Philadelphia

Do a trip report here....go to another city and want to relate it to what KC is doing right or could do better? Give us a summary in here.
User avatar
Highlander
City Center Square
City Center Square
Posts: 10104
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 1:40 pm
Location: Houston

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.
bspecht
New York Life
New York Life
Posts: 413
Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2015 4:31 pm
Location: DC
Contact:

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!
brewcrew1000
Hotel President
Hotel President
Posts: 3100
Joined: Fri Feb 11, 2011 10:10 am
Location: Broadway/Gilham according to google maps

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.
User avatar
TheLastGentleman
Broadway Square
Broadway Square
Posts: 2872
Joined: Tue Jun 13, 2017 9:27 pm

Re: Philadelphia

Post by TheLastGentleman »

Philly seems to appear constantly in urbanist circles as an exemplary city
User avatar
FlippantCitizen
Western Auto Lofts
Western Auto Lofts
Posts: 569
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2021 5:29 pm
Location: Chicago

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.
User avatar
smh
Supporter
Posts: 4289
Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2010 10:40 pm
Location: Central Loop

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. ;-)
User avatar
FangKC
City Hall
City Hall
Posts: 18080
Joined: Sat Jul 26, 2003 10:02 pm
Location: Old Northeast -- Indian Mound

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.
User avatar
GRID
City Hall
City Hall
Posts: 17000
Joined: Mon Sep 15, 2003 12:20 pm
Contact:

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
User avatar
alejandro46
Alameda Tower
Alameda Tower
Posts: 1346
Joined: Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:24 pm
Location: King in the North(Land)

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)

Image

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.
earthling
Mark Twain Tower
Mark Twain Tower
Posts: 8514
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2011 2:27 pm
Location: milky way, orion arm

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.
User avatar
FangKC
City Hall
City Hall
Posts: 18080
Joined: Sat Jul 26, 2003 10:02 pm
Location: Old Northeast -- Indian Mound

Re: Philadelphia

Post by FangKC »

The alley streets are great. Wish it was more prevalent in the USA.
brewcrew1000
Hotel President
Hotel President
Posts: 3100
Joined: Fri Feb 11, 2011 10:10 am
Location: Broadway/Gilham according to google maps

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
mean
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 11214
Joined: Wed Feb 05, 2003 9:00 am
Location: Historic Northeast

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.
Link2
Strip mall
Strip mall
Posts: 162
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2020 12:04 pm

Re: Philadelphia

Post by Link2 »

Eastern State Penitentiary is a must IMHO -- great year-round, but really special around Halloween.
earthling
Mark Twain Tower
Mark Twain Tower
Posts: 8514
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2011 2:27 pm
Location: milky way, orion arm

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.
User avatar
Highlander
City Center Square
City Center Square
Posts: 10104
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 1:40 pm
Location: Houston

Re: Philadelphia

Post by Highlander »

Thanks for the input! Looking forward to the trip. Staying just south of downtown on Broad Street.

3 days in Philly. Thought we would divide it into the museum area to the west of downtown one day and the historical area east of downtown on the other using the third day to explore the Italian Market area and any place we didn't have time for the prior two days.

We walk everywhere so transportation should not be an issue. Just hope it's feasible to walk. Distances don't seem all that great.

Will make sure we leave the KC Chiefs gear at home!
User avatar
smh
Supporter
Posts: 4289
Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2010 10:40 pm
Location: Central Loop

Re: Philadelphia

Post by smh »

Everything is very walkable, you will have no problem. Honestly the street grid is very deceptive in Google Maps. You'll find on the ground things are very close (w/ the exception of the Art Museum which is a walk).

Make sure you visit Rittenhouse Square with a coffee and sit for a minute. Great farmer's market on Saturday morning and smaller version on Tuesday. While you are in Italian Market take the time to go down to Passyunk Ave. Very cool area, lots of local shops and eats (my favorite is Stargazy an excellent British takeaway).

Not sure when you're visiting or whether you need restaurant recommendations, but a few popular spots that are justifiably busy:

Laser Wolf (books up a month out, one of the best meals I've ever had)
Her Place Supper Club (similar)
PARC (not so far out, is a massive resto but pretty good food and excellent French vibes)
Fork (been around 30 years, continues to be raved about by local food critic)
Kalaya (best thai I have ever had in this country, recently relocated from Italian Market to a much larger spot in Fishtown)
Pizzeria Beddia (occasionally called the best pizza place in America and Top 20 in the world)

If you like beverages, a few places I have been you might enjoy:
- Graffiti Bar (cocktails)
- Frankford Hall (german beer hall with good year-round outside space)
- Love City Brewing
- Triple Bottom Brewing

If you want a reason to ride the trolleys, take one over to Clarkville, a decent pizza spot with a good beer selection across from Clark Park. Bonus here is you'll get to see part of West Philly (this is also a nice walk from Center City).

