Exploring Philadelphia, On a 1 Day City Break

Sara Provenzano

Sara Provenzano is the Contributing Editor at Global Storybook (Italy).
You can read more about Sara here.

If you are a fan of “Rocky”, the famous film with Sylvester Stallone – you cannot miss the opportunity to visit Philadelphia.  It is the largest town in the state of Pennsylvania.  It is also the 6th most populous city in the U.S.

With its rich historical heritage, Philadelphia is one of the country’s most visited cities.  After all, both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were signed here, in its famous Independence Hall.  In addition, the Renaissance man, Benjamin Franklin, once called this city home.  Plus, before Washington D.C. usurped its role, Philadelphia served as the country’s capital.

How We Got There:

Since we were based in New York, we had a choice of either taking a day trip or staying overnight.  Philadelphia is just 2 hours, 20 minutes away from the Big Apple, and is well connected by trains and busses.  So in order to save some money, I decided to buy a ticket with the famous Greyhound, which was only $13.50, each way.  We took an early morning bus, and at 10 am had the whole day to explore the streets of Philadelphia.

 Where To Sleep:

In the end, we decided to spend 1 night in Philly in order to take the most out of it and not to rush.  Compared with my trip to New York, Philadelphia’s city center seemed small and really easy to explore.

After taking a quick look around the web, I ended up selecting the Club Quarters Hotel as our accommodation.  It was situated perfectly – right on the main street, named the Chestnut Street.  It’s also a walking distance from the Central Greyhound bus terminal.  Though most importantly, it’s close to most of the major city attractions.

This beautiful red-brick building, offers all the modern comforts needed for a short break in town!  The hotel’s lobby felt “like home”, and included a permanent coffee and snacks station, which was available all day long.  In addition to a spacious and fully equipped sleping room.


What To Do in Philadelphia

Even if you spend just one day in Philadelphia you will still have a chance to enjoy its beauty, as well as most of its attractions.  Also, the best way to get around Philadelphia is on foot.

History pervades Philadelphia’s major attractions: America’s Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence here in the Independence Hall.  Moreover, the city’s Liberty Bell also rang here in 1776, to summon the local citizens for the first reading of the Declaration.

Independence Hall

Independence Hall

Several of these attractions, such as the Liberty Bell Center, the Independence Hall and the Rittenhouse Square are absolutely free to visit.  And for those that aren’t – you can nab some impressive discounts by purchasing a day pass.

As mentioned in the beginning, if you love the movie “Rocky”, going to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and running up its stairs is a must, along with taking a picture with its famous statue!

Rocky's Stairs

Rocky’s Stairs

Hence, this was the first thing that my boyfriend and I did, right after we dropped off our luggage.  We also followed a suggestion to get an “early” lunch (it was 11 am!) close by the famous “Steve’s Prince of Steaks”.



Top choice I should say!

Cheesesteaks are the civic icon in Philly, a tourist draw and a cultural obsession.  Though often imitated around the world, a cheesesteak is rarely duplicated successfully outside of Philadelphia.

It is a long, crusty roll filled with thinly sliced sautéed ribeye beef and some melted cheese.  Generally, the top choice is Cheez Whiz, but the American and the provolone are also commonly used.  The art of cheesesteak preparation lies in the balance of its flavors, textures and what is often referred to as the “drip” factor.  While other toppings may include fried onions, sautéed mushrooms, ketchup as well as hot or sweet peppers.

Though, if you are willing to wait a bit longer – visit “the Rocky site” first, and then you can literally loose your head in the Reading Terminal Market.  Everyone always talks about the Chelsea Market in New York, but from my point of view, this is by far the Top Food Market that I’ve ever been to!

It is one of America’s largest and oldest public markets, housed here since 1893, in a National Historic Landmark building.  It offers an incredible selection of fresh farm products, meat, poultry, plus the finest seafood, cheese, baked goods, confections, flowers, kitchenware, cookbooks, jewellery and crafts.  Finally, a tempting variety of dining choices including the local specialities and some international delights await you here as well.

Reading Terminal MarketReading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal MarketOn the same street – called the Market Street, you can easily reach the City Hall.  It’s located on the left side from the Reading Terminal Market as well as the Old City Hall on the right.

City Hall

City Hall

We also enjoyed walking through the Society Hill, one of Philadelphia’s most sought-after neighborhoods.  The Penn’s Landing waterfront area with its monuments and the old war memorials was interesting too.

In the old city part you can also find the famous Elfreth’s Alley.  It is widely considered as the oldest continuously used residential street in the U.S.

Elfreth’s Alley

Elfreth’s Alley

Please note – you can only access this street by foot.  This narrow cobblestone alley is filled with residences built in the Federal and Georgian styles.  It used to house people from different walks of life.  In addition, it used to be an active site of commerce.  Numerous traders, like grocers and cabinet-makers, occupied the first floor of these homes to run their businesses.

This spirit remains in place here today.  Many artists and entrepreneurs have made this trendy neighborhood their home, despite the numerous visitors that constantly parade through the alley, peering at the features of its 32 historic buildings.  The charming flower boxes, the colorful doors and windows, the beautiful brick work have endured here across centuries.  Though not without the help of 20 conservation activists, who worked hard to preserve it as a model colonial street.

So what are you waiting for?  Philly is waiting for you!

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