Philly Native Shares Her Best Local Tips
Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, is an underrated hidden gem. Rich in history, culture, food, and the arts, it’s a stop that can’t be missed when traveling to the east coast. From the Rocky Steps at the Art Museum to the mouth-watering cheesesteaks, this city will steal your heart and your stomach.
Where to Eat in Philadelphia
First off, and I’d argue most importantly, you need to know the best spots to eat. Did you say cheesesteaks? Well, there are fantastic spots to grab one all around the city. You’ll know if you get close to one based on that incredible greasy smell wafting through the air. Pat’s and Geno’s are old favorites located across the street from one another. I recommend going with a friend so you can get one from each spot and share that yummy goodness. Jim’s on South Street is not to be missed, and Dallesandro’s has some of the best steaks and hoagies (Do NOT call them Subs). Don’t forget you’ll need to order like an expert, so decide if you want a Whiz Wit or Whiz Witout in advance.
Philly also has some gourmet spots like Zahav (Middle Eastern), Vetri (Italian), and Morimoto, plus a bustling Chinatown to explore. You may also want to check out a Wawa location, a very popular hangout (also a convenience store) that features surprisingly tasty hoagies, plus all the things you forgot to pack on your trip.
What to See in Philadelphia
Philadelphia is steeped in history. Whether you are a history buff, or just looking to learn a few facts to show off on your next trivia night, this city has a lot to offer.
First off, you’ll need to visit Independence Hall, the birthplace of America. The Declaration of Independence and US Constitution were both signed in this building, which was frequented by George Washington and Ben Franklin, plus a number of other famous figures that are not featured on US currency. Don’t forget to check out the Liberty Bell and its infamous crack, which was used back in the 18th and 19th centuries. Also nearby, the National Constitution Center, a relatively new addition to the city, is an educational delight, full of artifacts, exhibits, and constitutional history. You can also visit Betsy Ross’s house to learn more about those 50 stars and 13 stripes.
By the end of the day, you should be well equipped to shock your family and friends during the American History category of Jeopardy.
More Philly things to See
After you get your fill of history, make sure you check out South Street which is full of shops, good eats, and great people watching. You may have heard it mentioned in Boyz II Men’s “Motownphilly” or Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy wit It”. It is home to the Magic Gardens, a gorgeous place where you are immersed in a maze of mosaics created from tiles, glass, wheels, and mirrors.
Ever wonder where America’s first zoo is located? Well, it’s right here in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, the Zoo Balloon was grounded a few years ago, but you can still check out the African lions, Amur tigers, and jaguars by foot. Just don’t get too close.
If you happen to be visiting Philly during the holidays, you won’t want to miss the New Year’s Day Mummers Parade, one of the oldest folk festivals in America. The Mummers are a unique sight to be seen. Wild colors, loud music, lots of people, and frigid temps…it’s an experience you won’t forget.
Philadelphia Sports Teams
The Eagles are a religion for many diehard Philly sports fans, and they feature prominently in the movies Silver Linings Playbook and Invincible. Watch out for flying batteries though. It’s an odd (and dangerous) Eagles tradition to throw batteries even when they win.
The Phillies galvanized the city during their improbable 2022 World Series run. After big wins, brave fans climb street poles in another unique celebration. The city greases the poles to try to stop it, but they’re no match for the Phillies fans.
The Sixers preach trusting the process, but it’s been a long time since the Dr. J era when that trust paid off. The Flyers have an even longer championship drought. Maybe this is the year?
Other Things to Know about Philly
Make sure you are well prepared with layers as the temps can vary widely, and despite what you may have heard, it’s not always sunny in Philadelphia.
There are a number of flight options into this remarkable city. Most importantly, don’t forget to make your reservation for airport parking here.