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A Weekend Is More Fun in Historic Philadelphia

Historic by Day, Electrifying by Night

Moshulu

Credit: Moshulu

Description

If your first visit to Historic Philadelphia was back in the fourth grade, clutching a warm juice box on a noisy school bus, congratulations — you can have a martini now.

In fact, for every place in Philadelphia that inspires you with American history, there’s another that will help you wind down or rev up — with food, fun, art, drinks, bargains and a whole lot more.

This itinerary is designed to get you out in Old City and its surroundings. Sure, there’s a ton to do during the day, but the scene really heats up at night.

So pack your dancing shoes and your appetite — and get ready for a little history, Philly-style.

Friday 6 p.m.

Let The Crowd Be Your Compass

After checking into your hotel, head over to Old City to orient yourself over a few alfresco cocktails.

Aim for Market Street between 2nd and 4th Streets, where sidewalk seating is plentiful. Pick a place that strikes your fancy; a few of our recommendations are Anjou, Fork , Pizzicato and Patou.

Sit back, enjoy a drink or two and soak up the vibe. Now’s the perfect time to get your bearings and plan the rest of your weekend.

(Note: If you’ve arrived on the First Friday”:/events/philadelphia/first-friday of the month, there’s already a party planned for you in Old City, the 19th-century loft district that wraps around Historic Philadelphia . Galleries and shops will be open to the public until around 9 p.m., and the neighborhood will be buzzing even more than usual.)

306 Market Street
Fork
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Friday 8:30 p.m.

History After Dark

Now it’s time to sneak a little learning into your evening. The Lights of Liberty Show will take you through the Revolution — as it happened, where it happened.

While listening to celebrities like Ossie Davis and Charlton Heston narrate the story of the Revolution through headphones, you’ll see a grand lighting display on such historic buildings as Independence Hall and Carpenters’ Hall .

In the midst of the Philadelphia night, it’s all very cool to watch.

600 Chestnut Street
Lights of Liberty
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Friday 10 p.m.

High Society Social Hour

With your history lesson now complete, you can reward yourself with some quality time out on the town.

If you truly want to check out the scene, you should probably head to one of our suggested places for a few cosmopolitan cocktails — Red Sky, Patou and Cebu are all smart choices.

If you’re looking for a more laid-back spot, stop in the recently renovated Society Hill Hotel . The space once operated as a longshoreman’s tavern; today, the outdoor tables are prime real estate for people-watching.

312 Market Street
Patou
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Friday 12 a.m.

Last Call

It’s not time to hit the hay yet — check out National Mechanics for a beer, some dancing and perhaps a bite… if you’re still hungry. The bar is in a historic bank building from the early 19th Century. Now, the currency is 30+ local and international craft beers, amazing burgers and a seriously funky atmosphere. A DJ adds to the vibe on weekends.

Another good late-night option is Sugar Mom’s, a cavernous hipster hangout with awesome local beers on draft and a pretty stellar jukebox.

22 S. 3rd Street
National Mechanics
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Saturday 9 a.m.

Sunny Side Up

Nurse a cup of coffee and a slice of apple coffeecake at one of the sun-washed marble tables at Old City Coffee behind historic Christ Church . You’ll be looking out on a narrow alley that hasn’t changed much since Charles Dickens visited Philadelphia in 1842.

For a big diner breakfast, find Mrs. K’s, a coffee shop that’s so retro it doesn’t have to pretend to be. And please finish your eggs. Your waitress might worry if you don’t.

21 Church Street
Old City Coffee
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Saturday 10 a.m.

Go Forth and Explore

Of course Betsy Ross’ place is immensely popular, but you have quieter options, too. Stop by the modest Todd House , where Dolly Madison lived with her first husband, John Todd. Bishop White’s sprawling townhouse, meanwhile, boasts a hearth worthy of Cinderella. And the opulent Powel House (a mansion, really) was a favorite hangout of George Washington’s.

Then visit Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest continuously occupied street in America, and an interesting lesson in how much room a family really needs (900 square feet, 0 baths, 0 garage).

Next, wander around Old City for shops that are unexpected but not over-priced. Did we mention that there’s no sales tax on clothing in Pennsylvania? And that AKA Music and The Book Trader are havens for the slightly used, and those who love them?

