The city of Philadelphia has a lot to offer in terms of entertainment and excitement. You could easily fill a weekend or a week-long visit with unique experiences and entertaining opportunities. These are just a few of the best experiences you must try when visiting the Philadelphia area.
Run up the Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Image via Flickr by Imnop88a
The Rocky Steps are one of the most popular attractions in the city. If you have ever seen the Rocky movies, you will also recognize these steps and even the famous statue. One statute sits at the bottom of the Philadelphia Museum of Art stairway. If you follow the stairs to the top, you will find another Rocky statue, this one in salute. Every Rocky enthusiast understands the significance of the stairway and the final stopping point, the hero monument.
Participating in the Rocky Steps experience is a must-do activity when visiting Philadelphia. It is the duty of every Rocky fan to climb the stairway and capture a photo with the iconic Rocky statue.
Eat a Philly Cheesesteak
Philadelphia is the birthplace of the delicious Philly cheesesteak sandwich. The history of the cheesesteak dates back to the 1930s when a Philadelphia hot dog vendor tried a new recipe. A local cab driver caught the unique smell and asked to try it. Word spread quickly, and soon cab drivers near and far were asking for the new cheesesteak. The cheesesteak has remained one of the most popular food items in the city over the years. You simply cannot visit Philadelphia without trying some of the best cheesesteak spots in the city.
The best cheesesteak spot in Philadelphia will depend on who you ask. While there is much debate as to who really serves the best cheesesteak in Philadelphia, there are a few spots that are worth checking out. You be the judge and see which one earns the title for the most authentic and best-tasting cheesesteak.
Geno’s Steaks has quickly earned a reputation as being one of the top choices. They are conveniently located on South Ninth Street and are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can order your Philly with your choice of toppings, including lettuce, tomato, oregano, provolone, whiz, fried tomatoes or even mushrooms. The toppings, however, are not as important as the delicious steak underneath.
Another great option for the best-tasting Philly cheesesteak is Pat’s King of Steaks. This spot has been family-owned and operated for over 80 years, dating back to the initial creation of the Philadelphia cheesesteak. In fact, many say that Pat is the famous hot dog vendor who first created the cheesesteak. Pat’s is also open 24/7 and has a wide selection of cheesesteaks including mushroom steaks, pizza steaks and even pepper pizza steaks.
Locals also rave about Steve’s Prince of Steaks. Steve’s has expanded to include four locations scattered throughout the Philadelphia area. The meticulous nature of the chef and his dedication to serving the best cheesesteaks in the city give diners a delicious meal that is worth trying. Every menu item is locally sourced and carefully considered. Steve’s is also well-known around town for his perfectly grilled onions that top the restaurant’s traditional cheesesteak sandwich.
Stop in for a bite at the Reading Terminal Market
The Reading Terminal Market is one of the oldest and biggest farmers’ marketplaces in the country. It was first opened in 1892 and has only gained in size and offerings since. The market takes place in a National Historic Landmark building. It evolved out of the open-air markets of the 1800s. Locals deemed open-air markets unsanitary and hazardous. The vendors were moved indoors, and today the market is entirely inside, making it a great attraction regardless of the weather.
The Reading Terminal Market is also an important historical location. It had many struggles over the years with the Great Depression and the food shortages from the war. However, the market persevered and continued to be a part of the Philadelphia scene. Conversely, it gained in popularity during World War II when marketable goods were hard to come by. The marketplace was entirely revitalized at the end of the 1980s and is now a vibrant and well-populated attraction in the city.
One of the best reasons to visit the Reading Terminal Market is for the abundance of food choices. You can try out different Philly cheesesteak vendors or some of the popular local Pennsylvania Dutch cuisines. There are roasted pork sandwiches, mocha cream donuts and even fresh soft pretzels. Each stand is locally sourced and operated.
You can also shop at the Reading Terminal Market, with a variety of housewares, books and craft vendors present. Purchase French-inspired linens, shop for herbs at Herbiary or stock up on fresh flowers and fruits. The market is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. and is closed on all major holidays.
Visit the Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site
Most people recognize Edgar Allen Poe as one of the most talented and interesting writers in history. He primarily focused on short stories and poetry that emitted mystery and suspense. Edgar Allen Poe spent six years of his writing career living in Philadelphia. Although he lived in a few different homes, only one of them remains today. That house has been restored into a National Historic Site of Pennsylvania. This is the very house where he wrote some of his most famous literary pieces.
It is located on North Seventh Street, approximately 1 mile from the downtown historic district of Philadelphia. You can visit the site from Friday through Sunday from 9 a.m. until noon and again from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. This free experience can be explored through a guided tour or alone. The home’s layout consists of the front yard, parlor, Poe’s writing room, Poe’s wife’s room and Muddy’s room. There is also a back porch and cellar roof. Each room has a unique story to for visitors to learn.
One interesting point to note during the tour is that there is no furniture left in the house. Speculation leads historians to believe that Poe sold most of his furniture to fund his move to New York City. The guided tour gives visitors an educational experience and interesting facts such as this one.
Take a stroll down Elfreth’s Alley
Elfreth’s Alley was once a popular destination for colonial-time artisans and laborers. These streets were filled with blacksmiths, seamstresses and important political figures. Although the alleyway was not a part of the initial city proposals, overcrowding and an abundance of tradesmen led to a need for additional housing. Local landowners donated portions of their property and designed what is known today as Elfreth’s Alley. The street is named after Jeremy Elfreth, one of the time’s most prominent landowners and blacksmiths.
Historians over time have worked together to restore this historical street. The street was finally added to the National Historic Landmark list in 1966. Today, visitors can stroll through the streets and explore life as it was in earlier times. The Elfreth’s Alley museum house is open from Friday through Sunday from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. Admission is just $3 per ticket and includes museum entrance, as well as a 45-minute guided tour of the alleyway.
The museum also hosts events in the historical streets, such as Fete Day and art gatherings. Fete Day is held each year in early June and honors the ethnic heritage of the community. All proceeds raised from the event go toward further restoring this unique residential alleyway.
Walk the Mural Mile
The Mural Mile of Philadelphia is an artistic walking tour that has been a big part of Philly for over 30 years. It is the world’s largest art gallery, spanning over two different mile-long routes. Some visitors prefer a guided tour, which consists of a professional story-telling experience of the most important art pieces along the walk. Other visitors prefer exploring the tour on their own.
You can explore the different neighborhoods of the Mural Mile and truly immerse yourself in the artistic creations of Philadelphia. There are other ways to explore the Mural Mile, too. For instance, you can sign up for a Trolley and Garden tour, which gives you an in-depth experience of the best art and garden areas without having to walk the entire way.
The art displays really transform this experience. These include an abstract stage, the artwork of the Fifth Street tunnels, the Industrious Light section and even the Trash Academy. Some of the art honors important heroes from the past. Other art pieces are dedicated to a cleaner and more sustainable city. Each piece of artwork is unique and has its own purpose.
There is a lot to do and see in Philadelphia. Whether you enjoy history, art or dining, you are sure to find a memorable experience in the Philadelphia area.