Quintessential Rocky Tour of Philadelphia
City attractions and locations seen in the Rocky films
Philadelphia was forever immortalized on celluloid with the tale of an aspiring boxer with the Academy Award-winning 1976 film Rocky. Since Rocky Balboa’s first famous run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the film franchise has spawned five sequels and a Broadway musical opening in the spring of 2014.
The stage production closely follows the original movie plot, inspiring fans to explore the boxer’s hometown city of Philadelphia.
Get yourself into fighting shape and explore city locations frequented by the beloved fictional Philadelphian.
Two of the most famous tourist attractions in Philadelphia
Since Rocky’s triumphant run down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and joyous celebration in the shadow of the Philadelphia skyline, the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art have become and international destination. Travelers from around the world have made the jog up the stairs, pumped their fists in the air and cherished the spectacular view. After your run, go inside the Philadelphia Museum of Art and experience one of the world’s great art collections. At the bottom of the stairs you’ll find a bronze statue of Rocky, perfect for a souvenir photo.
The Rocky Statue and the “Rocky Steps” — better known as the Art Museum Steps — are two of the most popular attractions in Philadelphia. Visiting the statue, running up the steps and taking a picture at the top is pretty much a must on your first visit to Philadelphia. It’s a rite of passage.
(To the right of the base of the Art Museum Steps)
Philadelphia, PA 19019
A South Philadelphia mainstay since the 19th Century
During Rocky’s famous run, he was joyously greeted by vendors as he ran through Philadelphia’s iconic Italian Market. The nation’s oldest and largest working outdoor market, the Italian Market is full of homemade goodies, fresh produce and flavorful cheeses. Plus, the market looks almost exactly the same as it did in 1976.
The South Philadelphia mainstay, thriving since the 19th Century, is a haven for lovers of food.
(Along 9th Street between Wharton and Fitzwater)
Italian Market butcher shop serving Philadelphia for more than a century
For more than a century, Esposito’s has been the go-to butcher shop in the Italian Market. While it’s doubtful you’ll be able to practice your boxing on a side of beef, you can purchase the high-quality meats and sausages that have made Esposito’s one of Philadelphia’s favorite butcher shops.
For more than 100 years, Esposito’s has been providing high-quality meats to the region from the Italian Market.
The original and still among the best
Rocky couldn’t resist a trip to Pat’s King of Steaks for an authentic Philadelphia cheesesteak during his training, and neither should you. The famous shop where the cheesesteak was invented more than 80 years ago makes a brief cameo in the original film. The appearance made a huge impact as the spot where Rocky’s stood is dedicated with a special plaque.
Pat’s claim to fame is that its founder, Pat Olivieri, invented the steak sandwich in 1930. Since then, Pat’s has grown from a little stand at the southern end of South Philly’s Italian Market to one of the most famous cheesesteak shops in the world, albeit still in the same location (and still the only location).
Philadelphia, PA 19147
19th-century boat houses line the Schuylkill River just west of the Philadelphia Museum of Art
As spotted in Rocky Balboa, the scenic Boathouse Row on the Schuylkill River attracts runners, walkers, bikers and rollerbladers from around the region.
Much of the park’s rowing activity centers around Boathouse Row which is near the Philadelphia Museum of Art and sandwiched between Kelly Drive and the Schuylkill River. Along Boathouse Row, you’ll find twelve structures.
Philadelphia, PA 19130
A hub of family-friendly activity throughout the year
Rocky knows how to have a good time, but he’s also serious about staying in shape. Lace up your shoes and go for a jog along the waterfront at Penn’s Landing, which was on the route of Rocky’s training runs.
The Delaware River Waterfront, just a short walk from Old City and Historic Philadelphia, hosts family-friendly attractions and events all year long.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Birthplace of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution
One of Philadelphia’s most popular destinations, Independence Hall is notable for birthing our nation and featuring a now famous park bench hurdled by Rocky himself during a training scene in Rocky II.
