickets in advance for the Museums
We were able to get our tickets (tours for Independence Hall run every 15 minutes) There is a line for a ticket check and then also group tours line up according to the time slot. The Park tour guides were helpful and gave a “shout-out thank you” to retired, active duty, and servicemen. As military spouses, this always warms my heart.
I absolutely loved this tour. It was not overly long and I learned a great deal about the constitution I had forgotten from elementary school. The refresher led me to tears. Thankful to the visionaries who began this dream so many years ago.
- Visit the Betsy Ross House
Absolutely one of the highlights of our Philadelphia trip was visiting the Betsy Ross House. The greeter and guide was friendly and personable. We arrived right at opening, which I recommend any later and you will meet tour busses and organized tours.
Talk about a strong woman. Married three times, and created and made our nation’s flag while British soldiers were dining below. Gutsy and brave. I tell ya! Not just a seamstress and literally behind the fabric of the spirit of our nation. Go, Betsy! The tour is fantastic and the players and interpreters do not break character which was a lot of fun. “May we take your photograph?” She replied, “What is a photograph, this device you are holding?” So fun.
Tickets for the Betsy Ross House are $8 per person with a military discount of $6. The gift shop is right as you walk in and much of the house makes you feel like you have stepped back in time.
- China Town
Chinatown is a neighborhood in downtown Philadelphia with Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Korean cultures and cuisines. We saw several shops and restaurants, and markets that had unique and interesting vegetable and fruit options.
The Friendship Gate leads you into this part of town. Each year they do have a Chinese New Year celebration in Philadelphia in this neighborhood to celebrate the culture. A new celebration in Philadelphia is the Chinese Lantern Festival which is held in Franklin square and boosts local economies and awareness.
While walking around Philadelphia you will be amazed at the history around every corner. Did you know? Girl Scout Cookies? What?? Yes, Girl Scout Cookies began in Philadelphia. Such a cool, random fact about Philadelphia.
Free Masons – the Free Masons began with Benjamin Franklin and our founding fathers in Philadelphia and you can visit the Masonic Temple. This building is beautiful and located right in the heart of the city. Plan your visit here.
Enjoy a walk through Old City. Heather and I just made our way, but I would have liked to have a tour if I had enough time, so I knew what we were looking at. Here’s one I found that includes a ton of information.
Small-Group Discovering Colonial Philadelphia Public Walking Tour – $35.00
from: Viator, A Tripadvisor Company
What would a visit to Philadelphia be without a Cheesesteak? Am I right? Thanks to Heather we were able to visit two of the most famous Cheesesteak restaurants. You can smell these iconic steakhouses blocks away.
Both are located right next to each other in the Little Saigon neighborhood. Parking was a little bit of challenge. Be sure to pay attention where you park and you can remember how to get back to your car. Sharing for a friend. HA!
Reading Terminal Market
The Reading Terminal Market is one the coolest eateries in Philadelphia. Opening in 1893, this market was built below the railroad tracks which had to have been loud, yet amazing. What a rush. Read more about its history, here. The market today has over 80 vendors and some vendors are connected to originators with family ties.
A hundred thousand visitors visit the market EVERY WEEK! For over a hundred years, this market has made it through ups and downs and includes produce, meats, fish, groceries, flowers, baked goods, crafts, books, clothing, as well as specialty and ethnic foods. The different array of restaurants will have you wanting to visit for every meal.
Barbuzzo, located in Midtown Village or Gayborhood is located in the heart of Philly and is a hub of awesome food, drink and LGBTQ culture. This Mediterranean Kitchen and Bar were an absolute delight.
Their menu is creative and tasty and their wine list. I was absolutely thrilled to see a Nero and Nebbiolo on their wine list. I mean, WOW! Well done to the sommelier, because I haven’t seen that great a wine list since leaving Italy itself. My only regret was not having more time to try them all.
A visit to Philadelphia would not be complete without a visit to an Irish Pub. Of course, we made our way to McGillin’s Old Ale House. Old is right, built the year President Abraham Lincoln took office, I would say they earned the right to be called old. McGillin’s celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2010 and they keep going strong. Visiting McGillin’s just a few days before St. Patty’s day was a blast!
Speaking of Ireland! Have you seen my upcoming 2023 IRISH ADVENTURE group trip with CIE – here’s a bit more information! Come join us…
Philadelphia is a neighborhood city!
A huge takeaway for me is Philadelphia is a really big neighborhood. I was able to take the train from Philadelphia to Harrisburg on my way to see Heather and it was really easy to use from the airport. Check out my train travel from Philly to Harrisburg.
Philadelphia felt like it was made of neighborhoods too. These neighborhoods connected to one another with different personalities yet still having the same heartbeat.
As you walk/drive and explore the city be sure to enjoy all the painted murals that adorn the walls of these old brownstones and brick buildings. We found ourselves slowly driving through the neighborhoods so we wouldn’t miss any. I’m sure we drove a few drivers behind us crazy!
If you are traveling along America’s East Coast and you haven’t visited our independence city, I would highly recommend it. If you can swing in bring one of your besties with you too!
It’s always an adventure when you ©Travel with Wendy!
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