Philly, Philadelphia, often referred to as the “City of Brotherly Love,” is a vibrant and historically rich city in the United States. With its deep-rooted history, iconic landmarks, and diverse culinary scene, Philadelphia offers an unforgettable experience even if you only have one day to explore. In this comprehensive guide, we will take you on a journey through the best attractions, mouthwatering food spots, and hidden gems that Philadelphia has to offer.

city hall Philadelphia view from north broad south.

Rocky and I outside the Philadelphia Art Museum

One Morning in Philadelphia: Immerse Yourself in History!

Start with Breakfast at Reading Terminal Market

Kickstart your day in Philadelphia with a visit to the iconic Reading Terminal Market. Located at 51 North 12th Street, this bustling indoor market is a food lover’s paradise. With over 80 concessions offering a wide array of culinary delights, you’ll find everything from freshly baked goods to local produce, seafood, and more. Take your time to explore the market and indulge in a delicious breakfast from one of the many vendors. Whether you’re craving a classic Philly cheesesteak, a warm bagel, or a hearty omelet, Reading Terminal Market has it all.

Discover the Old City: Liberty Bell and Independence Hall

After breakfast, head towards the Historic District of Philadelphia also known as Old City, where you’ll find two of the city’s most significant landmarks: the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Start your visit at the Liberty Bell Center, located at 526 Market Street. This iconic symbol of American independence is free to visit and showcases the famous cracked Liberty Bell. Learn about its historical significance and why it became a symbol of freedom for people around the world.

Next, make your way to Independence Hall, just a short walk from the Liberty Bell Center. This historic building is where both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were debated and signed. Join a guided tour to explore the hallowed halls where the founding fathers shaped the destiny of the nation. Marvel at the original furniture and artifacts that have been preserved throughout the years.

Explore the Museum of the American Revolution

For a deeper dive into American history, make a stop at the Museum of the American Revolution. Located at 101 South Third Street, this immersive museum tells the story of the American Revolution through captivating exhibits and interactive displays. Discover the struggles, triumphs, and sacrifices of the men and women who fought for independence. Highlights include General Washington’s headquarters tent, a life-size replica of a privateer ship, and thought-provoking galleries that shed light on lesser-known perspectives of the revolution. Allow yourself ample time to fully absorb the rich history contained within the museum’s walls.

Afternoon: Indulge in Culinary Delights and Cultural Gems

Indulge in a Classic Philly Cheesesteak

No visit to Philadelphia would be complete without savoring the city’s most famous culinary creation – the Philly cheesesteak. For lunch, treat yourself to this mouthwatering delight at one of the city’s legendary cheesesteak joints. Jim’s South St. is a local favorite, known for its flavorful sandwiches and perfectly melted cheese. Alternatively, head to Geno’s Steaks or Pat’s King of Steaks, two iconic establishments that have been serving up cheesesteaks for decades. Order your cheesesteak with your preferred cheese (provolone, American, or Cheez Whiz) and savor every delicious bite.

A cheesesteak at Pat's in South Philly

Discover the Artsy Side of Philly: The Benjamin Franklin Parkway

After satisfying your taste buds, make your way to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia’s most artistic mile. Modeled after the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, this grand boulevard is home to some of the city’s most prestigious cultural institutions and iconic landmarks. Take a stroll along the parkway and admire the magnificent architecture, beautifully landscaped gardens, and stunning sculptures that line the way.

One of the must-visit attractions on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Located at 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, this world-renowned museum houses an extensive collection of art spanning various periods and genres. From Renaissance masterpieces to contemporary works, the museum offers a visual feast for art enthusiasts. Don’t forget to strike a pose at the famous Rocky Steps, located at the entrance of the museum, and soak in the breathtaking views of the city skyline.

A Breath of Fresh Air: Fairmount Park

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city by exploring Fairmount Park just beyond the Philadelphia Art Museum and one of the largest urban park systems in the United States. Spanning over 2,000 acres, this expansive green oasis offers a tranquil retreat for nature lovers. Take a leisurely stroll along the park’s scenic trails, have a picnic by the river, or rent a bike and explore the park’s hidden gems. If you’re visiting during the warmer months, consider renting a paddleboat and gliding along the serene waters of the Schuylkill River.

Evening: Unwind and Experience Philadelphia’s Vibrant Nightlife

Cheers to Local Craft Beer

As the day transitions into evening, it’s time to experience Philadelphia’s thriving craft beer scene. The city is home to numerous breweries, each offering a unique selection of artisanal brews. Love City Brewing, located at 1023 Hamilton Street, is a local favorite known for its friendly atmosphere and exceptional beers. Enjoy a pint or two of their meticulously crafted brews, and soak in the vibrant energy of the taproom. Another excellent choice is Yards Brewing Company, situated at 500 Spring Garden Street. This beloved brewery offers a wide range of flavorful beers and a lively atmosphere, making it the perfect spot to relax and unwind.