126 Elfreth’s Alley,br>
Elfreth’s Alley
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Saturday 1 p.m.

Lunch with a Farm-Fresh Twist

Enjoy your lunch at Farmicia , which combines robust local foods, tonic-like drinks and a fun space. The bread alone is consistently excellent, as is the fresh-pressed juice of the day. Farmicai is just one of Philadelphia’s great restaurants that’s gotten into the Buy Fresh, Buy Local trend — and it’s definitely one of the best.

5 S. 3rd Street
Farmicia
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Saturday 2:30 p.m.

A Visionary Document

Arrive at the “National Constitution Center”/museums-attractions/philadelphia/national-constitution-center/ , located within sight of The Liberty Bell Center (you’ll be getting there in due time).

“Multimedia” and “interactive” don’t begin to describe the scope and drama of this museum, built on a sweeping scale that’s purely dedicated to our great nation. Watch live actors take the Presidential Oath, complain to your Senator via e-mail, then wander through a crowd of life-sized Founding Fathers.

It’s an eerie and powerful experience, staring George Washington right in the eye. What would you say to him?

525 Arch Street
National Constitution Center
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Saturday 4 p.m.

A Visionary Man

As you leave the Constitution Center, walk by the grave of one of the Constitution’s most famous creators, Benjamin Franklin. He and his wife, Deborah, are buried at the Christ Church Burial Ground .

After paying your respects, you can walk through the Franklins’ “ghost house” at Franklin Court . Rather than rebuild the torn-down house, the National Park Service uncovered its foundations and built a three-story steel outline. You have to imagine what room was where; it’s a 3-D brainteaser that would have made Franklin proud.

5th and Arch Streets
Christ Church Burial Ground
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Saturday 5:30 p.m.

The Pursuit of Happiness

It’s after 4 p.m. on a summer Saturday and you’re on vacation — in other words, it’s totally time for a cocktail. One of the city’s coolest places to sit and sip is the top deck of the Moshulu , a docked ship at Penn’s Landing that’s been converted to a four-diamond restaurant. The top level is perfect for a late afternoon respite with a gorgeous view of the Philadelphia skyline and a delightfully refreshing river breeze.

Option #2: Sopra Lounge at Positano Coast , where a beautiful open-air lounge allows you to enjoy an afternoon cocktail while overlooking picturesque Society Hill.

Afterwards, take a garden stroll on your way back to your hotel, starting with a brief repose in the elegant 18th-century garden on Walnut near 4th Street. Then cross 4th Street and head through the Rose Garden to Locust Street, where you’ll discover the hidden Magnolia Garden.

401 S. Columbus Boulevard
Moshulu
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Saturday 8 p.m.

From Colonial to Contemporary

Philadelphia is known for its cheesesteaks, sure — but with more than 200 BYOB (Bring-Your-Own-Bottle) restaurants throughout the region, the most appropriate thing to do for dinner is to pick up a bottle of wine first.

Your first option is Zahav , an Israeli restaurant that’s been attracting palates the world over (having been named one of the Top 50 Best New Restaurants in the World by Condé Nast Traveler in May 2009).

Four blocks away is Bistro 7, another stellar BYOB serving locally-sourced new American cuisine. The continuously changing seasonal menu shines in the understated storefront design. (For wine and spirits, stop by the liquor store at 32 S. 2nd Street — your chef will take care of the rest.)

If you don’t feel like bringing your own beverage, check out the original Morimoto for absolutely sublime Japanese fare.

723 Chestnut Street
Morimoto
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Saturday 10 p.m.

Local Beers with the Local Set

Philadelphia is a brewing town — it’s even been called “America’s best beer-drinking city.” So on Saturday night, head over to Triumph Brewing Company , located at the hub of Historic Philadelphia’s thriving nightlife scene, to drink as the locals drink.

Triumph’s industrial-yet-swanky decor is enough to turn heads — as is the unisex bathroom — but the award-winning selection of home-brewed lagers and ales definitely ups the ante. The Imperial Stout and Honey Wheat brews are consistent favorites — and if you get there before 11 p.m., you can sample their late-night menu of risotto fritters, edamame and good-for-what-ails-ya burgers.

117-121 Chestnut Street
Triumph Brewing Company
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Saturday 12 a.m.

