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Tour Philadelphia

Travel Tips


Falling for Philly
The City That Loves You Back

The Rocky Statue and the Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Rocky Statue and the Philadelphia Museum of Art

PHILADELPHIA TOUR: DAY 3

Stroll or catch a bus or cab west to the Rittenhouse Square area, the most upscale part of the city boasting shops, restaurants and a beautiful park. If it's a nice day, start it with fresh baked goods from the acclaimed Metropolitan Bakery on 19th Street just south of Rittenhouse Square; but if you want to get a real taste of the Philly diet, try a soft pretzel from a nearby street cart. La Colombe Torrefaction, a true French coffeehouse, serves perhaps the best coffee in the city.

Eat your breakfast on a bench or in the grass at Rittenhouse Square Park, a one-block expanse of walkways, fountains and greenery. This park serves as a meeting ground, study spot or lazy weekend hangout for people of all ages and backgrounds. It may be located in the most expensive and elegant section of the city, but the park brings people from all neighborhoods together. After strolling through the park, walk south or west through the Rittenhouse residential area. Spend the morning exploring this section, which is rich in architecture and has a pleasant sense of community. You may be reminded of a New York City neighborhood with the row homes and brick sidewalks.

From Rittenhouse, walk or take a bus or cab to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, located at the end of the long avenue known as Benjamin Franklin Parkway. A flag from every country greets visitors as they drive up the Parkway to Eakins Oval, the traffic circle in front of the famed museum steps where Rocky trained in the movie, and where his statue now stands. Inevitably you will see a few giddy visitors doing Rocky impressions as their friends cheer them on with the movie's theme song. The museum has wonderful permanent and touring exhibits that can keep you occupied for hours. It also has a great view of the city and City Hall's imposing William Penn statue from the top of its steps. Don't miss the Perelman Building, across from the main building behind an exquisitely preserved Art Deco façade. Part of an ongoing plan to modernize the museum, this gallery is home to changing exhibits that can include photography, art jewelry, paintings and more.

Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, one of the largest urban parks in the U.S.
Fairmount Park

Behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art is Fairmount Park, one of the largest urban parks in the United States. Its 8,900 acres stretch along both sides of the Schuylkill River (pronounced skoo-kill) and offer a refreshing dose of natural beauty in this metropolitan area. It's much too large to see in a day, or even two, but the area behind the museum is a great place to have a picnic or stroll. You can also rent bikes or rollerblades and zip along the paved paths. Enjoy lunch, the museum and the park in whatever order you choose. Unless you take a picnic lunch in the park, try the new Granite Hill,, London Grill, Rose Tattoo Café or Rembrandt's for lunch.

If you're still up for a little culture in the late afternoon, visit the nearby Rodin Museum or take a bus, cab or SEPTA trolley to West Philadelphia's University City, across the Schuylkill River. The home of the University of Pennsylvania plays host to a number of student-frequented shops, restaurants and attractions such as the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) and the impressive University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Time for dinner? Indulge in homemade pasta at Penne, where executive chef Roberta Adama designs delectable sauce and pasta pairings. Or make your way back across the river to Center City and north to Chinatown. There are many Asian restaurants located in this area beyond the ornate Chinese gate at Tenth and Arch Streets. We recommend Sang Kee Peking Duck House for Peking duck, Penang for Malaysian food or try healthful Taiwanese at Ray’s Café & Tea House.

Lacroix at The Rittenhouse, Philadelphia, serves French-influenced global cuisine
Lacroix at The Rittenhouse

You might consider returning to the Rittenhouse Hotel for dinner at Lacroix at The Rittenhouse, a magnificent experience of French-influenced global cuisine. There's always a scene at Rouge, right across the Square. It's a terrific place for good French-tinged American food and people watching from the outdoor terrace.

On the corner of 18th and Locust, Parc, with almost 300 seats, replicates a French brasserie, with wrap around outside seating and a menu of specialties such as salade lyonnaise with warm bacon vinaigrette and poached egg, escargots served in their shells with hazelnut butter and a crispy duck confit with frisée salad and pickled chanterelles. Matyson, on 19th Street is tops for BYOB, and Continental Mid-Town packs them in with imaginative cocktails and tapas-style offerings. The newly re-opened Oyster House on Sansom Street is the spot for pristine seafood in a friendly, lively atmosphere.

Don't forget the Philadelphia Orchestra, whose world-famous sound can be enjoyed at the impressive Kimmel Center at the corner of Broad and Spruce Streets. Pre-concert dinners may be had at nearby Bliss, for delicious lamb chops and homemade gnocchi or Estia, where delicious Greek fare rules and fresh fish is always the order of the day.

Though you should have a clearer picture of the many sides of Philly at the end of your three days, you may also find that your appetite for exploration has only just been whet. Stay a while longer if you like. The beauty of Philadelphia is that it is a small metropolis, but there's a lot to absorb. For example, the famed Barnes Collection of Impressionist Art is in Merion, a suburb of Philadelphia only 15 minutes from Center City, and is a lifetime experience. Definitely, stay a while longer, or come back again soon!

For more information, visit The Independence Visitor Center or Philadelphia's official visitors' site, www.visitphilly.com.

MORE PHILADELPHIA INFORMATION

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* The Rocky Statue and the Philadelphia Museum of Art images by Bobak Ha'Eri

(Updated: 03/21/11 BH)


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