Philadelphia is the city where the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were signed. It is also the land of the cheesesteak! I was born just outside of Philadelphia and have visited on numerous occasions. I was perusing a Southwest sale in January and found $75 round trip tickets and decided it was time for Cameron to finally visit!
Braving the northeast in January may not always be the best idea, but we were fortunate and had mild 50° weather. We stayed Friday-Monday but most of that time was spent out in the suburbs with family. If you have two days to spend in the city, here are my recommendations:
From the airport it is very easy to jump on the train. As soon as you’re out of the security area at PHL, you’ll see a moving sidewalk on your left and you’ll quickly see staircases to the train on your right. You can buy a one-way ticket at the kiosk or wait until you’re on the train and buy an Independence pass, which is good for riding all public transportation for the day. This is the option we chose since we were taking the train out to West Chester at the end of the day.
When we got off the train in the city, we walked to Elfreth’s Alley, the nation’s oldest residential street. It’s a tiny and adorable street in the middle of the city with cobblestone road and very well-kept homes. As we walked there, I also took Cam by Paddy’s from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. We didn’t go in for a drink (it was still really early) but he was excited to see it in person!
After Elfreth’s, I took a street where we would pass the oldest Post Office. It’s not exactly exciting and there is no point in going in, but I wanted to show him as much history as possible in a short time.
From there we made our way to Independence Park to see the Liberty Bell. Since it was January, the crowd was small and we were able to walk right up. As a child, Cam had pictured the bell to be HUGE so he was slightly disappointed. To cheer him up, I took him to a pretzel cart outside for his first Philly pretzel!
Once we finished our pretzels, we toured Independence Hall and Congress Hall. Next on the agenda was Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens on South Street. On our walk there, we cut through Washington Square and stopped by the memorial.
When you are approaching Magic Garden’s, you’ll start to see Isaiah Zagar’s work on South Street. https://www.phillymagicgardens.org/ *Check the website for any closure dates.* When we arrived, we found out that it was closed for 3 days, including that day. So we added this to our Monday agenda and headed for Cam’s first Philly cheesesteak!
I chose Steve’s Prince of Steaks for his first and he was not disappointed! *Be sure that you know how to order when entering any good cheesesteak shop… they do not mess around and will quickly kick you our of line if you don’t know what you’re doing.* We ordered a ‘whiz with’, a ‘provolone without’, fries, and a cherry soda. He needed the full experience.
After we were full and rested, we walked to the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Art so Cam could see the ‘Rocky stairs’. Then ended our day taking an obligatory picture at Sister Cities Park. *The LOVE sculpture was under renovation so we had to skip that one*
On our way back to the airport on Monday, I brought Cam back to South Street for our tour of Magic Gardens and one more cheesesteak before we left – Jim’s Steaks. Jim’s and Steve’s are two of my favorites. Don’t fall for the tourist trap of Geno’s and Pat’s, unless you want to of course. There are a lot of great cheesesteak options so see what’s on your route!
If you have more time, definitely check out some more historical sites and museums. One of my favorite museums is The Franklin Institute – https://www.fi.edu/
And if you’re hopping off a plane and going straight to the city like we did, be sure to have a good, comfortable backpack that will fit all of your gear for the weekend. These are two that we’ve used for a two-week trip to South Africa and a few of our other weekend getaways:
I hope you enjoy Philadelphia if you’re able to visit! Message me with any questions that you have!