What’d you do if you find yourself helpless for 10 hours in a transit in Philadelphia’s airport? Well, I’ll burst through the airline’s office asking them to refund my money I can’t cope with the long boring hours, for what!!! Nah, just joking! So, I went downtown to round-up some few fun things to keep you engaged in the cultural city of Philly.
Philadelphia, affectionately known as Philly is a place where the Northeast Corridor’s cultures cross and clash. The original and once home to the Capital of the United States of America, Philly is a city bursting with history and culture references from the Liberty Bell to the famous steps where Rocky ran up.
We’ll begin with the grub because one does not simply go to Philadelphia without trying some staple cuisines from the area such as the infamous Philadelphia Cheesesteak, the sourdough pretzels or some wooda (water) ice!
# 1. Philly Cheesesteaks
When it comes to the mouth-watering succulent Cheesesteak, I look no further than John’s Roast Pork on 14 Snyder Ave in South Philly. Not only is it superior in size, taste and quality of ingredients to Geno’s and Pat’s but you have a slew of sandwiches and sides you can order from Hoagies to Club sandwiches to wings to fish cakes. They hold it down! Here is Zagat’s take on the joint: Fans “forget upscale” and head to this cash-only South Philly “lunch counter” for its “amazing” “triumvirate of hot sandwiches: cheesesteak, roast pork and roast beef” made the “way it should be”; the “extra-napkin experience” is enjoyed at “picnic tables” throughout the seasons.
#2. Mural Art Tour
Only locals would be hip to the amount of stunning graffiti in Philadelphia. There are anywhere between 2800-3100 mural style wall pieces in and around Philly. Back in the 1980’s it started out as an anti-graffiti movement which took the youth of the city (extremely talented artists) taggers and graffiti artists to do what they love for a good cause.
Without the Mural Arts Program none of this would have ever existed, whole neighborhoods came together to commission their very own walls within their communities (several murals were at least 9 stories high while others gave a positive feel to schools hallways). While beautiful to see these murals have meant so much more to the city alone, the program has meant significant change for thousands upon thousands of young kids (who are now adults) lives and continues to recruit many students who would otherwise be found with idle hands (if you get my drift). Due to the positive impact the request for murals has been very high in demand causing a wait-list for works.
Tours are given to show a beautiful route of quality work done by amateurs. Love Letters takes you on a subway themed tour or you could go on a one and a half hour walking tour that comes equipped with a guide.
#3. Run up the “Rocky steps” in Italian Stallion Fashion
From a tourist standpoint It doesn’t get more Philadelphia than screaming “Adrienne!!” at the top of the steps to the Philadelphia Museum, while shadow boxing in a circle . Immediately to the right of the base of the steps you’ll find the infamous Rocky statue and like I, many others, and hopefully you as well you’ll take a photo with the local movie hero.
A perk with reaching the top of the stairs is one of the best panoramic views of the city. A famed spot for brides and grooms taking their wedding pic but beware of the exited tourist doing their best Rocky pose for a heart-wrenching photobomb. Once in the museum you’ll find Medieval cloisters (they’re the real thing) and other sections highlighting Asian Art and an authentic Japanese Tea house. Constantine tapestries, presidential china, horse and rider armory and European and American art.
#4. The soft pretzels will change your mind about street food
It’s been said that soft pretzels are to Philadelphia as crepes are to Paris. You can get them for cheap, eat them on the go, buy them almost anywhere… and they will convince you that no other city’s version is as good. Or score pretzels from an actual establishment on the midnight Pretzels Ride. Every Tuesday night right before midnight, carb-loving bike riders meet at the Art Museum and take off down to Center City Pretzel Co, where you can score several pretzels for just $1. Oh, and there’s plenty of mustard and Cheese Whiz to top ’em off.
#5. Visit the Liberty Bell
Ok, so number 5 should probably be Visit the Liberty Bell. Or maybe take a tour through Independence Hall where the founding documents of the United States were signed. But I say no. Happy Hour at Palomar Hotel is my number 5. You’ll do those touristy things anyway, let’s face it. And AFTER you’re culturally aware you will need a drink. Palomar Hotel is in yet another historic building, this time a 1929 architects building in the posh Rittenhouse Square neighborhood. It was a stunning evening so I sat outside under umbrellas and ordered “small plates” from Square 1682 – their restaurant. I tasted tons (yes I did) but my pick for this Top 5 list has to be the goat cheese-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon. They come hot on sticks and go perfectly with a cheeky pinot gris.
#6. Reading Street Terminal
Since it’s founding in the late 1800’s, the indoor market has been stocked with food from hundreds of farmers and distributors. Standing close to its original location, the market now serves up Chinese food, cheesesteaks, hoagies, fresh seafood, crepes, BBQ chicken, Cajun cuisine and the Dutch Eating Place, an eatery featuring true Pennsylvania Dutch cooking.
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