72 Hours in Philadelphia

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A complete travel guide to make a weekend in Philly memorable.

Along with St. Augustine and New York City, Philadelphia is at the heart of American history. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015, the city is home to some iconic landmarks like the Liberty Bell and the Independence National Historical Park as well as the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A popular destination not just with art lovers, the “Rocky Steps” leading to the building are almost as famous as the museum’s artworks thanks to the iconic movie scene. However, the city also has many hidden gems you may not know about. Read this guide before planning a weekend in Philly to ensure you’ll experience the best the city has to offer.

 

Stay

The first “invisible service” boutique hotel in the city, Lokal Hotel makes a weekend in Philly extra special. While the hotel has a location opened in Fishtown plus another in a woodland area about 50 minutes away from the city, the Old Town place’s central location is a perfect choice for this trip. The six suites have a gorgeous decor that blends vintage and industrial features. Designed as a home away from home, the one-bedroom and two-bedroom lofts provide access to full kitchens and laundry facilities. Apart from the automated check-in, guests can use iPad concierge apps to order food, stream music, and more.

Located in a historic building in downtown Philadelphia, ROOST Midtown sits next to the iconic City Hall and the cultural hub of the Avenue of the Arts. You can choose one of the 27 fully equipped apartments for your stay. All of the suites have full-size kitchens and walk-in rainfall showers. The hotel also offers access to a bike share service and a fitness center. Plus, this hotel is dog-friendly and even has a dog walking service.

The Touraine Travel Apartments may have a long waiting list, but they’re worth the wait. Individually designed, the two apartments are high-end and refined yet they also have a cozy home vibe. You can pick your favorite between two different styles. No. 108 boasts bright colors, vintage items, artisan furniture and decorative objects as well as an abundance of plants and art. The modern No. 105 studio draws inspiration from Japanese minimalism and features sun-drenched spaces with white walls, contemporary furniture, and wooden floors.

Like many places in Philadelphia, Wm. Mulherin’s Sons has a rich history. Originally owned by local whiskey businessman William Mulherin, the building shut its doors permanently due to the prohibition. It remained empty until a few years ago. In 2014, an extensive restoration process kicked off and the building reopened for business two years later. On the ground level, there’s an Italian restaurant. Upstairs, four rooms with a blend of both original and modern features offer a stylish and comfortable place to stay during your weekend in Philly. All of the rooms have exposed brick walls, vintage rugs, warm wooden surfaces, greenery, and hand-picked artworks.

Savor

Zahav is a great place to try something different and enjoy a dinner with friends. This elegant but relaxed restaurant serves an Israeli menu with Mediterranean, Eastern European, North African, and Persian influences. Beware, getting a reservation may be tricky. This restaurant is incredibly popular not only with the locals, but with foodies from neighboring cities, too. If you manage to grab a reservation, don’t forget to try the signature laffa bread, freshly baked in a wood-fired oven, and the famous Zahav hummus.

At Dmitri’s you can take a journey through Mediterranean cuisine and forget for a moment that you’re in Queen Village, Philadelphia, and not in a village on a Greek island. The restaurant’s menu features an abundance of fish and seafood dishes flavored with olive oil and zesty lemon. Keep in mind that this is a BYOB restaurant, you can’t make a reservation, and you can’t pay with a credit card. Tip: if it’s busy, you can check off something on your must-see list from the area wile you wait.

Suraya is a new restaurant, but it has already won the hearts of the locals, receiving the “Best New Restaurant 2018” accolade from Philadelphia Magazine. The Middle Eastern menu includes heritage recipes from the owners’ grandmother, who also provided the inspiration for the restaurant’s name. This place is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner, so you can enjoy a great meal at a time that best suits your plans.

Every weekend in Philly should include a stop at Jim’s South Street for one of their famous cheesesteaks. The restaurant won Philadelphia Magazine’s “Best of Philly” award five times and it’s a favorite with both locals and tourists. The restaurant is easy to find as it has a bold Art Deco facade you can’t miss. Usually, there’s also a group of people waiting to get inside, which tells you pretty much everything you need to know about Jim’s cheesteaks.

Amada brings the authentic flavors of Spanish cuisine to Philly. Multi-award winning Chef Jose Garces has created a delicious menu complemented by sangria and Spanish wine. Opened for brunch, lunch, and dinner, this is a perfect choice for tapas with friends. At Vetri, another award-winning chef transforms quality ingredients into a magic experience. Opened in 1998 by Chef Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin, this restaurant is a landmark for foodies around the country. However, this is not an ordinary Italian restaurant. Each customer receives a customized version of the Vetri Cucina tasting menu after a conversation with their server. Priced at $165 per person, a dinner here is perfect for a special occasion. Or for a weekend in Philly to remember.

At Vedge, you’ll have a vegetable epiphany, regardless of your order. This popular restaurant in the iconic Tiger Building serves food inspired by seasonal vegetables. Imaginative, vibrant, and fresh, the dishes show just how flavorful vegan food can be. You can order both fancy or hearty dishes, but get ready to see vegetables in a whole new light. Open seven nights per week, Vedge also has a great drinks menu that includes natural wines, craft beer, and cocktails. Especially for vegetarians and vegans, it’s an unmissable place for a weekend in Philly.

Brunch

Established in 1923, Famous 4th Street Delicatessen is an iconic place you definitely should put on your list for a weekend in Philly. The deli serves delicious food that attracts locals from all over the city. Here you can get everything from bagels with cream cheese to corned beef and rugalach. The menu also includes sandwiches named after NYC locations – a nod to the owners’ family who has owned delicatessen shops in the Big Apple since the early 1900s.