Enjoy yourself!
User avatar
Highlander
City Center Square
City Center Square
Posts: 10104
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 1:40 pm
Location: Houston

Re: Philadelphia

Post by Highlander »

smh wrote: Wed Feb 15, 2023 4:33 pm Everything is very walkable, you will have no problem. Honestly the street grid is very deceptive in Google Maps. You'll find on the ground things are very close (w/ the exception of the Art Museum which is a walk).

Make sure you visit Rittenhouse Square with a coffee and sit for a minute. Great farmer's market on Saturday morning and smaller version on Tuesday. While you are in Italian Market take the time to go down to Passyunk Ave. Very cool area, lots of local shops and eats (my favorite is Stargazy an excellent British takeaway).

Not sure when you're visiting or whether you need restaurant recommendations, but a few popular spots that are justifiably busy:

Laser Wolf (books up a month out, one of the best meals I've ever had)
Her Place Supper Club (similar)
PARC (not so far out, is a massive resto but pretty good food and excellent French vibes)
Fork (been around 30 years, continues to be raved about by local food critic)
Kalaya (best thai I have ever had in this country, recently relocated from Italian Market to a much larger spot in Fishtown)
Pizzeria Beddia (occasionally called the best pizza place in America and Top 20 in the world)

If you like beverages, a few places I have been you might enjoy:
- Graffiti Bar (cocktails)
- Frankford Hall (german beer hall with good year-round outside space)
- Love City Brewing
- Triple Bottom Brewing

If you want a reason to ride the trolleys, take one over to Clarkville, a decent pizza spot with a good beer selection across from Clark Park. Bonus here is you'll get to see part of West Philly (this is also a nice walk from Center City).

Enjoy yourself!
Frankford Hall looks like a place I'd really enjoy? Walkable from downtown? How's the surrounding neighborhood?

Also, quick question, we plan to take the rail connection from the airport to Suburban Station (which looks pretty urban actually) and uber to our downtown hotel from there (on south Broad Street). How well would that work? Not really wanting to walk with luggage that far.

Thanks for all the suggestions! Be there soon.
User avatar
smh
Supporter
Posts: 4289
Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2010 10:40 pm
Location: Central Loop

Re: Philadelphia

Post by smh »

Highlander wrote: Sat Apr 15, 2023 10:45 am
smh wrote: Wed Feb 15, 2023 4:33 pm Everything is very walkable, you will have no problem. Honestly the street grid is very deceptive in Google Maps. You'll find on the ground things are very close (w/ the exception of the Art Museum which is a walk).

Make sure you visit Rittenhouse Square with a coffee and sit for a minute. Great farmer's market on Saturday morning and smaller version on Tuesday. While you are in Italian Market take the time to go down to Passyunk Ave. Very cool area, lots of local shops and eats (my favorite is Stargazy an excellent British takeaway).

Not sure when you're visiting or whether you need restaurant recommendations, but a few popular spots that are justifiably busy:

Laser Wolf (books up a month out, one of the best meals I've ever had)
Her Place Supper Club (similar)
PARC (not so far out, is a massive resto but pretty good food and excellent French vibes)
Fork (been around 30 years, continues to be raved about by local food critic)
Kalaya (best thai I have ever had in this country, recently relocated from Italian Market to a much larger spot in Fishtown)
Pizzeria Beddia (occasionally called the best pizza place in America and Top 20 in the world)

If you like beverages, a few places I have been you might enjoy:
- Graffiti Bar (cocktails)
- Frankford Hall (german beer hall with good year-round outside space)
- Love City Brewing
- Triple Bottom Brewing

If you want a reason to ride the trolleys, take one over to Clarkville, a decent pizza spot with a good beer selection across from Clark Park. Bonus here is you'll get to see part of West Philly (this is also a nice walk from Center City).

Enjoy yourself!
Frankford Hall looks like a place I'd really enjoy? Walkable from downtown? How's the surrounding neighborhood?

Also, quick question, we plan to take the rail connection from the airport to Suburban Station (which looks pretty urban actually) and uber to our downtown hotel from there (on south Broad Street). How well would that work? Not really wanting to walk with luggage that far.

Thanks for all the suggestions! Be there soon.
A man of good taste! You could walk to Frankford Hall if you wanted. It is about 2.5 miles from City Hall (which is right near where you're staying). You could chart a course through Chinatown and then stop a couple times along the way like Love City Brewing or Triple Bottom Brewing both along Spring Garden St which then leads you into Northern Liberties which is a fast growing area with lots to do. If you walk north through Northern Liberties you will hit Girard Ave which takes you over to Fishtown where you'll find Frankford Hall.

