Philadelphia is a historic and vibrant city, and it’s full of hidden gems. I spent a long weekend in the city with my husband, and we were pleasantly surprised by how fun this Philly is. I put together a list of our 10 favorite spots in Philadelphia, and it’s the perfect itinerary for a long weekend! And trust me, there’s a lot more than just the Liberty Bell!
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is a nonprofit museum, located on South Street. It’s an outdoor gallery, completely covered in mosaics, bottles, bike tires, tiles, and many other mediums. You can see some of it from the street, but I recommend reserving a ticket, so you can get the full experience. You can reserve tickets on their website, and they cost $15 for general admission. I bought tickets a month in advance, which is a good idea because they sell out in the warmer months.
The Magic Gardens were created by Zagar, a local artist, who mosaicked the buildings starting in 1991. The property was almost sold, but the community came together to protect the gardens, and it was opened to the public in 2008. You can read about the full history on the Philly Magic Gardens website. This was my favorite thing in Philly because it was incredible to see so much detail in one place! It’s also an awesome photo spot, and a must visit spot for art lovers.
Elfreth’s Alley Museum is a historic street that dates back to 1703. It’s famously known as the oldest residential street in the United States, and there are still people living in the 32 homes today. Elfreth’s Alley is so charming and well preserved. I loved walking on the cobble stone street and checking out the 18th century homes. This is definitely worth visiting when you’re in Philly, so be sure to put it on your list! It’s also another great photo spot.
The Betsy Ross House is a 2 minute walk from Elfreth’s Alley, and it’s where Betsy Ross lived when she sewed the first American flag. You can pay $6 for a self guided tour, but it’s free to walk around the outside of the building and into the gift shop. I recommend stopping here, since it’s located in the Historic District, and you’ll probably be in the area anyway while doing other site seeing. It’s definitely a cool historic site, and I loved the femenist vibes in the gift shop.
When I think of Philly, the first thing that comes to mind is the Liberty Bell. It’s become a symbol of freedom and independence in the US, even though it cracked the first time it was used. It became a symbol for the women’s suffrage movement and for the abolition of slavery, and it’s definitely worth seeing on your first visit to Philly because there’s a lot of historical significance.
You do not have to reserve tickets ahead of time for the Liberty Bell, so I recommend getting there early to avoid the longer lines. But if you want to tour Independence Hall across the street, you can reserve a timed pass for $1. I used the Recreation.gov app to reserve my timed passes. Even if you’re not a history buff, this is worth checking out.
Reading Terminal Market is one of the largest and oldest public markets in the United States. If you’re a foodie like me, this is your place. The market is open daily from 8am to 6pm, and there are over 80 merchants. They have every type of cuisine you could ask for, including Cajun, Dutch, Spanish, Indian, Italian, Caribbean, Vegan, American (cheesesteaks of course) and so much more. There’s several bakeries, ice cream vendors, cafes, cheese shops, juice bars, and too many other options to list here.
My husband and I ate here several times on our trip, including for dessert. It was walking distance from our hotel and in a very central downtown location. This place is worth the visit!
6. LOVE Park + Center City
LOVE Park is an iconic photo spot in the city center of Philadelphia. There’s usually a line to take a photo with the LOVE statue, but it’s worth it if you’re not in a rush. This area is filled with amazing city views, and it’s close to City Hall. It has the hustle and bustle you’d expect in a downtown area, and the buildings are beautiful. It’s a fun area to hang out, and we spent the evening people-watching and eating nachos at a beer garden.
There’s also an AMOR sign, which I recommend checking out too!
The Benjamin Franklin Bridge is like Philadelphia’s version of the Brooklyn Bridge. You can bike or walk across it, and it connects Philly to Camden, New Jersey. The views from the bridge are great, and it was originally named the Delaware River Bridge. My husband and I enjoyed walking across the bridge, although it started raining so we didn’t walk all the way across it. If the weather is nice, it would be a lot of fun to bike across and check out Camden, New Jersey on the other side.
8. Breakfast at Luna Cafe
One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to find local breakfast spots. Luna Cafe has an amazing menu, with lots of vegetarian and vegan options. My husband ordered biscuits and gravy, and I got the tofu scramble. Everything was delicious, and the coffee was to die for! If you love breakfast as much as I do, you need to put this place on your list.