Some cities are worth a stop for their curb appeal. Others draw visitors because of their theatre, sports, or craft beer scene. When it comes to Philadelphia, I'm there for the history. The city dates all the way back to 1682, and it's still got its claws sunk deep into the past. A solid weekend is enough time to experience the best Philly has to offer, so let's start planning 48 historical hours in the City of Brotherly Love.
The Sites to See
Philadelphia wasn't named the first World Heritage City in the United States for nothing. Make your way to the old city — the city as it was in the 1700s, from Delaware River toward 7th street and Vine Street to Lombard Street. Here, make your first stops the obvious ones: Independence National Historic Park, home to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. To see the Hall, you'll need a ticket. I suggest reserving tickets online (you'll beat the lines and know for sure you'll get in), but you can certainly walk up and try your luck if you prefer. Block off a solid afternoon for this stop, and know there's more to see on these grounds, too.
After this, you have a few options. One is to book it to Elfreth's Alley, a 12-minute walk away and the nation's oldest residential street. Whip out your camera, because this is like dreaming you're back in the 1740s. A nearby stop is the Betsy Ross house, otherwise known as the birthplace of the American flag. Then there's Christ Church Burial Ground, where you should definitely throw a penny onto Benjamin Franklin's grave. If the weather is good, Spruce Street Harbor Park is worth a stop, too.
Places to Stay
No historic trip sits well if the nights are spent in a Comfort Inn near the airport. Philadelphia has plenty of InterContinental Hotels Group hotels in the historic district, like Hotel Monaco, Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District, the Morris House Hotel, and the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn's Landing, just to name a few. With so many to choose from, one will most certainly meet both your needs and your budget.
Spots to Dine
I know what you're thinking: cheesesteak. People will talk to you about Pat's and Geno's (Pat's being the oldest steak shop around), but locals don't really buy into it. In the historic district, there's also Sonny's and Campo's. However, I recommend Jim's at 4th and South. You've got to try it to believe it.
When it comes to libations, a memorable experience is the only kind of experience on the docket at City Tavern. Everything from the age of the Founding Fathers is recreated, down to the garb the staff is wearing and even the recipes. Ales of the Revolution is a Yards Brewing Company beer served at the tavern, and it's based on recipes found in Jefferson's, Franklin's, and Washington's notes. The spot is totally family-friendly, and there's good food on a large menu full of colonial haute cuisine too.
Independence Beer Garden is a good way to wind down the night costume free, and for breakfast, try High Street on Market. For somewhere a little more special, hit up La Peg, a French-inspired brasserie.
And after all is said and done, sometimes a city like Philadelphia just needs to be walked. Marvel at the architecture, stop on a patio for an aperatif, and take a moment to picture the city as it once was — full of cart paths, men in wigs, and a burgeoning American spirit. Few other cities can compare.