The Ultimate 5 Day Philadelphia Guide — Things To Do on Your First Visit to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philly Skyline

Recently, I visited Philadelphia, aka the city of Brotherly Love. And home of the Philly cheesesteak!

I haven’t had a chance to explore much of the east coast, besides New York — so when my friend recently moved there last summer, my travel buddy Lauren and I decided to finally make the trip out to see her earlier this month.

Unlike most cities, Philly has some of the richest roots in American History. Beyond the most obvious sites — The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, aka home of the Declaration of Independence, every street corner is filled with historic street signs, giving the city a type of energy that is only built from leaders. From politics to art… even Rocky. And let’s not forget the food!

We visited Philly for 4 nights and 5 days. During this time, I’d say we conquered a good chunk of this city! So, if you are looking to visit Philly any time soon and/or just want to know the deets on what you should do during your time in Philadelphia, keep on reading.

From the best eats to must-visit museums and tours to take, I’m taking you day-by-day on how we spent our stay. This post contains everything you need to know to have an amazing stay in Philadelphia — so come along!

Day 1:

Arrival and Transportation

Philadelphia’s airport wasn’t too far from where we were staying – about 20-30 minutes. While you have the option to cab/rideshare it, you also can take public transportation as well. To get a feel for the city, we opted for public transit — which ended up being easy! 

If you choose to take the train, here is some info on it:

SEPTA

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, SEPTA, provides train service between Center City and the Airport on the Airport Regional Rail Line. The train runs every 30 minutes, operating from 4:52 AM to 11:52 PM (Center City to Airport) and from 5:07 AM to 12:30 AM (Airport to Center City).

The one-way Regional Rail fare to Center City is $6.75; or $9.25 to any other station beyond Center City. For more info, click here.

Accommodation

The first 2 nights in Philly we stayed at Sonesta Philadelphia Downtown Rittenhouse Hotel – located right in Rittenhouse Square. Very walkable to everything! 

Food & Drinks

We arrived in the evening and had a chance to grab dinner at a local’s favorite, Tria.

Tria has 3 locations: Tria Cafe Wash West, Tria Taproom, and Tria Cafe Rittenhouse. We grabbed dinner at their Taproom location.

TRIA TAPHOUSE – 2005 Walnut Street

This restaurant was intimate, cozy, with a great selection of food and drinks. Everything was also amazing! No wonder it is a local favorite!

Price: $$
Opened Sun-Thurs 12-11 PM, Fri-Sat 12 PM-1:30 AM
Happy Hour: Mon-Thurs 5-7 PM
Food Recommendations and Tips: This place is great for sharing plates. We ordered their Fennel Sausage Flatbread, Veggie Board, and Fries; all were fantastic and highly recommended!

Day 2:

Drinks

Coffee is definitely a must before starting a long-filled day! The most recommended coffee shop here in Philly is La Colombe coffee. At Sonesta Philly, they conveniently had a restaurant inside the hotel where they served it! However, you can find a few locations throughout, all with different cafe vibes.

Activities and Tours

THE ACADEMY OF NATURAL SCIENCES – 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Before our fun-filled day, we had a chance to stop by the Natural Science Museum. The museum isn’t too big but had a great number of exhibits such as dinosaurs, dioramas, and even a butterfly sanctuary.

Price: $$ – see full prices here.
Opened Mon-Fri 10 AM-4:30 PM, 10 AM-5 PM weekends and holidays

Food and Drinks

PARC – 227 South 18th Street

Like La Colombe coffee, Parc is also a local favorite and I can totally see why! Parc is a traditional French bistro located in the heart of Rittenhouse Square. Now, I have never been to Paris, but it really feels like you are there! 

We came here for lunch and the place was lively. Our waiter’s name was Adam and he was great! We ordered a variety of dishes to share: escargots and east and west oysters to start, then trout (which was my favorite!) and mushroom ravioli for our entrees. Sadly, there was no time or room for dessert, but they had options such as homemade ice cream and sorbet, butter pecan, and apple cider sorbet.

