Friday, July 18, 2014

Philly Favorites

Have you ever been to Philadelphia? I grew up in the suburbs, have worked in Center City for the past six years, and live in the far Northeast. I could list 101 things to do here in town, many of them much more cultural than the things on this list, but if I was a tourist in my own town, here are some things I'd do...

1. Pose with the Rocky Statue and take pics on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I've never seen a town identify a movie character with itself like this one does. When you're finished with the Rocky stuff, wander into the Museum if that's your bag.
2. Walk the Parkway and pause in front of The Thinker at The Rodin Museum. You can see the Gates of Hell and The Thinker from outside the museum. Go in for more.

3. Stop in and tour The Barnes - make a reservation if you can. This eclectic collection and non-Museum feeling display are worth the trip in.

4. Visit LOVE Park and Logan Square (Swann Fountain) and get pictures taken in front of the fountains.
5. Pop in to see what's playing on the Video Wall at the Comcast Building, which boasts the largest four mm LED screen in the world.

6. Walk around City Hall to see William Penn at all angles, and go up to the City Hall Tower & Observation Deck.
7. Visit The Wanamaker Organ in Macy's. All of Macy's inside is actually a grand old store. I remember going to see the Christmas Light Show in Wanamaker's when I was a little girl.
8. Wander the aisles of Reading Terminal Market, eating freely.
9. Catch a glimpse of the Liberty Bell. I wouldn't wait in line for it though. It's a bell with a huge crack in it. What more do you need to know?

10. Walk down Elfreth's Alley, America's oldest continuously occupied residential block.

11. Visit Independence Hall and tramp around Independence National Historical Park. During the summer of 1776, 56 men gathered here to defy the King of England by issuing the Declaration of Independence. Eleven years later representatives from 12 states gathered here to shape the U.S. Constitution. You can see the original inkstand used to sign the Declaration of Independence as well as a draft of the Constitution here. You need a ticket to enter but the admission is free, unless you want to time it. Then it's a buck fifty.

12. Throw a penny on Ben Franklin's grave in Christ Church Burial Ground. As Ben himself said, "A penny saved is a penny earned," and even though you're throwing a penny away, what the hell? It's customary.

13. The Italian Market - 10 blocks along Ninth Street in South Philly - is one of the oldest and largest open air markets in America. You need cheese from DiBruno Bros. You can check out the infamous Pat's and Geno's while you're in this area too.

14. Go through the Magic Gardens - three lots on South Street, it's the biggest work of the mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar. Even if you're not into art it's cool to travel through the outdoor labyrinth. Cost: $7.
15. People watch in Rittenhouse Square at lunch time.
16. Check out Boathouse Row at Twilight.
Photo taken by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia
17. Watch out for murals. The Mural Arts Program is celebrating 30 years this year. You can even take a tour of the murals around town, touted as the world's largest collection of outdoor public art.

18. Have a cheesesteak. My favorite is at Jim's on South Street. Ask any Philly person and they'll give you a million more options. The best cheesesteak is a highly contested, feverish battle. However! If you come to this town and at Subway, we are through.

19. Soft pretzels - get 'em hot.
20. Visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington Square Park.

A whole list with only mention of a cheesesteak and soft pretzels for sustenance? Shameful, I know. Philly has a ton of excellent restaurants. It truly has become a food town. Some of my favorites are Zahav, Honey's Sit 'N Eat for breakfast, Parc. I could go on and on because there are really so many good ones, but I won't.

There's much more to do here than this list - both higher and lower brow. I love this town and all of its history. I hope you visit from out of town or spend a day being a tourist in your own town and love it too. Fellow Philadelphians, what did I miss that would be on your must do list?

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Linking up with

Helene in Between


  1. Great list!! I love walking down Elfreths Alley! And all the other stuff too! Who else is buried in that cemetery?;)

  2. This is great, Steph! Pinning it for a future long weekend. :-) Thank you. Have a great weekend!

  3. What a great list!! That Macy's looks like the one in the movie Mannequin. So grand. I must visit, we'll do lunch but not at Subway! ;)

    1. Kerry! THAT IS THE ONE IN MANNEQUIN!!! It was filmed there, my parnts used to take me a llllllll the time when I was little bc it was my favorite movie. FYI- I actually looked into getting married there :-)

  4. My sister lives in Philly and she's told me about some of this stuff. The Magic Gardens, in particular, I need to go see. I currently have a membership at the art museum, and I went there 3 whole times before I realized those were the Rocky steps. Not too observant on my part!

    If it was my list, I'd add the Ben Franklin Museum - my family's had so much fun there over the years!

  5. This post made my heart oh so happy for SO many reasons! I know I'm a Jersey girl now, but Philly is my soul. Every Wexler born and raised. I'm trying to convince Steve we have to buy one of the homes for sale on Elfreth alley. Not working out so well, but I will not give up! LOL. Also, the Mutter Museaum. Not everyone cup of tea to see fetuses in jars, though. I love that shit

  6. Really if you eat at Subway in anything but a tiny town on a road trip, we need to talk, but that is just me and my food snobbery :)

    I seriously love this post and have been waiting for it! If I only get one day in Philly I may get your help in culling it down but cheesesteaks and pretzels are a must along with the Rocky stairs and some historical stuff (though there is a full size replica of the Liberty Bell at my school, sans crack - so do I need to see the real thing?) and if I'm lucky lunch or drinks with the infamous SMD!

