Forty years ago, 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 franchise has spawned five sequels and a Broadway musical. Creed, the latest spinoff film, follows Rocky as he mentors the son of his friend and onetime rival Apollo Creed. It hit theaters in November 2015.
Get yourself into fighting shape and explore city locations frequented by the beloved fictional Philadelphian.
Seventy-two treads lead art aficionados, exercise enthusiasts and millions of film buffs up to the East Entrance of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway’s esteemed Philadelphia Museum of Art. On any given day, Balboa wannabes jog to the top, raise their fists in the air and, on occasion, belt out “Gonna Fly Now.” Fun fact: This dolomite staircase was featured in every Rocky film except Rocky IV.
Where: Rocky Steps, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Originally commissioned for Rocky III, sculptor A. Thomas Schomberg’s larger-than-life interpretation of the triumphant boxer stands on stretch of grass just north of the Rocky steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Previously located at the Spectrum Arena (now Wells Fargo Center), the statue was installed at the museum in 2006. Sylvester Stallone himself presided over the rededication ceremony. Today, visitors still line up for photographs alongside their hero.
Where: Rocky Statue, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
During the famous training scenes in Rocky and Rocky II, Balboa jubilantly jogs past vendors in Philadelphia’s iconic 9th Street Italian Market. Today, butcher shops, produce stands, cheese purveyors—and, in recent decades, taquerias and bistros—comprise the nation’s oldest and largest working outdoor market. Plus, the stretch looks almost exactly the same as it did in 1976.
Where: Italian Market, 9th Street and Washington Avenue (along 9th Street between Wharton and Fitzwater)
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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.
Where: Espositio's Meats, 1001 S. 9th Street
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 — the spot where Rocky stood is now dedicated with a special plaque.
Where: Pat's King of Steaks, 1237 E. Passyunk Avenue
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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.
Where: Isgro Pastries, 1009 Christian Street
This circa 1933 South Philly spot stood in as “Adrian’s,” the restaurant owned and operated by Rocky in Rocky Balboa and Creed. In reality, the Victor is known for fine Italian cuisine and a waitstaff who performs operatic arias during every dinner service.
Where: Victor Cafe, 1303 Dickinson Street
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The Passyunk-area outpost of this Philly brunch spot serves up whopping portions of breakfast and lunch favorites to a full house every day of the week. Locals and newcomers love its eco-friendly sensibilities, locally grown produce (including herbs right from their roof) and menu for everyone (from staunch meat-eaters to vegans). The restaurant makes an appearance in Creed.
Where: Green Eggs Cafe, 1306 Dickinson Street
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 during a training scene in Rocky II.
Where: Independence Hall, 520 Chestnut Street
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 champ was very familiar with the sound of bells and the historic icon would most likely be one of his favorites.
Where: The Liberty Bell Center, 6th and Market streets
Diehard Philadelphians noticed decades ago that the iconic training runs in the first two Rocky films didn’t exactly follow a logical path. Instead, the routes took him from waterfront to waterfront, spanning Center City, the Italian Market and featuring Penn’s Landing on the Delaware River waterfront. Today, Penn’s Landing, no longer an industrial tract, is home to pop-up beer gardens, outdoor concerts, new parks and plenty of exercise enthusiasts.
Where: Penn's Landing, 101 S. Columbus Boulevard
Bianca (Tessa Johnson), the love interest of Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) in Creed, performs at this popular 250-person bar, restaurant and performance space in the city’s Fishtown section. Downstairs, patrons enjoy seasonal American plates, local craft brews and pool. Upstairs, it’s all about the live music.
Where: Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Avenue
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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.
Where: El Bar, 1356 N. Front Street
Located in North Philadelphia, this cheesesteak stand — rated best in the city by Playboy magazine — had a star turn in Creed, serving as the go-to spot for Philly’s famous sandwich. In the film, Adonis, who is new to Philly, comes here to get his steak on during his first date with Bianca.
Where: Max's Steaks, 3653 Germantown Avenue
East Fall’s historic cemetery is a National Historic Landmark—and the site of two of the series’ most touching moments, when Rocky visits Adrian’s grave in both Rocky Balboa and Creed. The headstone used in the film was just a prop, but throughout the 78-acre, still-active venue, elaborate mausoleums serve as the final resting place for a number of Philadelphia’s wealthiest citizens and celebrities. Self-guided tours are available every day. Special events run year-round.
Where: Laurel Hill and West Laurel Hill Cemeteries, 3822 Ridge Avenue
America’s first zoo is the scene of Rocky and Adrian’s engagement in Rocky II. Rocky memorably proposed in the snow-blanketed zoo in front of the tiger exhibit. Today, tigers and other big cats roam freely through Big Cat Crossing, an overhead mesh pathway that’s part of Zoo360, a first-in-the-world system of trails that encourage the animals to explore and travel throughout the Zoo.
Where: The Philadelphia Zoo, 3400 W. Girard Avenue
As spotted in Rocky Balboa, the scenic Boathouse Row on the Schuylkill River attracts runners, walkers, bikers and rollerbladers from around the region. Local boating clubs take great pride in their 19th-century boat houses, which line the Schuylkill River just west of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. At night, lights outline one of the city’s loveliest views.
Where: Boathouse Row, 1 Boathouse Row
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Serving farm-to-table American cuisine, Jose Garces’ JG 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.
Where: JG Domestic, 2929 Arch Street
The Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk is a breathtaking, 2,000-foot-long pathway that extends the Schuylkill River Trail from Locust to South Street. The scenic path allows pedestrians, runners and bicyclists to literally walk over the river — and catch some of the best skyline views around. It’s no wonder Adonis trains on the boardwalk during Creed.
Where: Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk, 129 S. 30th Street
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.
Where: Rittenhouse Square, 18th and Walnut streets
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A popular spot to grab a pint, Irish Pub provides a classic pub experience in Center City. The casual menu and convivial atmosphere will put you in a very social mood — just like it did for Rocky’s son when he was hanging out with his buddies in Rocky Balboa.
Where: Irish Pub, 2007 Walnut Street
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In his celebrated run, Rocky Balboa conquered a 30-mile venture across the city — nearly the equivalent of a 50K! If you want to run like Rocky but would prefer to execute a nearly 5K course instead, here’s the perfect route for you. Start at 9th Street and Washington Avenue, the heart of the Italian Market. This is where Rocky ran to the sounds of cheering fans and a scenery of bustling market buyers and sellers. Take 9th Street north until you hit Spruce Street and then make a left, running along its beautiful, wide sidewalks until you hit 16th Street. Go right on 16th street and follow it all the way until you hit the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Follow the parkway to the left until you see the Philadelphia Museum of Art where you’ll end your run like Rocky did, sprinting up the 72 “Rocky Steps?” that lead to the entrance of the museum. Bonus: Run back down the steps to give Rocky Balboa a high five. (Find his statue to the right of the base of the steps). Suggested starting point: 9th and Washington streets
Where: Washington Avenue and S. 9th Street (suggested starting point)
Book the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package for stays through November 30, 2018 and get FREE hotel parking as well as free tickets to the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art, a $25 gift card to the must-visit Reading Terminal Market, free Philly-themed mini-golf at Franklin Square and a $10 Lyft credit.