Philadelphia: City of Brotherly Love

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“Philadelphia Freedom”

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Elton John was right on the money when making his song about Philadelphia, the city where freedom was born.  Philadelphia played a huge part in the formation of the history of the United States of America, as it was the place where the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and later the Constitution.  Nowadays, the city has grown and evolved into a hotspot for young professionals, entrepreneurs, and university students all looking to experience the best of what the city has to offer.  Made up of several unique communities, the city of Philadelphia is brimming with diversity.  The city is chock full of history and even if you’re not a huge history buff, Philadelphia is sure to please everyone!  Let me show you what Philly does best.

Neighborhood Introduction

Each of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods gives off a completely different vibe than the next and let me give you insight into where you should definitely check out during your stay!

Old City

Historical center of the city, right smack dab where all of the main attractions are.  If you are looking to experience a more authentic, historical Philadelphia, explore this area of the city!  Also home to many great restaurants, bars, nightclubs, as well as pop-up beer gardens and outdoor venues that are very popular in the summertime.

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Spruce Street Harbor Park, a summer oasis in Old City!

Fairmount

Located very close to the city center, Fairmount is close to all of the major art museums and other great attractions like the Mutter Museum and Eastern State Penitentiary.  There is a good mix of high end restaurants and

South Philly

This is where people who are born and raised in Philadelphia live, so it is very familial, residential and also a lot more laid back than downtown.  Take a walk down South Street and check out all of the cool shops, restaurants and bars there.  Amazing bar and restaurant scene, and the Italian Market is down here which you have to see!  Home to the legendary Pat’s and Geno’s, where if you want to take the challenge and see whose cheesesteak is best, this is the place to do it!  My recommendation for the best cheesesteak is Jim’s Steaks on 4th and South Streets, the best in my opinion!

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studio of the artist who created the Magic Gardens, a sculptural “garden” in South Philadelphia

Rittenhouse Square

As the name suggests, very ritzy part of town with lots of boutique shopping as well as major name-brand shopping as well along Walnut Street and Chestnut Street.  Also great spot to eat out and have drinks, and to spend a lazy Sunday laying on the grass in Rittenhouse Park.

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What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than in Rittenhouse Square with puppies?

 

Chinatown

The arch says it all!  Amazing food and beautiful wares, right in the heart of the city.  Sit down for a great meal in one of the many restaurants,

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Chinatown Arch

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This is the last place where I ate when I was in Chinatown!

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Yummy soup perfect on a cold day

Northern Liberties/Fishtown

These hip up-and-coming neighborhoods boast some of the best bars and restaurants in the city, and Fishtown is evolving even more so into a foodie’s paradise.  Don’t let their funkiness scare you away, their eclectic nature gives them their own vibe and promises for a fun night out on the town.

 

History

Welcome to the birthplace of American democracy!  Home to the Liberty Bell, the National Constitution Center, Independence Hall and the Benjamin Franklin’s old stomping grounds, this city is brimming with wonderfully preserved national landmarks that mark important American victories and give you a glimpse into how the Founding Fathers lived.  You can see the crack in the Liberty Bell up close, discover the history behind “We the People” and learn about how the American flag was created.  Check out Elfreth’s Alley, which is the oldest residential street in America!  The Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia is the best place to explore to learn more about America’s history.  I recommend setting an entire day aside to check out these major sights.  Be sure to get to the Independence Visitor Center first!  You can pick up free timed tickets to visit Independence Hall later on in the day.  Next head over to the Liberty Bell.  Although it is free to view, entrance is first-come first-serve and there is almost always a long line, especially during the summer months.  If you can, purchase your tickets to the National Constitution Center ahead of time to save yourselves some precious time from waiting in the line.

