Philadelphia’s reputation as the City of Brotherly Love is richly deserved, said Alex Coxon in the UK edition of National Geographic Traveller. Locals are warm and quick to help tourists find the best cheesesteak in town. But there are many more reasons to make the trip to the birthplace of the United States.
What to do
Independence Hall, where Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, is the natural place to start your tour of the city. It’s also free. From there, it’s an easy walk to the museum housing the iconic Liberty Bell, which rang to summon the citizens of Philadelphia for the first reading of the Declaration of Independence. History buffs should also check out The President’s House Commemorative Site, which tells the tale of nine African slaves who lived and worked in the country’s first White House, back when Philadelphia was the capital of the United States.
Movie fans might want to then wander to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Its 72 steps were featured in five Rocky films “and are great for photos if you fancy re-creating the fictional boxer’s energetic run to the top.” The museum itself is also worth a look; it is home to one of the largest art collections in the United States.
Learn about Philadelphia’s seamy side with a trip to the Eastern State Penitentiary, once the most famed prison in the world. For $12, you can wander through its remains and learn about its notorious inmates, including mobster Al Capone and bank robber “Slick Willie” Sutton.
Take a trip down Elfreth’s Alley, built in 1702 and the oldest residential street in the U.S. Two homes here have been converted into a museum and gift shop.
Where to stay
Visitors have their pick from more than 8,500 hotel rooms ranging from budget to luxury. Here are a few of the best:
This non-smoking hotel offers fresh fruit and snacks 24 hours a day, has a fitness center, and 48 rooms in seven stories.
Hotel Palomar Philadelphia
One of the city’s most eco-friendly hotels, Hotel Palomar Philadelphia offers 194 chic rooms, 17 suites, and 19 spa rooms.
Four Seasons Philadelphia
This sumptuous establishment is home to one of the city’s best restaurants, the five-star Fountain Restaurant.
Where to eat
It’s not all cheesesteak, though meat-eating tourists should give the city’s specialty a try.
Leo’s Steak Shop
While Pat’s and Geno’s are also popular, locals say this is the best of the bunch.
This new restaurant features tapas with a Southwestern flair as well as 50 kinds of tequila.
Enjoy tasting menus of Japanese food exquisitely prepared by television chef Masaharu Morimoto.
What to buy
Reading Market Terminal offers homebaked goods as well as handicrafts, meat, Amish specialties, and ethnic foods.
Rittenhouse Row between the Avenue of the Arts and 22nd Street features a string of chic boutiques and designer stores.
The Old City district has an eclectic assortment of vintage shops and other arty stores for Bohemian types.
Premium Outlets, 35 miles outside of the city, is a mecca for bargain hunters.
Source: National Geographic Traveller (UK)