As the “City of Brotherly Love,” the historic and vibrant metropolis of Philadelphia is an amazing place visit. Great food, breathtaking sights, and an oddly familiar charm drew me to make this city my first solo trip! Whether you’re visiting by yourself or with a group of friends, Philly is the perfect place to getaway. Here’s a step-by-step itinerary for a perfect, fun-filled weekend! Let’s jump in.
If you’re planning a roadtrip to Philadelphia during COVID, be sure to snag the Safecation Travel Guide for packing lists and pre-trip guidance.
Day 1 Activities
Get Your Grub On at Reading Terminal Market
Exploring the wonderland of Reading Terminal Market is both overwhelming and exciting! Over 80 vendors call this National Historic Building home, with the market growing since its opening in 1893. There’s a wide variety of delectable dishes you can find inside – from hearty soul food to sweet desserts. Lucky for me, a nice security guard recommended the salmon and rice at Thai Street Grocery – saying that people from all over the world (even Food Network!) come to try their signature dish. It was delicious – don’t forget to ask for the curry sauce!
Snag a Photo the LOVE Sign
The LOVE Sign is an iconic photo opportunity that you can’t miss! The sculpture sits at the entrance of the John F. Kennedy Plaza, a public park located in Center City. Also across from their is a majestic City Hall building that looks like a European Castle – in fact, it’s the largest municipal building in the United States. It’s definitely worth it to spend some time roaming around these city landmarks.
Climb to New Heights at the One Liberty Observation Deck
Get a panoramic bird’s eye view of the Philadelphia skyline from 57-stories high at the One Liberty Observation Deck. I love to visit an observation deck whenever I stay in a big city, and this one was no exception! Plus, there’s so much about Philadelphia’s history written across the walls at the top of the tower. Don’t forget to see the giant sculpture of Benjamin Franklin’s legs (yes – his legs) at the bottom floor!
Explore Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
The Magic Gardens is one of Philadelphia’s most instantly-recognizable spots. I was overjoyed to visit the exhibit because I’d been wanting to go for years! In a mosaic-filled outdoor gallery, handmade tiles, bottles, bicycle wheels, mirror, and international folk art represent the artist, Isaiah Zagar. The indoor galleries and two-story outdoor exhibit is an Instagrammable masterpiece!
Enjoy Dinner on the Waterfront at Cherry Street Pier
The best views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge is at Cherry Street Pier, a public art space built into the shell of a century-old municipal pier. During the summer, they have a shipping container pop-up bar called the Garden at Cherry Street Pier. Luckily, I was able to snag a reservation and have drinks alongside the Delaware River! Walk down the pier to Spruce Street Harbor Park to see large ships and a light installation among the trees. The boardwalk also features a carnival with a sparkling ferris wheel. It’s truly the perfect place to spend an evening!
Day 2 Activities
Teleport to Asia at Shofuso Japanese Garden
Japanese culture comes alive at the Shofuso Japanese Garden and historic house, built in Japan in 1953 before it eventually landed in Philadelphia in 1958. Today, the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia preserves the beautiful home, garden, and historical artifacts. The tranquility of the garden removes you from the typical hustle and bustle of the big city, with a 70+ year old weeping willow and bright orange Koi fish sweeping you away to Asia.
Visit the Animals at the Philadelphia Zoo
Just a short drive away from Shofuso, the Philadelphia Zoo is nestled among at 42-acre Victorian garden as the first zoo in the United States charted in 1859. Although the zoo is full of animals, the collection of over 500 plant species in its botanical collection is also impressive. See through mesh-trails allow animals to roam freely, and offer an immersive experience to visitors.
Have a World-Famous Cheesesteak
Let me start by saying this: none of the locals visit Geno’s Steaks or Pat’s King of Steaks. Multiple Philly residents told me so. Regardless, I still opted to experience this world-famous area, and see for myself these two competing restaurants that sit just across the street from each other. Always enticed by neon lights, I was drawn to Geno’s and settled on a pepper steak with onions. And… I’ve had better. Nonetheless, it was worth the experience of seeing these iconic restaurants and being able to cross it off my bucket list.
Immerse Yourself in the Wonderspaces Art Exhibit
A hall full of string lights, a virtual reality alien abduction, a dark room with twinkling stars from reflective lights. THESE are the reasons why I spent three hours roaming around the Wonderspaces exhibit. I’m not sure how it happened, but I quite literally became immersed in the exhibits. This is a must-visit for art lovers – or people who just enjoy seeing cool things!
So, there you have it! A perfect weekend in Philadelphia awaits you! Draft that “out of office email” and put in your vacation requests – it’s time for a getaway.
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