Design Destination: Philadelphia

Philly gets a bad rap. But as Pennsylvania’s capital and one of the largest cities in the country, the Northeast metropolis has played a central role in American history from the nation’s founding to modern day. Both the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were signed in the town that served as a meeting place for America’s founding fathers, often referred to as “The Birthplace of Democracy.” Today Philadelphia serves as one of the most important urban and economic centers on the East Coast; from world-class universities to historic landmarks, renowned museums, and top-of-the-line shopping and dining, the city attracted nearly 600,000 international visitors during 2012 alone. Here’s how to get more than a business trip out of Pennsylvania’s favorite city:

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Stay

Linger as long as you like at ROOST Apartment Hotel, where you’ll be given a studio, one, or two-bedroom space convenient for a weeklong visit, but so comfortable you may never want to leave. Feel right at home with a full size kitchen (complete with cookware and utensils), a walk-in rainfall shower, and a kingside bed – all in historic Midtown. Recently built in the historic 1920’s Charles S.W. Packard Building by Morris Adjmi Architects, the unique boutique hotel offers the best of both modern amenities and Philly’s rich heritage.

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Can’t Miss

It would be hard to visit every museum, memorial, and historic site the city has to offer. But Elfreth’s Alley, the 18th century home to Philadelphia’s finest artisans and the country’s oldest continually-inhabited residential street, is a must-see; from delightful architectural details like narrow cobbled streets, old-fashioned flower boxes, shutters, and Flemish bond brickwork to its fascinating heritage, the neighborhood paints a picture of art and business in early America. People still live in these century-old buildings that once fostered home-based businesses for cabinetmakers, tailors, shoemakers, and the like. Visit during December or June, when residents open up their homes to the public, for an exclusive glimpse at the life of an early American creative entrepreneur.
Drive just an hour outside Center City to explore the 65 independent specialty shops at Peddler’s Village, a small, colonial-style town covered in winding brick walkways and spacious green landscape. If you want in on the city’s numerous art festivals, flea markets, and street fairs, make sure to visit during the summer months.

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Art

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is known the world over for its exhaustive collection of both ancient and modern works that make it the third largest in the entire country. Spend an entire day exploring its 80+ period rooms as well as permanent renaissance, American, Impressionist, and Modern installations – but leave time to head across the street to the Art Deco Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building for exclusive design exhibitions that often include textiles, furniture, and other fine crafts.
Take a trip to Northern Liberties, one of the city’s hippest neighborhoods thanks to a growing population of young artists and designers, to explore the area’s best art galleries and boutiques. Be sure to stop by Bahdeebahdu for a taste of unique, recycled lighting designs or InLiquid for a look at the work of emerging visual artists hoping to make their names known.

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Food

While the gut-busting cheese steak may be one of Philly’s greatest claims to fame, the city has an equal if not greater offering of fine dining and international cuisine. Finish your first day at Le Virtu on Passyunk Avenue with the best Italian on this side of the Atlantic. Serving authentic Abruzzese fare, the seasonal menu includes scrumptious specialties like Maccheroni all mugnaia, a single, three-foot long pasta strand dressed in garlic, oil, hot pepper, and pecorino. If you find yourself longing for a true taste of Philly, head over to The Corner Foodery for a gourmet hoagie (not a sub) paired with one of the shop’s 650 different beers by the bottle.
Get an all-American breakfast at Honey’s Sit ‘N Eat, serving locally grown and farm fresh specials in traditional diner-style dishes like the infamous breakfast bomb: a giant buttermilk pancake stuffed with scrambled eggs and any of the seven different “mornin’ meats,” along with your choice of potato. For lighter fare try Fork’s Sunday Brunch with delectably simple classics like oysters in gazpacho vinaigrette, duck salad, or a sassafras doughnut.

Lizzie Wright

Lizzie

​Lizzie Wright is an aspiring artist and designer with a passion for the written word. While she works on her BFA in Industrial Design at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), she spends her (rare) spare time riding around Providence on her trusty Cannondale and drinking lots of coffee. She is especially fascinated by the dichotomy between aesthetic form and function, which has an immense influence on her work. As a lover of the natural world, Lizzie plans to focus on Nature, Culture, and Sustainability Studies to pursue a more efficient future for design. Read more by visiting her website

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