New York has been my home for the past 3 years which means that Philadelphia is a quick train ride away. Add to the mix that one of my best friends lives just outside of Philly, so I’ve been fortunate enough to visit the city a handful of times, and each time I’ve discovered something new and exciting to do.
Philadelphia is well-known across the globe for a number of reasons, but ultimately it is the birthplace of the United States. Home to many historical landmarks and the iconic Rocky Balboa steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia is Pennsylvania’s largest city, with approximately 1.5 million residents.
The city is also some to many universities and colleges including Ivy League University of Pennsylvania, Penn State University, Temple University, and Drexel to name a few, placing it high on the list of top international study destinations.
Best Time to Visit Philadelphia
Most people will agree that spring and fall are the best time of year to visit Philly due to moderate temperatures and nice weather. While summer is the busiest time of year, the heat and humidity may affect some people’s decision to travel, especially since many activities are outdoors and much of the city is accessible by foot. Still, the summer months are still the most expensive for traveling to Philly.
Although Philadelphia’s winters are more mild than many other cities in the Northeast, cooler temperatures keep some travelers away. Also, many of the city’s outdoor activities are seasonal, such as boat cruises, and river tours. Those who don’t mind the winter may choose to visit Philadelphia during this season as hotel rates are most affordable during this time.
What to do in Philadelphia
There is no shortage of sights and attractions in Philadelphia, whether you are a history buff, art lover, foodie, or sports fan.
Begin your stay in Philadelphia by exploring some (if not all) of its many national historical sites. Did you know that Independence National Historical Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site?
Take in as much as history as possible by visiting the Liberty Bell, followed by a tour of Independence Hall, the location where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed. In Historic Philadelphia, you can also visit Franklin Square, Penn’s Landing, and Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest residential street in America.
If you’re into arts and culture, check out one of Philadelphia’s many museums – the city is home to some of the best museums in the US including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the National Constitution Center, the Please Touch Museum (fun for the whole family), the Rodin Sculpture Museum, and the National Museum of American Jewish History. Check out Visit Philly for a list of Philadelphia’s Best Museums
Don’t forget to check out the famous LOVE Sculpture – although you would normally find the sculpture at LOVE Park or JFK Plaza, the area is currently under construction until 2017. Don’t worry, the LOVE sculpture has been temporarily moved across the street to Dilworth Park so it’s still worth a visit for a great photo opp with your travel buddies or that special someone.
Philadelphia also has a number of great food neighborhoods, with tons of hot dining options to explore. East Passyunk, the Loft District, Rittenhouse, and Brewerytown, are just a few popular “foodie” districts to check out.
Where to Eat & Drink in Philadelphia
It won’t take long to discover that Philadelphia is home to some of the best restaurants and bars.
Check out these sites to discover some of the hottest dining options in Philly this year:
Grab lunch at Reading Terminal Market, an indoor public market in downtown Philly that is home to over 100 merchants. Market vendors include produce, dairy, seafood, and ethnic groceries, and the even features weekly events including live music and market tours where you can learn about the history of some of the city’s favorite foods.
Of course, don’t leave the city before trying a cheesesteak, with countless variations catering to all sorts of dietary needs including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free. Find your perfect Philly Cheesesteak at one of these Top 10 Spots for Authentic Philly Cheesesteaks
There is no shortage of good nightlife in Philadelphia. Whether you are a wine enthusiast, craft beer snob, or whiskey lover, there are bars to cater to your preferences. Now that summer has arrived, check out this list of the best rooftop bars in the city
Where to Stay in Philadelphia
Philadelphia has several unique neighborhoods, but where you choose to stay will likely depend on a bunch of factors, including the purpose of your visit, time of year, budget, etc.
Those who prioritize convenience when traveling may choose to stay in the Old City due to its proximity to historical landmarks and popular attractions including the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the Independence National Historic Park. If you traveled to Philadelphia by train or plane and don’t have access to a car, this is a good choice. You will also be close to a number of dining and shopping options. Society Hill is located just south of the historic Old City and boasts some of the most expensive residences in the city.
Other options of where to stay include Center City, home to the Pennsylvania Convention Center and Philadelphia Stock Exchange. While Center City is the business hub of Philadelphia, it is also a food lover’s haven, as it’s home to the famous Reading Terminal, which is definitely worth checking out.
To find the perfect spot to stay during your trip, check out Travel + Leisure’s suggestions for Best Hotels in Philadelphia.
If you are someone who likes to feel like a local and not a tourist, consider booking a stay in an apartment or house through Airbnb. Philadelphia is home to over 2,000 active Airbnb listings so sign up today to find your perfect accommodation.
Don’t have an Airbnb account yet? Sign up now and receive a discount to put towards your first Airbnb stay!
How Much Time Do You Need in Philadelphia
While a weekend in Philadelphia is likely enough time to see the main attractions and get a good feel for the city, it’s probably a place you’ll want to come back to again. Philadelphia has everything other big cities have to offer, along with the historic charm, and slower pace of life than other big cities such as NYC, LA, and Chicago. Check out the following guides to find out how you can make the most of your time in Philly.
Author’s Bio: Diana Rosario is originally from Canada but has been living in NYC for the past 3 years. She is passionate about non-profit work, animal rescue, travel, and yoga. Diana has traveled to nearly 30 countries and completed her 200 Hr Yoga Teacher Training in Costa Rica. Today, she’s a contributor to About.com’s USA Travel Section. You can connect with her by following wanderlust_yogi_nyc on Instagram.