Where to Stay, What to See, Do, Eat, and Drink in Philadelphia
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Philadelphia is rightly named the City of Brotherly Love, but it's also the place I called my second home. If you're not familiar with me, I grew up 30 minutes outside of the fifth largest city in the US. Trips to Philly happened almost every weekend for me and my family. I somehow even ended up in the city for college, and I don't regret it for a second! So of course I want to share my love of Philly with everyone who hasn't visited. Continue reading for the perfect weekend guide on what to see, do, eat, and drink in Philadelphia!
Where to Stay in Philadelphia
Philadelphia Marriott Downtown— $
If you're in need of a really reliable and centrally located hotel, the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown is honestly a great cost-saving option. I can personally attest to how amazing their beds and pillows are. It's only 1 block away from City Hall and Broad Street. Don't get freaked out by how huge the hotel is. The Philadelphia Convention Center is right around the corner, but so is Reading Terminal Market.
Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia— $$
If you're looking to stay closer to the historic areas of Philadelphia, stay at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia. It's located right in the heart of Old City and a short walk to Independence Hall. This hotel is also a great option if you like the boutique hotel feel.
Ritz Carlton Philadelphia— $$$
Want to stay in luxury right on Broad Street? The Ritz Carlton Philadelphia recently went through a TON of renovations, and it is gorgeous. The hotel sits right across the street from City Hall, and you'll be by a ton of shopping, restaurants, and shows.
Other options: The Rittenhouse Hotel
What to See in Philadelphia
Rittenhouse Square is a must-see on any trip to Philadelphia. While it's a small park, it's right in the center of everything: residences, restaurants, shopping, and bars. Rittenhouse Square is one of the five original open-space parks that was designed by William Penn, and was originally named Southwest Square. On Saturdays, visit Rittenhouse Square for its year-round Farmers' Market from 9am to 3pm.
Rittenhouse Farmers' Market // 18th & Walnut Streets: up Walnut and down 18th
City Hall sits in the heart of Downtown Philadelphia at Broad and Market Streets. Its central location is convenient to endless amounts of shops, restaurants, and hotels. City Hall was built on the exact center of William Penn's original 1682 plans for the city. Venture into the courtyard to get a completely different perspective of the building.
Photo tip: Stand on one of the medians on Broad Street for an iconic shot. You'll be able to get William Penn's statue in the photo too!
City Hall // 1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
First timers in Philly have to go see Independence Hall. It's rich with history considering it's where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were created and signed. If you have the patience to wait, take a peek at the Liberty Bell, which is located across the lawn.
Independence Hall // 520 Chestnut Street
Elfreth's Alley is the oldest residential street in the US! The 32 residential buildings were built between the 1720s and 1830s, and is one of quaintest streets I've ever been on. And yes, it really is an alley! Tours explaining the history of each house run Friday to Sunday from 12-5pm and are only $5.
Elfreth's Alley // 124-126 Elfreth's Alley
A broad range of unique shops line South Street as well as bars and restaurants. You'll find hookah bars, music venues, Condom Kingdom, cheesesteaks, and more! It's the perfect place for people watching too.
South Street // South Street
- Want some Philadelphia tour options? Viator has a ton of tours at different price points.
What to Do in Philadelphia
Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) & Rocky Run
Another must-do is the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Rocky statue. Don't forget to run up the stairs! The museum itself is colossal and overlooks the Schuylkill River (and Drexel!). My favorite parts of the museum are the The Carl Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch Collection, which showcases 14th to 18th century European objects used in battles and tournaments, and the The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Collection, which contains the PMA's contemporary art collection.
Philadelphia Museum of Art // 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA)
One of my favorite museums in Philly is the ICA, which is located on the border of Drexel and Penn's Campus. The museum is fairly small, but you can spend hours here. I recall going to Stefan Sagmeister's The Happy Show exhibit back in 2012, and wanting to read every single piece. Exhibits can be interactive as well. Admission is free for all.
