Travel Blog

Get to know Philly, NYC’s smaller but popular neighbour

If you find yourself visiting the City that never sleeps – then we recommend a visit to its fascinating neighbour Philadelphia! A city rich in history, culture, great food and a long list of fun and exciting things to do.

How long should you spend here? Where should you go? How should you get around? We decided to speak to an expert to get the down-low on everything there is to know about travelling in Philadelphia. We sat down with Jason Fried, a local guide with Urban Adventures, who knows the city inside and out and gives visitors a local insight to this destination each and every day.

1.How long do you recommend people stay when visiting Philadelphia to get the most out of their experience?

One year. I’m serious. There is so much depth and character to the city and to Philadelphians, and it’s only after you meet people, frequent the local businesses, explore each unique neighbourhood, and experience the seasons that you really get the most out of your experience. Realistically, I know a year isn’t possible for everyone, so my advice is to stay as long as you possibly can. You won’t run out of things to do and areas of the city to explore.

2. If they are looking for accommodation, where’s the best neighbourhood to stay for travellers?

For travellers, I’d recommend the Rittenhouse neighbourhood. It’s a beautiful, historic area, it’s a central location to so many of Philly’s amazing highlights, and there’s no shortage of cafés, restaurants, bars and nightlife.

3. Can you give us your top 5 must see/ things to do?

  1. Explore Historic Philadelphia. This includes the iconic Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, multiple historic churches, historic homes and buildings with relevance and importance during the founding of the United States. Our Urban Adventures tour History in HD is one of our most popular tours and gives a good overview of Philly and US history.
  2. Discover Philadelphia’s Art Scene. This includes discovering the over 4,000 public murals, the mosaics in the Magic Gardens, and the world-class Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Rodin Museum and the countless local galleries… just to name a few. The Magic Gardens is also one of the stops on our Markets, Mosaics & Magic tour.
  3. Browse Philadelphia’s Markets. Reading Terminal Market, the 9th Street Italian Market, and Philly’s many farmers’ markets are all fantastic. You can explore 9th Street on our Italian Market Immersion tour.
  4. Catch a Neighbourhood Festival. The themes range from art, to food, beer and holiday celebrations all over the city. During the summer months, we run various pop-up festival tours to coincide with major celebrations.
  5. Eat and drink! The quality, variety and affordability of the food in Philly is amazing – high-end restaurants, places featuring Philly immigrant communities, BYO neighbourhood spots and food trucks. Philly is also a world-class beer city with over 80 breweries in the area and growing. You can try some of these beers on our Philly on Tap tour.

4. Food (and drinks) – plays a large part in while people travel. Where should people go to get a true Philly experience?

The neighbourhoods. Each neighbourhood has its own style and variety of food, and there are many places where you’ll find something completely unique and unmatched. Top neighbourhoods for food include Old City, Northern Liberties, Fishtown, South Philly/East Passyunk and Fairmount.

5. While we are on food – what’s your favourite typical Philadelphia meal?

It’s difficult to pinpoint a typical Philadelphia meal, because we have such a variety and depth of food in this city! My favourite would have to be a seasonal selection of locally grown vegetables, along with homemade pasta, bread made from scratch, and a water ice (you may know it as Italian ice) as a refreshing dessert.

6. Is it easy for people to get around the city? What are your recommendations for travelling between places?

Yes, it’s very easy to explore Philly. Walking is always my favorite way to get around. If your destination is too far to walk, taking a bike is the next best option, or public transportation (bus, trolley or subway depending on where you’re heading), and there’s always Uber/Lyft.

Philadelphia Merchants Exchange

7. Any unique experiences that people may not know they can do in Philadelphia?

Hiking the Wissahickon Trail is one of my favorite things to do in Philly. Set within an amazing 10,000-acre city park (Fairmount Park), you’re transported in to the woods, next to a rushing stream with little waterfalls, and a quiet, peaceful setting. Travellers are shocked that this place is within city limits of Philly.

Street Art in Philadelphia

8. If people are looking for somewhere to go at night, where would you recommend for a quiet drink or a night on the town?

For a quiet drink, I’d recommend the back garden of The Cambridge. The beer and cocktail lists are fantastic, and it’s a great, relaxing setting. For a night on the town, I’d recommend one of our dozens of beer gardens. Spruce Street Harbor Park and Independence Beer Garden are both great options, and the Philadelphia Horticultural Society has seasonal rotating locations each year.

9. Any other tips or anything else important you would like to add?

Come to Philly hungry, thirsty and ready to explore. Make sure you talk to locals – Philadelphians are very proud of their city and love every opportunity to show it off to visitors. If you ask for their opinions or recommendations, Philadelphians will happily give it to you, and don’t be surprised if you make a new friend in the process!

 

If this has got you excited to visit this amazing city and you want a fuss free way to add these local experiences into your itinerary then we suggest adding an Urban Adventures tour into your schedule. In Philadelphia, Urban Adventures offer everything from a 2-hour Philly On Tap tour to help you experience the local beer scene, to a 2-hour History in HD tour to show you the iconic landmarks that shaped America. You can even create your own private tour to incorporate all of the exciting things you’d like to experience from their great range of tours.

Contact us to find out more about how to add an Urban Adventure tour to your itinerary!

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