Traveling is stressful enough as it is, so I wanted to share some of my favorite Philadelphia tips and recommendations as a born and bred local. The City of Brotherly Love richly rewards visitors. There are countless museums, restaurants, and shops. The sports fans are diehard, to put it lightly. Renaissance man Benjamin Franklin, artist Mary Cassatt, and actor Kevin Bacon all have walked the streets and called the city home at one time or another. There’s history no matter what period of the past interests you. Get to know Philly with these local favorites.
- City Tavern serves 18th century food with staff in costumes to match. The restaurant is targeted at tourists but the food is good. Their pepperpot soup, a Philly speciality, is especially good.
- Reading Terminal Market is a one-stop shop. You can find farm fresh produce, meats and other specialities to take home next to restaurants and stands selling street food. Don’t leave without grabbing a cannoli from Termini Brothers Bakery
- Rieker’s Prime Meats is my go-to spot and one of my favorite foodie Philadelphia tips for German butcher shop and groceries.
- Parc is an eternal favorite in the city. The Parisian-style bistro is set right on Rittenhouse Square Park. If you’re lucky, you can score an outdoor table and watch people and dogs in the park.
- Cheesesteaks can be a controversial topic in this city. Everyone has their favorite place. Pat’s and Geno’s, both in South Philadelphia, are perhaps the best known. The South Street location of Jim’s Steaks is also iconic. But there are no shortage of shops selling steak sandwiches, roast pork sandwiches, pizzas and hoagies (that’s Philly for submarine sandwich).
- Another classic food is, of course, the Philadelphia soft pretzel!
- Morimoto is, notably, the first restaurant from Iron Chef Morimoto. Splurge for the omakase, or chef’s tasting menu. Trust me, it’s worth it!
- Lorenzo’s on South Street is famous for their larger than life pizza slices that can’t even fit on a plate.
- Han Dynasty is an award-winning Chinese restaurant with locations across the Philadelphia and neighboring areas. You can get all the standard Americanized dishes as well as some authentic Chinese food.
- Frankford Hall is a German lite restaurant complete with authentic beer and a Biergarten.
- Pizzeria Vetri make brick oven cooked pizzas. They can be found across the city.
Cafes & Coffee Shops
- The super popular coffee roasters La Colombe keep their headquarters in Philly. As far as Philadelphia tips, it’s no secret. You can find their cafes across the city. If you can’t make it to a cafe, you won’t have trouble finding their coffee in shops and cafes.
- Safa Teahouse is a Persian tea room in Manayunk.
- The Random Tearoom is a cozy and casual tea shop perfect for hanging out. Try the king’s tea.
- Milkcrate in Fishtown is a coffee shop with light eats that also sells records and record players.
- Saxbys is a Philadelphia-based coffee shop with locations across the city.
- Sabrina’s Cafe has spots around the area that serve up great meals, including a delicious brunch.
- Rikumo features Japanese crafted items with high design.
- Philadelphia Record Exchange is the first stop for music lovers looking to buy or sell records.
- Book Corner sells secondhand books with proceeds benefiting public libraries. They’ve also got a good-sized foreign language section.
See & Do
- Philadelphia Museum of Art is more than just “the place with the Rocky steps.” The museum certainly isn’t a secret but it’s one of my best Philadelphia tips. So places don’t live up to the hype but this isn’t one of those places! Go inside for one of the country’s most varied and high quality collections of art.
- Museum of the American Revolution is one of the city’s newest museums. It offers an insightful and informative look at the war that helped establish the nation.
- Rodin Museum is the largest collection outside of France dedicated to the talented sculptor. The museum is small but well worth a visit, especially when you pair it with its partner, the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Don’t have a lot of time? Stroll through the sculpture gardens outfront for free.
- Barnes Foundation
- Simeon Foundation Automotive Museum is home to an impressive collection. They regularly run some of these valuable and unique cars so check the schedule before you go.
- Penn Museum houses an impressive and historic collection dedicated to archaeology and anthropology.
- Franklin Institute is a wildly popular hands-on science museum that’s great for families with children
The city also has an active public art scene with lots of statues, sculptures and murals. Keep your eyes open because you never know what you’ll see or when.
Sights & Monuments
- See where the Continental Congress met and the Declaration of Independence was signed! Colonial Philadelphia is home to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and more.
- Elfreth’s Alley is a charming stretch of historic homes. It’s the country’s oldest residential block.
- Shofuso is a Japanese house and garden that’s a hidden gem!
- Italian Market is the nation’s oldest outdoor market. You could spend days wandering the streets and sampling from the various restaurants and shops.
- Stop by One Liberty Observation Deck to get a view over the city.
Parks, Plazas & Trails
- Schuylkill River Trail will ultimately be a nearly 130 mile trail Philadelphia to Pottsville, PA. Enjoy scenic walking, biking and jogging past landmarks like the Philadelphia Museum of Art and, if you make it that far, through Valley Forge National Historical Park.
- Rittenhouse Square Park is a green oasis in the center of Philadelphia where you can always expect to find some cute dogs out for a walk.
- Fairmount Park is the largest park in the city with more than 2000 acres across the city.
- Franklin Square Park is a park in the heart of the city and one of several that dates back to the 17th century.
- Dilworth Plaza outside of city hall is full of fountains and benches where you can people watch, catch up with friends or admire the historic architecture of the building.
Events & Festivals
- Celebrate the Philadelphia Cherry Blossoms across the region.
- Philadelphia Flower Show is, undoubtedly, one of the highlights of the year and the world’s largest indoor flower show. Take a look back to Flower Power at the Philadelphia Flower Show 2019 and 2018’s Wonders of Water for an idea of what to expect.
- The Mummers Parade on New Year’s Day is an annual tradition.
- The city’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival is Sakura Sunday.
- Punk Rock Flea Market is held several times a year. You can always find great secondhand items and unique originals.
Ideas & Guides
- 18 Fun Free Things to Do in Philadelphia
- Philadelphia for History Buffs Travel Guide
- Philadelphia for Art Lovers Travel Guide
- 5 Philadelphia Museums Off The Beaten Path
- What to Expect Visiting Philadelphia in Fall
Philadelphia is a sprawling city. Finding parking, especially when you aren’t downtown can be challenging. Public transit outside of the downtown area can be limited or even non-existent. My best advice is to plan ahead.
The City of Brotherly Love is a foodie paradise. The city has food for all tastes and budgets. If you’re looking for fine dining, you won’t be disappointed. Similarly, if you’re looking for casual food or street eats, there is no shortage of options. Philadelphia has plenty of food specialties to offer.
It’s not always sunny in Philadelphia. In other words, you have to make your own fun!
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All opinions, as well as all photos, are my own. This post contains affiliate links.