ICA // 118 S. 36th Street
Eastern State Penitentiary
Eastern State Penitentiary is located in Philly's Fairmont neighborhood, a walking distance from the PMA. It's America's most historic prison and offers audio tours, hands-on history, art installations, and history art exhibits. If you're visiting during Halloween season, get your scaries in at Terror Behind the Walls!
Eastern State Penitentiary // 2027 Fairmont Ave.
Philadelphia's Magic Gardens
Philadelphia's Magic Gardens is a not-so-hidden gem on South Street that is a massive art installation. This is Isaiah Zagar's largest public work and features found objects, mosaics, glass bottles, tiles, and mirrors. It's truly a unique space, and you'll spend quite a bit of time looking at the different areas and phrases that accompany them.
Philadelphia's Magic Gardens // 1020 South Street
Where to Eat in Philadelphia
Reading Terminal Market
Reading Terminal Market is a foodie paradise. Fresh produce, meats, fish, restaurants, bakeries, and more are located in the market, which makes it the perfect one-stop-shop. It can be a little overwhelming when you first walk in, but maps and signs are easy to locate throughout. Lines can be extremely long, so make sure you're prepared to wait.
Reading Terminal Market // 51 North 12th Street
My love for Parc is insane. I don't know anyone that dislikes Parc. Parc is an enormous French bistro located right in Rittenhouse Square that offers great food on a consistent basis. I've been for both brunch and dinner, but if it's your first time, go for brunch! The seafood towers are to die for.
Parc // 227 South 18th Street
Move over Pat's and Geno's. The quintessential cheesesteak spot you need to eat at is on South Street. Jim's has been around since 1939, and it never disappoints. Watch as your cheesesteak is being made 'wiz wit' or 'witout,' and your mouth will instantly water. Jim's is cash only.
Jim's Steaks // 400 South Street
Hai Street Kitchen
Need a quick, but delicious bite? Stop by Hai Street Kitchen for sushi burritos! You can choose between cooked or uncooked main ingredients and customize your toppings. Portion sizes are generous.
Hai Street Kitchen // 32 South 18th Street
I'm sure you've heard of chicken and waffles, but have you heard of chicken, doughnuts, and coffee?! Although not served together, feast on fried chicken and doughnuts for a meal at any time. You seriously won't be disappointed.
Federal Donuts // 1632 Samson Street
- Want to take some food tours? Viator has a ton of food tours at different price points.
Where to Drink in Philadelphia
The Franklin Bar
I've never seen such exceptionable service, attention to details, and such an enormous cocktail menu. The Franklin Bar is the first speakeasy bar that I've ever been to and it has remained my favorite. What it lacks in secrecy, The Franklin Bar makes up in quality. I've seen waiters and bartenders ask specific questions about a patron's favorite flavors and come back with the prefect drink for them. Try to go early as there is a no standing policy.
The Franklin Bar // 112 South 18th Street
The Ranstead Room is right around the corner from The Franklin Bar, but you may have to look hard since the smaller speakeasy is behind an unmarked door down a small street. You can also access the bar through El Rey, though I've never gone through that way. Service is impeccable, just like The Franklin Bar.
Ranstead Room // 2013 Ranstead Street
Frankford Hall is an enormous beer garden in Fishtown. There's indoor and outdoor seating and different group games available like Jenga. Hungry? Grab a bratwurst or two with your beer. This is great for large parties since seating is spacious.
Frankford Hall // 1210 Frankford Ave.
This former bank offers a large bar space in one of Philly's best neighborhoods: Old City. It's really a sight to see for yourself because you won't see a more grand entrance.
National Mechanics // 22 South 3rd Street
Head to Fishtown for classic arcade games and craft beers. This spot is epic for a date or group night. You can also find Barcade in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, which are owned by friends.
Barcade // 1114 Frankford Ave.