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Tips and ideas about what to visit and try in one of the most important cities of the U.S.A.
For over a hundred years, Philadelphia has been a meeting place for the Founding Fathers, the capital of the newly formed United States (while Washington D.C. was still under construction), the most important city of the Pennsylvania State and, more recently, the birthplace of the famous cheese steak sandwich. So what are we waiting for? Let’s get into it and find out the American History’s roots!
I left New York, where I am currently living as an Au Pair, on Monday, July 3rd at 6.50 am by bus with my Au Pair friend Julia and we arrived in the heart of the Old City of Philadelphia at 8.50 am (Yes! This time only 2 hours trip, not like my previous trip to Chicago). It was one of those hot summer days where it was impossible to breathe. The sun was really strong that even to stop to take some pictures was really hard. I let you imagine how we came back home, the same day, after 12 hours exploring the city (better not to think about it!). After saying that, let me tell you what places need to be included in your list and you can’t miss during your tour.
The neighbourhood is known as America’s most historic square mile and the charming, creative and multi-layered district. It hosts the most important historic sites such as the Independence Hall, the birthplace of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, Liberty Bell, the famous landmark of American freedom and perseverance, The Philadelphia History Museum and the Betsy Ross House, where the legend says she created the first American flag.
PHILADELPHIA’S MAGIC GARDENS
The most colourful and creative place in the city. Surrounded by mosaics, it transformed the South Street neighbourhood into a prosperous artistic haven. You can admire the art either indoor and outdoor in this particular art museum and gallery space. The admission is only 10$ (8$ if you are a student in any school) and believe me, it is really worth it! It was definitely my favourite place.
FINANCIAL DISTRICT/MIDTOWN VILLAGE
Between the Financial District and the Midtown Village, there is the City centre of Philadelphia. You can immediately notice the difference with the Old Town. The rustic buildings are replaced by skyscrapers and modern architecture and the traffic is more intense but always less than New York. You can see the City Hall, Dilworth Park, Love Park with the famous “Love sign” (unfortunately it was closed for renovation that time) and One Liberty Observation Deck from the City Hall tower for a great 360° view of the city.
Logan Circle, also known as Logan Square, is an open-space park in the middle of one of the main streets of the city, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. It is a perfect spot to refresh during summer days thanks to the Swann Fountain which allows people to put their feet into the water and children to play inside it. It was exactly what me and my friend Julia did that day. It was so regenerating and relaxing.
If you have some extra time, you can do a quick stop to the rooftop “Assembly” at the Logan Hotel which is few feet from the fountain for a nice view of all the square. Always within a short distance there is the sign “Amor” which is pretty the same as the “Love” sign, just the words change.
For the fans of these kinds of signs, fortunately, you can take your selfies with this one while the other one is temporarily missing.
THE BENJAMIN FRANKLIN PARKWAY
The Parkway is the spine of the town which cuts it diagonally for over a mile. The name is given in honour of the Founding Father Benjamin Franklin and represents the Museum district. It starts at Philadelphia City Hall, curves around Logan Circle and ends at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. If you walk along it from the beginning, as well as you note the attractions I just mentioned, you can see: the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, The Franklin Institute, the Academy of Natural Sciences, Eakins Oval, Rocky Statue and the Philadelphia Museum of Art reachable through the famous “Rocky Steps”.
Remember to keep the tradition alive and take a picture of yourself with Rocky and your arms up!!!
Making a step back into the past, this little street is the nation’s oldest continuously inhabited residential area, where, in the 18th Century, it was the home of artisans and traders. Walking along it, I felt like the time has never gone ahead.
Last but not less important, it’s the Delaware riverfront on the East side of the city. We stopped by as the last thing to see because it is a really nice place when the sun starts to go down and the sky is painted with different shades.
You can admire the mighty Benjamin Franklin Bridge from different perspectives such as the Race Street Pier from the right side and the Morgan’s Pier from the left side. The last one is particularly nice because it offers a beautiful view of the river and it is also a meeting point for people to chill while having a drink or dinner/brunch.
I would conclude this story saying that this trip was, personally, a big surprise! I didn’t have big expectations about this city, but once I got there and found out what there was behind it, my vision of this city has completely changed. I guess knowing all the history and that there many important events happened, changing the whole America’s history, it made me feel proud I got this opportunity to visit it.
It is better to plan a 2 days trip to this city so you can also have the fantastic opportunity to discover the gastronomic culture (do not forget to try the famous cheese steak sandwich!) and the Lancaster County, not so far from Philadelphia, to delve into the Amish culture and life.