Photo: Pabkov/Shutterstock

The 10 Things You Have to Do Before You Can Say You've Visited Philadelphia

Travel Insider Guides
by Andy Elijah Sep 8, 2016

1. Visit the Art Museum.

Placed at the end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and overlooking the city skyline, the Philadelphia Art Museum is more than just a museum. It’s a center of city life. Not to mention being a gorgeous ode to European architecture. And finally not to mention, the beautiful art inside. If you feel up for it, you might even try running up the steps. Neighboring museums like the Barnes Foundation and Franklin Institute are also options, and if you’ve got little ones then a short drive will get you to the interactive playground known as the Please Touch Museum: a must do.

2. Eat a Cheesesteak.

This one’s a no-brainer. No other cities are as linked to a particular dish as Philadelphia is to the Cheesesteak. There are plenty of options beyond the tourist destinations of Pat’s and Geno’s. My personal favorites are Tony Luke’sJohn’s Roast Pork or Mama’s Pizzeria. Know ahead of your ordering time whether you’re getting cheese whiz or provolone, and if you want it wit’ or wit’ out onions, or they might send you to the back of the line.

3. Walk along the Schuykill River Trail.

The Schuylkill River is an essential life artery for the city, once upon a time bringing it commerce but now mostly bringing people together. With a long trail that parallels the river, beautiful structures along the way, boathouses that the university crew teams call home, you can go for a run, a long bike ride, or a leisurely walk. Spend long enough here and the whole city might pass you by.

4. Visit Independence Mall.

Philadelphia was our nation’s first capital, home to the signing of the declaration of independence, and much more. It’s where the whole thing began. While Philly residents such as myself often forget it’s there, be sure to visit Independence Mall. To understand where we have arrived, it’s essential to know where we began.

5. Go Down The Shore.

On the summertime weekends, Philadelphia seems to empty out as its residents vacate this urban bubble of greenhouse gases for the cool breezes of the Jersey Shore. In Philly-speak, you’re never going “to the beach.” You’re going “down the shore” (even when you’re technically driving northwards to get there). The water is only an hour away, making day trips extremely manageable, even if you only go for a few hours.

6. Visit the Italian Market.

9th Street between Christian and Wharton is home to the Italian Market, two long city blocks that lay claim to the fame of being the oldest outdoor market in America. Get your grocery shopping done with produce and fish vendors, or visit the butcher and cheese shops. Leave room for incredible italian sandwiches or buy some of the richest Buffalo Mozzarella around. Save even more room for a dessert espresso or a cannoli. Or go in a completely different direction with a more recent influx of the city’s best Taquerias. The Italian Market is the best of what Philly has to offer.

7. Visit the Reading Terminal Market.

Like the Italian Market, but bigger and indoors. Enjoy a delicious pork sandwich, local ice cream, get produce, buy chocolate, gifts for friends back home, and so much more. Tourists grab their lunches side by side downtown office workers, as the market is located only blocks away from City Hall.Reading Terminal is the heart of the city, an essential part of visiting the city of brotherly love.

8. Venture into the neighborhoods.

Most of what I have mentioned so far can be done within a couple mile radius of downtown center city. With more and more people staying in the city well into their adulthood, there’s plenty of great food, drink, and entertainment to be had in the city’s residential neighborhoods. Eat BBQ in Fishtown, go mini golfing in Kensington, eat rich baklava in West Philadelphia, have the spiciest Chinese cuisine this side of Szechuan in Manayunk, or world renown Indonesian in South Philly. Beyond food, there are music venues all over the city, with more popping up every year. You can have an amazing time in Philadelphia without ever leaving Center City- but you would be missing out.

9. Drink locally.

Philadelphia is an extremely affordable city in which to start a tiny venture capital project. It’s also a city that loves to imbibe. Those two things together have created an explosion for Philadelphia’s local beer and distillery scene.Sly FoxYardsPhiladelphia Brewing Company and Manayunk Brewing are just some of the local breweries serving up delicious pints which you might not find back in your hometown. If you’re not a beer person, StatesideRowhouse and New Liberty are just some of the local distilleries specializing in hard spirits. While visiting, there’s really no need to have a drink that wasn’t made somewhere in the area.

10. Visit Fairmount Park

 Fairmount Park is a 9,200-acre park engulfing a good portion of Northwest Philadelphia. What makes it truly special is that it’s the largest urban park in the world. There are disc golf courses, playgrounds, rose gardens, concert ampitheatres and much more. This is my personal happy place in the city of brotherly love.

Discover Matador

Save Bookmark

We use cookies for analytics tracking and advertising from our partners.

For more information read our privacy policy.