When Sabrina’s Café opened in 2001 in the former premises of the famous Litto bakery, not many people could have predicted just how quickly the place would become wildly popular with the locals. And the answer to the business’ success lays not only in the menu, but also in the neighborly setting. The menu features a range of “Brunch Specials”, including vegan options. You you can also get one of the signature items like Huevos Rancheros or the Stuffed Challah French Toast. Plus, since the café is located in the Italian Market, you can use this opportunity to explore the charming area.

If you get to Fishtown, go to Over Easy Breakfast Club for a hearty brunch. This place is open only from Friday to Sunday, so it may get a little busy at times. The interior features a gorgeous design by Kelly Fox; bold patterns, while walls, wood accents as well as plenty of plants and natural light. You can get a classic dish or go for the house’s signature Dinosaur Egg to enjoy with some specialty coffee from local roasters Rival Bros.

Coffee

Go to ReAnimator Coffee to relax and recharge your batteries. While this coffee shop is welcoming and laid-back, it’s not just a place to take a break from exploring the city. The baristas serve some great specialty coffee made from freshly roasted beans sourced from small farms in Ethiopia and Guatemala. Plus, if you like their java, you can buy a bag to take back home. One of the first specialty coffee shops in the city, Ultimo Coffee now has several locations along with a roastery and lab where they prepare coffee to perfection. Here you can also grab a Philly-style bagel, a vegan donut, or a freshly baked scone.

Elixr Coffee opened its doors in 2010. Since then, it has received many industry awards, including a 3rd place at the United States Barista Competition 2019. The coffee shop has its own roastery and specializes in lighter roasted coffees. Here you can enjoy Elixr’s single-origin coffee, espresso drinks, and lattes alongside a tasty pastry. The team behind Greenstreet Coffee prides itself not only on the quality of their coffee (which they roast in small batches) but also on sourcing their beans via direct trade and sustainable practices. Popular with the locals, Greenstreet Coffee is a great choice to get coffee, whether you love espresso, mocha, or latte.

Up Late

With a history that dates back 100 years, The Trestle Inn is one of the oldest bars in the city. However, don’t expect to find a traditional or tranquil space here. This place gives a not-so-quiet nod to the free spirit of the ‘60s-’70s. Perfect for a night out with friends, it has a lively atmosphere, (groovy) live music and go-go dancers. The menu includes a great range of whiskeys, cocktails, and rotating beers on tap as well as food.

For craft cocktails and a stylish but cozy vintage decor drop by 1 Tippling Place. This popular bar features comfortable lounge seating and sofas, with some classic bar seating also available. On the menu you can find classic and seasonal craft cocktails along with wine, beer, and hors d’oeuvres.

Like its name suggests, Ashton Cigar Bar is the best place to go to during your weekend in Philly if you want to enjoy a great cigar with your favorite whiskey. The bar has a selection of 200 cigars to choose from as well as a list of over 400 whiskeys. Relax in the all-glass humidor while you try some premium cigars or lounge on a leather sofa with a one of the bar’s signature cocktails.

Museums

You’re spending a weekend in Philly, which means that you can’t miss some of the city’s most iconic museums and landmarks where you can brush up on your American history. The Independence National Historical Park includes the Liberty Bell Center, the Independence Hall, and the Museum of the American Revolution. The Powel House is a gem of Colonial Revival architecture, but you can also step inside to see some beautifully preserved pieces of history, including clocks, artworks, bone china, and letters written by George Washington.

For an art-filled afternoon, stop by the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see renowned works of art by Picasso, Monet, Matisse, and Vincent van Gogh. At the Rodin Museum you can admire the artist’s largest sculpture collection outside of France, while at the Barnes Foundation you can see an extensive collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Early Modernist artworks.

The Science History Institute and the Franklin Institute are both a great choice for a day out with kids. If you love books, stop by The Rosenbach to feast your eyes on a collection of more than 400,000 books, manuscripts, artworks, and decorative items. At the National Museum of American Jewish History you can see a large collection of Jewish Americana and some famous faces in the Hall of Fame. For those who love both history and medical science, the Mütter Museum is a perfect choice as it features everything from medical instruments to items from the Civil War era.

Art Galleries

If you love art, you’ll love your weekend in Philly. Why? Because the city is filled with art galleries and shops where you can find some fantastic artworks and creative designs.

At the Wexler Gallery you can discover one-off items created by artists working in different creative fields like design, painting, ceramics, photography, and mixed media. Pentimenti Gallery features innovative and unconventional work from iconic and up and coming contemporary artists. ICA opened its doors in 1963 with the aim to promote under-recognized artists to the world. Andy Warhol had his first solo museum show here in 1965 and many legendary names followed over the years. Philadelphia Art Alliance is a multidisciplinary art space that houses exhibitions and events from a wide range of creative fields, from contemporary craft and design to music, sculpture, writing, and architecture.

Paradigm Gallery focuses on promoting local artists, but also features international talents with the aim to make contemporary art accessible. The ever-changing exhibitions are versatile and inclusive. This means that the chance to fall in love with one of the artworks here is pretty high. At The Clay Studio you can find an amazing selection of ceramic art and ceramic objects created by artists from Philadelphia and all over North America. This is the ideal place to find artistic, one-of-a-kind mugs teapots, plates, bowls, vases, and even tiles during your weekend in Philly. Snyderman-Works promotes artists and creatives who work in different fields, from painting and sculpture to ceramics, photography, glass, wood, jewelry, and furniture.

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