48 Hours In Philadelphia

Oh, Philadelphia. It’s time for you to take your place in the spotlight. For too long, you’ve been overshadowed by other big urban cities. You have everything they have, plus important ties to the history of the United States and the early days of rock ’n roll. Cultured types can go hog wild in its stellar galleries. Meanwhile, foodies can fill their bellies with some of the best Italian food in North America and let’s not forget the infamous Philly cheese steak sandwich.

What to see

Must-sees fall into two camps: history and culture. You can’t leave the city without stopping in and see the Liberty Bell in all its cracked glory at Independence National Historical Park. There, you’ll also find Independence Hall and tomb of the unknown solider. Get a ticket for the hop on/hop off trolley bus to explore the city easily and cheaply. Even if you don’t know a thing about art, visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art is almost mandatory. Join the rest of the tourists as they bound up the stairs, immortalized in the film, Rocky. Then head to The Barnes Foundation, home to one of the best art collections on the planet. All the big names are here: Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne… For photo ops, go to the Rodin Museum, the only one of its kind outside Paris, and pose beside the master sculpture’s most famous work, The Thinker.

What to eat

There is no consensus as to where to get the best Philly cheese steak sandwich, a gooey, messy delicious thing that will leave you craving another. Geno’s and Pat’s are the eateries serving up the most traditional versions. Follow the locals and do what’s called “the Philly stoop.” Bend your upper body forward before you take a bite. This prevents the insides of the sandwich cascading down the front of your shirt.

For other tasty stuff, nibble your way through the Reading Terminal Market. From sushi to apple dumplings topped with whipped cream, it’s all there ready for consumption.

What to do

Some of America’s toughest criminals have stayed here and it’s not a hotel. The Eastern State Penitentiary, built in 1829, was a state of the art facility that had running water and flush toilets even before The White House. Al Capone served time here and decorated his cell with antiques and painting. The prison, now closed to inmates, is both creepy and beautiful, thanks to its Gothic architecture.

Where to shop

Pennsylvania offers tax-free shopping which makes the state a perfect place to plump up your wardrobe. King of Prussia Mall, about 15 minutes outside the city, is a colossal shopping Mecca worth busting out your credit card. Bargain shoppers should head to Philadelphia Premium Outlets or Franklin Mills Mall.

For more 411, see Visitphilly.com.

Tags: Philadelphia, Travel Guide

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