It is one of the most popular destinations in the United States. It’s the home of the idea of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If you are planning a road trip of the United States, then you can not leave Philadelphia off your list. Philadelphia offers something for everyone, from its national historic sites through to its delicious foods. I’m going to cover everything that you need to know about Philadelphia, and what should be top of your itinerary.
In the United States, we love to give our cities nicknames. Philadelphia is no exception. It is known as the ‘City of Brotherly and Sisterly Love’. The city is loved by fashion editors and travel bloggers alike, being named as one of Conde Nast’s Best Destinations in the World. In the words of Conde Nast, “there’s something really special about Philadelphia”.
For anyone interested in American history, Philly is a must-visit. It played a crucial role in the American Revolution and was the location for the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. You can get a whistle-stop tour of American history by visiting the Liberty Bell and other 18th century sites.
Philadelphia served as the capital city of the United States while Washington D.C was under construction. Every year, over 60 million Americans flock to Philadelphia for its culture and cuisine.
When Is The Best Time to Visit Philadelphia?
Deciding when is the best time to visit a city depends on your circumstances, as well as your itinerary.
If you want to take advantage of moderately off-peak pricing, March to May is the perfect time to visit. You’ll get to explore Philadelphia just as spring blooms. You can catch a photo of the stunning cherry blossoms and enjoy cultural offerings like the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest.
Fall is the perfect time to explore Philadelphia if you have a flexible schedule. You can watch the leaves turning with stunning views at Fairmount Park. For any runners, you can take part in the Philadelphia Marathon in November.
If you want the cheapest deal, visit Philadelphia during the winter. You will have to wrap up warm against the elements as Philadelphia can get pretty chilly during fall and winter. The peak time for tourist is naturally the summer when visitors come from all over the world to explore the city’s offerings. Overseas tourists tend to avoid Philadelphia during the winter because of its cold temperatures, which means you can grab a budget-friendly deal.
You can expect temperatures to reach a high of about 86 degrees during the summer, and a low of 23 degrees during the height of winter.
How To Get to Philadelphia
As the second largest city on the East Coast, Philadelphia is easy to get to. It’s just 100 miles south of New York, making it the perfect stop on a multi-trip tour. The Amtrak train stops at William H. Gray III 30th Street Station, which is just minutes from the centre of the city. You’ll be met by the art deco building as you step off the train and onto Philadelphia soil.
You can take the Greyhound bus services. The Greyhound service takes you to Philadelphia from cities Pittsburgh, New York and Washington D.C. If you want to save a few dollars, you can try Megabus and BoltBus, who operate services from Baltimore, Boston, New York, and Washington D.C. Keep an eye out on their website for special offers, as their seats famously start from just $1.
If you’re travelling from the West Coast or from abroad, then you can fly into Philadelphia International Airport. The airport is just seven miles from the centre of the city and welcomes visitors from 120 destinations. You can fly with Southwest Airlines from the West Coast. If you’re coming from a city like London or Paris, then American Airlines will see you safely to Philadelphia. You’ll likely find that your favourite airline flies into Philadelphia, so you can take advantage of your airmiles.
Once you arrive at the airport, you can jump on SEPTA’s Airport Regional Rail Line which takes you straight into the centre of Philly. If you’re looking to travel by taxi into the centre of the city, expect to pay a flat rate fee of just under $30.
For anyone planning a multi-city road trip, Philadelphia is the perfect add-on. It’s about two hours from New York, three hours from Washington D.C. Once you’re finished in Philadelphia, you can travel an hour outside the city to visit Atlantic City.
When you arrive in Philadelphia, you can easily explore the city on foot. If you’re feeling like you want to sit back and relax, jump on public transport or take a cab.
The Best Places to Stay in Philadelphia
If you want to travel around on foot, the Club Quarters hotel is the perfect choice. It’s right next to Liberty Place and is a modern hotel tucked away inside a historic building. You can take advantage of their fitness gym, business centre and their in-room amenities. The subway is just a quick walk away, meaning you can get anywhere in the city within a few minutes. This hotel is the perfect size for couples taking a long weekend vacation.
Looking for a modern hotel at the heart of Philly? The Sonesta is just over a mile away from the Liberty Bell. This hotel even has its own in-house Art Gallery which rotates every six months. You can get a grab-and-go breakfast at the weekend and enjoy a classic American steak at the Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Sonesta is just under 10 miles away from the Philadelphia International Airport, making it a great choice for anyone travelling in from the West Coast or abroad.
Do you want a hotel room with a little extra space? Try the Windsor Suits which offers everything you could need, including a fully equipped kitchen. As a guest, you’ll have access to their seasonal rooftop pool, 24-hour gym and on-site dining. This hotel is just a mile away from the Amtrak station, meaning you can easily catch a cab from the station to the hotel.
