Between the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the iconic steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art– where Sylvester Stallone famously ran during one of the most triumphant scenes in Rocky— Philadelphia has a lot to offer those seeking interesting cultural experiences in the City of Brotherly Love.
For the casual tourist and the stay-cationer alike, Philadelphia offers an intriguing mix of history, nouveau art, a bourgeoning food scene, and a new suite of hotels, spas, and other relaxation havens that offer top-notch wellness experiences at more reasonable prices than comparable services in cities like New York, Paris, London, or LA.
Food-wise, Philadelphia has also matured far beyond the days of the Philly Cheesesteak (though we definitely recommend getting one at John’s Roast Pork, if you’re into that). With award-winning institutions like Israeli restaurant Zahav and foodie favorites like Federal Donuts and Pizzeria Beddia popping up all over Instagram, the number of options for fresh, local eats is sure to delight even novice epicureans.
Below, we spotlight some of our favorite Philadelphia sights, restaurants, museums, spas, gardens, and parks for a perfect weekend getaway in the city.
The Spa + Assembly Lounge Rooftop at The Logan Hotel
With it’s prime location in the heart of Philadelphia, The Logan Hotel is a great starting point for any weekend trip to the city– and we particularly love the Spa and getting drinks on the rooftop at Assembly Lounge, both of which can be experienced by visitors staying elsewhere.
The Logan Spa‘s signature Alpine Arnica Massage was recently named The Best Massage in Philadelphia, and uses botanical aromatherapy and Russian Massage techniques to offer targeted, effective relieve of deep muscular tension. Guests choose between botanical extracts of arnica, sweet birch, and magnesium salves to enhance the restorative experience.
Afterwards, have a dip in the hotel’s warm salt water pool or head to the roof for fireside drinks at Assembly Lounge, which boasts pleasant skyline views and a killer Pimm’s Cup (we also recommend the Cherry Street Mule cocktail, which features knob creek single barrel, lemon, cherry, and fever-tree ginger beer).
Biking Along Benjamin Franklin Parkway & Around
Benjamin Franklin Parkway is home to Jay-Z’s Made in America Festival, which takes place on the boulevard every year in early September. Bracketed by the Philadelphia Museum of Art on the west and the iconic LOVE Park on the east, the Parkway is also an excellent green place to stroll or bike during spring, summer, and fall while taking in some of the city’s best museums (the thoroughfare was modeled after the Champs-Élysées.)
In Autumn, trees turn fiery shades of red, orange, and yellow, and cool, pleasant temperatures make it an ideal time to picnic at LOVE Park (which will re-open this November) after visiting The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Franklin Institute (one of the nation’s most beloved science museums), City Hall (which looks like a Parisian chalet), or The Barnes Foundation (home to some of the world’s greatest Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, with especially deep holdings in Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, and Picasso).
Re-enact the stairs scene from Rocky at the 72 Stone Steps in front of The Philadelphia Museum of Art, visit the Rodin Museum (home to the largest collection of Auguste Rodin sculptures outside of France), or check out the Rare Book Department at the Free Library of Philadelphia.
Moore College of Art and Design
Philadelphia is a city of “firsts”– Philly is home to America’s first zoo, the first hospital, and the nation’s first medical school. (Holler back, Penn Medicine!) The city is also home to the first and only women’s college of art and design in the nation:
Moore College of Art and Design was opened in 1848, and continues to offer courses in visual arts to an exclusively female student body– though both men and women can pursue graduate work and enroll in workshops through the Summer Art & Design Institute and the Young Artists Workshop.
Admission is free at The Galleries at Moore, where visitors can see work from established artists and up-and-comers alike. Be sure to check out The Art Shop for unique ceramics, sculpture, and wearable art as well as an excellent collection of art books (including, but not limited to, titles like: The Taxonomy of Trash: An Analytical Approach to Garbage, Pretty Vacant: The Graphic Language of Punk, and In Repose: Images of Women by Women, from the collection of Dennis & Debra Scholl).
Those looking for a real Philly food experience need look no further than Zahav, a modern Israeli restaurant that has quickly become one of the most celebrated institutions in the culinary world.
Chef Michael Solomonov is the culinary genius behind the restaurant’s modern, fresh Middle Eastern menu, which includes everything from award-winning hummus tehina to confit lamb in a pomegranate reduction and Malabi custard flavored with precious orchid root and sachlab, ma’amoul cookie, rosewater, pistachios, and wild blueberries. (Solomonov won a 2016 James Beard Award for International Cooking as well as 2017’s James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef. Upon publishing his cookbook, Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking along with business partner Steve Cook, it was named “Book of the Year” by the James Beard Foundation. Solomonov, moreover, is regarded as the city’s best chef, and has since opened new establishments like the aforementioned Federal Donuts and Rooster Soup Co, which are also worth visiting.)
Zahav’s food is served with a passion in a lively, low-lite space that fills up nightly– plan to make a reservation weeks in advance for parties larger than 3, though sitting at the bar (where the full menu is also served) offers a charming, personable experience. Be sure to order the fried cauliflower with fresh dill and Aleppo, as it’s the only dish that hasn’t changed in the restaurant’s 9-year history.
Philadelphia Juice Bar
Philadelphia Juice Bar is an organic, cold-pressed juice bar that bottles its juice in glass— a rare, welcome find that’s a boon to the anti-plastic crusaders among us.
With classics like Green Remediation (featuring kale, celery, cucumber, lemon, parsley, apple, and ginger) as well as innovative twists like the Beta C (sweet potato, golden delicious apple, and cinnamon stick for a drink that tastes like sweet potato pie), PJB’s is a welcome stop-off for those seeking light refreshment after a day of waking around the city. Pressed and served inside Di Bruno Bros, a heritage gourmet goods store that’s a great place to get local foodstuffs, their simple, non-GMO juices are great for grab-n-go picnics.
Interested in seeing more nature in Philly? Read our previous coverage of The Gardens at Independence National Historical Park.
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