What to see in Philadelphia in one day?
And above all – resuming a question that I am often asked – is it really possible managing to discover the best in less than 24 hours?
We’re talking about the city of the Brotherly Love, the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States, the Founders Fathers, art, museums, street food, about one among the most lively and authentic Italian communities on the East Coast, even shopping.
Being able to visit it really well it would be better to reckon a stay of two nights and three days full at least. Take my word for!
Philly – this is how the inhabitants nickname it – is actually a very beautiful, liveable and on man scale city, unfortunately penalized by a tourist point of view due to its geographical position, since it is located abundantly one hour far from New York and Washington DC.
This mini-guide is born right from the request of many readers to be able to concentrate the tour of Philadelphia in one day leaving right from New York (or from Washington DC, too) and moving totally alone.
To reach Philadelphia from New York, you can choose to move by train – Amtrak from Penn Station, every hour about, the travel lasts 1 hour and half – or by Greyhound bus or Megabus leaving from Penn Station and Port Authority Bus Terminal between the 42nd and the 8th Ave.
The same applies even if you arrive from the Washington DC Union Station.
For both cities of departure, both trains and buses arrive to the very central 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.
Just arrived take the subway blue line at the station and get off at the 5th St. Station.
Go to the Independence Visitor Center and ask for the (free) pass to reach the facility of the Independence Hall and to visit the room and the buildings where the Declaration of Independence was discussed and signed on July 4th, 1776 which decreed by right the birth of the USA.
While you’re waiting for your turn to gain access to the guided tour, stop for a few minutes admiring the Liberty Bell, the bell which rang on the day when the Declaration was signed, and the near foundations of George Washington’s house.
Gone out from the Independence Hall cross Chestnut Street and turn left along the 3rd Street as far as Arch Street. Turn right and stop to have a look (or a quick tour, according to the time in your hands) to Betsy Ross’ house, the personal tailoress of General Washington who sewed the first stars and stripes flag.
Little further, always on the left, you’ll run into Elfreth’s Alley, a picturesque historic road with 32 vintage houses – listed among the most ancient ones in America – uninterruptedly inhabited since 1722.
At lunch, going along Market Street as far as the intersection with the 12th Street, reach the Reading Terminal Market, an old and suggestive multiethnic food market.
Here you’ll be able to taste the famous Philly Cheesesteak, a very remarkable hot dog with grilled beef minute steak and melted cheese, a real delicacy for an amount usually about 10-12$.
After lunch go towards South Philly – about half an hour walking (if you are tired you can take a cab, usually cheap and clean, about 8-12$ for a ride through the city) – to visit the Italian Market on the 9th Street South, at the crossing between Fitzwater and Northon street.
Today here it is still possible to interact with one among the most ancient and authentic Italian communities in the country and little over northwards visit the very beautiful and unusual artistic installation of the artist Isaiah Zagar – the Magic Gardens at 1020, South Street.
If you have still a bit of time have a stroll through the odd and colourful South Street enjoying shops, pubs and murals.
Go back to Market Street and go towards Love Park, near Penn Square to take a photograph of yourselves in the most famous memory shoot in Philly, that one with the LOVE (or the near AMOR) Statue.
Wait for the sunset to go up to the One Liberty Observation Deck at 1650, Market Street, to enjoy the last lights on the downtown’s skyscrapers, on South Philly and on the Delaware River.
Once gone out take the 15th Street station blue line subway and reach the 30th Street Station, in time to take again your bus train and come back to New York (or Washington DC).
Certainly an intense and rich day.
Just a taste of what Philadelphia has to offer.
A taste that certainly will make you curious and decide to come back more calmly to discover something else.
Starting from the most famous museums, among them the Barnes Foundation, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the really new and exciting Museum of American Revolution which keeps among the many relics tied to that historical period the original George Washington’s tent.
Maybe going on with an afternoon dedicated researching the many murals of famous street artists or going shopping in Market Street, then ending with a candlelight dinner with dishes cooked following original recipes of the late 1700s in the historic presidents’ tavern – the City Tavern.