This was definitely my favorite restaurant during my visit and I’d totally eat here again – so 100% recommend it!! View the full menu here.

Price: $$
Open Daily
Food Recommendations and Tips: I recommend everything we ordered, especially the escargots and the trout! I would also recommend you make reservations as this place seems to be super busy all the time!

Activities and Tours

THE SPA at FOUR SEASONS – 1 North 19th Street

After lunch, we had appointments at the Four Seasons Spa. The Four Seasons is one of the newest additions to Philly but certainly is on the top. And that’s not only because it’s officially the city’s highest building, but the 57th-floor spa literally puts you on cloud 9.

Instead of going for the traditional massage or facial, we opted for a spa manicure. The spa staff was extremely welcoming, providing complimentary glasses of champagne and decadent chocolates upon our arrival. 

The setting is intimate yet open with modern artwork to pull together. Our manicurist Kim gave us over 60+ color selections. Beyond the colors, she even suggested unique designs to take our nails to the next level. I had a fun take on a French manicure, while my friend went for more of a bright pink and orange sunset theme.

And speaking of which, we got to take in the sunset lounging by their heated infinity pool. To book your session, check out the Spa’s menu.

Price: $$$
Open Daily
Recommendations and Tips: After the spa, it’s a must to head upstairs and grab a drink at their JG Skyhigh, which is located on the 60th floor.

COCKTAIL TOUR

The best way to learn more about a city or neighborhood is to take a tour – the Cocktail Tour is highly recommended. This tour will take you to one of Philly’s trendiest new neighborhoods, Fishtown. During this tour, we indulged in unique cocktail creations by some of the city’s best barmen: Fishtown Social for a French 75, Stateside for a tour of the distillery and a Moscow Mule, and ended the night at Original 13 Ciderworks for six seasonal variations of cider.

Overall the tour was not only informative but a fun way to explore Fishtown and meet awesome people!

Tickets are $65; click here for the schedule.

Food and Drinks

WM. MULHERIN’S SONS – 1355 North Front Street

Another local recommendation – after the cocktail tour, we ended our night with delicious Italian food at Mulherin’s. The building itself was a former whiskey distribution site and was constructed in 1890 and has been converted into a restaurant and boutique hotel serving urban, wood-fired Italian.

The food and service were both great. Lauren and I shared a Margherita pizza and Francobolli pasta; I felt the pasta was a bit too salty for my taste, but the pizza was delightful. View their menu here.

Price: $$$
Open for dinner-close, weekends vary.
Recommendations and Tips: Great spot to grab a drink and dinner! Pizza and cocktails recommended!

Day 3:

Accommodation

We checked out of Sonesta Philadelphia Downtown and checked into Warwick Hotel.

Warwick Hotel is also located in Rittenhouse Square. This hotel has a unique, yet stylish and sophisticated feel, all throughout the hotel. Our room wasn’t as big as Sonesta but it was comfortable enough for two people. Warwick offered complimentary breakfast, as well as happy hour in their business room – which we took full advantage of. The staff and overall stay were great! Totally recommend it!

Food and Drinks

READING TERMINAL MARKET – 51 North 12th Street

The Reading Terminal Market is one of America’s largest and oldest public markets. It gives off the feel of Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver or Chelsea Market in NYC but it’s accustomed to Philly with more comfort food options. If you’re not ready for the full thing, it’s the best place to share a Philly cheesesteak (we tried Spataro’s). This market also offers delis, donuts, and more hidden gems; it’s definitely a MUST to check out while visiting Philly.

Price: $
Open Daily
Recommendations and Tips: If you’re a donut fan, Beiler’s Donuts is a MUST!

Activities and Tours

LIBERTY BELL – 526 Market Street

Walking is super easy in Philly! From the Reading Terminal, it only took us about 13 minutes to get to the Liberty Bell.

