First visit, getting dumped off in the middle of town. What do I need to do? Interests: art, history, beer, food. Sugestions? (more visits will happen in the future, but where should I start?)
Food: Reading Market at 12th and Filbert. (There used to be a good brew pub across the street from there; it’s changed names, I don’t know if it’s still a brew pub or not.)
Art: The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts at Broad and Cherry.
History: Independence Hall/Liberty Bell at 6th and Chestnut. From there walk over to Ben Franklin’s house (between Market and Chestnut, between 3rd and 4th).
Used Books: The Book Trader, 2nd Street just above Market.
That’s a big restaurant area, also, so you can pick a place that looks good – anything from sandwiches to fancy stuff.
The brew pub that twickster referred to is gone, replaced by a sports bar. Assuming “the middle of town” is Center City, then your beer and food needs can be met by Monk’s Cafe; it’s about 7 blocks from City Hall.
What was the second prize?
My suggestion for history: go to the Independence Visitor’s Center, get a free ticket to see Independence Hall, take a look at whatever the exhibit they have there is, and pick up a map. Be sure to see the Liberty Bell. The historic part of the city is pretty compact, so check out your map and go for a good wander. I absolutely guarantee that by doing so you’ll stumble across something neat.
As for food, I have no clue beyond you should get a pretzel. It must be from a street vendor, and it must be slathered in mustard. Only once you’ve done this will you have truly been to Philadelphia.
If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to mourn the fact that the nearest thing to a pretzel is in the frozen-food aisle of the grocery store…
Ok, thanks for the ideas.
Also, is there a canonical cheese-steak place?
eta: re: Monk’s: squeeeeee.
There are those who care deeply about cheesesteaks; I am not one of them. Most of the Big Name cheesesteak places are in places other than center city. If you want to try just any old cheesesteak – and, honestly, you can get a perfectly tasty one just about anywhere – at least one stand in Reading Market has them – there are also a couple of stands there where you can get hoagies, which I prefer for my lots-o-stuff-on-a-chewy-roll consumption.
Go to the Capital Grill for one of the the best steaks you’ve ever eaten.
The Reading Terminal stand with cheesesteaks is Rick’s, which is slated to close at the end of October. Very good steaks; get one while you can.
If you’re at the Terminal on a Wednesday afternoon, or Thursday through Saturday, don’t miss the Amish merchants. I particularly dote on the pie slices (especially the pumpkin cream cheese) and fruit breads at Bieler’s bakery.
There is still a brew pub, Independence Brew Pub, across Filbert from the Reading Terminal Market. I have no idea if it’s any good or not.
If you go to Independence Hall, be aware there’s an elaborate post-9/11 security screening procedure.
If your art interests include stained glass, and you go to Independence Hall, detour to the Curtis Building at 6th and Walnut and enjoy The Dream Garden in the lobby (enter from Sixth Street). Maxfield Parrish as interpreted by Tiffany, in mosaic form. Then cut across Walnut through Washington Square to pay your respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution.
No, that’s the one that’s a sports bar now.
And the post-9/11 security at Independence Hall isn’t as bad as it was – you can walk on that side of Chestnut Street again.