I’m taking a day trip with my 18 year old brother in two weeks to Philly. Was wondering what things we should check out. The obvious touristy and historical things of course, but also anything else cool or unique to Philly. Museums, bookstores, film, and science are also some of our shared interests.
Context travel operates in Philly. I’ve never done one in the city of botherly love, or with my brother, but I’ve taken their tours elsewhere and really enjoyed them. Here’s the link http://www.contexttravel.com/home/
Museum + science + cool/unique =The Mutter Museum.
Best used bookstore in town: The Book Trader at 2nd and Market. (I have over $300 in credit with them at the moment, not that that does you any good.) That’s right in the historic district, so you can swing by there before or after Independence Hall and Franklin Court.
For lunch, go to Reading Market at 12th and Arch (farmer’s market that’s more than 100 years old – Mennonites cheek by jowl with yuppie artisans).
There are a slew of Dopers in the area – let me know if you’d like to meet a few at lunch or dinner, we can set something up.
The University (of Pennsylvania) Museum is the best archeological museum I’ve seen. When I was a kid, I went to the Franklin Institute (a science museum) as often as I could. Anything else I used to know about is doubtless out of date, but I will second the Reading Terminal market.
I will third the Reading Terminal Market, second the Franklin Institute, and add a few others:
Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell
National Constitution Center
Tour of City Hall
Art Institute (with a statue of “Rocky” in front)
Barnes Foundation (reservations required and a bit far from downtown, but worth it)
Lobby of the Comcast Center with 85’x35’ wall screen
Camden Aquarium (just across the Delaware river from downtown)
Valley Forge National Historic Area (about 45 min. drive from downtown)
Sadly, the FI is a less sophisticated and a bit more focused on flash these days. The bits you will remember are a little neglected (the pendulum, the steam train and the heart, despite the heart-area re-design) and more attention is placed on the current traveling exhibition, the IMAX and on the new ‘flight lab’ area.
To go to Independence Hall you need to get tickets at the Constitution centre. They’re free, but are timed entry and limited.
Across the street from the centre you’ll find bus stops for all the hop on-hop off buses. There’s one good one- not the Gray line, but one that’s trolly like. $4 or so gets you all damn day and drops you off outside the Art Museum, the Rodin Museum and various other points.
If you do want to see the Rocky statue, as of last May it was around towards the back of the museum.
edit to second the Mutter.
Go to the Franklin Institute and walk through the giant heart! It’s a pretty spiffy science museum, plus, y’know, giant heart.
Apparently you can take tours of City Hall and go up in the bell tower, which I’ve never done, but I’ve heard is worth it.
And of course there’s the old city to walk around - Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell (which moved some years ago and now has a very nice exhibit), the Constitution Center, etc. If you’re lucky you may be able to have a chat with one of the Founding Fathers - there are always actors in period costume wandering around there. If you have any interest in American history, it may be worth a quick visit.
The Art Institute is definitely worth it if you’re into art. And yes, if you go, you must hum the Rocky theme as you run up the stairs - one of few totally cheesy traditions that tourists and locals alike continue.
It’s the Philadelphia Museum of Art, not the Art Institute – and I don’t know a single local who’s ever run up the steps, humming or not. The Rocky statue is at the foot of the stairs that lead up from Eakins Circle, which is at the northwest end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway – the long diagonal between the Art Museum and City Hall. News stories from Philly are usually shot from the top of those steps with City Hall in the distance.
They have a new wing, across the street, which is architecturally interesting – the spaces are small, so more “design” oriented, rather than “art” oriented, the time I went.
And let’s not overload the list – in a single day trip, you can hit the historic district in the morning and one museum in the afternoon, not much more.
Yeah, you’re right about overloading. I should have noted that while the Mutter is great, it’s miles away from anything else. If you’re walking, it’s a lot out of the way to go.
My take on a few of the things mentioned so far:
I find Valley Forge to be incredibly underwhelming. It’s mostly just a nondescript patch of rolling hills pretty much like any other patch of countryside in southeast PA… there’s a fairly small visitor center, a couple of reconstructed huts, a bit of barely recognizable earthworks… very little else.
Eastern State Penitentiary is pretty wild. It’s literally (and I do mean literally) a ruin that you’re allowed to walk through parts of on your own.
My son and I did the last time we were there, for the Cezanne exhibit. We even jumped around, fists in the air, like in-shape Rocky when we got to the top.
To the OP: Get a cheesesteak at D’Alessandro’s–best in the city. Then walk it off down the trails of the Wissahickon Creek, in Fairmount Park. Try to find the statue of Chief Tedyuscung and feed the ducks bread at Valley Green while you’re there.
Yes, but I don’t know you.
I tried, but my brother wouldn’t let me. I’d start singing the first few bars of the theme song, he’d say, “No.” Lather, rinse, repeat. It was funny. I think I did yell “Yo, Adrian!” at the top. Softly, though - I’m not a complete nerd. And my nephew’s named Adrian, really.
you can do mutter, franklin institute, and academy of natural sciences all with in walking distance of each other. the darling cafe across from the franklin institute is really yummy and great for kids. they have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!
tfi has star trek on special, the academy had geckos.
Thanks all, great suggestions. I’m wondering about the transportation situation. My only baseline for comparison is NYC which I gather is a fairly unique city. Is everything walkable, or really spread out? Are there easy buses/subways or should we be driving around?
Depends where you’re going.
SEPTA (South East Pennsylvania Transit Authority) has only two subways, the Broad Street Line which runs N/S and the Market-Frankfort line which runs E/W. Plus busses all over the place.
You can get a one-day pass that allows unlimited rides for, I think, $6 – if you get a $10 one you can also go anywhere on regional rail (train system), but you shouldn’t need that.
There’s also a tourist route called the Philly Phlash, which runs out to the Art Museum (otherwise kind of a PITA to get to), down to the historic district, etc. Again, I think it’s a flat rate for unlimited use for one day, but I’ve never taken it.
That’s it! I couldn’t remember the name. They’re really good for getting around the centre of town. We’ve used it twice while visiting the States and it’s been the easiest way to get around.
Yeah, the art museum is a pain to get out to, but the Phlash stops right into the side parking lot. You can pick it up right outside the Constitution center.