Exploring Philadelphia, PA

Last September I jetted off to a new US city, Philadelphia, not because I fancied a holiday there, but because my work is headquartered there. But! I did luck out and the Monday was Labo(u)r Day. Since we landed lunchtime on Sunday that meant 1.5 days to play tourist before work began. Amazing!

What wasn't so amazing was that Philly was going through a heatwave, so it was around 34-8°C... not so fun when we were out and about; inside it's obviously super air-conditioned. But we persevered because we wanted to make the most of exploring the city before work began. 

What to see:
The number one thing you should do is go to Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, which is incredible so I've blogged about it here. It's truly an amazing space, and probably my favourite place in the city. It's just super cool, so visit and then have a mooch around the neighbourhood to spot some more of Isaiah Zagar's mosaic murals.

The other thing that you must do is take a visit to the Eastern State Penitentiary. Tickets cost $21 (around £16.50), which includes a rather insightful audio tour narrated by Steve Buscemi. Famous inmates include Al Capone - and Pep the dog! Horrific to think though it was still a working jail until 1970 with the state of it. So inhumane, though it was considered quite a revolutionary jail when it first opened. 

Philadelphia, of course, is the place where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed so there's a lot of history in the city related to this. The most famous thing, after the declaration itself, is probably the Liberty Bell. You can just have a squiz from outside if you don't fancy the queue, though you won't be able to see the crack. And there are museums aplenty if you want to find out more about the birth of America.

If you know the film Rocky, you're going to think automatically of the Rocky Steps which he runs up whilst training. Whether you run or walk up them though, you're in an arty area where the Rodin Museum and Philadelphia Museum of Art both are. Plus behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art is the Schuylkill River area where you can amble through the parks, or even kayak down the river. 

Finally, Spruce Street Harbor Park was a cool little place by the Delaware River, overlooking New Jersey, which had street food, bars, hammocks and a band playing when we were there. And if you fancy seeing a free cinematic experience from Steven Spielberg, book The Universal Sphere in the Comcast Technology Center lobby. You even get sent a digital ride photo! (But Universal Studios it is not.)

Anything else?
If you want to know where to eat and drink - or where to avoid! - this post has got you covered. We used Ubers to get around the city, which were pretty cheap - I don't know how fair this is, but our American counterparts advised us against using public transport and to Uber. We stayed at the Sofitel in Rittenhouse Square, which was a great central location, near lots of restaurants and bars. The rooms were big as well.

And that's it really! It was cool to tick off a new city, but I don't think I would have chosen to go to Philadelphia on holiday. You can definitely drop by for a day or two, but I'd make it a stop-off on a bigger trip. Or even a day trip from NYC as the fast train only takes 70 minutes. Is Philly on your to-visit list? x

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