Coming from Texas, it can be intimidating to visit a big city. While Philadelphia doesn't necessarily provide the southern hospitality you get in Texas, there's a reason it's nicknamed the city of "brotherly love." People there are insanely friendly and welcoming.
Another aspect I love about Philadelphia is its rich history, including some of the oldest buildings and streets in America. The city has so much to offer from amazing art to delicious eateries to wondrous museums. It's also fairly inexpensive compared to other big cities like San Francisco and NYC.
Having visited Philly twice already, here are some of the most Instagrammable spots I found...be sure to check them out next time you're there!
1. The Ben Franklin Bridge
Originally named the Delaware River Bridge, the Benjamin Franklin Bridge (renamed in 1955)is a beautiful bluish-jade toned bridge that connects Philadelphia to the neighboring town of Camden, New Jersey. The suspension bridge opened to traffic back in 1926 and also features pedestrian walkways, enabling non-vehicle commuters to cross the Delaware River.
Insider Tip: Go at sunrise or sunset for the best photo ops.
2. Independence Hall
Independence Hall was birthed in the 1700s and is quite close to a number of other attractions in Philadelphia. Located in the Independence National Historical Park and directly across from the Liberty Bell, the building is of course noted for its rich history — it's the place where both the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were adopted. Tours of the establishment are available where you can see where the Declaration of Independence was signed (and maybe ponder about how far we've actually come).
3. Reading Terminal Market
Reading Terminal Market is a foodie's dream haven. Having been around since 1893, it's one of the oldest public markets in America, offering a number of cultural cuisine options, farmer's market style. The toughest part is deciding what to eat among the melting pot of options!
Insider Tip: Be sure to stop by Meltcraft — their brisket grilled cheese is heaven on earth!
4. Philadelphia's Magic Gardens
Why don't we have anything like this in Austin? I do not know. Philadelphia's Magic Gardens are the coolest and gave me a new appreciation for Philly's art scene. The visionary art environment of artist Isaiah Zagar, the immersive outdoor art installation and indoor section are pieced together with found objects like bikes, as well as handmade tiles, glass bottles and shimmering mirrors. Art lovers will adore the mosaics and details of this wondrous art gallery. Definitely don't miss this one!
Insider Tip: It can get a little crowded on weekends, so get there right when it opens to avoid crowds.
5. Philadelphia Art Museum (Rocky Steps)
Did you drink your egg yolks this morning? The "Rocky workout," as some refer to, is probably one of the most touristy things you can do in Philadelphia. Running up the steps like Rocky isn't necessary, but you will get a nice view of the city! The staircase leads up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which is a very lovely gallery that should be on your list as well.
Insider Tip: The Philadelphia Museum of Art is free the first Sunday of the month 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. and every Wednesday 5:00–8:45 p.m. Otherwise, it's $20.
6. Eastern State Penitentiary
Okay, I'm obsessed with spooky things and this jailhouse was right up my alley (plus isn't that picture above so great!?). Eastern State Penitentiary is an old American prison...it was the most famous and expensive prison for a while, having hosted some the country's most notorious convicts, including Al Capone. The tour comes with a video recording and each stop tells you a little bit about the prison. It's quite eerie!
Insider tip: During the winter months, dress warmer. It gets really nippy in this vicinity because there's a lack of sunlight and cold air doesn't escape.
7. City Hall Tower & Observation Deck
City Hall Tower & Observation Deck provides some of the best views of the city. The tour leaves every 15 min, so you won't have to wait in a long line to access these breathtaking views. The observation deck is just below the bronze statue of William Penn, the founder of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. Be sure to reserve your ticket in advance!
Insider tip: Skip One Liberty Observation Deck. This one is waaaaaay better.
8. Street Art by Jordan Griska
Right across the street from the Pennsylvania Convention Center and down the street from City Hall, you'll find this awesome installation by artist Jordan Griska. The fighter jet that appears to have crashed into the pavement is an actual shell of the Grumman S2F that Griska purchased from eBay. If you look inside the windows of the plane you'll find...you'll never guess...a greenhouse!
9. Rittenhouse Square
I have a long line of family who once lived in Philadelphia and it turns out my great grandmother and grandfather were married at Rittenhouse Square back in the early 1900s. The public park is absolutely stunning in the fall time and a great place to take a stroll. There are a number of museums nearby, such as the Mutter Museum, as well as shops and eateries.
Insider tip: Try Mac Mart for an assortment of mouth-watering macaroni options. It's right across the street! (I'm soooo jealous we don't have one of these in Austin.)
10. Boathouse Row
After you visit the Rocky Steps, be sure to walk down to Boathouse Row, a National Historic Landmark, which is within walking distance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Here you'll find a picturesque scene where gingerbread-like boathouses illuminate the night, reflecting their lights onto the Schuylkill River.
11. Elfreth's Alley
Did you know the nation's oldest residential street was founded in Philadelphia? Elfreth's Alley was designed as a cart path in 1706 and remained preserved throughout the test of time.
What are your favorites spots in Philly? Let me know by leaving a comment!