The Liberty Bell is free. It’s in Society Hill and conveniently located near Independence Hall. Before seeing the actual bell, it is a small exhibit describing the details leading up the Liberty Bell’s creation, first ring, and details regarding its infamous crack.

Warning: you will have to go through an airport-style security checkpoint before entering the museum – aka not fun in the wintertime! 😛

Pricing: FREE
Open Daily 9 AM – 5 PM

ELFRETH’S ALLEY – 126 Elfreth’s Alley

You have not been to Philadelphia until you walk down this street. Elfreth’s Alley is America’s oldest residential street and was built in 1702. This National Historic Landmark is named for an 18th-century blacksmith and properrty owner Jeremiah Elfreth. This alley was home to tradespeople and artisans.

Food and Drinks

ATTICO ROOFTOP – 219 South Broad Street, Rooftop of Cambria Hotel 

Later that day, our friend took us for pre-drinks at Attico aka the ultimate happy hour spot. Attico is located on an indoor/outdoor rooftop in Center City, so it is convenient for any time of the year. The environment is welcoming and earthy with lounge chairs and vines hanging from the ceiling. Beyond their great drink specials (I’d recommend the happy hour pinot grigio!) they also offer charcuterie boards. Word on the street is the happy hour burger is also a must.

Price: $$
Happy Hour Mon-Fri 5-7 PM
Recommendations and Tips: Great spot to grab drinks and bites after work!

MISSION TAQUERIA – 1516 Sansom Street

It’s clear that Mission Taqueria is the place to be. So popular, the restaurant does not take reservations. And once we sat down, we could understand why. The food is authentic yet posh, with fresh salsa and chips served on the table. We ordered chicken tortilla soup, various tacos, and not to forget margaritas. 

Fun fact: if you travel to Philly at the end of January, they are hosting their restaurant week.

Price: $$
Open Daily
Recommendations and Tips: This place gets super busy! If you want to dine here, put your name down and head across the street to grab a drink while you wait for your table.

PORTA – 1215 Chestnut Street

If you’re looking for a fun night out, Porta is the place to dance! Multileveled, the hot-spot has a DJ on each floor.

Price: $
Open Daily
Happy Hour: Mon-Fri 4-7

Day 4:

Food and Drinks

THE DANDELION – 124 South 18th Street

We started our day at The Dandelion; the perfect brunch spot for a chilly day. The Dandelion felt like the inside of a British pub but still had a cozy elegance. We started off with fresh blueberry scones paired with a warm cup of coffee. I ordered the grilled chicken sandwich, served on a homemade cranberry walnut bread. It tasted like comfort food, but was much healthier than a cheesesteak!

Price: $$
Open Daily

Activities and Tours

MUSEUM OF ART – 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a must-see before you even go up the entrance stairs. That is because Rocky Balboa climbed those same ones. The museum has a statue out front that commends the infamous film. You can see impersonators dressing up in sweatsuits… a sight to see!

However, the museum was still the most impressive. Their special exhibit was quite possibly the most futuristic one I have seen, almost entirely interactive. If you’re looking for modern art and history, the museum has plenty of it. A highlight was seeing the Presidential tea sets, from Washington’s to Roosevelt’s.

However, what I still found most impressive were their halls covering Asia, Europe, and Africa. Each room you entered physically transformed you to that destination, from a Buddhist monastery to Roman pillars.

Price: Adults $12, Seniors $11, Students (with ID) $7, Youths (18 & Under) and Museum Members Free
Open Tuesday-Sunday, hours vary. Check times here.

Food

CHUBBY CATTLE IN CHINATOWN – 146 North 10th Street

When visiting any city, Chinatown is a must. If you’ve been following me, you know, Asian food is my jam. When searching for the best Chinatown restaurants, the Chubby Cattle had the most raving reviews. The Chubby Cattle is a hot pot restaurant — offering a wide selection of fresh seafood, delicious meats, veggies, and more. You choose your broth (I got the tomato oxtail), and can add meat and veggies of your choosing. And if you’re not feeling something hot, they have a full rotating sushi bar. You definitely will not leave feeling hungry. So come on an empty stomach!

