Historic, cultured, with an in-your-face personality, Philadelphia is one of the gems of the East Coast. For deeper thinkers, it offers some of the best museums and sites to challenge some of our notions of the world, and of ourselves. I hope this guide helps you plan your trip!
Note: thank you to Visit Philly for help in planning my itinerary while there, and for sponsoring a media pass that allowed me to visit and review more places than I would have been able to see on my budget alone.
Every skyline needs a best building!
Philadelphia is the fifth largest city in the United States, and home to a major international airport. For domestic travelers, American Airlines hubs there, and every other carrier flies in from at least their own hubs. The airport itself is about 20-30 minutes outside of Center City, as downtown Philadelphia is known, and cabs will run about $30.
If you already live on the East Coast, Philadelphia is on the I-95 corridor, and a stop on the trains between New York and Washington. In other words, this is an easy destination to reach.
Most of the places that tourists will want to visit are near Center City, which is quite walkable. For sites a bit further away, a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft is probably your best bet. There are buses, and two metro lines, but they aren’t as efficient as you’d like them to be.
Philadelphia drivers are not as aggressive as those in New York or Boston, so if you are staying outside Center City you may also want to consider renting a car.
Chinatown is one of the places you can easily walk from Center City
Where to Stay
As I mentioned before, Center City is where the action is. From any spot, you are looking at about a 10-15 minute drive or 45 minute (or less) walk to just about every major tourist attraction. This trip, I stayed at the Doubletree. About $110 per night, great location, wonderful service, and if you have Gold or Diamond status with Hilton (you can get Gold with one of the Hilton AmEx cards), the breakfast buffet was solid and free. And like all Doubletree properties, cookies at the front desk are included.
A view of City Hall from the Doubletree
Things to Do
Philadelphia is a world-class destination with something for everyone. Here are my guides for some of the best things I have done in the city:
In addition, there are countless other museums, awesome buildings, public art – the murals here are incredible – and more tasty eats than I could possibly mention.
If you are a fan of coins, you can tour the US Mint!
Other Useful Information
Philadelphians have a reputation for being fairly aggressive. I found them to largely be lovely wonderful people, but do not insult their sports teams if you want to stay on their good side. (Don’t insult the city either, but especially not the sports teams.)
Like most cities outside the West Coast, jaywalking is commonly done, so be careful if you are driving.
I covered this in the historic places post, but it bears restating. Walk around the old city, and read the signs you pass. You’ll stumble on homes lived in by Alexander Hamilton and the other heroes of the early country!
Betsy Ross lived in this house – maybe
Many people see Philadelphia for just a day between Washington and New York. That’s a shame. Philadelphia is a worthy destination in its own right, and deserves much more time!
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