I just got back from a vacation in Philadelphia, PA. It was a beautiful city and full of history. I spent the majority of my time in the downtown area and what a pleasant eye opener. One good site I found while researching this article was the Independence Visitor Center which is full of tourist information.
Living in California most of my life, I had never spent much time in a crowded city. What I discovered was Philadelphia is full of historical buildings, street vendors, restaurants, stores, numerous hotels, condos and apartments everywhere and lots high rises.
This is City Hall; A spectacular historical building.
The city has a massive street system of one way streets, lots of cars trying to get from one place to another in hurry, and drivers of cars and trucks looking for parking. Also I was amazed to see people walking everywhere from early in the morning until late at night. No one seemed to worry about crime here. I felt safe here and would like to mention I saw a lot of police presence in the city, Philadelphia Police Dept.; bike patrols, beat officers and patrolling units. I was told they have reduced crime rates here by half in the past 5 years. Very impressive!
Philadelphia is a town known for their Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches and hoagies. If you are visiting for the first time, be sure to try one while you are there. The restaurants downtown go from small cafes to fine dining. Shopping is pretty much the same; $5 & Below stores all the way to most all Designer stores imaginable. Plus about 25 minutes away, there is a mall, King of Prussia Mall which claims to be the largest mall in the US. I went there 3 times during my trip.
Parking is the one negative issue in this city. There are lots that charge ridiculous fees. The streets have kiosks to pay for parking from 20- minutes to 3 hrs for a more reasonable fee. DO NOT TRY TO PARK DOWNTOWN IF YOU CANNOT PARRELL PARK! We must have spent over $300 in parking fees while we were there.
The city has great historical sites to see and the best part, they are all free. We went to Independence Hall, The Liberty Bell, and Betsy Ross’s House. Amazing that these houses were built in the mid 1700’s and is still in great shape. Of course, they were remodeling the steeple of Independence Hall so they had scaffolding up. We took the tour at Independence Hall and afterwards I felt so proud to be an American. Our independence started right here in the place I stood not more than a week ago. I highly recommend this free tour as the guide gives you a historical summary of the events leading up to the signing of the “Declaration of Independence” and the turmoil afterwards.
Lots of rain in the summer! In CA, we do not have much rain so it was nice to get caught up in thunder storms. One suggestion, carry an umbrella.
On a Friday afternoon in a huge rain storm, we took on an unobtainable feat. We drove 11 miles northeast of the city to an equipment store that closed at 5:00 p.m. So we started out at 4:15 p.m. and of course we arrived at 5:15 pm and they had closed 15 minutes before. So we had to go back Monday morning!
Lots of Shopping and Restaurants here: Target, Wal-Mart, Banana Republic, Staples, The Gap, Jones of New York, Apple Store, Best Buy, Macy's and many more. Plus lots of Ice Cream Shops, Coffee Shops, Ethnic Restaurants for everyone's taste, McDonald's, AppleBee's and many more to choice from. So everything to satisfy your needs.
Here I am at my favorite store! Yes, I love Macy's and there are quite a few in the area.
And here is my family at The City Tavern, a very popular restaurant in the downtown area. This photo shows the beer tasting sampler.
One comment here for anyone thinking about visiting in the future. Take the train from the airport instead of a rental car. The train takes you to the downtown area and from there you can take a bus, the subway or walk to your downtown hotel. Some of the hotels also have a shuttle service directly from the airport. You will save a bunch of $$ in parking, car rental fees, and just a whole lot of stress searching for parking. I am planning to go back in March 2012 and that is my plan. Pack 1 large rolling suitcase for easy mobility. I have a rolling computer case, so I am not sure I am taking it with me. I will have to re-think this one. But of course I cannot be without my computer unless I go with some computer back-up system? HUM!!!
*I loved Philadelphia and plan to go and visit often. I found it to be clean and the mass transit system is easily adaptable for tourists. If anyone is planning to visit or move to Philadelphia, I would highly recommend it and I have a lot of good memories.