The sun was setting as I took the 20-minute taxi ride from the airport into downtown Philadelphia.
The skies were golden orange behind the city skyline and the sun bounced off the skyscrapers as I got closer to the city. Passing by the first of many mind-blowing pieces of street art, I knew I was going to enjoy my visit to the sixth largest city in the U.S.
Exercise, Art and Culture
The next morning, I jumped out of bed at the Sonesta Philadelphia Downtown Hotel, excited to take on one of the most famous locations in the city. I stretched, took a deep breath, and set my iPod to the famous “Rocky” theme song for inspiration, before joining numerous other tourists making a mad dash up the 72 steps (known worldwide as “The Rocky Steps”) that lead to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. At the top, a little out of breath, I did the obligatory celebration, throwing my arms above my head and punching the air. The view of the city’s skyline from where I stood was amazing.
I couldn’t leave without also taking the time to stroll through the museum and marvel at the more than 200 galleries containing over 240,000 objects from around the world. My next stop was a 10-minute stroll along Museum Mile over to The Barnes Foundation, which is home to one of the finest and largest private art collections of early and post-impressionist paintings in the world.
Being “Rocky” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Pennsylvania
Shopping, Dining and a Whole Lot of History
Of course, I wasn’t going to miss out on shopping while on holiday! After a delicious Asian Chicken Salad at The Continental Midtown, I strolled over to Century 21, which offers up to 65 percent off retail prices and is the perfect place to spend some time. I was able to load up my partially empty suitcase with tax-free clothing and shoes.
Then I headed over to Rittenhouse Square to lay out a blanket and take in the goings on around me. The square was full of locals and tourists alike, enjoying the sunny weather and having picnics. There was also a brass band and a couple of street artists to keep me entertained. I crossed the street and grabbed an outside seat at Stephen Starr’s Parc Restaurant and enjoyed a succulent shrimp salad with a glass of champagne (how could I not?). I was at a perfect vantage point to people watch.
Finally, before heading back to the hotel, I walked over to the most historic square mile in the country at Independence National Historical Park. Here I saw Independence Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the famous Liberty Bell. Interestingly enough, I learned that the bell had been made in England in 1751.
First thing the following morning, before driving on to my next destination, I walked over to Reading Terminal Market for a slap-up breakfast sandwich of eggs, bacon and cheese at the Down Home Diner. The Market features row upon row of stalls selling every kind of food you could imagine. From Amish donuts to hand-crafted chocolate, I stocked up for my impending road trip.
The safe, easy-to-walk and compact city of Philadelphia will surprise and delight visitors at every turn, and is definitely a destination to include on your next U.S.-bound holiday.
Enjoy the fabulous discount shopping at Century 21