Liberty, Loud and Clear

The Khyber is an Old City institution; if you appreciate rock music at all, you’d be remiss not to stop here. This place just teems with authenticity. Hang out at the ornate bar, where local beers are the specialty; or make your way closer to the stage, where your ear drums get a little workout.

56 S. 2nd Street
The Khyber
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Sunday 10 a.m.

A Trip Around the World – And It’s Not Even Noon

The ever-popular Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar , known for its jet-setter’s menu of global cuisine, is hopping morning, noon and night. But while martinis have their allure after hours, the brunch menu of French toast with caramel bananas, zucchini omelets and Bloody Marys is really where it’s at. Stop by here and rev up for your final day in Philly.

138 Market Street
Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Sunday 12 p.m.

The Historical Heavy Hitters

The crowds are thinnest now, so stop by the Independence Visitor Center again for a timed ticket to Independence Hall (you’ll save some time if you reserved tickets at least one day before your tour).

This is it — the room where Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and their fellow revolutionaries laid the groundwork for creating a nation.

Once you’ve soaked in the feeling of the room, head to Congress Hall. It was here that the United States Congress sat when Philadelphia was the capital from 1790 to 1800.

Then walk across the street to the newly designed Liberty Bell Center . The most famous freedom ringer in history is clearly visible from the outside, but step into the Center to explore films, graphics, documents and even x-rays of the Liberty Bell’s intricate inner-workings.

6th Street and Chestnut Street
The Liberty Bell Center
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Sunday 1:30 p.m.

History Meets Foodie Heaven

There’s no better proof of Philadelphia’s locavore-friendly philosophy than Headhouse Square , where the farmers’ market that was first opened in the 1740s has been thankfully revived.

Stroll through the market to find a beautiful display of locally grown produce like cheese, fruit and vegetables. Not that it’s all good-for-you foodstuffs — you’ll also find more than your share of baked goods and ice cream.

Buy one of everything you like, and what you can’t finish while you’re standing there chatting will happily go home with you.

Second and Lombard Streets
Headhouse Square Market
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Hotels + More

The Basics

Transportation

If you’re traveling from New York, New England, DC, Baltimore, Harrisburg, etc., Amtrak is easy – Book online at Amtrak or call 1-800-USA-RAIL.

Driving

If you drive here, stash your car off-street until you leave. Though you might enjoy an occasional cab, trolley or carriage ride, there’s nothing you can’t reach on foot. Parking regulations are enforced in the historic area, and you may find yourself getting towed with un-municipal efficiency.

Start at the Center

The Independence Visitor Center (IVC) — the exclusive pick-up location for free tickets to Independence Hall — offers personalized trip-planning services, free WIFI, brochures and maps, informational exhibits and films, a gift shop, two cafes and tickets to all major tours and attractions in the Philadelphia region. Located at 6th & Market Streets across from the Liberty Bell, the IVC is your one-stop-shop for tickets, souvenirs, itinerary planning, maps and more. Stop at the IVC when you arrive in Philadelphia, or call 800-537-7676 to speak to a live concierge.

Accommodations

You can’t get closer than the bustling Holiday Inn Philadelphia – Historic District , which is right in the thick of everything (distance: 0 miles) and has a sunny rooftop pool with a view.

The Sheraton Society Hill Hotel is just four blocks from Independence Hall and a block from Penn’s Landing in residential Society Hill. It has a bit more greenery than most city hotels and a heated indoor pool.

The Best Western Independence Park is just two blocks from Independence Hall and a short walk from Penn’s Landing. It features period style decor.

The Hyatt Regency is one of the historic area’s newest hotels, a tower right on the Delaware River. You can sit at the outdoor bar and listen to the creak-creak of moored boats.

The Philly Overnight® Hotel Package is a popular getaway — and a terrific deal. It’s available throughout the year and gives you free parking (worth $50 or more) and special offers and discounts – in addition to deluxe accommodations in Center City Philadelphia. Check out the package, then pick your favorite hotel.

More food and drink, please!

Of course, what we’ve recommended is just a sample of the amazing range of food and drink in Philadelphia. Take a closer look at our Dining and “Nightlife”/nightlife opportunities and chart your own course across the city!

400 Arch Street
Holiday Inn Historic District
Philadelphia, PA 19106

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