By Kelsey Llewellyn
Once the nation’s capital, Philadelphia is brimming with history and patriotism. While you won’t meet the founding fathers on your trip to this iconic city (or the original ones, at least), you’ll be in the place where revolts against King George III were conceived and “a more perfect Union” was planned. Nonetheless, while Philadelphia is often lauded for being a city of firsts, it offers far more than its historical reputation. Coined “the mural capital of the United States” and boasting more impressionist paintings than any other city (with the exception of Paris), Philadelphia is also an art lover’s paradise.
In this urban area so integral to the origins of the United States, there is a myriad of historically rich landmarks. While the extensive selection may feel overwhelming, there are a few locations you simply must see. Read our top picks of things to do in Philadelphia to discover the best things to do in the City of Brotherly Love.
History and Culture
Begin your trip to Philadelphia at Independence Hall, where the forefathers united against the King of England and framed the Constitution. During your guided tour, let National Park rangers lead you through this monumental UNESCO World Heritage Site. When walking through the Assembly Room (which is positioned as it was during the Constitutional Convention), keep your eyes peeled for George Washington’s “rising sun” chain.
Lincoln Financial Field
For a true Philadelphian experience, get tickets to a game at the Lincoln Financial Field, the home stadium of the National Football League’s Eagles. Interested in a private viewing venue? Cheer on your favorite players in one of the stadium’s rental suites.
Museums to Visit
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Recreating your favorite scene from Rocky isn’t the only reason you should run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (although, if it was, we wouldn’t blame you either). Celebrated as one of the largest and most illustrious museums in the US, this landmark has provided locals and visitors alike the opportunity to admire world-renowned pieces, collections and exhibits since 1928. The museum’s collections include the world’s largest Marcel Duchamp collection (currently featuring an fascinating exhibit on the provocative Fountain scandal of 1917), Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings (by artists like Van Gogh, Monet and Degas), “period rooms,” as well as many American works of art that showcase Philadelphia’s contributions to the US history.
The Barnes Foundation
Enjoy a fabulous private collection of impressionist, post-impressionist and early-modern paintings at The Barnes Foundation, which features over 3,000 revered works, including many masterpieces. Not only does this museum include many works by renowned artists (including Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, and Cézanne), but it also features unique pieces like Pennsylvania German furniture, Native American ceramics and jewelry, as well as African sculpture. Passionate about a specific artist? Sign up for a guided tour to discover more about him or her.
Where to Buy the Best Philly Cheesesteak
Don’t worry—we didn’t forget about Philadelphia’s signature dish, the renowned Philly cheesesteak. Making this sandwich truly perfect is no simple feat. While many restaurants attempt to stuff a crispy roll with just-the-right proportions of thin griddle-fried beef and cheese, few are able to make these sandwiches taste truly iconic. A tiny joint lauded for its crusty seeded rolls and sharp provolone cheese, John’s Roast Pork is perpetually cited as one of the best places to chow down on cheesesteak. Serving phenomenal sandwiches since the 1930s, this old-school eatery has even been celebrated with a James Beard Award for America’s Classics.
If imagining thinly sliced steak enveloped in a bottom-to-top curtain of Cheez Whiz makes your mouth water, eat at Dalessandros Steaks and Hoagies. In South Philadelphia, grab your cheesesteak to-go at Philip’s Steaks, which (thankfully for late-night cravings) is open 24/7. Pat’s King of Steaks is the self-proclaimed founder of the Philly cheesesteak, creating these sandwiches with incredible skill since its invention. Don’t be fooled when the staff gives you a hard time at Tony Luke’s, they do it to visitors and locals alike and are proud to serve you one of the best cheesesteaks in Philadelphia.