I always include Airbnb in my travel guides as an affordable way to explore the world. It’s the perfect solution if you’re travelling on a budget, with friends or young children. There’s something in every neighbourhood and at every price point. You can rent our private rooms or an entire apartment depending on your budget. Airbnb has a mixture of modern townhouses, cosy studios and historic apartments for you to stay in.
You’ll want to consider your itinerary when deciding which area of Philadelphia to rent your Airbnb. While it may be more expensive to stay in the centre of the city, you’ll likely save a few dollars on public transport by walking around. Choose a neighbourhood and your budget before exploring what the site has to offer. If you’re planning a longer stay, you can usually take advantage of a multi-night discount from most hosts.
The Best Places to Eat in Philadelphia
The food scene in Philadelphia is why you have to visit.
If you’re taking an extended visit to Philadelphia, why not try out its Craft Beer Trail? The five counties offer over 90 craft breweries which have been a focal point of the city for generations. The Craft Beer Trail of Greater Philadelphia gives you a tour of the city and its neighbouring regions, including Delaware and Montgomery counties. You can try some delicious food while sampling the city’s best craft beer. There is no set route to the trail, meaning that you can decide how long you want to spend and how far you want to visit.
Not every state can say that they have one of the best restaurants around. Esquire magazine’s list of the Best New Restaurants lists two Philadelphia establishments. The Kalaya Thai Kitchen was named the Best Restaurant of the Year, while the chef at Honeysuckle won Chef of the Year. At Kalaya, you can explore authentic Thai cuisine within an Italian market. Honeysuckle is a restaurant that puts nourishment, community, and lineage at its heart. It’s the brainchild of Omar Tate and is the kind of restaurant that you could only find in Philadelphia.
It is famous for its Philly cheesesteak. You’ll want to indulge in at least one of these savoury sandwiches during your trip. The intersection between South 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue houses some of the best cheesesteaks that you’ll find in the city.
If you are looking to bring home a little bit of Philly, you need to visit the Reading Terminal Market. It’s over 120 years old and offers you the best in fresh produce from across Philadelphia. If you’re a foodie, mark an afternoon on your itinerary to visit its restaurants, independent shops and to tour its food counters.
Must-Visit Places in Philadelphia
Did you know that Philadelphia has more outdoor sculptures and murals than any other city in the US? Any history fan would be in their element in Philly. It is the first World Heritage City in the United States and offers 67 National Historic Landmarks for you to explore.
As soon as you arrive in Philadelphia, you’ll start seeing signs for the Liberty Bell. You can visit it at the Independence National Historic Park. Tickets are free, including for the Independence Hall. You can experience a unique moment in America’s history and stand in the same room as the founding fathers.
Any fan of the movie Rocky will want to recreate his run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It would make the perfect Instagram photo from your trip, and you can even take a picture with the bronze statue of Rocky himself. After your photo, step inside the museum and explore its vast collection of art. It has over 240,000 pieces that span more than 2,000 years of history.
No Philadelphia photo album is complete without a visit to the LOVE sculpture. It was designed by Robert Indiana and sits in John F. Kennedy Plaza, otherwise known as LOVE Park. You’ll instantly recognise the statue, which is synonymous with Philadelphia and appears on everything from jewellery to postage stamps.
Did you know that Benjamin Franklin Parkway is styled off the famous Champs-Elysees in Paris? If you want to sample some European culture, then this area of Philadelphia is a must-visit. It includes the Barnes Foundation, with its impressive collection of French paintings, and the Rodin Museum, which is the largest collection of Auguste Rodin sculptures outside of France.
As always, my travel guides have to highlight some of the best places to shop. Philadelphia is home to the largest retail space in the United States – the King of Prussia Mall. This shopping area has everything you could ever need. Whether your budget includes a trip to a Louis Vuitton, or if you want to stock up on your favourite beauty products at Sephora. If you’re visiting from abroad then I recommend dedicating an entire morning and afternoon to checking out everything the King of Prussia Mall has to offer.
When Are You Going to Visit Philadelphia?
Philadelphia is one city that should be at the top of your travel bucket list. It offers the perfect blend of historical locations, delicious foods, and unique shopping experiences. You’ll be spoilt for choice of what to add to your Philly itinerary. If you’re visiting from the East Coast, then Philadelphia is the perfect spot for a long weekend vacation. Tourists visiting from abroad can easily spend a week exploring all that Philly has to offer. If you’re planning a road trip around the East Coast, I recommend adding Philadelphia in as a stop before or after New York. I hope this ultimate guide to Philadelphia gives you some ideas of what this beautiful city has to offer. Where will you visit first?