Let’s start by saying this – Jeremy is a HUGE Sylvester Stallone fan. Of course, that means he has always wanted to run up the famous Rocky steps in Philadelphia. We did a day trip to Philly in 2012 for that very reason, but didn’t see much else in the City of Brotherly Love. With an impromptu trip to NYC, we decided that we’d take a few days to explore Philadelphia properly! We had such a great time, and here are our top 10 things to see and do in Philly:
1. Visit the One Liberty Observation Skydeck to see the city from above
By now you probably know how much Jeremy loves his towers, but who doesn’t love seeing a city from above in all its glory? Especially at magic hour, watching the golden sun kissing the city goodnight. The One Liberty Observation Skydeck is modern, and it feels like they’ve tried hard to make the skydeck interesting – a place you want to hang out in. They have little tables around with various board games on them, so you can entertain yourself while you’re waiting for the sky to change. And like they say, it’s viewtiful up there!
2. Run up the famous Rocky steps
This is the reason we knew about Philadelphia at all to begin with. There’s a Rocky statue at the bottom of the steps, plus a Rocky sign and footprints at the top of the steps. Even though there’s so much more to do in Philly, you can’t miss this one out! There are always people running up and doing the Rocky pose, which is pretty fun to watch.
3. Grab a bite at the Reading Terminal Market
We were overwhelmed at the Reading Terminal Market – so many colours, smells, and a huge number of different vendors. You can spend hours just wandering around, sampling bits and pieces from each stall. We had our very first funnel cake here, topped with whipped cream and strawberries. Mmmm!
4. Visit the prison that once housed ‘Al Capone’
The Eastern State Penitentiary is filled with history and fascinating stories – this very prison was once home to ‘Scarface’ Al Capone and ‘Slick Willie’ Sutton! The audio tour is great, and though it can be a little chilly in winter – the prison looks incredible covered in snow. It’s definitely an interesting way to spend a couple of hours.
5. Try a Philly Cheesesteak – even if you’re vegetarian or vegan!
We love food. Like really love food. Recently we’ve become vegetarians but don’t like to let that stop us from trying the iconic dishes in each city. We dropped by Wiz Kid and tried their vegan Philly Cheesesteak – it was delightful! You’ve got to get the Appleade as well if you’re heading there. Govindas Philly is another place with super delish vegetarian fare – a huge menu, plus it’s cheap and filling.
6. Step into a world of mosaic magic
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens are exactly what it says on the tin – magical! Created by the artist Isaiah Zagar, everything is covered in mosaics and colourful art. It felt similar to Gaudi in Barcelona, but with a unique spin. There are some great videos about Zagar in the studio, and we’d love to come back when it’s not so snowy to really explore the garden!
7. Soak up some history at the Liberty Bell and Elfreth’s Alley
What’s a visit to a city without taking in a little history? We visited the Liberty Bell – one of the most famous symbols of America’s Independence, and saw the iconic crack. It’s pretty easy to visit and it’s free! We also made our way to Elfreth’s Alley – America’s oldest residential street. It’s so cute, with cobblestones and so much character.
8. Embrace the cold weather at Blue Rink Winterfest
Who doesn’t love drinking hot cocoa while being surrounded by thousands of fairy lights? Most Christmas winter markets end pretty quickly in January, but Philly’s Blue Cross Riverrink Winterfest goes all the way until March! They have ice skating, fire pits with smores kits, and an entire area themed like a ski lodge in the mountains. We were lucky enough to have our own little cabin rental as well, where we sipped hot drinks and played some games. There’s plenty of food, drink, an arcade and ice skating – enough to keep you happily entertained all night.
9. Refresh with a quick drink at Second District Brewing
We stopped in to sample some of the craft beers at Second District Brewing. The atmosphere was super chilled, with plenty of interesting beers on tap. The cool thing about Second Brewing is they have a big range of sizes – you can order little tasters of the different beers before deciding which one you’re wanting to settle on.
10. With love from Philadephia
In Philly, you have to get a picture with the famous LOVE sign. When the LOVE sign is being cleaned, or there are renovations in the park – you can find the AMOR version. We think this is just as cute! It’s definitely easy to fall in love with Philly, and we’ll be back! If you have any questions about Philadelphia or want more info, feel free to hit us up at [email protected]! Huge thanks to the Visit Philly team and especially Jenea for being incredible hosts while we were there – as always, all opinions are our own. Happy travels everyone!