Philadelphia Travel Tips
Keep in Mind...
- Nice neighborhoods sidle not-so-nice ones If you're planning on touring Philly by foot, make sure to carry a good map and be aware of your surroundings.
- America's birthday is crazy Unless you want to be enveloped in the crowds, festivals, fireworks and overall madness that define July 4, steer clear of Independence Day.
- Keep the car parked Walking or hopping aboard a trolley are much less stressful ways of touring the city.
With its rich historical heritage, Philadelphia is one of the United States' most visited cities. After all, both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were signed here in Independence Hall. Renaissance man Benjamin Franklin once called this city home. And before Washington, D.C. usurped its role, Philadelphia served as the country's capital. Yet the city is far from being stuck in its glorious past. The Philly of today is filled with notable museums, bumping nightlife, beloved sports teams and a thriving restaurant scene that encompasses more than just the ubiquitous cheese steak.
How To Save Money in Philadelphia
- Cash in on the free attractions Several of the most popular attractions, like the Liberty Bell Center, Independence Hall and Rittenhouse Square are absolutely free to tour. And for those that aren't, you can nab some impressive discounts by purchasing a Philadelphia CityPASS.
- Head to the theater for free or discounted tickets The Kimmel Center offers a series of free shows, and the Walnut Street Theatre offers $10 tickets for back-row seats.
- Buy some restaurant discounts Websites like Restaurant.com and Philly Half Off offer price breaks on local restaurants.
Philadelphia Culture & Customs
Philadelphia is known for having a laid-back vibe and a very diverse and accepting atmosphere. It's not called the City of Brotherly Love for nothing. Philly is home to a huge number of ethnic neighborhoods and one of the largest gay communities in the United States. In fact, one of the first gay rights protests in the country occurred outside of Independence Hall; the tourism board has even once had a "Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay" campaign. The local "gayborhood," the heart of the community, sits in Center City in a block bordered by Chestnut, Pine, 11th and Broad Streets.
While you're in town, be sure to step back and admire some of the city's unique collection of public art, including everything from sculptures to fountains and murals. Graffiti murals even are sometimes commissioned in an attempt to make Philadelphia a "museum without walls." The endeavor is a prime example of the city's well-known grassroots culture. Perhaps as a vestige of Philly's storied revolutionary history, residents here have a reputation for being very involved in their communities and local activities.
Philadelphia's dining scene has experienced a food makeover in recent decades. These days, new dining establishments continue to pop up all over the city. The more pricey restaurants are around trendy Old City. You can enjoy French, Indian and Japanese food in Center City. Head to South Philly or Center City for simple Italian cuisine.
But no trip to the city would be complete without tasting a soft pretzel or a Philadelphia cheese steak. A hoagie-like sandwich made with thin slices of steak and cheese and often accented with onions, peppers and mushrooms, Philly's trademark sandwich is best experienced in South Philly. Recent travelers specifically recommend the area's Italian Market for your own customized cheese steak, but Pat's King of Steaks and Geno's Steaks are also popular stops.
BYOB (bring your own bottle) establishments abound in Philly and can help keep you within budget, since you can pick up your own libations and take them to the restaurant. Call ahead if you're unsure about a certain establishment's BYOB policies.