A faster route would be to jump on the Market-Frankford Line subway/El at City Hall and take it to Girard. From there you're about a 5 minute walk or less from Frankford Hall. If you're up that way, why not consider a reservation (book early) at Kalaya a fantastic Thai spot that recently relocated to Fishtown. Laser Wolf also just a couple of minutes walk away. Pro-tip: It opens at 5pm and the bar is open seating. One of the best meals I've ever had. Fishtown and Northern Liberties are right next to each other (basically divided by the elevated subway), both have tons of new development, very hip, lots of restaurants and shops along Frankford Ave and Girard Ave in Fishtown.

Regarding the airport connection, you could definitely take an Uber or cab from Suburban Station. The station connects to City Hall underground also, so you could also over there and catch the Broad Street Line one stop to Walnut/Locust and probably be right at your hotel entrance. But questionable whether it is worth buying a ticket for one stop. You might also think about walking. Philadelphia is incredibly compact which can be hard to appreciate on Google Maps. For example, a walk from Suburban Station to the DoubleTree on Broad is only around 13 minutes according to Google. But you can definitely get an Uber no problem, the area around Suburban is busy, right in the business district, next to Comcast HQ and City Hall. Enjoy your stay, reach out if you have other questions!
User avatar
Highlander
City Center Square
City Center Square
Posts: 10104
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 1:40 pm
Location: Houston

Re: Philadelphia

Post by Highlander »

smh wrote: Wed Feb 15, 2023 4:33 pm Everything is very walkable, you will have no problem. Honestly the street grid is very deceptive in Google Maps. You'll find on the ground things are very close (w/ the exception of the Art Museum which is a walk).

Make sure you visit Rittenhouse Square with a coffee and sit for a minute. Great farmer's market on Saturday morning and smaller version on Tuesday. While you are in Italian Market take the time to go down to Passyunk Ave. Very cool area, lots of local shops and eats (my favorite is Stargazy an excellent British takeaway).

Not sure when you're visiting or whether you need restaurant recommendations, but a few popular spots that are justifiably busy:

Laser Wolf (books up a month out, one of the best meals I've ever had)
Her Place Supper Club (similar)
PARC (not so far out, is a massive resto but pretty good food and excellent French vibes)
Fork (been around 30 years, continues to be raved about by local food critic)
Kalaya (best thai I have ever had in this country, recently relocated from Italian Market to a much larger spot in Fishtown)
Pizzeria Beddia (occasionally called the best pizza place in America and Top 20 in the world)

If you like beverages, a few places I have been you might enjoy:
- Graffiti Bar (cocktails)
- Frankford Hall (german beer hall with good year-round outside space)
- Love City Brewing
- Triple Bottom Brewing

If you want a reason to ride the trolleys, take one over to Clarkville, a decent pizza spot with a good beer selection across from Clark Park. Bonus here is you'll get to see part of West Philly (this is also a nice walk from Center City).

Enjoy yourself!
Thanks for all the suggestions. Philly was great! It helped that we had some great weather too. Although I suffered a cycling accident which limited my mobility prior to leaving, still managed to average 7.5 miles per day walking. Most of what we wanted to see in Philly was very accessible on foot. We found the subway not all that convenient for downtown but it really helped when trying to get to outlying places. We only used it to get relatively close to a few destinations; the Italian Market, Frankford Hall and Eastern State Penitentiary.

We did all the usual touristy stuff like the historical district (Liberty Bell, Independence Hall etc...), the museums NW of downtown, Eastern State and the Italian Market. All very good. Liberty Bell a bit underwhelming but the other attractions in that area are worthwhile. The PMOA and Barnes Foundation are excellent and world class. Not sure when museums started restricting their hours so much but that caused some angst with us; had to redo our schedule and the Rodin Museum was closed the entire 3 full days were on the ground in Philly. That aside, our favorite thing to do was just wondering around and checking out various areas. The area SW of city hall around Rittenhouse Square very much reminded us of Manhattan. Quite impressive. Also really enjoyed the area from the PMOA to Logan Square. And the Italian Market and Passyunk Avenue.

The only food suggestion you made we were able to take advantage of was Frankford Hall. It was great and not all that crowded but well worth the subway ride. On subsequent evenings we stayed either in the downtown area (we landed at El Vez a couple of blocks from our hotel after arriving Monday night - excellent Mexican food), Pats world of steak in south Philly (had to try the cheesesteak) and a brewery near Logan fountain. Had some great breakfasts too - Green Eggs in particular and Reading Terminal was always a good place to hit for food.

We had heard that Philly was a gritty and dangerous city by people who had visited in the past and while parts were definitely gritty, we never felt uncomfortable. The subway could be a little intimidating for some tourists, long approach tunnels with some strung out people, but our only issue was the frequent smell of urine and somewhat confusing signage. The SEPTA ticket machines, however, were incredibly temperamental. Sometimes it would just randomly take one credit card but not the other, or no credit cards at all and only cash but then it would only accept certain denominations of bills? Overall great trip. Loved the city, people were extremely friendly and food was great. Didn't even get any crap for being from KC - people were pretty good about the outcome of the SB.
Post Reply