It’s time for another Live Like A Local destination!
Live Like A Local is a series I wanted to create in an effort to expand the travel section of my blog beyond where I live and have personally been. I wanted to create a resource for anyone reading who might be 1. traveling to other areas, 2. live in other areas or 3. moving somewhere new! I’ve been to some cool places, but I haven’t lived everywhere and what is better than some insider knowledge, eh?!
View all my Live Like A Local posts here.
Now, on with the show…Today we are visiting Philadelphia, Pennsylvania! I’ll be honest, today’s post holds a special place in my heart, because being a PA native, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in this charming city. Let’s hop to it!
Name: Rachel Vandernick
What is it about Philadelphia that makes it different from other cities?
Philadelphia is known of course for its important context in history, but for the people living here that almost takes a back seat to everything else that’s so amazing about the city. We’ve got a reputation for being…enthusiastically committed…to things we’re passionate about (food, sports and beer to name a few) but that’s what I think is so great about Philly. It’s filled with energy and opportunity. It’s a pretty cost-effective place to live, even to buy a home, especially when compared to our neighbor NYC, but it never feels like you’re giving anything up because the city is so massive and considerable thought was put into how to effectively connect it to other major metro areas. Philly is gritty, unpretentious, authentic and beautiful. It’s an incredibly walkable city that is decorated with thousands of murals. We’ve also got a great public transit system plus a ton of running/biking trails, including one that lets you run across the Ben Franklin from Philly to Camden.
What is the best time of year to visit?
One of the great things about Philly is that there is something exciting going on at all point in the year. The winter has the Blue Cross River Rink and Dilworth Park Wintergarden along with tons of holiday activities. Spring through fall are packed with concerts, art exhibits, pop-up beer gardens, such as Spruce Street Harbor Park, and a bunch of rooftop bars. Neighborhood festivals are big through the summer and there is free yoga on the pier for most of the year in addition to pop up outdoor salsa and bachata dance nights. New restaurants are always opening and food and beer festivals abound. You can also take a walking tour of the city year-round to explore the food, history, art of the city and learn more about one of our famous figure heads, Ben Franklin.
Are there any cool festivals or annual events that are not to be missed here?
The big music festival here every summer that Jay Z started is Made In America. People also seem to enjoy XPoNential, Philadelphia Folk Fest and Pilam Human Barbecue (a showcase) and Mad Decent. On another note, on New Year’s day we are host to the Mummers Day Parade—an all-day spectacle in its own right.
Places to eat?
Food may be this city’s love language. You can’t say Philly without cheesesteaks, but if you eat one thing here let it be brunch (ideally multiple brunches). I’m of the opinion that Philly has the best brunch in the country and I stand by that. From upscale Spanish savory favorites at Amada and quirky dishes and décor at Silk City, to my personal neighborhood favorite National Mechanics, there are tons of brunching options. Philly can be a sleepy city in the morning, but we come out to brunch like our lives depend on it and the food is incredible as a result.
If brunch isn’t your thing and you’re going to make one stop, hit Reading Terminal. There are dozens of food vendors, many of which have gotten Food Network recognition. From bakeries, olive bars, and amazing produce, meats and cheeses, to Southern cooking and Indian favorites, I could spend all day eating at this place and find a new favorite at every stop. I’ve done it and highly recommend spending a day that way.
Places to shop and what to buy? What is the area known for?
I personally think the best thing to buy in Philly is experiences. It’s a cliché (but true!) that this city has something for everyone. We’ve got five majors sports teams (Flyers, Phillies, Eagles, Philadelphia Union and 76ers), a world-class art museum, a famous food market (Reading Terminal), an amazing venue for ballet and the orchestra, and a great comedy scene just to name a few. Because there are so many venue options, we also play host to exclusive limited-venue events, such as the Copa America. There are also a ton of cute boutiques in Old City that I love, and you can find upscale/staple shops in Center City.
What do you do on a Friday night?
Fridays are such active nights in the city. Depending on what’s going on, I may catch a comedy show with friends at Punchline, see Conjunto Philly (a fabulous Cuban salsa band) at World Café Live, or go out to an extended dinner and happy hour with friends in Center City. Something is always going on and Visit Philly publishes lists every week of the events so you’re always in the know!
Cool places to stay?
Philly has dozens of hotels and AirBnb options. There are several boutique options that offer a more personalized and authentically Philly experience. The Rittenhouse 1715 offers an especially quirky/memorable stay.
If there isn’t a major airport nearby what is the best way to get there?
Philadelphia International connects us to pretty much everywhere, but we’ve also got Amtrak that runs right through the center of the city, which is especially great for transit in between Philly, DC and New York. Mega Bus has a station here and I-76 and I-95 are also right next to the city so if you’ve got a car it’s easy to get around too.
Special thanks to Rachel for showing us all around beautiful Philadelphia! If you’re planning a trip to Pennsylvania or want to learn more, be sure to follow Rachel on Twitter and Instagram. She also blogs over at Rachel Vandernick so be sure to check her out there, too 🙂