Philadelphia is a city with a lot of history, a lot of brotherly love, and a smorgasbord of places to try cheesesteaks. No, seriously – there’s a ton. I’ll get into that a little bit later.
While many people are aware of the fact that Philadelphia has a lot of history within it’s city borders, some people are surprised to know that there’s more history and culture to experience outside of the Liberty Bell and Independence Mall. If you’re someone that’s in the city for the upcoming holiday, someone that’s planning a visit to the city soon, or someone who wants to venture to some of the gems beyond just the above sites that I’ve mentioned, I’ve got some suggestions for you!Experience #Philly like some of the locals do by visiting some of these places! #traveling Click To Tweet
- Mural Arts Tour: If you drove up here or have a really nice Uber driver that you’re willing to pay to take your around, I would definitely recommend going on a tour of all of the murals around the city. You can also see it by foot! It’s a great way to see the parts of the city that you typically would not see on a school trip to Philadelphia. It’s also a great opportunity to see some of the beautiful murals that exist around the city.
- University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology: Aside from the fact that UPenn is a pretty prestigious school, they also have an impressive museum that includes artifacts and a beautiful outdoor garden. It’s also large enough that you can spend quite a bit of time admiring the exhibits there.
- Mummers Museum: The Mummers Parade is an annual, New Year’s Day parade that includes creative floats and performances from various mummer groups. This museum, which opened in 1976, details the history of the mummers and is free!
- Italian Market: Have you seen Rocky? Well, remember that market that the beloved protagonist in that film ran through during the infamous scene that ends with running up the Art Museum steps? That was the Italian Market and there’s more to it than just that! There are delicious bakeries and restaurants where you can try Italian – even Mexican – cuisine. There’s also a few stores where you can shop and pick up some groceries if you’d like to take some back to the hotel, Air BnB, or friend/relative’s home where you’re staying at for the weekend.
- Mütter Museum: This museum is not your typical museum in any sense of the word. There’s exhibits that included bodies of conjoined twins, and enough human cadavers to make your head spin.
- Magic Gardens: Magic Gardens, located on South Street in Center City, is full of beautiful, mosaics. The artist used trash and turned it into something worth treasuring for years! The exhibit also includes different levels to the outdoor space that’s covered in mosaics and recycled goods that have been turned into art. It’s truly something you’d have to see to believe!
- Waterworks Museum: This museum gives you the low-down on how the Philadelphia Waterworks (behind the Art Museum) came to be and it’s free! It’s underground and is one of the coolest, free museums you’ll see in the city!
- City Hall: Did you know that City Hall has opportunities to tour it’s building? Well, they do and they have an awesome feature where you can actually take an elevator up to the observation deck under William Penn’s boots. It’s crazy thinking that as heavy and as large as the William Penn statue is on top of City Hall, this open-air observation deck can hold it’s weight. Did I mention the tour of the tower is only $8?
- One Liberty Observation Deck: My husband and I went here around the time it first opened and man, is it cool! It includes information about the city and a panoramic view of the city of Philadelphia. You might be able to see the place where you’re staying from there. It is more expensive than the City Hall observation deck, but it’s also a lot higher.
- Schuylkill River Trail: Recently, the City of Philadelphia added this beautiful trail to Kelly Drive, which follows the Schuylkill River for miles and miles. This trail is connected to the South Street, Chestnut, Walnut, and Market Street Bridge that crosses the river, and actually goes a few feet above the water.
- Wissahickon Gorge Trail: Do you like to hike? Well, you’ll love this scenic 57-mile trail! It goes along the Wissahickon Creek and has some information within it’s trail as well that might be interesting to my fellow history buffs out there!
- South Bowl: If you’re looking for an unforgettable bowling experience, I would definitely recommend South Bowl, in South Philadelphia. Developed by the same company that created North Bowl in Northern Liberties, it includes arcade games, delicious food, a bar, and even an outdoor deck.
- Spruce Street Harbor: Although seasonal as it’s only open during the warmer months, this attraction includes beer, chicken sandwiches, and life-size chess pieces to play with. Okay, maybe that’s the short list of it because there’s seriously a ton to do there. There’s giant Connect4, giant Jenga, tether ball, waterfront bocce, shuffleboard courts, a hammock that dangles right over the river, and a lot of food trucks to try. Best days to go would be during the week or as soon as they open, because it gets pretty crowded pretty fast.
