Philly: A Great Place to get your YO! on
You don’t have to emulate Rocky’s Sly Stallone and sprint up the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (though many people do). But if you appreciate diverse culture, American history, fervent sports fans and serious heart, Philly is a memorable destination.
First things first – the “Must-See” attractions
Of the many sites and activities in the City of Brotherly Love, there are a handful of must-see destinations that all can be accessed for one, low price using a Philadelphia CityPASS ticket booklet. You’ll definitely want one. For $59 for adults ($39 for children 2-12), a CityPass packet of tickets provide prepaid admission to Philly’s best. Otherwise, you’ll pay $110.90 per adult or $81.20 per kid. For adults, that means saving enough dough to cover the cost of seven Philly cheese-steak sandwiches at Jim’s Steaks.
The CityPASS booklet provides access to:
- The Franklin Institute – This stellar science museum is a towering tribute to Philadelphia’s favorite founding father, Benjamin Franklin. Visitors can follow in Ben’s footsteps by becoming a conductor for an electrical circuit, or walk through a massive Baldwin 60000 steam locomotive. There’s a 1911 Wright Model B Flyer, a planetarium and observatory. My favorite is the 20-foot-high marble statue of Franklin himself. One tip is to go to museums later in the day, when the little school munchkins are gone. Plus, the food at the adjoining Natural History Museum is worth checking out.
- Adventure Aquarium – This is a TOUCHABLE aquarium, where you can feed stingrays (best leave the tail be), see seals, penguins, sea turtles, a whole bunch of fish, and one massive shiver of sharks with just an acrylic tunnel between them and you. With more than 8,500 sea and land animals, this is an unbelievable attraction.
- Phila Trolley Works Tour & The Big Bus Company provide the best means of getting to nearly everywhere you want to go in town, with unlimited on/off privileges at any of its 20 stops during a 24-hour period. CityPASS visitors can also use a special coupon included in their CityPASS ticket booklets to upgrade their one-day Phila Trolley and Big Bus Company ticket to an eight-day pass, which will come in handy when you see all the things to do.
- Philadelphia Zoo – America’s oldest zoo offers a great day walking among African animals, bears, through the rebuilt primate center, and the new $17.5 million McNeil Avian Center. It’s a great way to get up close and personal with rare and endangered animals.
- One of the Philadelphia CityPASS option tickets lets visitors choose between the Please Touch Museum (terrific for families with children aged 1-7) and the historic Eastern State Penitentiary, which held the original “Scarface,” Al Capone. Housed in Memorial Hall, the Please Touch Museum will awe little visitors with its life-sized, 40-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty’s arm and torch, constructed entirely from salvaged toys, games and other found items. The museum’s Flight Fantasy exhibit lets kids imagine what it’s like to blast into space. The foreboding Eastern State Penitentiary projects a decidedly darker ambience. Take the excellent tour, which includes views of the cellblocks, solitary confinement, Al Capone’s cell and death row.
- A second option ticket gives visitors a choice between the Academy of Natural Sciences, the nation’s oldest natural history museum, which features exciting exhibits on dinosaurs, a live butterfly garden and animal presentations; and the National Constitution Center, which has hands-on exhibitions about the U.S. Constitution, live performances, multimedia shows, rare artifacts, and a stroll among 42 life-size bronze statues of the Founding Fathers in Signers’ Hall.
Get Out and About
You can’t and shouldn’t spend every moment in a museum, so make sure you keep an open afternoon or evening to take a stroll on South Street. No matter what time or day of the week, South Street draws young, old, hipsters, rockers, professionals and slackers. Here you’ll find cutting edge boutiques and that famous cheesesteak sandwich at Jim’s Steaks. Teenagers especially will enjoy this colorful collage of humanity, and the Mummers Museum at Second and Washington.
Check out some murals – throughout the city, there are more than 3,000 murals painted on the walls, depicting local icons, great historical moments and flights of abstract fancy. Consult the Mural Arts Program website to navigate your way to some of Philadelphia’s best outdoor art.
Tour a Submarine – There’s always something going on at Penn’s Landing, located along the Delaware River. It’s the site of numerous festivals, events and restaurants. Plus there are inexpensive tours of the two, docked sea vessels at the Independence Seaport Museum: a WWII submarine and a late 19th century ship.
Franklin Square Park is a great place for kids and features mini golf, a playground and a merry-go-round. It’s also right near many of the city’s historic sites, so it’s a great place to hang if the kids are getting too squirrely from museum touring.
Catch a Sports Game
No matter what season, there’s a top-notch sporting event to attend. Canadians might enjoy going into their rival’s den to see a Flyers hockey game, or see the rising 76ers NBA team or NFL’s Eagles.
The Phillies are a class act, providing their fans with a great ballpark along with a terrific atmosphere and food for an afternoon or evening watching baseball. All of these events are held at the South Philadelphia Sports Complex venues, which are known for being fan friendly and near a SEPTA train station.
Where to Stay
Need a hotel? Philadelphia’s visitors’ bureau makes finding a place in the neighborhood you want pretty easy: http://www.visitphilly.com/find-a-hotel/
Dining & Drinking
Sliders are the hot trend in burgers right now, and Barclay Prime at 237 S. 18th St. serves up a Kobe beef one topped with caramelized onions and herb aioli.
Village Whiskey at 118 S. 20th St., whips up the Whiskey King burger, topped with Rogue blue cheese, applewood-smoked bacon and foie gras. Rembrandt’s will quench your thirst with a craft beer, and will cook up a Greek-inspired lamb burger with feta yogurt on a roll.
Not in the mood for burgers? Hit Xochitl at 408 S. 2nd for margaritas and Mexican food, recommended highly by locals.
If you’re in the Italian neighborhood, you gotta get a cheese-steak sandwich. Naturally, there are many vendors (we already mentioned Jim’s Steaks), but the most famous are Geno’s Steaks and Pat’s King of Steaks, which lays claim to the invention and has been serving them since 1930.
That will definitely get you YO-ing.
Author Bio: Deston Nokes is a travel, business and app writer who revels in good eating and even better weather. He can be reached at www.destonnokes.com
Photo credits: click on the image to find the source on Flickr. All images were under Creative Commons license at the time this post was published.