Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Founding fathers, genuine energy and home to the Philly cheesesteak

Overview

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.

Culture Vultures

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.

Festive Wonderland

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.


Major Airport

Philadelphia International Airport - PHL

Low Season Months

Jan
2°C
82mm
5hrs
Feb
3°C
60mm
6hrs
Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov
9°C
72mm
5hrs
Dec
4°C
90mm
5hrs

Hotels

Coming online very soon

Top Experiences

Ice skating at Rothman Institute

At Dilworth Park’s outdoor rink you’ll skate by the architectural marvel that is Philadelphia’s City Hall. Pop-up markets feature local vendors selling beautifully handcrafted art and crafts and the cosy Rothman Orthopaedics Cabin serves tasty food and seasonal drinks for hungry skaters.

Awarding Winning Breweries

With Philadelphia at the forefront of the craft beer revival, you’ll find dozens of local breweries offering guided tours with tasting sessions. Bars boast a range of rotating seasonal brews on tap and you may even get to experience the liveliness of a Philadelphia bar during a sports game.

Tax-free Shopping

Pack an extra suitcase because shoes and clothes bought here are free of tax. Tempted? Checkout Macy’s excellent department store in the historic Wanamaker Building; the malls at Liberty Place and King of Prussia; or explore your favourite neighbourhood for independent boutiques.

Insider Tips

  • Don’t miss the Museum of Art with its 225,000 exhibits, Renaissance masterpieces, and renowned Impressionists collection. Highlights are Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ and Cézanne's ‘The Large Bathers’, but it’s perhaps best known for its 72 steps made famous by the Rocky movie.
  • The iconic bronze statue of city founder William Penn sits on high atop City Hall. At 37 feet tall, he weighs an impressive 53,348 pounds. It’s the world’s largest statue on public building and marked the city’s high point from its 1894 unveiling until Liberty One Place was built in 1998.
  • There are plenty of low season events to look forward to. The Chinese New Year Parade features dragons and delicious food; February’s Auto Show showcases the latest models and trends; and the Flower Show in March fills the halls of the Convention Center with dazzling floral displays.

Good To Know

  • Scope out pop-up bars in advance of your trip. During the winter season, many hospitality groups open ad hoc bars in venues that offer a one-of-a-kind experience with unique features. Many locations vary with every year, so you are always in for a new experience.
  • If you plan to shop at holiday markets, visit during the week. The most popular markets can get extremely busy on weekends with regional visitors planning day trips with family and friends looking for last minute holiday gifts, or a reason to enjoy the city’s holiday splendour.
  • If you have your heart set on a specific culinary experience, book restaurant reservations in advance to ensure you don’t have to wait for a table. Some of the city’s best restaurants fill up during the holidays with work group Christmas dinners, or families coming together.

Food & Drink

McGillin’s Olde Ale House

£££

The city’s oldest continuously operating tavern and a cosy place to stop for a beer and bite. During the holidays, it’s decked out with 1,000 feet of garland, 3,000 Christmas lights, 150 red bows, and over 200 ornaments, and serves holiday-inspired drinks to match the décor.

Reading Terminal Market

£££

Sample seasonal treats and local delicacies at America’s oldest Farmers Market. 80+ merchants sell fresh meats, cheeses, and baked goods. You’ll find the widest variety of restaurants under one roof, offering Philadelphia Cheesesteak, Roast Pork sandwiches, and international cuisine.

Parc

£££

Located in the lively and upmarket Rittenhouse Square neighbourhood, Parc is a Philadelphia-institution that draws crowds for its vibrant atmosphere. Whether you are looking to dress for an evening’s dinner or a lazy brunch, Parc’s morning-to-night menu offers seasonal fare and cocktails.

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