The Ultimate Philadelphia Travel Guide: Top Attractions, Shopping, Dining & More

The Ultimate Philadelphia Travel Guide: Top Attractions, Shopping, Dining & More

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Philadelphia is an exciting city with endless possibilities for entertainment, shopping, dining, and getting around town. From world-class museums and performing arts to vibrant neighborhoods filled with boutiques and restaurants, Philly has something for everyone.

This weekend, check out the Philadelphia entertainment scene with comedy shows, concerts, theater performances, and more things to do in Philadelphia. Get your retail therapy fix at the area’s best Philadelphia shopping spots, including Reading Terminal Market, local boutiques, and major malls. Experience Philadelphia’s diverse culinary offerings, from cheesesteaks to BYOBs serving cuisine from around the globe. Take advantage of Philadelphia's public transportation, like SEPTA and the PHLASH Downtown Loop, to get around the city quickly.

With so much to see and do, Philadelphia makes for a fantastic weekend getaway or week-long vacation. 

This comprehensive guide includes the best of Philly’s entertainment, shopping, dining, and transportation.

12 Things to do and Places to visit In Philadelphia

Philadelphia is home to various fascinating places that should be on every tourist’s itinerary. Some popular Philadelphia attractions include the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Rocky Statue. Visitors won’t miss these famous tourist attractions in Philadelphia and other historic sites.

This section will highlight the 12 best places in Philadelphia that are absolute must-sees for first-time visitors and long-time locals.

1. Liberty Bell Pavilion

One of Philadelphia's most iconic Liberty Bell sights is the Liberty Bell Pavilion. This expansive glass pavilion in Independence National Historical Park houses the famously cracked Liberty Bell. Weighing over 2,000 pounds, the Liberty Bell was originally cast in England and brought to Pennsylvania in 1753. It gained its famous crack in the 1830s, and today, it stands as an international symbol of freedom. At the interactive Liberty Bell Pavilion, visitors can learn about the bell’s history through exhibits and short films. Make sure to glimpse the bell through the floor-to-ceiling windows before going outside to take a picture with the Liberty Bell itself.

2. Independence Hall

Another must-see landmark in Philadelphia is Independence Hall, located just across the street from the Liberty Bell Pavilion. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed. Take a guided tour of the historic Independence Hall to see the rooms where these pivotal events occurred. Highlights include the Assembly Room where the Declaration of Independence was signed, the courtroom where the Supreme Court first sat, and statues of George Washington and other Founding Fathers. An Independence Hall tour provides a glimpse into the beginnings of American democracy. Between the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and other national treasures, Old City immerses visitors in the history of America’s founding.

3. Independence National Historical Park

Independence National Historical Park is a 55-acre park in Philadelphia that preserves several historical sites related to the American Revolution and the founding of the United States. The park is home to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and other attractions that allow visitors to immerse themselves in Philadelphia’s pivotal role in America’s beginnings.

In addition to Independence Hall tours and exploring the Liberty Bell, the top things to do in Independence National Historical Park include seeing the National Constitution Center and viewing the Independence Hall Observation Deck.

4. Philadelphia Museum of Art and the “Rocky Steps”

Every trip to Philadelphia is complete with running up the Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Made famous by the 1976 film Rocky, these 72 stone steps lead to the entrance of the renowned museum. Though no official address exists, the Rocky Steps are easily accessible via the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Challenge yourself to ascend the stairs like Rocky Balboa and raise your arms in victory at the top. Be sure to snap the classic photo of the Rocky statue at the base of the steps.

Beyond its movie legacy, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the largest art museums in the country. The immense collection includes works by Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso, and other artistic greats.

5. Reading Terminal Market

No visit to Philadelphia is complete without experiencing the sights, smells, and tastes of the famous Reading Terminal Market. This bustling indoor public market has been operating since 1892, providing fresh groceries, baked goods, dining, and more. Wander through over 80 vendors offering everything from seasonal produce to Amish specialties and global cuisines. The sheer variety makes Reading Terminal a must-visit attraction.

6. The Barnes Foundation

Home to one of the world’s finest private art collections, The Barnes Foundation is a remarkable museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The impressive trove of Post-Impressionist and early Modernist paintings came from the personal collection of Dr. Albert C. Barnes. Highlights include 181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes, 60 Matisses, and 44 Picassos. Beyond individual masterpieces, seeing so many notable works together provides unprecedented insight into these artists and their stylistic development.

