What to see, do and eat in Philadelphia

What to see, do and eat in Philadelphia


The heritage blitz should start at the Independence National Historical Park (nps.gov/inde), which hosts several key buildings from the founding of the United States. Most important of these is Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were debated, drafted and signed. Guides properly ham it up, and plenty of the original furniture is still in place.

Opposite is the National Constitution Center (constitutioncenter.org), which is surprisingly engrossing. There are lots of touchscreens, individual stories and decisions to make among the timeline-based displays. Also nearby is the third in a worthy trio, the Museum of the American Revolution (amrevmuseum.org). This tells the story of the War of Independence, with grandiose displays and dioramas. It is also full of trivia titbits — did you know, for example, that Great Union Flag — which had the Union Jack in the corner rather than stars — could have ended up as the US flag?


Grandiose displays: Redcoats at the Museum of the American Revolution (K Huff for PHLCVB) The Philadelphia Museum of Art (philamuseum.org) is one of the world’s great art museums — particularly when it comes to Van Gogh and French impressionists. But those of more lowbrow tastes will be drawn to the steps at the front — which were immortalised by Sylvester Stallone in the first Rocky film when he ran up and down them as part of his training. Not all of Philly’s art scene is so traditional, though. Street art murals can be found all over the city, especially along South Street, and Philadelphia Mural Arts (muralarts.org) runs several walking tours, costing from $23. The city’s must-do, however, is the atmospheric Eastern State Penitentiary (easternstate.org). This was the template for hundreds of prisons around the world. Stay The Study at University City (thestudy​atuniversitycity.com) has a playful educational theme to go with its calming light wood rooms. Museum exhibits are dotted around the lobby — whether cabinets full of feathers or a secret draw containing Babylonian artefacts. Doubles cost from £184. Eat Eat up: Reading Terminal Market (Shutterstock) Reading Terminal Market (readingterminalmarket.org) is part-market, part-posh food court. You can get your token Philly cheesesteak sandwich here, but options include everything from fresh fish to sinful cookies. In the evening pick East Passyunk Avenue, with its buzzy bars and restaurants. Get chatting over locally made spirits at the Manatawny Still Works (manatawnystillworks.com), then experiment with a Jewish twist on Chinese small plates at Bing Bing Dim Sum (bingbingdimsum.com).  Details British Airways (ba.com) flies direct to Philadelphia from Heathrow, with return flights costing from £301. For more information, visit discoverphl.com. More about: | Philadelphia | City Guide | City break | Travel ideas | Trip ideas