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You guys. I’m devoted to Philadelphia.
For my entire adult life, except for four years at Rutgers University, I’ve lived in southern NJ in the shadow of the 5th largest city in the United States: Philadelphia!
Needless to say, Philadelphia holds a special place in my heart. No matter how many cities I check off my global dream list, the City of Brotherly Love embodies the true definition of “home.” I mean, look at how I spend every Christmas Eve.
When the awesome Nagivate Media Group accepted me to BlogHouse, waaaay back in April, I was thrilled at the prospect of spending a long weekend in Philadelphia, because it meant I would experience the city – my city – through “fresh tourist” eyes. My visit re-confirmed six reasons why I’m devoted to Philadelphia.
1. Colonial history
William Penn founded Philadelphia in 1762 (old for American standards!), but the city is mostly known in history books for its extensive role in the American Revolution. As a result, Philadelphia’s Independence Hall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and administered by the National Park Service. Here, you can see where the Founding Fathers walked the streets and Betsy Ross stitched the American flag. You can also ogle at the Liberty Bell, which is a famous symbol of independence, and explore the Constitution Center.
In addition to colonial buildings, storytellers entertain and educate visitors by performing tales of the American Revolution. These fun-loving guides are located throughout the neighborhood, and they add a bit of color to the city’s extensive history. You can find more information about the story’s locations and times here.
If you’re an American history buff, then add Philadelphia to your travel itinerary and make an effort to spend as much time as possible in Old City. This visit inspired me to come again in the fall and create a photo essay.
2. Delicious (if unhealthy) food culture
Philadelphia is a fantastic destination for foodies. Just don’t visit if you’re planning on losing weight. Heartbreak lies down that road, I promise you.
Anyway. The calories are totally worth the pain.
Most people already know about the legendary Philadelphia Cheesesteak. It’s one of my favorite guilty pleasures too, but Philadelphia has many more goodies than sliced meat and cheese whiz. Now I’m not a food critic, so don’t except flowery descriptive words about taste and smell, but hopefully the pictures speak for themselves.
On this trip, I had the pleasure of chowing down on famous Federal Donuts (thank you, Context Travel!) and DiNic’s roast pork sandwiches.
Federal Donuts sells donuts, with flavors ranging from strawberry to mocha, as well as Korean style fried chicken. I’m dead serious.
Meanwhile, you can discover DiNic’s in Reading Terminal Market, one of the most famous in-door farmer’s markets on the eastern seaboard. Go on a Friday or Saturday rather than Sunday so you can enjoy the Amish stands.
Furthermore, my BlogHouse peers and I enjoyed a diverse variety of breweries, beer gardens, ice cream shops, sandwich joints, and more! Philadelphia’s food scene has specialties to suit all tastes! One blogger even tracked down a vegan cheesesteak! How cool is that?
Philadelphia’s iconic foods will leave your stomach happy! Incredibly happy!
3. Outgoing and wonderful people
Okay, Philadelphia sports fans don’t have the greatest reputation of all time (remember Santa Claus?), but don’t let the rumors put you off! Philadelphia has a friendly and awesome populace!
All the shopkeepers, security guards, locals, etc. met me with smiles, compliments, and kind small talk. For example, I was nervous before arriving at Sonesta for BlogHouse. I’m outgoing enough, but my shyness and self-esteem issues thrive on interfering with my confidence (nice, huh?). So, I went to a small and relaxing park and ate a bagel for breakfast. As I played on my phone, a woman randomly stopped next to me and exclaimed, “I absolutely love your dress! It looks beautiful on you!”
4. Epic views of the city’s skyline
You can’t come to Philadelphia and not take pictures of its iconic skyline. One Liberty Observation Deck provides ample opportunities to view Philadelphia through the eyes of a soaring bird. You can see the bridges, the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, City Hall, the Art Museum, and more!
Not interested in skywalks? No problem! Philadelphia’s Hop On, Hop Off city tours also offer visitors many sweeping views of this fabulous city, especially if you choose a seat on the top of the bus. Don’t stand up, though. Philadelphia’s low hanging street signs aren’t nearly as welcoming as the people, haha. The bus tour is also great for travelers who are short on time, because it’s an effective way to reach all the city’s major sights without walking or using public transportation.
Finally Philadelphia is an extremely walkable city. Seriously, you don’t have to rent a car at all to see the major touristy attractions. Which means you can savor amazing views of the city’s architecture simply by strolling the sidewalks. Nothing wrong with using your own two feet. They’re free after all.
5. Green space everywhere
Not a fan of urban sprawl? Never fear! Philadelphia’s many green spaces have your aesthetic needs covered. One of Philadelphia’s most popular parks is Rittenhouse Square, located in the heart of Center City’s action. Some of the city’s most expensive and swanky real estate surrounds this park. There are also hip cafes and bakeries, and a Barnes and Noble (hey, you know I love books) to visit.
Love Park is another famous space in Philadelphia. For what it’s lacking in trees, Love Park has incredible street art, such as the iconic statue itself resembling love’s imperfection, and tons of fountains for children to jump and play in.
Lastly the area around the Schuylkill River boasts plenty of hiking and boating opportunities for outdoorsy folk. I’ve never had a chance to visit myself (alas!), but the gorgeous little boating house always manages to draw my eyes. Perhaps in the near future, yes?
6. Small city vibe in a major urban environment
Like I said earlier in the post, Philadelphia isn’t a tiny city in the middle of nowhere. It’s a major hub. Sure, it may not be as expansive as its northern neighbor, New York City, but still. Philadelphia itself has a population of over 1.5 million and the metropolitan area is home to more than 7 million. Wow, right?
However, don’t let Philadelphia’s sheer size put you off from visiting it. Just because it’s a large city doesn’t mean you’ll vanish into a crowd without a trace.
Philadelphia’s unique neighborhoods make you feel as if you’re in a smaller town within the framework of a larger city. Old City, with its cobblestones and brick homes, is my favorite neighborhood, but other fun areas of interest include Society Hill with its restaurants and shops, funky Northern Liberties and Fishtown, and the high-rises of Logan Square.
I want to extend my sincerest “thank yous” to BlogHouse’s sponsors for making my visit possible: VisitPhilly, Context Travel, and Sonesta Philadelphia. I also want to extend my warmest appreciation to Sofitel Philadelphia and Travel Blog Success. Do YOU guys plan on visiting Philadelphia soon? You should!
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