They risked everything — “their lives, their fortune and their sacred honor.” During the blistering summer of 1776, 56 courageous men gathered at the Pennsylvania State House and defied the King of England. Eleven years later, representatives from 12 states gathered to shape the U.S. Constitution, finally creating one unified nation.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Traditional Italian treats since 1904
While sweets aren’t on Rocky’s training regimen, you shouldn’t feel ashamed in partaking in the treats at Isgro’s in the Italian Market. Since 1904, Isgro’s has been supplying the area with incredible fresh-made cannolis sure satisfy your sweet tooth.
More than a century ago, baker Gus Isgro established this Italian Market-area shop, a take-a-number spot whose unmistakably buttery aroma wafts down Christian Street. Customers swear by the pound cake, Italian cream and strawberry shortcakes, but filled-to-order cannoli are Isgro’s top sellers.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Animals and plants thrive at America’s first zoo
Say “I do” to the Philadelphia Zoo, where Rocky proposed to Adrian in Rocky II. Here you can follow the apes, chimps, goats and other animals as they roam the elevated open-air trail systems that wind through America’s oldest zoo.
One of the best laid-out and most animal-packed zoos in the country, the Philadelphia Zoo is set among a charming 42-acre Victorian garden with tree-lined walks, formal shrubbery, ornate iron cages and animal sculptures.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Philadelphia’s most popular town square
Rocky and Adrian contemplated their pending parenthood while walking through Rittenhouse Square in Rocky II. Today, city residents and families continue to gather in the picturesque outdoor space.
Rittenhouse Square is as popular with residents as it is with visitors. In the picturesque, tree-lined streets surrounding the park, you will find charming townhomes, luxurious spas, amazing eateries, jewelry stores and the highest of high-end fashion boutiques.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Who’s who of deceased Philadelphia in a magnificent setting
Historic Laurel Hill Cemetery, located just off Kelly Drive, is the site of one of the series’ most touching moments—when Rocky sits in a folding chair and visits Adrian’s grave in Rocky Balboa. Although the headstone used in the film was just a prop, the elaborate mausoleums serve as the final resting place for a number of Philadelphia’s wealthiest citizens and celebrities. Tours take place on the first Friday of each month, and special events run year-round.
Laurel Hill Cemetery was laid out on a series of winding paths above the Schuylkill River in 1836. It lays claim to being the first architecturally designed cemetery in the country. It became the cemetery of the elite and was a popular burial place for Civil War generals, including George Meade, the Union victor at Gettysburg. West Laurel Hill opened after Laurel Hill started becoming too crowded.
Philadelphia, PA 19132
Head beneath the tracks for cheap beer and live music
In the first film, Rocky lived right down the street from the El – or the Elevated rail line – in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood. Philadelphia’s Elevated rail line is SEPTA’s Market-Frankford El, which transverses the city from the Northeast through Center City to West Philadelphia. At the El Bar – situated right underneath the El in Fishtown – you can get a little bit of the vibe from Rocky’s neighborhood in the original film. The quasi-dive bar attracts a loyal following, thanks to inexpensive beer and snacks, a pool table and live music on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The enormous outdoor patio provides a perfect spot for enjoying a Kensington Happy Meal, the bar’s staple that includes two hot dogs, a bag of chips, a PBR and a toy for $5.
Situated, as the name implies, under SEPTA’s Market-Frankford elevated rail line (or “The El”), this quasi-dive bar attracts a loyal following.
Philadelphia, PA 19122
Dramatic new home of the internationally known symbol of freedom
Located on Independence Mall, the Liberty Bell is one of Philadelphia’s most visited attractions. While it was not featured in any of the Rocky films, the Bell would surely be a beloved spot for the champ to visit.
The Liberty Bell has a new home, and it is as powerful and dramatic as the Bell itself. Throughout the expansive, light-filled Center, larger-than-life historic documents and graphic images explore the facts and the myths surrounding the Bell.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Garces goes homegrown
Serving farm-to-table American cuisine, Jose Garces’ J.G. Domestic offers delicious lunch and dinner options for travelers passing through 30th Street Station. Bonus: it’s located on the ground floor of the Cira Centre, which was featured in Rocky Balboa.
Though Jose Garces’ wheelhouse is Latin cuisine, he takes a decidedly American approach at the aptly named JG Domestic, his creative, whimsical eatery in Cira Centre. Check out happy hour for nice drink deals and occasional live music.
Philadelphia, PA 19104