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48 Hours in Philadelphia

by Anna Streatfeild on 17 January 2012, 15:01PM 48 Hours in Philadelphia

There’s much more to Philadelphia than the Liberty Bell and Cheesesteak. Follow our guide on how to spend an activity filled 48 hours in the ‘City of Brotherly Love’.

Day One...

British Airways have a fantastic flight that departs London in the morning, getting to Philadelphia at the very civilized time of around 2.30pm. After a short transfer to the hotel- Palomar Hotel on 117 South and 17th Street, you are located in the thick of things, with the main shopping area just round the corner, the historic area around 12 blocks away and an endless choice of bars and restaurants right on the doorstep.

Be careful not to be tempted by the ridiculously comfortable beds the hotel boasts, instead freshen up and have a stroll around the local area to get your bearings. The hotel is located in the upmarket central Rittenhouse Square neighbourhood. Take a walk to Rittenhouse Square, a genteel park complete with a plaza and fountains designed to resemble a Parisian Park. On your way back to the hotel, stroll along Walnut Street for some of the world’s most famous retailers, high-end boutiques and charming outdoor cafes.

Upon return to the Palomar, if you’ve timed it right, you can take advantage of the hotel happy hour, where complimentary wine is served in the lobby- a wonderful friendly and welcoming touch- don’t miss the warm truffle oil popcorn that is also on offer!

You would have built up an appetite by now and you’re in the right place, Philadelphia loves its food, with every taste covered, many restaurants in the Historic District, along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and near elegant Rittenhouse Square offer alfresco options; perfect for a warm evening. However, if it’s a meal with the ‘wow factor’ you’re after, go to R2L, located on the 37th floor of Two Liberty Place, this is one of Philadelphia’s most dramatic restaurants, offering breathtaking views of the city, whilst Chef Daniel Stern takes traditional American flavours and brings them up-to-date with a modern twist.

Day Two...

Breakfast and coffee on the road as time is of the essence, there’s so much to see and do in Philadelphia.  A great way of fitting as much in to a small amount of time is to take one of the many guided tours around the city. Speciality Tours and Events, offers a variety of different tours to meet the interests of most visitors, whether it’s history, art, culture of movie tourism.

Philadelphia is where a nation was born and the place where many of the nation's most historic documents were written. Sites that are a must see are of course the Liberty Bell, which is located in Independence National Historical Park which offers more than 50 free attractions also including Independence Hall and the President’s House.  Elfreth’s Alley, a few blocks away is one of the oldest streets in the United States. Stroll down the cobbled street and take in more than 30 examples of early 17th and 18th century architecture all lovingly preserved, they look picture perfect.

Art lovers will be kept happy, Philadelphia has more than 4,500 pieces of public art, that range from historical memorials, to modern sculptures, colourful mosaics and huge scale murals. This is the largest number of public art than in any other American city.

The Rodin Museum on Benjamin Franklin Parkway houses the largest collection of the artists work outside of Paris. You can see his famous sculpture ‘The Thinker’ at the museum’s entrance, and inside there are some top examples of his bronze castings, plaster studies, drawings, prints, letters and books.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art houses a magnificent collection of 19th and 20th century American art, however the building is most famous as being one of the locations for the Rocky movie. A run up the 99 steps, relaying that famous scene is a must on any Philadelphia itinerary.

By this time your stomach must be rumbling so head to Reading Terminal Market. This 117 year old farmers’ market has more than 80 merchants selling every sort of cuisine you can think of.  You really must, however, try a cheesesteak- a Philadelphia institution, these may not look all that appetising but taste fantastic. For something sweet try treat yourself at 4th Street Cookies where they come warm and loaded with chocolate chips.

There’s no better way to burn off those calories than a spot of retails therapy and luckily Macy’s is just round the corner. Located in the historic Wanamaker Building on Market Street this department store is a premier fashion destination, with an added bonus of 10% off everything for all visitors, just pick up your discount card in store. In fact Philadelphia is THE place to shop as there is no sales tax on clothes or shoes in any store so get your credit card out and get ready to spend spend spend. For independent stores with more of a boho chic feel, head to South Street, at the bottom of the historic district.

After a freshen up at the hotel, and maybe another glass of wine and bowl of popcorn, a great dinner option is Alma de Cuba, a cutting edge restaurant, bar and lounge offering modern Cuban cuisine washed down with dangerously delicious Mojitos.

Night owls can then head to Jolly’s Dueling Piano Bar, which features the American phenomenon of duelling pianos where two pianists/ singers spar with songs chosen by audience requests- just write your song choice on a napkin and place on the piano- along with a dollar bill! Fun live music, audience participation, mixed with great cocktails creates a great night out. Alternatively, why not catch  one of Philadelphia’s three major league sports teams, which would make a great evening/ afternoon out.

Day Three...

Your last morning in Philadelphia can be spent with a last spot of retail therapy, there are some great bargains to be found at Philadelphia Premium Outlets, which has 150 designers offering a spectacular 25-65% saving, so make sure you get yourself an extra piece of luggage for all the goodies you can stock up on.

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