Philadelphia

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Highlander
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Philadelphia

Post by Highlander »

Anyone here spent much time in Philadelphia? Wife and I are contemplating a spring trip. Friend from Pittsburgh says don't bother. Ugly and dangerous city but I suspect that is a somewhat biased opinion from a cross-state rival. From what I can tell, most of the things you want to see and do in Philadelphia are in and around downtown but a trip to the Italian Market looks pretty cool too. Any must see locations? Any places that should be avoided? Food recommendations? Is there public transportation from the airport to downtown? Planning on a max of 3 days. Thanks.
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Re: Philadelphia

Post by bspecht »

Big Philly fan! Definitely plenty to do in the downtown area. Rittenhouse Square, Starr restaurants, Fishtown, plenty of US history. Light rail line to the Airport, though not very frequent if I recall. Recommend the trip!
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Re: Philadelphia

Post by brewcrew1000 »

Rittenhouse Square is a nice area. You could also see a show in the Walnut Street Theater which is the oldest theater in the USA.
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TheLastGentleman
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Re: Philadelphia

Post by TheLastGentleman »

Philly seems to appear constantly in urbanist circles as an exemplary city
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FlippantCitizen
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Re: Philadelphia

Post by FlippantCitizen »

I like Philly a lot. I've only ever spent about 48 hrs there. When I was in school in NYC I made some friends through mutual acquaintance that went to Drexel and Penn and went down on the train for some concerts and nights out then crashed on couches. I think it is highly, highly underrated.
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Re: Philadelphia

Post by smh »

So, uh, I live in Philadelphia. Let me get some thoughts together and I'll share some more specifics. But rest assured everything is super walkable. Stay in Center City (Philly's word for downtown) and you can walk or take SEPTA (the transit agency) wherever you need to go. If you're up for a reasonable walk Italian Market is ~30 minutes or less from the heart of the city. Everything, in general, is much closer than you might first expect looking at Google Maps. The whole of Center City is something like 7 square miles.

Like bspecht said, there is rail from the airport. Runs every 30 minutes during the week and unfortunately only once an hour at weekends. A real sore spot IMHO. But, if it is not too long of a wait then it is worth it as its only about $7 and takes 20-25 minutes. Also great because if you're going to Center City you'll probably alight at Suburban Station which is just a fantastic name for a station that is literally in the middle of the city. If the train times are not working with your schedule, the airport is a flat fare cab ride to Center City (I think it is $28.50 but then a buck or two for extra passengers or luggage, something like that so expect about $35 or so with tip) and only about 6 miles from Center City.

Tourist highlights off the top of my head:

-Independence Hall / Liberty Bell
-Philadelphia Museum of Art
- Barnes Foundation (largest collection of Impressionist art in the world)
- Reading Terminal Market

Get the SEPTA app where you can now buy transit tickets. You can also buy SEPTA Key (the physical contactless transit card) at rail station kiosks. It's $5 but if you register it online the $5 is credited to your account. For a 3 day visit I'd probably just buy tickets in the app as opposed to going through the trouble of getting the physical SEPTA Key. SEPTA still has not figured out how to accept smartphones at turnstiles and on buses a la DC, NY, CHI, etc. but they say 2023 is the year.

EDIT: Also your friend in Pittsburgh is wrong. ;-)
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Re: Philadelphia

Post by FangKC »

I visited friends in Philadelphia once when I lived in New York City. I was impressed and liked the city a great deal. I wished I had more time to explore it. I encourage you to go. Spring seems like an ideal time.
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Re: Philadelphia

Post by GRID »

I go to Philly and Pittsburgh all the time at least one a year each, Philly more often. Love them both. Sure, Philly has a really "gritty" feel but that's just Philly. I have never felt unsafe in any part of Philly when I have felt unsafe in parts of Chicago, Atlanta etc. Philly has some rough areas I would avoid though, but you most likely won't come in contact with those areas just visiting, mostly the areas to the north and northwest. The south side is gritty but seems relatively safe.

As a first time tourist, you have to hit all the old city attractions like Liberty Bell etc. Go to the art museum and run up the stairs like Rocky. It does not matter when or what time of day, there are always tourist doing that.

You might even do a big bus tour to get acclimated to the city. I would stay in center city if you can, but if not then stay by the airport septa station. The Septa train is easy, safe and fast into the city and runs all hours of the day. All the septa trains are nice and and Philly has some really awesome streetcar suburbs with Septa stations if you want to get really local and away from the tourists.

Philly has some really good recreation with excellent biking infrastructure. The riverfront trail is really nice along the Schuylkill River and Fairmount Park is really nice. Always tons and tons of people on the trails and in the parks of Philly.

And of course go down and get some Cheesesteaks at Pats or Genos. It touristy but you have to go and even though the locals say there are better cheesesteaks elsewhere, I think it's pretty good and fun to go there.

I have no problem driving in Philly, but much of it is like driving in NYC. Very crowded and everybody has bumper damage. But parking is relatively easy to find etc just like Manhattan if you do drive into the city. (I mean nothing is easy like KC, so it's all relative).

Philly is awesome. It's so under the radar with NYC being so close.

Pittsburgh is much more "midwestern" in feel compared to Philly. I love that city too.

Here is a shot of the riverfront trail I took recently:
Image

We did the philly bike ride this fall:
Image
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Re: Philadelphia

Post by alejandro46 »

GRID wrote: Sun Jan 08, 2023 2:02 pm Sure, Philly has a really "gritty" feel but that's just Philly.
You don't say... 8)

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Philly is well worth a visit. At a minimum you need to visit and learn about the Liberty Bill as well as the Art Musemu. Both are worth the visit alone, and there's plenty of other things to do.
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Re: Philadelphia

Post by earthling »

My brother lived in Philly near Rittenhouse Sq in the 90s and we used to go to several comfy old world pubs that were all gone when I visited a few years ago. There are probably many around still but I didn't run into any on last visit - something to look for. Philly has really changed from being somewhat provincially in the shadow of NYC. In the 90s seemed most people who lived there were townies from there, much more mix from everywhere now.

Outside of the usual things unique about Philly mentioned, also walk through some of the earliest alley neighborhoods near river. Not common in US. Looking up pictures might spoil it, just ask best streets to walk down. That gave me one of the better indicators of early America, especially given that it's still functioning.
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Re: Philadelphia

Post by FangKC »

The alley streets are great. Wish it was more prevalent in the USA.
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Re: Philadelphia

Post by brewcrew1000 »

FangKC wrote: Mon Jan 09, 2023 10:47 pm The alley streets are great. Wish it was more prevalent in the USA.
Go to Chicago or Milwaukee, both cities pretty much have them city wide
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Re: Philadelphia

Post by mean »

Philly is great. Italian Market definitely worth a visit. Reading Terminal is also fantastic. Chinatown is relatively small but the food is tops. Amazing city, lots of history obviously, I think your Pitt friend is eating sour grapes or something.
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Re: Philadelphia

Post by Link2 »

Eastern State Penitentiary is a must IMHO -- great year-round, but really special around Halloween.
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Re: Philadelphia

Post by earthling »

brewcrew1000 wrote: Mon Jan 09, 2023 11:21 pm
FangKC wrote: Mon Jan 09, 2023 10:47 pm The alley streets are great. Wish it was more prevalent in the USA.
Go to Chicago or Milwaukee, both cities pretty much have them city wide
That's different, in Philly they are the front of upper scale row houses built close up to narrow single lane carriage alleys, most built in early-mid 1700s. They can be found in some old industrial areas as workhouses elsewhere. IIRC Baltimore has a lot of those.
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