I realized recently that I haven’t shared nearly enough about my home region, the Northeastern United States. That ends today as we say “bon voyage” to the closest major city to my hometown: Philadelphia.
As I went to craft this mini-series, I had two (more) epiphanies. Such a day! Two epiphanies nearly at once! They were as follows:
1. Ack! I haven’t spent nearly enough time in Philadelphia (especially because work obligations take priority during my trips).
2. Wait a minute. I know a lot more than I give myself credit!
So, with that slight detour, here’s what’s ahead for the Bon Voyage: the Philadelphia Series. Today I’m going to share some travel basics and a suggested itinerary. I’m focusing especially on things that might help other business travelers with limited time who want to get the flavor of the city, or extend their trip for a weekend.
Over the next few Fridays I’m going to dive a little deeper into a few sights of interest. And if you’re a Philly blogger stopping by (hi!) email me about contributing to the series in the weeks ahead!
– The Philadelphia International Airport is nearby, and you can take the train directly from the terminal to Philadelphia’s main hub, 30th Street Station.
– I prefer to travel via Amtrak to 30th Street Station, which is a simple and comfortable way to arrive from either NYC, DC or anywhere along the NE Corridor.
– From 30th Street you can take the Regional Rail system, SEPTA, to many Philadelphia suburbs (including my hometown!) Inexpensive, reliable, and commuter-friendly.
– If you plan to stay in Center City and only do the touristy highlights, you can walk or cab/Uber most of it. I’d hesitate to use the subway, but perhaps things have changed since I was a kid? Does anyone have an update on that?
– Otherwise, rent a car (with GPS for these winding old city streets!) to explore more of Philadelphia and benefit from the incredible surrounding region – bucolic suburbs, small town America, and driving-distance destinations like Princeton, NJ (see our guide to Princeton from earlier this year!).
I tend to stay near City Hall when I’m traveling on business, which is most of the time! It is a pretty straight shot to the train station. The view is impressive, and you land within walking distance (1 mile or less) of a bunch of destinations. There are also a lot of price points available here, so no matter your travel budget you can find a bed.
Here’s my suggested “36 Hours Guide”…well, maybe more like a weekend guide ;)
Evening Arrival: Arrive to 30th Street station and cab to your City Hall hotel. Freshen up and walk to historic Rittenhouse Square for some fresh air, window shopping and dinner. The streetlights make for a romantic stroll back to rest up for the weekend’s adventures.
Day 1: Start the day with breakfast (and stock up on snacks to avoid that “hangry” feeling later!) at Reading Terminal Market, less than a block away. From there you want to dig into the nation’s history with a visit to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Keep the theme of the day by stopping in at the National Constitution Center – its right there! – and, if you have time, a tour of the US Mint next door. Of the six US Mint locations, this is one of only two locations (Philadelphia and Denver) that remains open for public tours.
After a full day soaking in the history, you’ll want to sit back and relax with some entertainment. See what’s playing at the nearby Walnut Street Theater, the oldest theater in America celebrating over 200 seasons. There are plenty of options for pre-theater dinner nearby.
Day 2: With such a busy day yesterday, you’ll want to jump-start your day with my favorite local coffee from La Colombe. Luckily they have a location right around the corner!
Coffee in-hand, walk slightly north to hit the Franklin Institute (a popular rainy-day stop for both the Imax and Planetarium inside) or to the new Barnes Foundation – both tried-and-true Philadelphia tourist favorites for a reason. If you have more museum-time in you, or want to have your own Rocky Moment, venture further along to the Philadelphia Museum of Art‘s famous steps.
One last stop on your way back to collect your bags – a walk through the LOVE park for a selfie with the famous sign.
Because, after a weekend like that, what’s not to LOVE about Philly?