The arts flourish in Philadelphia, a city rife with some of our country’s richest historical sites and locations as well as the culture and diversity you would expect from any large city. Whether you have a day, the weekend, or an entire week for your visit, you will run out of time long before running out of ways to spend it.
Museums abound in Philadelphia. Showcasing artwork of every nature, sculptures, gardens, and a multitude of histories, one could easily visit a different venue every day of vacation and not see them all. Visit Independence Hall, where George Washington was appointed commander in chief of the Continental Army, the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation were adopted, and the U. S. Constitution was drafted. Stand in the rooms that our forefathers stood, and listen to the tour guide as they explain the many uses of the rooms. Tours are free and a timed ticked is needed for entrance.
Just down the street you can find the National Museum of American Jewish History, The African American Museum in Philadelphia, and the Besty Ross House, and more- all within an easy walk. The Rodin Museum is an easy bus or trolly ride away, and well worth the few minutes. My son enjoyed drawing all the sculptures, and the staff was very nice to him, even though there were many art students there doing the same thing. This museum houses one of the most comprehensive public collections of Rodin’s work outside Paris, and is a beautiful place to visit. Public transportation is very easy to use, and comes every few minutes. The Big Bus Company and Philidelphia Trolly Works are easy, on and off, hits all major tourist and historical attractions, is inexpensive, and goes everyplace.
Take in the magnificent and unique art of the city on a very uncommon canvas- businesses and buildings. Starting out as a way to reduce the graffiti epidemic that had taken over much of the city, an artist was hired to guide youth who lacked opportunities beautify their community with art rather then defacing it. Now, the Mural Arts Program is one of the largest of it’s kind, and has created more then 3,500 works in 27 years. Community involvement is key to keeping this program strong, and each year approximately 100 indoor and outdoor murals are constructed. View the murals on bike, walking, or trolly tours of the city. The trolly tour is a wonderful way to see a large amount of the city in a short time, and with the commentary of a knowledgeable guide to explain the pieces.
All that touring is bound to make you hungry- perhaps indulge in one of the city’s namesake dishes, the Philly cheesesteak. (One need not call it a “Philly” cheesesteak on location, however- they know what city they are in- just order with or without onions and specify what cheese you prefer and you are ready to eat.) Of course, most people know of the epic battle of Pat’s King Of Steaks vs Geno’s Steaks. These two rivals have locations directly across the street from each other, with Pat’s owner’s being given the credit for the invention of the famed sandwich, and Geno’s owner planting himself across the street claiming to do it better. Be warned- order fast, know what you want, as well as the lingo- the lines move quickly. “Wit-Whiz” would be that you want your steak with onions and cheese whiz. Manners? Not so necessary.
Alternately, you can skip the epicenter of cheesteak madness, and head over to Campo’s Deli on Market Street, just 3 blocks from Independence Hall and many major attractions. One can take their time a little more leisurely here, and the sandwiches were delicious. Consistently ranked among the best in Philadelphia for both cheeseteaks and hoagies, they also carry some interesting versions of the classic for those with a more adventurous side, such as BBQ Cheesesteak. They serve no fried foods (french fries included) at this location, but the soups, side dishes, and desserts they carry will more then make up for that.
The Reading Terminal Market is also a good and central choice for breakfast or lunch. They, like most of the city, do close early! Don’t expect to have dinner there, but there are great places for dinner nearby. They also sell honey sticks, which my son loves and are hard to find in this area.
“Established in 1893 when trains came into the train shed, Reading Terminal Market is the nation’s oldest
continuously operating farmers’ market. Family-run vendors sell virtually every type of farm-fresh
cuisine, as well as prepared food. The northwestern corner of the Market is devoted to Lancaster County
Amish merchants who sell their farm-fresh products and distinctively prepared dishes. Sit-down eateries
are scattered throughout. Cookware, plants and flowers, books and many other items are also available.”
Go to www.visitphilly.com to plan your trip! If you need cheap airline tickets, now is a good time to look, the prices are great.