7. Museum of the American Revolution

Immerse yourself in our nation’s founding at the Museum of the American Revolution. This interactive museum brings to life the diverse people, events, and ideals that led to American independence. High-tech exhibits and artifact displays tell the dramatic story of the Revolutionary War period through varied perspectives. Stand beside a replica privateer ship, learn about spies and code-breaking, and see George Washington’s tent and Revolutionary War weapons up close. Located just steps from Independence Hall, the American Revolution Museum provides an in-depth exploration of how the United States came to be.

8. Philadelphia Zoo

Home to over 1,300 animals, the Philadelphia Zoo is America’s first zoo and a must-visit attraction for families. This 42-acre zoo houses big cats, rare birds, monkeys, reptiles, and more from around the globe. Visit the zoo’s most famous resident, the massive eastern gorilla Philly, in the PECO Primate Reserve. Other highlights include the jaguar habitat, the woodland aviary full of exotic birds, and KidZooU for an interactive educational experience tailored to children. Purchase Philadelphia Zoo tickets online in advance to save time.

9. Rodin Museum

Dedicated entirely to the works of French sculptor Auguste Rodin, the Rodin Museum houses the most comprehensive collection of his sculptures outside of Paris. Some of Rodin’s most famous works, including The Thinker, The Kiss, and The Gates of Hell, are on display. Visitors can learn about Rodin’s creative process and artistic development through a collection of plaster casts, drawings, and personal artifacts. Explore the museum’s proper French garden, which provides a beautiful backdrop for many stone sculptures.

10. The Franklin Institute Science Museum

The Franklin Institute brings science to life engagingly with hundreds of interactive exhibits, live science demonstrations, and immersive experiences. This dynamic museum is home to the renowned Benjamin Franklin National Memorial and the Giant Heart you can walk through. Popular attractions include the Space Command exhibit, SportsZone, and the Train Factory. Especially for kids, the Franklin Institute provides hands-on educational fun to inspire future careers in STEM.

11. Eastern State Penitentiary

For a truly unique attraction, visit the historic former Eastern State Penitentiary. Opened in 1829 as part of a controversial movement to rehabilitate criminals through solitary confinement, this massive Gothic Revival structure is now a haunting ruin. Take a self-guided audio tour of the abandoned cellblocks, exercise yards, and other decaying areas that once housed notorious criminals like Al Capone.

12. Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Museum

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts is America’s first school and museum of fine arts. The museum’s collection has grown to include over 3,000 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper. Highlights include pieces by prominent American artists like Charles Willson Peale, Thomas Eakins, Mary Cassatt, and Andrew Wyeth. The historic landmark building houses treasures spanning the 18th to 21st centuries, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the development of American art.

10 Best Shopping Destinations in Philadelphia

Philadelphia offers an array of remarkable shopping experiences, from local boutiques to popular chain stores and massive malls. Shoppers can browse goods and wares at eclectic venues like the Italian Market, Center City’s swanky high-rises, and bustling destinations like the Philadelphia Mills Mall. This section will highlight the top 10 spots to scratch your shopping itch in Philly, ranging from exclusive jewelry stores to discount outlets to the nation’s oldest farmer’s market. 

With such a diversity of retailers and shopping districts, Philadelphia provides exciting shopping for every taste and budget. Following are the 10 Best Shopping Destinations in Philadelphia:

1. Macy’s

Macy’s Philadelphia, located in the heart of Center City, is the world’s largest store owned by the department store chain. Spread over 1.2 million square feet, this enormous emporium has stood as a shopping mecca since 1875. Browse designer brands, cosmetics, fragrances, apparel, accessories, home goods, furniture, and more at Center City Macy’s. The expansive shoe floor is renowned as one of the biggest in the world. Stop by the expansive basement food court for a bite, which includes outposts from Philly favorites like Federal Donuts. With so much to explore across 11 levels, come ready to shop at the landmark retailer.

2. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

In addition to being an artistic landmark, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens also houses a unique gift shop that sells artwork, jewelry, glass pieces, T-shirts, and more by local Philly artists. Browse the shelves for the perfect souvenir, from mosaic mirrors and coasters to glass pendants and vases. You can also purchase prints of the dazzling mosaics and books about this unique folk art environment. Stop by the Magic Gardens gift shop after exploring the labyrinthine mosaic courtyard and galleries to bring some whimsy and color home.

3. The Shops at Liberty Place

The Shops at Liberty Place offer an upscale shopping experience in downtown Philadelphia. Spanning three blocks and four levels, this luxurious complex houses high-end stores like Anthropologie, Ann Taylor, Armani Exchange, and Lululemon. But it also features more affordable chains like H&M. When you need a break, head to the spacious Grand Court for coffee or a meal. The attractive Winter Garden is the focal point, allowing visitors to dine under a glass atrium. Whether you’re looking for designer fashion or browsing, Liberty Place provides a refined interior shopping destination in the city's heart.

4. Philadelphia Mills

For serious outlet shopping, head to Philadelphia Mills Mall in Northeast Philadelphia. This massive outlet mall contains over 175 stores ranging from Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th to Nike Factory Store. Shoppers can save up to 75% on designer brands and famous retailers. In addition to incredible deals, shoppers enjoy amenities like on-site dining, valet parking, and shuttle service on weekends. Located just 15 minutes outside downtown Philadelphia, Philadelphia Mills brings outlet access without the long drive from the city.

5. Wonderspaces Philadelphia

While not a traditional shop, the experiential art space Wonderspaces offers a gift shop full of unique, artsy finds. Pick up artworks, prints, jewelry, home goods, apparel, and more - almost all created by artists from Philadelphia and beyond. After engaging with world-class digital art installations at Wonderspaces, you can continue the artsy experience by browsing the rotating selection of handmade items. It’s the perfect place to pick up a Philly-inspired gift or souvenir.

6. Moore College of Art & Design

For a uniquely artistic shopping experience, visit the Moore College of Art & Design boutique. This specialty shop offers sophisticated jewelry, prints, housewares, accessories, books, and more, all crafted by students, faculty, alums, and other contemporary artists. Sales from the boutique support programs at the art school while also allowing visitors to take home one-of-a-kind creations. Browse the rotating selection of handmade items for the perfect gift or travel souvenir. After shopping, stroll through the gallery exhibits open to the public at Moore College.

7. Reading Terminal Market

Beyond its many delicious eateries, Reading Terminal Market also offers an array of shops selling specialty foods, cookware, flowers, accessories, books, toys, apparel, and more. Part shopping mall, part farmers market, this historic venue lets you browse goods from local vendors in one place. Pick kitchen tools at the Cookbook Stall, cheeky gifts at Valley Novelty, or a new outfit at Minima Boutique. With over 80 merchants, Reading Terminal provides eclectic retail therapy in the city's heart.

8. Cherry Street Pier

This popular waterfront spot contains an array of retail shops and artisan boutiques in addition to its selection of food, drinks, and activities. Browse for Philly-made art and crafts at Cherry Street Pier’s rotating concepts like Shop 610, The Crafters’ Collective, and Lil’ Pop Shop. The pier also hosts regular makers' markets where local artists and designers sell wares. It’s a great place to find a unique, high-quality souvenir or gift while enjoying views of the Delaware River.

9. East Falls Glassworks

Watch glass artisans at work and browse finished products for sale at East Falls Glassworks. This public-access glass studio holds demonstrations and classes while housing a gallery. Visitors can shop for one-of-a-kind blown glass pieces like pumpkins, ornaments, vases, and more. Make an appointment for a private group glassblowing session or pick up a pre-made gift at this unique local glass art studio during retail hours.

10. Arthur Ross Gallery

In addition to spectacular art exhibits, the Arthur Ross Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania sells a curated selection of jewelry, home items, accessories, and more. The gift shop complements the gallery’s exhibitions, so the merchandise often connects to the current shows. Browse the collection of handcrafted items for a unique souvenir of your visit to the Arthur Ross Gallery while supporting Penn’s arts initiatives and students.

