How to See Philadelphia in A Weekend

Oh, Philly. I honestly overlooked this city most of my life, but it is so much more than a historical hot-spot. While there are enough Revolution-era places to visit for a week, there are also great dining options and unique experiences to fill any length of time.

If you have a limited amount of time in Philadelphia, though, you can still hit all the must-see spots, and even squeeze in your own picks.

 

  1. 1. Cheesesteaks 

    I’m not a local, nor am I hard to please, so my cheesesteak recommendations may not be up to par with someone from the city. So long as you heed the warnings of the masses and avoid the oversold Pat’s and Geno’s, you really can’t go wrong. Jim’s South Street is a highly-recommended place to grab a cheesesteak and has a line of hungry people waiting to prove it. If you don’t want to wait, there are a bunch of local delis and eateries where you can find a steak that’s just as good. We wound up at Parkway Corner Deli and it was Cheez Whiz heaven.

  2. 2. Reading Terminal Market 

    While we’re on the topic of food, Reading Terminal Market is the food mall of your dreams and a must-visit spot! Breakfast is a perfect time to squeeze in getting a bite here, and they have options for whatever you desire. Beiler’s Doughnuts serves up some of the most mouth-watering doughnuts you’ve ever had, so grab one, or two, or maybe just a dozen to be safe.

  3. 3. Eastern State Penitentiary 

    Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or a history buff, Eastern State is a great place to spend a couple of hours. The crumbling former prison is now an eerie testament to those that passed through its walls during its operational years. Even Al Capone had a stint in ESP, and his lavish cell is only part of what you see during your self-guided audio tour. I really appreciated the exhibit about incarceration in America and all of the eye-opening material they provided on the topic.

  4. 4. Rocky

    We know it. We love it. Philly is Rocky’s city, and you have to feed into the hype at least a bit while you’re visiting. It’s basically a given that you go to the Rocky steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and walk up, fists raised or not. Like my best friend, a Philly local, said to me before my visit, just hum the movie’s theme music as you trek up the steps and you get the full experience.

    Bonus: While most people go for the steps themselves, I hear the art museum itself is actually quite good. If you’re into art or just want a change of pace, definitely check it out.

  5. 5. Liberty Bell & Independence Hall

    Alexa, play “America the Beautiful” by Ray Charles.

    Philly is all about its historical past, and obviously the biggest of its claims is to the American Revolution. The Liberty Bell is a cool sight, mostly because you’ve seen it all your life in textbooks and on postage stamps, so seeing it in person puts it all in perspective. The line can get long, though, so arrive a little before nine o’clock if you want to be in-and-out fast.

    Independence Hall, on the other hand, requires a bit more finagling because you need reserved tickets with a specific time to see the Hall for most of the year. Again, go early (the Independence Visitor Center is where you pick up the free tickets) and you’ll have no trouble getting in to see a cool part of American history.

     

While the historical city is so fitting to visit during the summer months (we see you, Fourth of July!), I wouldn’t say that Philly’s summer weather is the most pleasant. However, if you find things to do inside and wear plenty of SPF, you should be able to make a memorable summer vacation out of the city.

Here are a few extra options for your visit!

  • Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

  • Attend a Phillies’ game

  • Ben Franklin’s grave