Philadelphia Travel Guide: Where to Eat, Stay and Play

Our Philadelphia Travel Guide highlights some of the richest stories of any city across the country. It served as the national capital; this is where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed, and it is home to the Liberty Bell and countless American revolutionary sites. (Also: Rocky) But, it has grown into a modern and cosmopolitan city with world-class restaurants, hotels, bars and museums. This “city of neighborhoods” (as many locals call it) is brash, daring, and beautiful in all good ways. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a returning local seeker, here’s the information on where to stay, eat and play in the City of Brotherly Love.

Where to stay

As one of the oldest cities in the country, Philadelphia offers a wide array of hotel options. Visitors can book everything from modest, economical Airbnbs to ultra-luxury property chains like the Four Seasons and Logan Philadelphia (part of Hilton’s Curio collection of five-star hotels). The Philadelphia Travel Guide digs a little deeper, however, and you’ll also find plenty of unique, chain-free options. Here are some of our favorites.

Best Luxury Stay: The Rittenhouse Hotel

The Rittenhouse Hotel is a historic mainstay of the Philadelphia tourist scene.

The Rittenhouse Hotel has been a mainstay of the Philadelphia tourist scene for nearly a century. The five-star property is one of the city’s most stylish hotels, and its prime location in posh Rittenhouse Square makes it the perfect base for any trip to Philly. Inside, it’s a skillful blend of old and new with marble bathrooms, crown molding, and canopy beds accented with modern touches like brushed brass fixtures, geometric rugs, and bold furnishings. . It’s within walking distance of many of the city’s best restaurants and most famous sights, and there’s even free car service within a 20-block radius.

Price: From $ 545 / night

  • Nearest airport: Philadelphia International Airport
  • Duration: 25 minutes by car
  • Distance: 9.2 miles

Best boutique stay: The Maj Hotel

The Maj hotel combines historic Philadelphia architecture with modern aesthetic touches.

The newly opened Maj Hotel takes inspiration from the city’s historic architecture while adding modern aesthetic touches. The result is a down-to-earth boutique hotel that feels stylish, trendy, and lived in at the same time. Plus, there’s an on-site chillout lounge, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is less than a 10-minute walk away, and the Liberty Bell is less than two miles.

Price: From $ 174 / night

  • Nearest airport: Philadelphia International Airport
  • Time: 17 minutes by car
  • Distance: 9.5 miles

The most unique Airbnb: the Ark floating cabin

The Ark Floating Cabin is the most unique Airbnb in Philadelphia.

Although Philly sits directly on the Delaware River, the city’s layout means few travelers spend much time on the water. The Ark Floating Cabin offers one-of-a-kind accommodation so people from the outside can see the city like no other. This is a custom-built houseboat that offers a private glamping-style experience with a queen-size bed, fast Wi-Fi, and even a minibar. But, honestly, the amazing view of the bridge is what you really pay for here.

Price: From $ 114 / night

  • Nearest airport: Philadelphia International Airport
  • Duration: 20 minutes by car
  • Distance: 10.5 miles

Where to eat

No Philadelphia travel guide would be complete without a where to eat action. Ask any non-local about the Philly food and drink scene, and they’ll likely mention cheesesteaks, Yuengling and Mac’s Tavern, the real world bar of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. While all three are remarkable contributions to the global culinary scene, the city has so much more to offer.

The 9th Street Italian Market

The 9th Street Italian Market is the oldest open-air market in Philly.

Foodies looking to get started can sample some of the best locally made foods in just one afternoon at the Italian Market. This traditional open-air market has been a mainstay of the urban scene since the 1880s. Today it’s a mix of old-fashioned grocery stores (like Claudio’s and DiBruno’s) selling fresh produce, cheeses, spices, fish and meat with newer lunch places like Pho 75 and South Philly Barbacoa to boot. It’s packed with travelers and locals on weekends. Opt for a weekday visit for a more relaxed experience. Just bring your appetite and a handful of cash.

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John’s Roast Pork

John's Roast Pork is home to the best roast pork sandwiches in Philadelphia.

Yes, Philly cheesesteaks are one thing. Yes, they’re amazing and, yes, you should definitely try one on your first (and tenth) visit to the city. But, we’d say Philadelphia’s other iconic sandwich is even better. We’re talking about the lesser-known roast pork sandwich, and nowhere in town does it better than John’s Roast Pork. The family joint has been making meat sandwiches the same way for almost a century. Each massive roast pork specialty sandwich is stacked with 12 ounces of meat and made the way you want, with mushrooms, bacon, sweet peppers, or even pizza-style. Note that it only accepts cash and only opens for lunch – both signs of an old-fashioned and destination-worthy restaurant, in our opinion.

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South is home to the best comfort food in South Philly.

Beyond cheesesteaks and pizza, Philly is home to a world-class dining scene. South is one of the city’s newer additions, but it’s already one of the most popular. Guests will find classic Southern comfort food such as mac and cheese, po’boys, and crayfish stew. The honey-butter pan-fried cornbread alone is worth a visit. In addition, there is a solid whiskey menu and live jazz music every night.

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What to do

Philadelphia is a destination-worthy city with world-class museums, unique neighborhoods, bespoke artisan shops, and one of America’s richest histories. It’s impossible to see it all in one visit, but here are some of our favorite things to do in and around Philly.

Philadelphia Distillery Trail

Philadelphia Distilling is the oldest distillery on the Philadelphia Distillery Trail.

Philly was once a hub for home distillation until the 18th Amendment crushed the party. Today, thanks to more relaxed liquor laws and a renewed interest in crafts, the city has regained a foothold in the world of distilled spirits. With dozens of distillers and new ones popping up all over town, there’s plenty of vodka, whiskey, gin, and more. artisanal liquor to taste. Distilleries tours are arranged, but motivated travelers can get the list of distilleries in and around the Philadelphia Metro and take the tour on their own.

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Mütter Museum

The Mütter Museum in Philadelphia is one of the most strangely fascinating museums in the world.

Even for non-museum enthusiasts, the Mütter Museum is one of the most strangely fascinating museums in the world. The so-called “cabinet museum” began in 1858 as a collection of eerie 19th-century objects related to anatomy, biomedical research, and other quirks. Today it has over 20,000 specimens, including American Civil War amputation instruments, the largest human skeleton in North America, part of the brain of President James A. Garfield’s assassin , plaster casts of two famous Siamese twins and a tumor. retired from President Grover Cleveland. It’s weird, educational, and guaranteed to be unlike any museum you’ve ever visited.

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Read more: The best museums in the world

Delaware River waterfront

The Delaware River Waterfront is one of the best outdoor recreation areas in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is on the water, but it has never before been known as a “city by the water” in the same way as Boston or Seattle. Over the past decade, however, the network of jetties along the river has evolved into a green space worthy of a destination. It is now a hub of activity for cyclists, families, runners, cultural activities and more. It’s arguably the best outdoor recreation area in town, and the whole area is small enough to be tackled in just one day, with each pier having its own vibe.

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