Pop Quiz. Which major centre was the first United States World Heritage City? Where can you pay your respects at the tomb of Benjamin Franklin? Which city has achieved the accolade of the nation’s 5th most walkable? If you’ve answered, ‘Philadelphia’ to all of the above, go to the top of the class, your grades are looking good.
Sitting in the US northeastern corner, the City of Brotherly Love is conveniently located with easy access by train or car from Boston, New York and Washington DC. It also enjoys direct flights from throughout Europe, making the birthplace of the Fresh Prince, a great choice for a stand-alone break, or a cool stop on a tour of the eastern states. Get your walking shoes on to discover the varied neighbours, particularly around the historic centre, and work up an appetite for the fantastic cuisine you’ll find to suit all pockets and palates. Within walking distance, you’ll be spoilt for choice in your exploration of genuinely iconic sites. Take in the UNESCO World Heritage Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, snap a pic in front of the Liberty Bell, and get loved up in Love Park, before heading down to Spruce Street Harbour Park for a beer on the Delaware River Waterfront.
Spring and summer visits to Philly are popular due to warm weather, numerous festivals and a beach-like vibe along the riverside. However, it is truly a four-season destination with historical attractions and world-renowned art exhibits remaining open throughout the year. During the low season months of December to February, you’ll find top accommodation at bargain rates, easy entry to otherwise crowded sites, and wonderful seasonal menus at local restaurants. Although the weather can stay mild, winter wanderers should be prepared for possible sub-zero temperatures and even snowstorms. Pack your layers or even better pick up some new cold-weather gear at tax-free rates.
Some have dared to suggest that there are just too many museums in Philadelphia. We say there’s no such thing…but with 354 art and culture institution to go at, you’ll need to do your research and choose your perfect place to while away a chilly afternoon. Our top picks include the slightly disturbing Mütter Museum, with its collection of medical specimens; the fascinating Eastern State Penitentiary whose most famous inmate was Al Capone and where you can listen to an audio tour by actor Steve Buscemi; and the fabulous Mummers Museum housing sequined and feathered costumes from the New Year Parades dating back to 1901.
You can really get into the holiday spirit with pop-up markets, carnival atmosphere, over the top decks, and fireworks. Philly’s end of November Thanksgiving Day Parade is the oldest in the country, while the charismatic New Year’s Parade sees extravagantly costumed Mummers strut along Broad Street. Wrap up warmly for the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest and the Rothman Institute Ice Rink and Winter Garden. The whole period enjoys a magical vibe with craft markets like the Christmas Village springing up, and light displays like Macy’s Grand Court Light Show which dates from 1955.