In the summer of 2022, my friend Amy and I were on our trip to Delaware and decided to cut the road and stop for one day in Philly on the way. Neither of us had ever been to Philadelphia, but we had seen Rocky and National Treasure and thought, why not!
where to park
Since we were on a road trip, we had a car with us. And since we were on a tight budget, our Airbnb was definitely not in the city center, so there was no way to park there and visit the city on foot, and taking the bus from our airbnb would have taken way too much time out of our already short visit in Philadelphia. So we found out that you can park at the Independence Visitor Center and get a PHLASH Pass for 14$ per person and the parking is free. The PLASH Pass allows you to ride the hop-on hop-off bus along all of the main attractions and allowed us to see everything we wanted to see in a day.
Independence Hall is a must-see when visiting Philadelphia! It is a huge part of American history and the visit is pretty short and interesting and free. Most of the year, you need a reservation to visit Independence Hall that can be made on the web site. Unfortunately, since our trip was pretty last minute, we didn't have a reservation, but visits were open on a first come first serve basis from 3 pm to 4 pm, so we were lucky and were able to go inside and do the tour. We were there during 4th of July weekend so it was fun to see the decorations and feel like we were a part of the celebration. Being Canadian, celebrating the 4th of July is just as exotic to me as celebrating the Holi festival in India!
Try to pack small when visiting Independence Hall as you need to go through a metal detector on the way in and have your bags checked.
the liberty bell
If you have seen and loved National Treasure you are probably just as excited as I was to visit the Liberty Bell. Otherwise, you are probably wondering what is so special about an old and broken bell. Either way, the visit is free of charge and the small museum where the bell is kept also has interesting facts about civil rights in the United States and was an interesting visit. You also need to go through a metal detector and have your bags checked before going in, but you don't need a reservation or anything.
the rocky steps
If you didn't take a picture of you running up the Rocky Steps, did you even go to Philadelphia? Enough said.
Reading terminal market
I don't know what is so fascinating with markets around the world, but I feel like they are always a condensed lesson about the culture of a place. What people eat, how they interact with each other, what transactions are like, what smells, colors, tastes represent the city you are visiting? It's always an interesting visit and the Reading Terminal Market was no exception. We bought lunch in the crowded and crooked alleys of the market and were happy to exit soon after as it was a bit overwhelming after two years of social distancing.
We were so lucky that during our visit there was a beautiful lantern festival. Of course, it was pure coincidence and we hadn't planned our trip around this event, but I was truly grateful that we had taken the time to research what was happening in the city during our stay so we didn't miss such a beautiful event. Most cities have events like this one going on every weekend or even every day during the summer so it is absolutely worth the two-minute research to look up if there is a special event during your trip.
where to eat
We found that the restaurants in the Old City had a lot of variety and we had a fun time walking around, comparing menus and were pleasantly surprised by the prices in this touristic area where the prices would usually be completely over the top. We ended up having lunch at Reading Terminal Market and just grabbing a snack and drink in a restaurant on Chestnut Street. For dinner, we couldn't leave Philadelphia without trying a famous Philly cheese steak!
I quite liked Philadelphia to be honest. It was a good mix of modern and historic attractions, easy to navigate and I found the city to be truly beautiful. It also wasn't extremely busy or expensive to visit which was great after spending a day in New York City.
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