10 Best Restaurants in Philadelphia

Philadelphia’s dining scene is world-renowned for its variety, quality, and innovation. The city boasts award-winning chefs putting fresh twists on global cuisines, cozy BYOBs serving elevated comfort foods, and iconic establishments dishing out authentic local specialties. This list highlights 10 of the best restaurants in Philadelphia, spanning stunning settings, creative menus, and can’t-miss culinary experiences. From Brazilian steakhouses to modern Israeli cuisine, these dining destinations should top any Philly foodie’s must-try list.

1. Parc

Parc offers casual French fare in Rittenhouse Square, with a picturesque outdoor patio and an extensive brunch menu. Diners rave about steak frites, trout almondine, and bread baskets. The mid-priced brasserie provides a refined yet relaxed meal any time of day.

2. Talula’s Garden

Farm-fresh American cuisine shines at Talula’s Garden in Washington Square West. Housed in a charming garden setting, the ever-changing menu celebrates seasonal ingredients. Favorites include the clam pizza, homemade pasta, and creme brûlée. Talula’s Garden provides a transportive, exemplary dining experience steps from Independence Hall.

3. The Love

Stephen Starr’s posh Love dishes creative American fare with global accents in Center City. Artfully presented plates like tuna tartare tacos, chicken liver mousse, and dry-aged steaks wow diners in the stylish dining room. Make reservations for this upscale hot spot offering innovative takes on flavors.

4. El Vez

Check out El Vez in Center City for fun Mexican dishes and cocktails. The lively ambiance matches the bold nachos, fajitas, and margaritas menu. Weekend brunch brings out favorites like the Mayan French toast and Mexican bloody mary bar. El Vez provides a festive Mexican dining experience with flavorful tacos and enchiladas.

5. The Dandelion

This Stephen Starr establishment summons an authentic British pub in Center City with updated takes on fish and chips, Scotch eggs, and sticky toffee pudding. The Dandelion pairs familiar British comfort dishes with an impressive whiskey list. The charming two-floor space makes an ideal dining destination before catching a show at the Kimmel Center.

6. Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse

Experience Brazil’s churrascaria tradition at Fogo de Chão in Center City, where succulent meats are carved tableside over an all-you-can-eat feast. The salad bar, Brazilian cheese bread, and caipirinha cocktails perfectly complement the skewered sirloin, lamb chops, and bacon-wrapped chicken. With authentic Brazilian hospitality and cuisine, this steakhouse is ideal for celebrations and groups.

7. Double Knot

Down an alley in Midtown Village lies the basement izakaya Double Knot, serving Japanese comfort food and craft cocktails. From steaming ramen bowls to sushi rolls to duck fried rice, the pan-Asian small plates tantalize. The dark, moody interior provides an intimate vibe for trying inventive culinary mashups.

8. Sampan

Sampan focuses on unique interpretations of Southeast Asian flavors for dinner in Center City. Share plates like lobster wontons, Malaysian street corn, and five-spice roasted beef short rib in the whimsical dining room. Grabbing drinks in the kitschy Orchid Bar upstairs is an experience.

9. Bud & Marilyn’s

This retro nouveau American restaurant in East Passyunk charms diners with reimagined comfort classics. Bud & Marilyn’s menu ranges from crispy pork schnitzel to chicken pot pie to chocolate cake in a jar, accented by house-made sausages and pickles. The laid-back neighborhood eatery offers a delightful meal.

10. Giuseppe & Sons

In a cozy setting, family-run Giuseppe & Sons plates homemade pasta and other rustic Italian specialties in the Italian Market. From stuffed artichokes to linguine vongole to veal parmigiana, old-world techniques and recipes inspire the menu. Snag a table to taste authentic flavors in the heart of South Philly.

With mouthwatering dishes and innovative chefs, Philadelphia dazzles foodies’ palates at restaurants throughout the city. Enjoy memorable meals at these top dining establishments on your next visit.

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Philadelphia is a premier East Coast destination with its impressive history, arts, culture, cuisine, and more. This comprehensive travel guide highlighted the top attractions, shopping, dining, and transportation options that make Philly an ideal getaway.

Visitors can immerse themselves in Revolutionary-era history at Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Major museums like the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation showcase impressive art collections. For shopping, venues like the Shops at Liberty Place and Reading Terminal Market offer varied retail therapy. Philly’s dining scene impresses at restaurants like Parc, The Dandelion, and Fogo de Chão. Getting around town in style is accessible with a luxury ride from Lavish Ride.


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