A few weekends ago, my fiancÉ, my best friend and I decided to go to Philly for an overnight trip. Our goal for the weekend was to see all the touristy parts of Philadelphia.
When we got to Philly from NYC, we headed straight for the Liberty Bell. Unfortunately the line was too long and we're not the kinds of people who like to stand in line or in front of things to take pictures, so this attraction was not for us. Next!
We stopped by the Independence Hall Visitor Center and got free tickets to visit Independence Hall later that day at 4pm. We spent several hours exploring everything in the area, which is very nice – many tree-lined parks with benches in between all the historical buildings.
Lovely parks around the Independence Hall area
The Ben Franklin Museum happened to be free that day, so we went in. The museum was pretty awesome, obviously, since Ben Franklin was a pretty awesome dude. I learned a lot about what Ben Franklin came up with – mile markers, the glass armonica, the first library, and he coined the term “battery” – naming Leyden Jars after the military formation. What a smart man! I like to think that if I lived back then I would have also invented quite a few things. The problem is, everything I think of now has been invented!
We also stopped by Betsy Ross’s House and learned a lot about her life. I love going into old homes and seeing how people used to live. Did you know that our flag almost ended up having 6 pointed stars on it? – that's what George Washington asked for. But good old Betsy showed him how much easier it was to make 5 pointed stars. She saved herself a lot of work there!
After Betsy’s House we were STARVING. We went to Sonny’s to get a Cheesesteak. I know, I know, you’re supposed to go to Pat’s or Geno’s. But we heard they were overrated, and we were nowhere near them. Sonny’s had good reviews, and their cheesesteaks did not disappoint.
After devouring our cheesesteaks, we walked by the First and the Second Bank of the US. The Second Bank had a portrait gallery inside. We saw lots of portraits of important people from the 1700’s painted by Charles Willson Peale.
First Bank of the US
Inside the Second Bank, a NPS Park Ranger showed us an awesome app that has a lot of information about all the attractions in the area. She told us that even though the Independence Hall tickets are timed, we can still get into the square and visit the American Philosophical Society and Congress Hall – the two buildings to the right and left of Independence Hall. So we did that, and since we were already inside the security checkpoint area, we were first in line for our 4 pm tour of Independence Hall.
Cheesy grins at Congress Hall
One more thing that was on our “to see” list was the Love Sculpture Park.
The walk to the park was kind of sketchy. We walked by some colorful characters proclaiming all kinds of unusual things. I can’t say I was comfortable during that walk. We got to the park right as most tourists were leaving and the park was filling up with, you know, those who wait for the dark to hang out in parks. We snapped some pictures and got out of there.
On our way back to the mall we passed by the City Hall building, which was probably one of the most amazing buildings I’ve ever seen.
After the park, we got something to eat from food trucks that were parked across from Independence Hall. We ordered a bunch of delicious and not so healthy food – fried cheese curds, a meatball sandwich, parmesan truffle fries, and a burger. That was between the 3 of us, don’t worry.
That night we stayed at the Fairfield Inn by the airport, because it was just so much cheaper than anything in the city itself and had great reviews for the price. Since we had a car with us, it really wasn’t a problem to drive to the hotel as opposed to staying near center city.
The next morning, after having so-so breakfast at the hotel, we ventured out to find the best coffee in Philadelphia. Someone recommended Ultimo Coffee, so we headed straight there and Keri got a soy vanilla latte. And it was good, definitely worth the detour.
After the coffee stop, we went to the Museum of Art. Our first stop there? The Rocky statue. There was a line of people waiting to take pictures with the statue, but as I've said, we're not the types of people to stand in front of attractions for pictures. Aldo snapped a picture of the statue in between people taking pictures, and we moved on.
We ARE, however, the kind of people who run up the “rocky steps,” and we weren’t the only ones to do that. I think Aldo’s been waiting for years to do that.
View of Philly from the Museum
The museum building is pretty amazing, and the museum itself was pretty good. There is a ton of art in there, sure, but since we don’t know much about art, we mostly stuck to the exhibits that had whole rooms from different eras and countries on display. I love looking at old furniture, china, wall and ceiling design, etc.
After the main museum building, we headed over to the Perelman Building across the street (included with our ticket), and saw a totally weird exhibit of high fashion from the 80’s. The 80’s are weird.
After the museum, we took a walk down Kelly Drive. Kelly Drive was very nice but SO BUSY! On one path you would have walkers, runners, rollerbladers, bikers, and tandem bikers…. and that’s all going in one direction. Now double that. But the area by the river was really nice.
Our next stop? Philly’s best donuts!! Someone told us we have to try Federal Donuts while we were in Philly, so we headed to the closest location. I skipped the donuts, but Keri and Aldo both agreed that the donuts were really good.
Afterwards, we tried to find some Philadelphia pretzels, but apparently all the Philly Pretzel Factory stores close at 5 pm! Being from NYC, I think I would have a really hard time living in a place where things closed at 5. I definitely would never plan ahead in time to get anything I wanted. And sometimes you just want a pretzel after 5!!
Overall, Philly was awesome! We had such a great time, and saw many nice parts of the city. Philly is so close to us that I think we will need to make a few more trips there. Next time we won’t have to do all the touristy things and we can just hang out and enjoy the city. And eat more donuts.