It’s impossible to see and experience everything there is to do in Philadelphia in just 24 hours. It is possible, however, to hit the hot spots that make the city famous. Stick around Center City, a neighborhood made up of a few smaller neighborhoods, to take in the art, history, food, and drinks of Philly’s downtown. This is the best way to spend a day in Philly for first-timers to the city.
Start the day off right at High Street on Market. The restaurant and bakery has fresh-out-of-the-oven breads with butter and jam, grain bowls, specialty yogurts, and a portion of the breakfast menu devoted solely to egg sandwiches like The Forager, made with king oyster mushroom, kale, swiss, and black trumpet mayo.
After breakfast, you’ll be in a prime position to immerse yourself in Philadelphia’s history. Stroll the cobblestone streets and make your way to sites like Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and Constitution Center. While touristy, it’s worth a visit. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you learn more than just Philly’s history here — you learn early US history. It takes up seven square blocks, so pick and choose what you want to see unless you want to spend all day here — which you can easily do if you’re a history buff.
Break away from the people and information overload of Independence National Historic Park and make your way down to Queen Village for lunch at The Hungry Pigeon. The relaxing spot has casual, counter-service lunch with soups, salads, and sandwiches, as well as options like salt cod and cheese plates. Don’t leave without checking out the rotating menu of ice cream and sorbet selections.
Stay in Queen Village after lunch. Walking the cobblestone streets is charming enough, but the neighborhood also has some of Philly’s best (and most quirky) boutiques. Walk around Fabric Row, historically known as a center for textiles, for all things clothing. There are plenty of small businesses here to explore, support, and keep you entertained for hours.
If shopping isn’t your thing, or if you’re looking to add another stop to your itinerary, head to Magic Gardens on nearby South Street. The public sculpture garden and folk art center is filled with pieces made from broken bottles and ceramic, dolls, and bicycle spokes. Tickets are $10.
Look for the small blue door and red lantern of Royal Sushi and Izakaya for dinner. Small plates, sake, and beer are at the front of the restaurant, while the back is a sushi bar that can please the sushi expert and people new to sushi alike. Philadelphia’s best Japanese restaurant is proof that you don’t need to be near the ocean to have top-grade sushi.
Philadelphia has some of the best dive bars in the country. Walk over to Tattooed Mom if you need proof. The South Street bar is just as eccentric as its surroundings, with a beer and custom-cocktail focus. If you stay long enough to be hungry again, there are vegan and vegetarian bites. Make it to one of the two happy hours (5:00-7:00 PM and 10:00-11:00 PM) and be sure to order a Pickletini for the full experience.