  7. I worked in Philly for 3 years, 1 near Independence Hall and the other 2 in the ghetto. The sights I have seen are definitely NOT on this list. Although one day, they were filming an episode of that show Hack 2 blocks over from my office which was cool.

    I'm not a huge fan of Philly but I'd definitely consider spending a day or two following your recommended list.

  8. so fun! we are hopefully going to go to Philly with some friends some day (they've all already been) so I am so pinning this to plan stuff!

  9. Been to Philly once......stopped overnight on new years coming back from Killington. Too tired to do anyhting but eat a cheese steak and go to bed. You've made me want to drive up and see all this fabulous art....and of course stop in for coffee, lunch, and beevos with you!

  10. I have been to Philly numerous times and just love it. I love all the history. Thanks for posting about Philly, it's such a great place. I have never been to the Magic Gardens, adding that to my list for my next visit. Love love Old City Coffee in the Reading Market.

    Best, Mree

  11. I so want a soft pretzel right now. Or five.

  12. Did you write this post for me knowing I'll be in Philly for the first time tomorrow? I doubt it but I'm going to pretend you did.

  13. what a great list of things to do in philly.....esp that mosaic labyrinth! and omg i'm starving right now after a long ride and those pretzels are calling my name.

  14. So many fun things to do! Boat row looks gorgeous! Guess I'm gonna have to add another city to my wishlist.

  15. I want to do all of those things! So cool!

  16. I would love to see Philly. I think it's actually on my current 101 in 1001 but I don't think it's going to happen before the time on the list is up.

  17. LOVE that you included the Magic Gardens- I don't think many people know about it! My absolute fave cheesesteak is in Dalessandro's in Roxborough, but Jim's comes in close second. Great list!

  18. Basically I just want to come to Philly so you can take me to do all of the things!

    Have a great weekend!

  19. Thanks for this list - very cool!! :) Philly isn't that far form me but I have yet to go. I read a few weeks ago about how Drexel University played Tetris on the side of a Philly Skyscraper: I thought that was pretty darn cool! Ugh I must have a hot pretzel this weekend!!! I'll find one in DC somewhere :) Have a great weekend Stephanie and great list! -Iva

  20. I miss living in a city with history!

    I would love to see Philly someday, if I ever make it I'm coming back to make a to see list from you list.

  21. This is such a great list full of so many things to do! I've not been to Philly yet, but it is on my list!

  22. Ahh, I love this post! Since my sister lives in the area now, I get to do a few touristy things each time we go visit and I've done a handful on this list.... but now I definitely need to save this so I can cross a lot more off! Also, I totally waited in line to see the Liberty Bell and TOTALLY thought it was worth it :)

  23. I want to go there! Someday.

    I'd so TRY to run up the Rocky steps, but I'd probably collapse halfway there.

  24. I've brought my wife to the Philadelphia Art Museum and I have to say it's one of the best in the world. It has such a great collection. We also enjoyed the Rodin museum. We did see the liberty bell and walked through old town but somehow we missed the tomb of the unknown soldier. Something for next time. I also want to show her boathouse row at night.
    Have you ever heard of/been to a restaurant called Warmdaddy's on Delaware ave? It's a soul food/jazz music restaurant. I was there a long time ago and it was great. Great atmosphere, incredible music. I think you would both like it.

  25. And now I want to visit Philly! What a great list. This would be fun to do for Springfield before I move away.

  26. AWESOME! I can't wait to visit and to see you!! So, is there an elevator to Rocky? LOL!

  27. Is it weird that I love the history of cemeteries?! I gotta get to Ben Franklin's. Who else is there? I think you forgot to add the names :)

    This is perfect for Christina and my trip! I need to look into all of this, this weekend. And I guess I should prob watch Rocky since I've never seen it!

  28. Pinning it! Oh, just saved the post with the last minute restaurant additions ;) (joking of course). I want a pretzel! I just saw some article about all the amazing murals in Philly!

  29. i haven't been to philly in years but i'll refer back to this list next time we go. it's not that far from us and would make a great weekend trip!

  30. Just reading this on Saturday morning! Great list. I did not even know some of these places existed and I am almost 58 and have lived in the Phila. suburbs my whole life. My earliest memory is taking the train from North Hills with my grandmom and going to Lit Brothers for lunch. I always got the Tom Turkey kids platter. Then we would get a few things and go back home. I can still hear the conductor crying out the stops Wayne Junction and West Oak Lane stick in my memory bank. I do not know my way around the city at all. It is interesting and unique. I will always love pulling into the driveway of my single home and cannot imagine parking, etc there. Would be boring if we all had the same likes. I will be visiting the Barnes soon!!! Love your MOMMA

  31. Ok I need to come back to Philly very soon b/c despite visiting there a few times I've never done most of the things on this list! Must change that!!! :)

  32. I've only been to Philly once to visit a girlfriend. We didn't do a ton of stuff on this list, but she did take me to Jim's, which was phenomenal!

  33. Thank GOD you said Jim's!!!! I hate when people argue Geno's vs. Pat's and I have to be all "WTF, people??? JIM'S!!!"

  34. "It's a bell with a huge crack in it. What more do you need to know?" Bahahahahah! I'm with you on that one, sister. It'd be cool to see but no way am I waiting in a LINE to see it.
    Is it good luck to throw the pennies on Benji's grave??

  35. I was always asking Jill to take me to Boathouse row! and she never knew what I was talking about. Cool picture!

  36. I'm out here in Cali, and remember Rita's Water Ice when I lived in Philly. Loved that place!!


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