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Philadelphia City Trip

Center City in Philadelphia, Pennslyvania

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Where to Stay Where to Eat What to See & Do

PHILADELPHIA DAY 2: Society Hill, Independence Seaport Museum and Lights of Liberty Show

Depending on where you're staying, Society Hill may be an easy stroll away, or you can hop aboard a westbound SEPTA bus or take a cab if it's raining. No area of Philadelphia is too big to traverse on foot, but there are other options. Horse-drawn carriage rides are popular in this part of town, and the PHLASH visitor's bus is a cheap and easy way to see the major sites. A stock trading company, The Free Society of Traders, which was associated with Pennsylvania founder William Penn, established Society Hill in the 1680s. Many members of the fledgling federal government lived in this now-restored neighborhood when the city served as the nation's capital.

The Physick House in Philadelphia, Pennslyvania

Explore the neighborhood at your leisure, taking in the architecture and discovering the neighborhood's hidden alleys and winding walkways. The Society Hill boundaries are generally defined as between Second Street and Washington Square Park on Fifth Street. Walnut Street marks the northern perimeter, and Lombard Street is the southernmost boundary. Buildings open to the public include the Powel House and the Hill-Physick-Keith House (commonly known as the Physick House). Built in 1765, the Powel House was owned by the last mayor of Philadelphia while it was still under the rule of the Crown, and subsequently the first mayor after the U.S. became the new Republic.

Dr. Philip Syng Physick, known as the Father of American Surgery, inhabited the Physick House from 1815 to 1837. If you're looking for historical facts about other buildings in Society Hill, just keep your eyes open for the navy blue signs posted around. End your tour near the southern end of Society Hill, and walk one block down to South Street.

At Fourth Street you will likely see a line of locals and tourists extending outside Jim's Steaks. Here's your chance to get a taste of a Philly cheesesteak dripping with grease, but be sure you know the proper way to order or risk the wrath of the employees. If you say, "a cheesesteak wit'", that means with fried onions; "wit' Whiz" means onions and a generous swab of processed cheese goo. Provolone is another option.

Savor a meal at Pat's King of Steaks in Philadelphia, Pennslyvania

If you're seeking a splashier cheesesteak experience, walk about 10 minutes (or take a cab or bus) down to the heart of South Philly. At the intersection of Passyunk, Ninth and Wharton Streets, you'll find the mini-Times Square hullabaloo of Pat's King of Steaks and its across-the-street competitor Geno's Steaks. Both are open 24/7. Each claims to be the originator of the cheesesteak and boasts its share of addicts. Do a taste test if you're feeling especially hungry and have no preexisting heart condition. But just know that Philadelphians have strong opinions about the cheesesteak and the debate about the best rages on. Some will even tell you that the best version is further south, at John's Roast Pork.

If you're not a meat eater, there are plenty of establishments on South Street for lunch with Greek, Middle Eastern and other vegetarian options. Either way, make your way back east, taking in the curious and crowded social scene. Pierced teenagers loiter outside trendy clothing boutiques, while throngs of suburbanites park their SUVs to make a weekend afternoon of visiting the cafés, bars and shops. Continue down toward Penn's Landing. This is a stretch along the Delaware River where William Penn is said to have landed. It is a nice spot for a stroll or a picnic, and you can watch the boats cross by in front of your view of New Jersey on the Delaware's eastern side. If you visit during the summer, you can also check out one of the dazzling pop-up parks on the city's piers, such as Spruce Street Harbor Park.

Linger here for a while and visit the Independence Seaport Museum, or head back to your hotel for a rest before dinner. Consider dropping in for a drink and delicious tapas at Tria, where there are many imported beers and wines by the glass and fantastic cheese plates.

The Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, Pennslyvania

Dine tonight at Vedge, for a taste of phenomenally creative vegan fare that will have even meat eaters questioning their lifestyle choices. Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby's nationally recognized eatery puts vegetables at the center of the plate with a daily "dirt list" and dishes like rutabaga fondue with soft pretzel, roasted maitake mushroom with smoked leek remoulade and dairy-free meyer lemon cheesecake with chocolate-bergamot dust.

Check out Talula's Garden for exacting farm-to-table cooking and exceptional cheeses. Or go Mexican for great margaritas and guacamole at El Vez, or across the street at the modern-Mex boite Lolita. For outstandingly original Mediterranean fare, try vegetarian-friendly Barbuzzo from the same owners, also on the 13th Street restaurant corridor.

Getting your second wind? Catch an independent art film at one of the Landmark theaters in and about Old City, or check out the Lights of Liberty show at Independence Park. The show depicts the area's historical events with images projected on buildings and monuments.

Continue to Day 3

* Cheese steak sandwich image courtesy of Pat's King of Steaks


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