Philadelphia, the one that got away.
There are so many things to do in Philadelphia. It’s a city of icons like Ben Franklin and characters like Rocky. It’s a cradle of American history and UNESCO sites. It’s a city of modern skyscrapers juxtaposed against old buildings. It’s a city I want to get to know, but have only had a small introduction.
I first encountered Philly on a road trip with my dad. It was quick — we posed in front of the Liberty Bell, dropped by Independence Hall, and devoured a cheesesteak. This time, I made the 10-hour road trip alone. I attended BlogHouse Philly, a workshop for travel bloggers. My days were packed with learning and working, but there was some opportunity for playing too.
During this second introduction, I spent a few days in Philadelphia instead of a few hours. I had the opportunity to go on a walking photo tour, enjoy the weather and food at Independence Beer Garden, try some local beers at 2nd Story Brewing Co., admire the views from One Liberty Observation Deck, and hang out like the locals at Penn’s Landing beneath the twinkling lights long after the sun set.
During this visit, I discovered a lot of resources for travel in Philadelphia. Next time, I’ll have all the tools at my fingertips to plan the ultimate Philadelphia weekend power trip.
Third time’s a charm, right?
So here you go!
Travel resources to help you plan things to do in Philadelphia.
Who better to ask than the people who know Philadelphia best? The VisitPhilly tourism board is the ultimate resource to planning your trip to Philadelphia. You’ll even learn the proper etiquette to ordering your Philly Cheesesteak. From hotel packages to current events and maps to navigation guides, VisitPhilly should be your first stop when sifting through all the things to do in Philadelphia. Overwhelmed by all the information? Check out their sample itineraries. Four Philadelphia itineraries that stood out to me: best Philly Cheesesteaks tour, historic American Revolution trail, an active hiking/biking tour, and lots and lots of booze-related guides.
Explore Philadelphia on VisitPhilly.com.
Not “oowishoonoo” as I originally pronounced like a foreign word in my head, but “You Wish You Knew” — the official blog of VisitPhilly. Chock full of local happenings, Uwishunu should be checked before (and during!) your trip to find out about upcoming festivals, celebrations, performances, or new bars and restaurants. If I wanted a sneak peak into what the locals would be interested in, this would be the first website I’d check.
Read the blog at uwishunu.com.
Philadelphia Sightseeing Tours
Nothing screams “tourist” more than a bright red, double decker hop-on, hop-off bus, but I must confess my newfound fondness of them. It’s convenient. It’s easy. It’s transportation that replaces the personal headache of logistics with the brainpower and direction of a guide. Plus you’ll get an awesome elevated perspective that puts the wind in your hair. The Sightseeing Tour has 27 stops that stretch between the Philadelphia Zoo and Headhouse Square. You’ll cover a lot of ground. A one day pass is $30; two day, $32. Plus you get a map!
Check out the Philadelphia Sightseeing Tours website for more info.
Headquartered in the heart of Philadelphia is Context Travel, a tour company that specializes in small and private group tours for the intellectually curious traveler. Led by highly educated docents, a Context tour is less of an A-to-B tour and more of a rich lesson of history and culture. After all, their official social media hashtag is #deeptravel. You’ll plunge deeper than the surface level of Philly. Context has an abundant selection of tours in Philadelphia, including art walks and history tours.
Learn more about Context Travel’s Philadelphia tours.
I love reading bloggers’ personal tales and suggestions about new places. Read the Philadelphia blog posts from my fellow BlogHouse attendees for your trip-planning pleasure:
- My Philadelphia Trip Details — Clever Dever Wherever
- Visit Philadelphia and Stumbling on Unique Finds — The Thought Card
- 6 Wonderful Surprises I Wasn’t Expecting in Philadelphia — Valerie & Valise
- 5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Philadelphia — Big Travel Nut
- 6 Reasons I’m Hopelessly Devoted to Philadelphia + Philadelphia Trip Itinerary — Blond Wayfarer
- In Photos: Philly’s Chinese Lantern Festival 2016 — Sushiyama Travels
- Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary in Photos — OttsWorld
- We are Family: Visit Philly to Feel the Love — LL World Tour
- BlogHouse Philadelphia: Where the Past Met the Present — Stories My Suitcase Could Tell
- Exploring Philadelphia with BlogHouse — Postcards to Seattle
- Traveling Solo in Philadelphia: What to Do, Where to Stay — Solo Travel Girl
- Three House & Ben Franklin: Context Travel — Work Travel Tech
During this trip to Philly, I stayed at the Sonesta Hotel. Located in the heart of downtown Philadelphia, Sonesta is the ideal home-base for exploring the city.
In the past year, the hotel completed $30 million in upgrades, from high speed wifi to a wonderful rooftop pool. However, if there were a single word to describe Sonesta, it would be “artsy.” The lobby displays art for purchase from an organization of local artists (Center of Emerging Visual Artists) that rotates every six months. The facade of the hotel is a canvas for one of the largest murals in Philadelphia. Their suitably-named Art Bar features cocktails inspired by famous artists (Warhol’s “Wild Raspberries” for example).
I loved the sweet housekeeping staff, who greeted me by name every morning. I loved the hip black, white, and red decor. I loved the appreciation and emphasis of local art. I loved the beds – good lawd did I get the best sleeps ever. I loved the bathroom mirrors. Those mirrors were magic. The lighting transformed me from a sleepy nobody to the most alert-looking and best blogger ever. Magic mirrors.
Interested in rates and booking? Check out more about Sonesta Hotel.
There are so many things to do in Philadelphia, I just didn’t have the time to do them all this visit. Hopefully you have more time than me and these resources will be great tools to plan your next trip. Have you ever been to Philly? Do you have any suggestions of must-dos? Please let me know in the comments!
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of travel,
Disclaimer: Although I paid a fee to attend BlogHouse and a reduced rate to stay at Sonesta Hotel, in the spirit of full transparency, I want to disclose that the resources recommended in this post were sponsors of BlogHouse. Never fear, all opinions are my own! Not even a delicious cheesesteak or the sweet sounds of Philadelphia freedom could sway my opinion. Cheers!