Check into your accommodations early enough to take a stroll and get the feel for the area right outside your hotel – most likely the Center City area and its rich collection of restaurants, bars and attractions. Opt for something light for dinner, such as Israeli-Middle Eastern fare at Zahav or anywhere you see locals lining up for hoagies or ethnic food. You’ll want to get a good night’s rest before a busy weekend.
Saturday is all about history and culture, and it will be a busy day. After breakfast at your hotel or at a beloved site, such as Sabrina’s Cafe or Reading Terminal Market, it’s time to see history brought to life. The must-sees of the day start with Independence National Historic Park. Philadelphia’s signature historic site in Old City features the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and Constitution Hall (home of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution). It also features historic buildings from the city’s revolutionary past, approximately 20 of which are open to the public. After again opting for a lunch featuring local favorites, you will also want to take in the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Academy of Natural Sciences, Franklin Institute Science Museum, Mutter Museum, Rosenbach Museum & Library and the Rodin Museum. After your long day, consider fine dining for dinner at the famed Le Bec Fin, Morimoto or Fogo de Chao.
After breakfast Sunday, consider a few sites you might have missed the day before or opt for other acclaimed favorites, such as the Philadelphia Zoo, the nation’s oldest, or otherwise the Morris Arboretum, Fairmount Park or the spectacular site of the Dram Garden glass mosaic near Independence Hall for a rare and breathtaking creation. Complete your afternoon and evening with a visit to South Philly for an authentic Philly Cheesesteak, and you will be ready for bed and then to return home with your tales of visiting the city that native son Ben Franklin dubbed “New Athens.”
The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia is centrally located within easy access of some of the city’s finer restaurants and attractions, and service is typically excellent. Some 299 rooms feature exceptional views in a setting that perfectly pairs the historic with the ultra-modern. Amenities include a business center, beautiful lounge, numerous meeting rooms and an award-winning spa, among many others. www.ritzcarlton.com
The elegant Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia is an AAA Five Diamond hotel benefitting from both its location and numerous attractions and amenities within. A beautiful pool setting, luxurious spa treatments, delightful lounge and extraordinary concierge service helps guarantee all vistors’ needs can be met. www.fourseasons.com
The Rittenhouse Hotel is an AAA five-diamond property at Philadelphia’s most prestigious address. As a member of Leading Hotels of the World and ranked among the world’s finest places to stay, the Center City Philadelphia hotel provides well-appointed guest rooms and sprawling suites just steps from the pristine lawns and pathways of Rittenhouse Square. Guests can indulge in the comfort of the Adolf Biecker Spa and Salon, a full-service spa, salon and fitness center complete with a beautiful sunlit indoor swimming pool and terrace overlooking the city and follow it up at one of the several prized restaurants and lounges on site. www.rittenhousehotel.com
Access: Philadelphia International Airport is served by most major domestic carriers.
Population: Approximately 5.9 million in the metro area.
Climate: Summers are typically hot and muggy, fall and spring are generally mild, and winter is cold. Snowfall is variable, with some winters bringing only light snow and others bringing several major snowstorms.
Main Attractions: History and culture abound in one of North America’s most historic cities, with fine dining and beautiful public spaces also key appeals.
Eat: There is plenty of high-end cuisine to be enjoyed in Philadelphia, but don’t miss some of the less glamorous but equally delicious specific local fare: the cheesesteak, scrapple, hoagies, soft pretzels, water ice and Tastykakes. Competition among cheesesteak fans is fierce – as the ordering process can be, particularly at famed Pat’s King of Steaks. Watch how locals order or be prepared for a true “Soup Nazi”-like experience.
PASS: To see a number of local sites economically, consider purchasing a Philadelphia CityPASS. Check out www.citypass.com/philadelphia for details.
Shop: Time permitting, check out the Reading Terminal Market, where some of the vendors have been operating for a century.