I had the pleasure of visiting the City of Brotherly Love a few weeks ago, and had a brief respite (between a bout with the flu and business meetings) to explore the amazing things that Philadelphia has to offer.
I need another trip to hit all the things I missed while I was horribly ill, but I believe I crammed in as much as I could in the time I was allotted.
Despite the minute amount of time I had to explore freely and the small area I covered on foot in a few hours, I had to pare down this list from 15-20 things because Philadelphia is stuffed with things to do, see and eat!
So here is a list of the 5 things I enjoyed the most in my brief foray into Philadelphia, PA!
- Victor Cafe – I am a huge fan of opera. (Yes, we will discuss this another time, I know this raises questions for a lot of you.) I am also an enormous fan of Italian food. So when you combine them in the form of waiters singing opera in between courses of delicious Italian cuisine, it makes for a truly unique dinner experience. (Added tourist points for being “Adrien’s” in Rocky Balboa. Just make sure you don’t try and take video of the performers, that’s not allowed!)
- Murals – I was astounded by the number of enormous murals painted on seemingly random walls ALL OVER the city. You turn a corner and BAM! There’s a huge mural honoring John Coltrane. Parking your car next to a 3D mural of Abraham Lincoln or Nobel Prize winners or any number of amazing subjects seems commonplace here. PROTIP: try to not stop dead in your tracks and stare at these gorgeous and HUGE works of art. Pull over to the side of the sidewalk, as people are going places and you definitely do not want to get body checked.
- Noord – when I found a Dutch restaurant nestled in a South Philly neighborhood, I was a little skeptical. But when we showed up to this tiny restaurant, it was like walking into someone’s home. Sometimes restaurants are so huge and noisy and impersonal, but Noord is cozy and welcoming and like no other restaurant experience I’ve had. The waiter (Luis, who is now our friend of course) knew we were new to the whole BYOB-to-a-restaurant situation, and explained exactly how to handle the logistics. There are maybe a dozen 4 top tables, and an open kitchen. The whole meal starts off with bread, butter and roasted garlic and I would have been absolutely thrilled, had the meal stopped there. But it continued through dessert, and we had to walk for a bit before catching a lift home as we were too stuffed to get into a car right away.
- Benjamin Franklin Museum – the entire area surrounding the museum is really cool. If you enter off Market Street, you walk through the passage that Benjamin Franklin took to his house, and it opens up into a plaza with a huge steel sculpture, symbolizing what the house may have looked like, and where it stood. There is also a really cool little post office (that hand-cancels any letters or postcards you send with a really cool stamp with Franklin’s signature!) and the museum. PROTIP: It is a National Park, so pick up a parks passport (you can get one in the gift shop!) and get that puppy stamped!
- High Street on Market – I wanted to sing songs about the pastrami sandwich I had. I literally said nothing the entire lunch and my companions thought I was angry because I was so concentrated on my sandwich, I didn’t even hear them address me. I wanted to return for the Chef’s Choice dinner but got too sick to leave the hotel for another meal (sob). They also serve pastries and coffee in the morning along with a BREAKFAST VERSION of the pastrami sandwich, so I’ll have to make another trek to Philadelphia to eat more High Street.
All in all, I very much enjoyed the small pieces of Philadelphia I was able to see (between getting hideously sick and going to meetings) and I will definitely have to come back and see more!