The Chubby Cattle is so popular that they let guests sign up for the waiting list online. 

Price: $
Open Daily

Day 5:

Activities and Tours

MAGIC GARDENS – 1020 South Street

The Magic Gardens was on my top list! If you didn’t do any research beforehand, you’d probably not come across it. A mural marvel. The “gardens” are made up of entirely recycled materials, from glass to old bicycle wheels. The gardens are similar to a small maze, where you can weave down different rows and stairs. Every inch of the installation is unique, where not one object is the same.

It’s recommended to buy tickets in advance, as they allow visitors inside in 30-minute increments.

Price: $
Open Wed-Mon 11 AM – 6 PM

Food and Drinks

PENN’S LANDING

Penn’s Landing could be considered the harbor of Philly, right along the Delaware River. Beyond picturesque views, Penn’s Landing is a hub to refuel on drinks or decadent snacks such as crab fries. What I thought was special was the fact the local breweries sampled free tastings for anyone over 21. We also ordered adult hot chocolates and sat by the fire pit outside.

JG SKYHIGH (FOUR SEASONS HOTEL)

Because we had to drop in again before leaving; hehe. The JG Skyhigh is the ultimate 360-degree view of Philly. The JG Skyhigh is located on the 60th level; the rooftop is indoors, and also has two levels with two separate bars. There is also an option for seating and a full menu. We ordered a cucumber martini and a glass of rose while taking in the sunset. The perfect way to end the trip.

Price: $$$
Open Daily

MACHI SUSHI – 209 South 20th Street

A definite hidden gem of Philly. Machi Sushi gives off a locals-only vibe but is welcoming to tourists alike. The restaurant offers a full range of specialty rolls that are very well priced. 

However, the best part is that it’s BYOB!

Price: $
Open Daily
Recommendations and Tips: If you’re in a group, it’s recommended to order a bunch to share! The service was a bit slow I must say, but everything else was delightful not to mention it was affordable!

And that concludes my Philly trip!! From the history to the eats, and overall vibe, I had a blast and I’d definitely return soon (but only when it’s warmer, lol). Check out my review on Sonesta Philly for places to stay.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading!! I hope this post is helpful for your next trip to this beautiful city! If you’ve been to Philly, what is your favorite thing about it?

Thank you to Visit Philly for setting up this trip for me! As always, my opinions are my own.

XO,

Fancy Nancy


Comments (7)

  • Hotel Review: Sonesta Philadelphia Downtown Rittenhouse Square – Fancy Nanc-ista

    at

    […] in a prominent area. If you want to know where you should go during your visit, check out my latest Ultimate Guide to Philadelphia […]

  • Linda

    at

    Philadelphia is such a lovely city! I grew up nearby and always enjoyed visiting. There is so much to do and so much history to explore. Looks like you got to enjoy some really lovely food and accommodation during your stay. I’ve only ever gone for a day trip but perhaps next time I’ll have to try staying in the city for a few days.

    1. admin

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      yes you should!!!

  • Kate

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    I would love to visit Philly!! what a fantastic guide with so many fun ideas!!

    1. admin

      at

      you really should! It’s such a lovely city!!

  • Alicia Chew

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    I lived in Philly for a few years, and I absolutely loved it! Such incredible food. Tria and Parc were some of my go-to’s when I lived there. If you visit again, definitely head to Fishtown/Northern Liberties — really hip, eccentric neighborhoods with great food and colorful murals!

    1. admin

      at

      That’s awesome!! So much good food for sure. I went to Fishtown for a tour but definitely want to explore more of it, maybe I’ll hit it up again over the summer! 🙂

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