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Independence Hall

 

Arts

Philadelphia has a thriving art scene that is constantly evolving and continues to delight both visitors and residents alike.  In fact, Philadelphia has more public art and mural art spread across town than any other city in the United States!  Its many art museums, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Rodin Museum, the Barnes Foundation, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, display a wonderful collection of art spanning several genres.  The Rodin Museum is the largest collection of art by sculptor Auguste Rodin outside of his native France.  My favorite is the Barnes Museum, which holds one of the finest collections of modernist and post-Impressionist art arranged with wonderful decorative pieces that make the collection stand out in a beautiful way.  If you decide to go visit the Barnes, I highly recommend purchasing tickets beforehand, as they tend to sell out fast!  You have the choice of purchasing timed tickets or anytime tickets, the anytime tickets are more expensive.  The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the largest art museums in the United States and has a wonderful permanent collection of European and American art.  You might recognize the famous steps of the museum from the “Rocky” films!  There is also a bronze statue of Rocky at the bottom of the steps where you can pose like Rocky!  Theater, music, and dance also are highly venerated art forms here in Philadelphia.  Along the Avenue of the Arts, you will find the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, home to the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Academy of Music, home to the Pennsylvania Ballet and Opera Company of Philadelphia.  The Philadelphia Orchestra is regarded as one of the top five orchestras in the United States and the Academy of Music is the nation’s oldest opera house.  Take in a jazz concert at the Kimmel Center, or go for a night at the ballet!  You can see Broadway stage productions at the Forrest Theater, Merriam Theater or Walnut Street Theater, and smaller theaters like the Wilma Theater produce smaller-scale productions.  Concert venues include the Fillmore, the Trocadero, the Electric Factory, and World Cafe Live to name a few where you can take in the local music scene.  There are so many different ways to experience the arts in Philadelphia!

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The Thinker sitting pensively outside of the Rodin Museum

Food

Usually when people think of Philadelphia, their mind automatically goes to the famous Philadelphia cheesesteak.  However, Philadelphia has so much more to offer when it comes to its food scene!  Take for example Reading Terminal Market, located right in the heart of the city right near the Convention Center.  An indoor foodie’s oasis, Reading Terminal Market boasts the freshest locally grown and sourced produce, meats, cheeses and breads as well as local Pennsylvania Dutch baked goods as well as a wide variety of ethnic foods.  Also a number of celebrity chefs have put up shop in Philadelphia and never fail to amaze the public’s tastebuds.  Whether you try out the modern Israeli fare at Zahav or the innovative vegan cuisine at Vedge, you are bound to be amazed by the food that makes Philly, well, Philly.  Most restaurants located in the Center City area will be bound to please, but don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone — go check out the amazing restaurant scene popping up on East Passyunk Avenue (pronounced Pash-shunk) and in the eccentric Fishtown neighborhood.  Also, if you’re not into the whole cheesesteak thing, I DEFINITELY recommend you try out a roast pork sandwich at either John’s Roast Pork in South Philly or Tommy DiNic’s in Reading Terminal Market (you won’t regret it!).

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One of the many stands at Reading Terminal Market

 

Sports

Well, if you weren’t aware already, Philly sports fans are pretty die hard.  When it comes to the Philadelphia Eagles, we can get pretty nasty.  So nasty in fact, that we’ve earned quite a reputation for being some of the most aggressive sports fans in the country!  However, don’t let this dissuade you from taking in a sports game while you’re here!  Philadelphia has great sports facilities, from Citizens Bank Park, home to the Philadelphia Phillies, Lincoln Financial Field, home to the Philadelphia Eagles, PPL Park, home to the Philadelphia Union, and the Wells Fargo Center, home to the Philadelphia Flyers and the Philadelphia 76ers.  Besides these sports stadiums, Philadelphia also has lots of open outdoor spaces for visitors to enjoy.  For example, Fairmount Park in Philadelphia is the world’s largest municipal park!  Spend an afternoon riding bikes along Boathouse Row or walking along the new Schuykill Banks Boardwalk, there’s plenty of opportunities to get some fresh air!

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My first Flyers game!

 

 

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