Where to Stay
Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia
Sleek, stylish and comfortably located in Center City, the Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia welcomes guests to Philly with three brilliantly bright portraits of Ben Franklin and seductive tunes (think Etta James and Motown). In this Art Deco building, gather in the living room to mingle with other guests while savoring a glass of wine or scotch. Adorned with lyrical artwork and replete with fabulous views of the city, Hotel Palomar Philadelphia has an enchanting aesthetic appeal. Dine at Square 1682, the hotel’s New American restaurant, for a fantastic meal (such as branzino combined with spinach, potato croquettes and artichoke velouté).
Top Suite: Presidential Suite
For 1,175 sq ft of sumptuous space, reserve the Presidential Suite for your visit. This chic suite provides guests with a king canopy bed, separate bedroom, parlor room with dining table, and plush living space. The elegant taupe and cream palette, complemented by subtle green and gold accents, extends to the large bathroom. Here, indulge in the suite’s spa-like walk-in shower and Fuji Spa tub. From $699 per night.
Hotel Palomar Philadelphia is located at 117 S 17th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103. For booking and more information, please visit hotelpalomar-philadelphia.com or contact +1 215 563 5006
Within walking distance of many historical attractions, The Rittenhouse provides curious visitors the ideal location to explore the city as well as luxurious treatments after a rewarding, adventure-filled day at The Rittenhouse Spa and Club – Hair by Paul Labreque. Work up an appetite strolling along the charming pathways of Rittenhouse Square before enjoying a fine dining experience at the hotel’s award-winning restaurant, Lacroix. Serving progressive international cuisine created from locally sourced ingredients, Lacroix offers a delicious tasting menu, which stars a delicious duck dish served with foie gras tart, chanterelle and corn.
Top Suites: The Rittenhouse Suite
In the Rittenhouse Suite, enjoy 1,700 sq ft of brand-new sophisticated space without compromising on comfort. Expect two and a half marble bathrooms, two bedrooms, living and dining spaces and full kitchen. Providing magnificent views of Rittenhouse Square, this suite boasts a modernized interior design that illuminates the room with natural light. From $3,000 per night.
The Rittenhouse is located at 210 W Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA 19103. For booking and more information, please visit rittenhousehotel.com or contact +1 215 546 9000
The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia
Make your trip to Philadelphia even better by staying at the newly-renovated Ritz-Carlton. Conveniently located downtown, the luxury hotel’s impeccable attention to detail immerses you in Philadelphia’s unique culture with its artwork collection and its historic building (dating way back to 1908) as well as Peanut Chew candies (a Philadelphian favorite). Tired from your day of sightseeing? Relax in the hotel’s Richel D’Ambra Spa and Salon, which offers the most recent salon services and massage therapies (such as the refreshing Spotlight hibiscus and honey hydration wrap).
Top Suites: The Ritz-Carlton Suite
Spanning 1,900 sq ft, the Ritz-Carlton Suite contains two full bedrooms and marble bathrooms, powder room, fully-equipped personal kitchen, as well as living and dining spaces. From the property’s top-floor, guests enjoy an incredible view of City Hall. The best way to soak up the scene is from the monumental master bath, which provides a direct view of this historic building. Be sure to take advantage of the room’s exclusive club lounge access to enjoy complimentary beer, wine and cocktails as well as to breakfast while overlooking City Hall. From $499 per night.
The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia is located at 10 Ave of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA 19102. For booking and more information, please visit ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/philadelphia or contact +1 215 523 8000
The Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia
Opening its doors to elite travelers in 2018, Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia will span the top 12 floors of the 60-floor Comcast Technology Center, a state-of-the-art building currently being erected. Dine in style on the top of the tallest building in Philadelphia (and ninth tallest in the western hemisphere) at the hotel’s restaurant and lounge, offering panoramic views of the vibrant city below. This hotel really has it all: 217 modern guest rooms (including 38 suites) with breathtaking city views, a luxury spa and salon, an indoor pool and plenty of meeting and event spaces. We can’t wait for opening day.
The Four Seasons Philadelphia is located at 1800 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106. For booking and more information, please visit fourseasons.com/philadelphia or contact +1 800 819 5053