Hello from the City of Brotherly Love! We definitely felt the love this weekend. So much so, that we can’t wait to come back!
Leading off: We left Providence, RI on Thursday night and drove an hour south to stay in Stonington, CT with my in-laws. This made our drive to Philadelphia on Friday just over 4.5 hours. Before we hit the road that morning, we stopped at Olde Mistick Village for donuts from Deviant Donuts. Knowing how much food we wanted to devour over the weekend, we only ordered one donut each. However, their unique flavors made it so hard to choose just one.
Because we left early on Friday, we only hit a bit of traffic getting into Philly. We arrived around 1pm, just in time to explore and get lunch.
Pro tip: Tolls…watch the damn tolls. If you’re driving, have cash.
Touching down: We stayed at The Warwick Hotel Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse Square was highly recommended to us, and after staying there I understand why. While our hotel room itself was just above borderline basic, the area was incredible!
Pros: Great location, nice rooms, easy to walk to/from everything, delicious food nearby, fair price.
Cons: Further away from the stadium, hotel parking was a bit spendy.
Our first stop was Sampan for lunch. Our reservation was at 3pm, which we soon realized was when they opened. We knew the food must be good because the line waiting to be seated was quite long. In addition, it was happy hour!
Right across the street is Shibe Vintage Sports. If you’re a sports fan- especially a Philly sports fan- this shop is a must stop. Named after the original stadium (1909-1953,) this store has original clothing designs that celebrate both Philadelphia teams and Philadelphia greats.
Another sports store that was recommended to us was Mitchell & Ness. Now, this brand is known for their classic and vintage style jerseys and jackets. Their actual name is Mitchell & Ness Nostalgia Co. I have seen their clothing sold in team stores and online. But, we didn’t realize until we got there, that Mitchell & Ness originated in Philadelphia, hence having an actual store.
With just another quick walk, we made it to Philadelphia’s famous Reading Terminal Market. Even though it was indoors, it gave me very big Pike Place Market vibes. There were a ton of vendors selling everything from meat, smoothies, cheese, produce, and fish, to cookies, chocolates and desserts. If we were really hungry, we could have spent hours in there, weaving in and out of the aisles, trying new things. But, we didn’t want to spoil dinner. So, we grabbed two cookies and some fruit for the weekend and headed out.
After a little refresh at the hotel, we walked (literally) around the corner to Parc. This French inspired Bistro sits on Rittenhouse Square, and was another highly recommended spot. The food was delicious and the waiter took good care of us. Both of us had the Beef Bourguignon, and we really felt like we were transported back to France.
Tip: Make a reservation! That’s number one. Then ask to sit on the park side of the restaurant.
On day 2, we woke up early to try and see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Even before the pandemic, we had read that you want to get to the Liberty Bell early, so you could beat the lines and grab a ticket for Independence Hall. Well…by the time we arrived there was already a two hour wait just to get inside the building where the Liberty Bell was. That coupled with the fact that the line was outside and it was 80+ degrees outside, helped us decide that we will try and see it when we come back for another trip. Plus, you could see the bell from outside. So, technically, I saw it.
Independence Hall was no better. With Covid protocols, you either had to get the free day-of tickets first thing in the morning, or try to reserve them online weeks in advance. Again, something we will save for another day.
Note: Both of these historical landmarks are free to see!
Another reason why we decided to move on was so we could make our reservation at Talula’s Garden. Luckily, the restaurant was nearby. This adorable breakfast spot was worth missing the Liberty Bell. We sat on a covered patio outside, which plants and water features surrounding us. Everything from the ambiance to the food made it feel like you were enjoying a farm-to-table meal.
After fueling up with food, we walked…a lot. From Talula’s we walked back past Independence National Historical Park and over to Christ Church Burial Ground. The popular cemetery charges an entrance fee, so we decided to keep moving. However, on the positive side, Benjamin Franklin’s grave was near the fence. So, like the bell, you could still technically see it without having to go inside.
Down the street further is the Betsy Ross House, where Besty Ross created the first United States flag. To go inside, they also charge a small fee. We knew we would have to pay to go inside, but after reading a few reviews, we again decided it wasn’t for us. (Unfortunately, when you live in an old city like Boston, you come to realize how similar a lot of the other historic sites are.)
Then a quick walk from there is the famous Elfreth’s Alley. This is the “nation’s oldest continuously inhabited residential street,” which dates back to 1703. It was fun to see and reminded me a lot of Boston’s Acorn Street.
For lunch, we stopped at Sonny’s Famous Steaks. To our dismay, this was the only cheesesteak we had while there. Fortunately, it was delicious. It tasted fresh and less greasy than others I’ve had. Unlike the Pat vs. Geno’s tourist traps, this cheesesteak joint was recommended by locals. This made it easier to slip in, find a table, enjoy our sandwich and leave. The other one we wish we could have tried was Jim’s South Street.
After, we started our walk back to our hotel and stopped at Independence Beer Garden. This government building’s outdoor area has been transformed into a beer garden, with a brewery-like aesthetic. Complete with Insta-worthy spots, bistro lights, and a long list of beers, this spot would make any brew-lover happy. Plus, it across the street from the Liberty Bell.
We finished up after a couple rounds, and headed back to the hotel. We made a quick stop in Allbirds, which again, was right around the corner from the Warwick Hotel. Why am I mentioning this? First, these shoes are so comfortable and perfect for walking around. Also, their brick and mortar stores all have three different shoe string colors that are unique to the city. For example, Philly’s colors were cheese whiz yellow, eagle green, and Liberty Bell gold. It may sound silly, but it’s always fun to guess the colors and names.
Finally, after a little relaxation and refreshing, we headed to the Philadelphia Phillies Game. Read all about that experience here.
Before heading back home, we woke up early and grabbed coffee at La Colombe. This was another recommended spot for us, which we thought was local to the area. However, we have since learned that they have coffee shops in Boston, Providence, DC, New York, Chicago and California too. Regardless, it was nice because it too was a short walk from our hotel.
Plus, it was down the street from Philly Bagels on Chestnut Street. This well-known shop is known for their fun flavors and colors, so we knew we had to stop by and try a bagel.
With coffee and a bagel in hand, we walked by City Hall and over to Love Park. I wish we would have had more time to sit and enjoy the park, because it was so peaceful. However, it was the perfect way to end an incredible first trip to Philadelphia.
After saying our goodbyes to the city, we headed out. But, we will definitely be back!