Jason Daniel Shaw
How to Spend a Few Hours in Philadelphia
Philadelphia is a great place to spend a day or even a few hours. We decided to rent a car and drive the 4-hours or so from New York City to Washington DC. Philadelphia is about half way, making it a perfect stop to get out and stretch the legs. If you, too, find yourself in the City of Brotherly Love with some free time, I have put together a list of how you can have some fun, see the sights and even learn some history along the way.
Pat’s King of Steaks | Philadelphia, PA
By the time that we crossed over from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, it was time for lunch. Being Amanda’s first time in Philadelphia, we had to stop and get an original Philly Cheese Steak (she had never even heard of a philly cheese steak before that). With Pat’s King of Steaks being the original, that was our first stop. There are instructions at the window about how to order like a local so I won’t get into that here but when it is busy, make sure to know what you want before you get to the front of the line and have practiced how to order it so that you don’t hold up the rest of us. Geno’s Steaks are also right across the street so you can even test which one is the best if you are feeling really hungry. After we finished, we figured out that we should have each ordered one from each place so that we could have decided for ourself which one is the best. One of my friends actually says to skip Geno’s and Pat’s and go to Jim’s on South Street (thanks for the recommendation Mitch) but since we only had time for one meal in Philadelphia, we will have to wait until next time to try it out. If you aren’t in the mood for a cheese steak, another option is to make a stop at Reading Terminal Market. There are a lot of food vendors with a huge variety of things to eat. We made a stop but having just ate, didn’t spend a lot of time there.
Liberty Bell | Philadelphia, PA
With full bellies, we were ready to do some walking so we headed over to the old part of town. We found street parking (be careful, though, as we were 8 minutes late getting back to the car and got a parking ticket) and walked over to the building that houses the 2,080 pound Liberty Bell. You do have to go through what I call “airport security” to get into the building. There is a lot of history around the bell that is explained in exhibits leading up to bell so take some time to understand what it actually stands for. When you are done, the green space just outside provides a great space to get a nice photo of our next stop, Independence Hall.
Independence Hall | Philadelphia, PA
You have to go through “airport security” one more time to get into the Independence Hall complex as well. Once inside, it is best to check on the tour schedule for the main hall as that is the only way to see it. The rest of the buildings are accessible via self-guided tours, though. We had just enough time to check out Congress Hall and the West Wing before it was time to line up for our tour. The Old City Hall is also open to explore and part of it has been transformed into the gift shop so make sure to stop in and pick up a magnet. It is really amazing to see and learn about the history that this place holds. If you only have time to do one thing in Philadelphia, this should be it.
Philadelphia Museum of Art | Philadelphia, PA
Our last stop was at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but not to see the art, or to even go inside (next time when we have more time). The movie, Rocky, made the steps of this museum famous as they served as a final hero shot for Sylvester Stallone during a training montage sequence. There is also a statue of his character just off to the side of the steps in the famous pose, gloves up. We made it to this area just before sunset which provided great light for some pictures. Take a bit of time to explore the area as Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the street leading to the museum provides for a great photo opportunity as well.
Always make the most of every bit of time that you have, especially when you are in a new place. You never know what you will learn or see.