- Franklin After Hours: If you happen to be in the city and available on a Tuesday night, the Franklin Institute hosts a Franklin After Hours event for adults 21+. While going during the normal hours can make it difficult to enjoy because it can be crowded and full of school groups, the monthly, Tuesday events are perfect for getting an opportunity to explore the museum with other adults only. No shade to the kiddos, but I’ve gone to the Franklin Institute during the week and it can be a nightmare trying to see everything when there’s a ton of school groups there. Each event has a theme such as a “prom” or “80s” and includes different activities outside of the normal or traveling exhibitions.
- Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum: While I have not gone to this place, myself, it is now on my list of places to go as it’s something that even as a native I was not aware of. If you like the annual auto show, you’d love this place!
- Yards Brewing Company: This Philadelphia-based brewery is a favorite among some of the locals and they have opportunities for you to taste them! If you’re looking to try new beers or even learn more about how Yards brews it’s beers, I would definitely recommend.
- Chestnut Hill Shoppes: This area, beginning at the 8400 block of Germantown Avenue in the Suburban area of Philadelphia has some wonderful boutiques and restaurants along the corridor. It may not be as large as King of Prussia, but there’s a lot to do there and a lot of places to try! There’s a cheese shop that sells almost every cheese you could think of and a pretzel shop right next to it. Growing up, my family and I would grab sharp cheeses, pepperoni, and soft pretzels almost once a month from that area.
- Local Cheesesteaks: You can’t come to Philly without trying the Philly cheesesteak! While most people only know of Pats and Geno’s when it comes to trying the infamous Philly Cheesesteak, there are actually several places you can go where they make amazing steaks and this is coming from a Philly native. If you only have a weekend to spare, I would recommend that you try some of the best steak places known by some of the locals such as Gooey Louie’s. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, I would recommend Max’s on Broad and Erie. It’s a really good cheese steak, but the area is not somewhere you’d want to be caught roaming into at certain times of the day.
- Govinda’s: If you’re vegan or vegetarian, Govinda’s is a place I’d definitely recommend. I was introduced to this place by a mentor of mine, who does not eat meat. Even I was amazed as a meat-eater by it’s similarity to some of my favorite meats.
- Greg’s Kitchen: This is one of my husband and I’s favorite places to eat brunch. It’s technically in Manayunk, but it’s still within city limits and not quite Montgomery County. Not only are they super friendly there, but they serve really good food. The vibe of the cafe is very homey, which I absolutely love. You can typically find the owner of the restaurant in the back cooking breakfast for his guests alongside his colleagues.
- Cafe Lutecia: This place has one of the best, iced mocha coffees that I’ve had from a local cafe. Aside from their delicious coffee, this French cafe has some delicious food. The people working there are always so kind, the ambiance very Parisian and the food tastes amazing. If you go there, I would recommend getting the goat cheese and pepper appetizer to munch on while you wait for your food. It has oil, garlic, roasted red peppers, goat cheese and is served alongside bread. My husband and I get it every time.
- Roast Pork: My husband insisted that I add this to the list and as much as I giggled when he initially said this, he’s right. There are some delicious places in Philly that I would recommend you go to when looking for roast pork. There’s John’s Roast Pork in South Philadelphia, Dinic’s in Reading Terminal (also has roast beef), and Nick’s in South Philadelphia as well. The latter option is located in a bar, but you would be amazed how good their pork sandwich is. They also have gravy fries.
- Little Baby’s Ice Cream: While I’m not entirely sure about the origin or inspiration for the name of the ice cream shop, I am certain that it’s flavors are unique and thus ones you’d like to try at least once. Who would’ve thought that Earl Grey tea and Sriracha could actually work together? If you’re feeling adventurous, you should stop by this shop in Kensington or University City and visit the pizza museum that shares the same building as it.
- Federal Donuts: Donuts and fried chicken are such a magical combination that Federal Donuts has provided for it’s customers. While there are a couple of locations around the city, the recipe and quality of the food remains the same. They also sell gourmet donuts in flavors that you wouldn’t even imagine. It’s amazing and I would definitely recommend it.
- Franklin Fountain: This ice cream place is another place I would recommend for a cold treat on a warm day. It’s right in Old City, which is really close to some of the infamous, historical sites that people typically travel to when visiting Philadelphia for the first time or while on a school trip. If you go, I would definitely recommend the green tea ice cream!
In addition to this list, there’s a lot more to do and plenty of things to explore in Philadelphia. Feel free to send me a tweet at @chickenandbliss or comment below for more recommendations on some pretty cool places!
What are some cool gems that you would recommend in your city?