Are you feeling some fall wanderlust? Do you love exploring the personality of a new city? Read on to hear all about my trip to PHILADELPHIA this spring!
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Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of traveling to Philadelphia with VisitPhilly.com and over just a couple of days, got a taste for the fantastic art, food, culture, and history Philly has to offer. If you’re looking to check out a cool city that packs a ton of US history, art and culture, plus a dash of great food, VisitPhilly.com is a great place to start planning your trip.
While we were visiting Philly, we stayed at the Kimpton Hotel Palomar in Center City Philadelphia, which was, you guessed it, accessible to everything. The best part of the location? We were right in the middle of Philly’s best shopping.
On top of being the ideal location, the hotel is Philly’s first LEED Gold-certified hotel and features recycled wall coverings among other décor that shows off their commitment to green building. The hotel is in Philly’s historic Architects Building and the care Kimpton has taken to honour the building’s heritage and the city’s history is so evident throughout. The Palomar offers the best boutique hotel experience with the ease and luxury of a higher end chain. OH, and FYI – all Kimpton’s (I think) offer a free happy hour in their hotel lobby for guests so I mean, where else would you rather stay?!
Kicking off the trip, we joined the folks from VisitPhilly.com for a toast at the One Liberty Observation Deck. This view blew us away! A full panorama of Philly’s views from the 57th floor in Downtown was such a great way to get excited about the rest of the trip.
One Liberty Observation Deck provides Philadelphia with panoramic bird’s-eye views of the city from the 57th floor of One Liberty Place in downtown Philadelphia. The observatory supplies the chance to score 360-degree views of the cityscape, interact with innovative technology and check out Philly-centric art installations.
The first evening, we went to the Fishtown neighbourhood to visit Philadelphia Distilling for a private tasting and tour. This is where Bluecoat American Dry Gin and some other spirits are made. They recently moved into this gorgeous and welcoming space. The gin tasting was SO cool, I felt like I learned so much about the layers of flavour that go into making a great gin. A great space to relax and enjoy some drinks, if you visit, it’s definitely worth going on a tour to learn a bit of the process of making your drink.
What makes Philly worth visiting? One major reason is the amazing murals all over the city, there are more than 3500 all over the city! Not just great for Instagrammable moments, these murals give the city such a unique personality from other places I’ve visited. Murals really show off the community’s voice and history and bring some really cool art into public spaces. Our walking tour of some of the best murals around Philly with some stops at local businesses was a fantastic way to spend the morning.
PLUS, all the walking gave me a chance to stop in on some great vintage stores. Do any of you like to vintage or thrift shop while you’re traveling? I always try to find a few off-the-beaten-path stores to check out on any trip.
Any museum lovers out there? Another major highlight of our trip was visiting The Barnes Foundation. This spectacular museum is one of the largest collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and modern paintings in the world. Philly’s art world spans from the classics to murals and everything in between. I love checking out art museums wherever I go. Whether it’s seeing new pieces from artists I know and love to seeing unique pieces that the museum has added for a special exhibition, this museum did not disappoint. The dreamy colours and textures of the impressionists were so relaxing and a perfect way to spend the afternoon.
History buffs, did you know Philadelphia has SO many more stories to tell than just the Liberty Bell?
Of course, we saw the bell in all its glory on our Historic Downtown Walking Tour, but also so many other sites of major US historical events. Some highlights were..
The President’s House (where George Washington and John Adams lived while in office),
Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence was signed), and
Elfreth’s Alley (the oldest US street that has continuously been occupied with only residential homes)
One of the highlights of this trip was the deep dive into African American history. The impact of slavery and the impact of Black Philadelphians was mentioned everywhere. I really liked that the VisitPhilly.com team set up two events that focused in on Black History, visiting The Johnson House and The Colored Girls Museum.
The Johnson House is a home that belonged to the abolitionist Johnson family, who were part of the Underground Railroad. Need a history refresher? The Underground Railroad was a secret network of homes/safe places for African-American slaves to escape to free states or Canada in the mid 1800’s. Harriet Tubman, the political activist and former slave, was said to have visited the Johnson House several times (unreal – can’t believe I was there). The museum focuses on the ways that everyday people can contribute to social justice, so relevant with everything happening in the world now.
Building from that experience, visiting The Colored Girls Museum with the group of smart Black bloggers was a really cool experience to reflect on race and identity. The museum uses ordinary objects and creates a really cool collaborative space to discuss being women of colour. The Museum lives in an converted house in Germantown and it was a really powerful way to connect more personally to all the history we had taken in over the trip.
A major highlight for me on any trip is exploring local food and drinks. What would a visit to Philly be without eating a Cheesesteak? We hit up Max’s Cheesesteaks for lunch. I like mine with salt, pepper, hot sauce, and provolone cheese. Definitely worth walking through North Philadelphia to visit this spot. Oh and it was featured in the movie Creed, if you’re a fan lol!
While we were in Old City, we stopped in Vista Peru for lunch. Such a cool escape from the historical surroundings, this modern restaurant serves awesome Peruvian dishes and even boasts a full menu of Pisco (a spirit from Peru) cocktails.
For dinner we went to Harp & Crown, where the food was only surpassed by the amazing service. The feel of this place blends modern design with elements of history. The new-American menu filled us with upscale twists on classic dishes. Fantastic cocktails and just an amazing cozy vibe.
Brunch babes? Parc is your spot. This Brasserie is right off Rittenhouse square and serves classic French café food. Think Steak Frites, French onion soup, classic salads, and amazing breads.
Craving soul food? Tasties is your place! This spot in West Philly serves all your comfort food faves: Fried Chicken, Mac and Cheese, Yams, Rolls and so much more.
What more can I say? Even though I’d visited Philadelphia before, this amazing trip with Visit Philadelphia gave me a whole new perspective on all Philly has to offer. I got to dive into the rich Black History that’s such an important part of what has shaped the city into what It is today. I had amazing cocktails and food and got to spend time with a fabulous group of Black bloggers.
Have you ever been to Philadelphia before? Would you ever return? I’d love to know your thoughts. Also, if you guys love these detailed travel guides let me know 🙂