Marvel at the Philadelphia Skyline: Bok Bar

To end your day in Philadelphia on a high note, head to Bok Bar, a seasonal rooftop bar located atop the BOK building in South Philly. This unique rooftop venue offers panoramic views of the Philadelphia skyline, creating a mesmerizing backdrop for an unforgettable evening. Sip on handcrafted cocktails, savor delectable bites, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere as you admire the city lights below. Bok Bar hosts a variety of events and pop-ups throughout the summer season, making it a dynamic and ever-changing destination.

Where to Stay in Philadelphia

When it comes to accommodations, Philadelphia offers a range of options to suit every traveler’s needs and preferences. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Marriott Old City: Located in the heart of Old City, this 4-star hotel offers comfortable rooms and convenient access to the city’s historic sites.
  • Kimpton Hotel Monaco: Situated near Independence Hall, this boutique hotel features stylish rooms, a rooftop lounge, and impeccable service.
  • Loews Philadelphia: Centrally located, Loews Philadelphia boasts modern rooms and amenities, including an indoor pool and a fitness center.
  • Apple Hostels of Philadelphia: If you’re on a budget, Apple Hostels offers affordable dorm rooms in a prime location near Independence National Park.

Here are some more commonly asked questions about visiting Philly for a day:

Is Philly worth a visit?

Yes, Philadelphia is definitely worth a visit. It’s a city rich in history, culture, and culinary delights. From its significant role in the founding of the United States to its vibrant arts scene and diverse neighborhoods, Philadelphia has something for everyone.

How much time do you need to see Philadelphia?

To see the major highlights of Philadelphia, you would ideally need 2-3 days. This would allow you to explore the key historical sites, visit museums, savor the local cuisine, and get a feel for the city’s unique neighborhoods.

Is Philadelphia worth a day trip from NYC?

Yes, Philadelphia is worth a day trip from NYC, especially if you’re interested in American history and want to experience a different city with its own distinct character. The train ride from NYC to Philadelphia is relatively short, making it convenient for a day trip.

How to see Philadelphia in one day?

To see Philadelphia in one day, prioritize visiting the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and trying a Philly cheesesteak. You can also take a walking tour of the Old City and explore the vibrant Reading Terminal Market for a well-rounded experience.

What is the number one tourist destination in Philadelphia?

The number one tourist destination in Philadelphia is arguably the Liberty Bell, an iconic symbol of American independence. Visitors flock to see this historic artifact and learn about its significance in American history.

Is Philadelphia a walkable city?

Yes, Philadelphia is a walkable city, especially in the downtown area and neighborhoods like Old City. Many of the city’s attractions, restaurants, and shops are within walking distance of each other, making it convenient for pedestrians to explore.

Is one day in Philadelphia enough?

While one day in Philadelphia can give you a taste of the city’s highlights, it may not be sufficient to fully immerse yourself in all that Philadelphia has to offer. If you’re limited on time, a well-planned day can still be enjoyable, but ideally, you would want more time to explore the city thoroughly.

What is the best month to visit Philadelphia?

The best months to visit Philadelphia are generally in the spring (April to June) and the fall (September to October). The weather during these times is pleasant, and there are various outdoor events and festivals happening around the city.

Is Philly cheaper than New York?

Yes, Philadelphia is generally considered to be more affordable than New York City in terms of accommodation, dining, and entertainment. While both cities offer unique experiences, Philadelphia often provides better value for travelers on a budget.

What is the best way to travel in Philadelphia?

The best way to travel in Philadelphia is through a combination of walking, public transportation (such as buses, trolleys, and trains), and ridesharing services. The city’s compact layout and efficient public transit system make it relatively easy to get around without a car.

How long is the train from Philadelphia to NYC?

The train ride from Philadelphia to NYC typically takes around 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on the type of train and specific route. Amtrak offers frequent and convenient service between the two cities, making it a popular mode of transportation for travelers.

With its rich history, iconic landmarks, and vibrant neighborhoods, Philadelphia is a city that captivates visitors with its unique charm. While one day may not be enough to explore everything this city has to offer, this itinerary provides a glimpse into the best attractions and experiences Philadelphia has to offer. From indulging in a classic Philly cheesesteak to exploring historic sites and enjoying breathtaking views, a day in Philadelphia is sure to be filled with memorable moments. So grab your walking shoes, embrace the spirit of brotherly love, and embark on an unforgettable adventure in the birthplace of America.