Distances are what you’d expect in a big American city: some sights will require transportation to reach.
Love its wall murals on many random buildings.
Worthy attractions: Independence Hall; Liberty Bell Center; Barnes Foundation; Franklin Institute; Magic Gardens; Boathouse Row; Reading Terminal Market.
Left for another visit: Philadelphia Museum of Art; Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul; National Museum of American Jewish History; Rodin Museum; City Hall.
Philadelphia is practically in my backyard – it takes me just over an hour to drive to the city center from my home in New Jersey. It is home to a number of top-notch museums and attractions. An infrequent visitor to the American Northeast will likely go for New York City first and foremost, but for people who live in the Northeast Corridor, the smaller and less hectic Philadelphia is a viable alternative for arts and culture.
Over the years, I have made numerous day-trips to the city. This article may not be a true Travelog visit summary, but rather an attempt to enumerate the worthy sights that Philadelphia has on offer.
Things to See
No student of American history can miss Independence Hall ♥♥, where both the United States Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were debated and signed. The historical impact of those events is much greater than the visual impact of touring the place, but the guide commentary is always informative and the time investment is always worthwhile.
Nearby is the Liberty Bell Center ♥, holding the iconic symbol of American independence. The entrance is free and the line to get in usually moves at a good clip.
Barnes Foundation ♥♥♥ is among my favorite art museums in the entire world, on the strength of owning nearly 200 Renoirs to which I am especially partial. There are a number of other painters well represented in the magnificent collection.
A fantastic popular-science museum, Franklin Institute ♥♥ will appeal to children and adults alike, but it is most certainly a place to take inquisitive young minds to.
A different and quirky delight for all ages is Magic Gardens ♥♥, a house and garden impressively decorated by mosaic art.
The nature of my trips to Philadelphia means that some points of interest perpetually end up on the outs of itineraries, foremost of them other art museums, such as Philadelphia Museum of Art or Rodin Museum.
If you are simply looking to enjoy the city atmosphere, there are plenty of impressive architectural edifices and pleasant streets and squares in the city center. I am particularly fond of Rittenhouse Square ♥♥ and the surrounding area.
The wall murals, found on random buildings, are a surprise and a delight every time you come upon one.
For foodies, Reading Terminal Market ♥ is a must to browse. It is a bit cramped and can get really crowded, but the variety of offerings is worth the visit.
For photographically inclined, greeting the sunrise from the middle of the Ben Franklin Bridge walkway ♥ offers a superb panoramic view of the city. Another popular photogenic viewpoint is across the Schuykill River from Boathouse Row. And the Rocky Statue near the steps to the Museum of Art is always a hit with the visitors, although I do not necessarily recommend going out of your way to see it.
Places to Eat
TripAdvisor nowadays makes finding restaurant recommendations quite easy, so I am staying away from lengthy vignettes. In addition, and again due to the nature of of my trips to Philadelphia, I rarely have proper restaurant meals in the city.
Parc Brasserie ♥♥♥, on Rittenhouse Square, is a real taste of France in the heart of America. I prefer sidewalk seating to feel ever more Parisian. Last visit: Spring of 2017.
Amada ♥♥, on Chestnut Street a few blocks from Independence Mall, is a great modern take on tapas. Last visit: Summer of 2016.
Le Pain Quotidien ♥♥ on Callowhill Street is our go-to place for lunch when we visit Barnes. Last visit: Summer of 2017.