Whether you are visiting Philly for the art, food, or history and architecture, planning a weekend visit to Philadelphia might feel overwhelming. There is always something new popping up, debates on which bites are the tastiest, and what seems like not enough hours in a day to try it all!
To get you started, here is a 3-day weekend Philadelphia itinerary that will give you a taste of some of Philly's best without making you feel burnout by the end.
- PHILADELHPIA ITINERARY -
1:00 PM: Check in at the center of it all
My favorite way to experience Philly is on foot. Traffic can get stressful (depending on the time of day) and public transit is bleh, but booking a hotel in the center of it all allows for freedom to experience whatever you want, when you want it. For farther sites, a quick Uber / Lyft / Taxi ride will do just fine.
My hotel recommendations: I loved staying at the renovated Courtyard Philadelphia Downtown overlooking city hall and the Warwick Hotel at Rittenhouse Square. They were both in optimal locations with gorgeous surroundings. Like other hotels, early check-in is hit or miss, but you can have the front desk hold your bag for free.
1:30 PM: Have lunch at Reading Terminal Market
Open during daytime hours (now extended until 6pm), Reading Terminal Market is the perfect lunch spot to refuel before a day of exploring. A national historic landmark building, the market has existed since the 1800's and offers delectable sweet, savory, and filling tastes for any palate. Be sure to bring cash as a backup; some merchants don't accept credit cards.
2:30 PM: Take panoramic Photos of the City
Head to One Liberty Observation Deck for a scenic overlook of the city and access resources for planning out your weekend. Between detailed facts about City Hall, art installations, and an interactive board that allows you to zoom in on landmarks, you'll find time flies when you're taking selfies with Philly from 57 stories high!
4:00 PM: Join a Mural-mile walking tour
Philadelphia is known for its energetic and inspiring murals, accessible to everyone. Take a self-led tour at your leisure or join a themed tour for a fee. Mural Arts Philadelphia's mural-mile tour guides you through "the world's largest outdoor art gallery". Be sure to grab a must-have photo of Philly's "LOVE" sculpture at Love Park.
7:00 PM: Dine in old-world luxury
For dinner and drinks, dine under glam chandeliers towering from 24-foot ceilings at Harp & Crown.
Kick off the evening fused with cachaca, fig, lime, and thyme from their Elfreth's Garden cocktail, and order an array of dishes served to share. My favorites include truffle pizza, Berkshire pork belly, and "Rooster's Comb mac & cheese".
9:00 AM: Start the day with ease
If you wake up with your calves and feet aching, you're feeling the effects of a day well toured. Start the day with ease by taking deep breaths, elongated stretches, and gentle yoga. DoYogaWithMe.com offers free yoga videos you can try in the comfort of your hotel room before starting your day.
For breakfast, buy a breakfast sandwich at Wawa (you can spot one by way of drooling Philadelphians -- they're obsessed) or head to Rittenhouse Square Farmers' Market on Saturdays (say hello to my friends Teddy and Faith at Plowshare Farms)!
10:30 AM: Celebrate history at Independence National Historic Park
If you can't visit Philadelphia without a visit to some of the USA's first government landmarks, walk to Old City and explore Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Surrounding are the Philadelphia History Museum, Independence Visitor Center, National Constitution Center, and the First Bank of the United States (to name a few).
For lunch: head directly across from the Liberty Bell to drink, dine, and play at the Independence Beer Garden (only open during the summer). You'll love the open-air space, oversized games, and Adirondack chairs.
4:00 PM: Bring your drink and take a hilarious history tour via trolley
There are more iconic Philly sites to see, but you'll need to hitch a ride for this one. This is where booking a tour would best fit the itinerary.
When I booked the 2-hour Historically Hilarious tour with Founding Footsteps for my bestie's bachelorette party last summer, I added it to my list of recommended activities to suggest for first-time visitors. This BYOB tour is comically brimming with historical dad jokes by way of old-fashioned trolley, but actually quite informative and a great way to sightsee 'round Philadelphia while resting your feet. This tour will also take you to the famous Rocky Steps along Benjamin Franklin parkway.
After your tour is done, walk off the laughter for a few blocks to visit Elfreth's Alley, the oldest continuously inhabited street in the country (and a super cute photo opportunity).
7:00 PM: Dine with Peruvian Flair
If you end up loving Old City as much as everyone else does, stick around for dinner and eat at Vista Peru: an authentic Peruvian restaurant and Pisco Bar. Close your eyes while enjoying the ceviche, lomo saltado, and Pisco, and you'll be transported to Lima in bliss -- trust me, I've tried it firsthand (in both Lima and Philly).
9:00 AM: Line up for Morning Glory or get funky with green eggs
For your Yelp fix, queue up for Philadelphia's popular Morning Glory Diner for breakfast (but emotionally prepare for a possible long wait) and order morning potatoes and frittatas. Alternatively, Green Eggs Cafe is but a stone's throw from your Center City hotel and often a top local recommendation. If you have a major sweet tooth, the french toast will blow your mind.
11:00 AM: Transport to a magical place
Near Sam's Morning Glory Diner is the famous Philadelphia Magical Gardens: an extensive art gallery adorned with mosaic art made from recycled materials. From the fantastical lower level to an outdoor "backyard" with twisting paths, you'll use up your camera's storage space taking photos galore.
Note: the basement is for guided tours only, and the outdoor sculpture garden is not entirely wheelchair accessible. There are also narrow stairs to watch out for.
1:00 PM: Find your favorite cheesesteak
Meat eaters can't leave Philadelphia without trying a famous cheesesteak, so head to Passyunk Square to decide once and for all whether Pat's or Geno's is the best. Or... listen to Philly locals and avoid both. Instead head to Jim's (South Street), Tony Luke's (South Philly), or farther out to Delassandro's or Max's (definitely take an Uber). #YoureWelcome
How to get to Philadelphia:
You can get to Philadelphia by air, train, bus, or car. I usually visit from NYC via car, Amtrak, NJ Transit and Septa, or Bolt Bus (these days, Amtrak is my favorite -- this 5'9" girl loves the leg room). Prices and experiences vary but if you buy your ticket more than two weeks in advance you'll get some great deals.
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