Things To Do In Philly

Air fare to DC was crazy expensive in July but I found a decent deal on tickets to Philly for August, so now I am taking my wife and two 9 year olds to see Philly. My folks are in central PA, so it’s all good.

Our tickets get us into Philly late Saturday night. I already know my wife wants to see an exhibit at Penn Museum on Sunday. We’re thinking about heading to the beach somewhere on Monday. What beach would you suggest? Can you get to a good beach from Philly in under two hours? We’re thinking spend a night at the beach and then heading to my folks house for the remainder of the week.

That doesn’t leave us a lot of time for checking out Philly, but we ought to be able to do some sightseeing downtown. I’d like to drag the kids to see the liberty bell, but I imagine it’s the sort of thing that sounds cool, but is incredibly boring, especially for kids. Any suggestions?

I’m thinking I might hold off on renting a car until we head down to the beach on Monday, but I’m not sure if that makes sense. What’s the public transportation like? Any great places to eat? So far the kids have only eaten cheesesteaks from places in Seattle. I’ve heard there is a public market somewhere that might be fun to see, but I’m not sure where it is or the best way to get there.

Thank you philly people!

According to my brother who lives near the DC area, Philadelphia is ugly and boring and the only worthy thing to do is the silly Rocky impersonation in those steps, which gets old fast.
Most weekends he takes some chinese bus in Washington that gets him to Chinatown NY very cheaply in about 4 hours, should be about half that from PA if there’s service.

I went to college in Philly and yeah, the city isn’t that great. Take your children to the Univ. of PA to instill in them a desire to attend college.

So you’re saying that if you take the Chinese bus to Philly, you want to get back on it an hour later? Hey, these are the jokes!

In June, I stayed a grand total of 10 hours in Philadelphia, thanks to massive traffic jams. I’d meant to spend a day there, before flying out the next morning. Instead, I arrived at 9pm, and spent a couple of hours touring the area around Independence Hall. Everything was closed, but there are some neat things to see in that small area. Outside of that small area, things rapidly became less pleasant and more scary. Can’t say I had a positive experience in the city, but I’d to stay a bit longer before passing judgment.

Oh, and the USS New Jersey is pretty close by if you like battleships.

There’s the Edgar Allen Poe house. I haven’t been inside it myself but I learned that you do not want to be in that neighborhood after nightfall.

I spent a month there once, and it isn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be. The museum is very nice, plus there are several park/fountain areas around that part of downtown. There’s a Rodin museum just down the road as well. After that I’d go to Independence Hall and see the bell, then down to the river where they have some decent little shops. It ain’t no DC, but there are things to do in Philly.


It is a nice campus to visit, as far as such things go. It’s pretty accommodating of tours as well, but I can’t imagine that being much fun unless you are in the college application process already.

I can’t think of anything touristy I did when people visited me, other than the mandatory trip to the art museum, and, for the younger crowd, the Mutter medical museum. By younger I don’t necessarily mean children, YMMV. It does have deformed fetuses in formaldehyde and the like.

Beyond that there’s drinking and cheesesteaks, which are best found in the Italian market (which I think is the market you would be referring to) at either Pat’s or Gino’s, which are conveniently enough across the street from each other. Any local can guide you to 9th and Passayunk and these two “restaurants”. I would not recommend the Italian market as much of a scenic hotspot. If it didn’t have the best indoor range in Philly I’d never have gone. However, the best place to eat in the south philly area for me was definitely Anastasi’s for the seafood. There are more expensive seafood places, and certainly more scenic ones, but that was my usual choice.

(ULTIMATE VIRAL MARKETING ALERT!!!)My favorite restaurant of all time in Philly, and I had a lot, was Kabul, the finest in Afghan dining. I know that doesn’t sound good, but it’s like all of the best features of Indian and Thai food without the mouth searing hotness. Between its delicious, cheap food, and the BYOB policy (pretty common in philly), a night out there was reasonably priced and high quality. The chicken meatballs and saffron rice are unbelievable.

Another great BYOB place if you want something more conventional (eg italian food) is Porcini, but you definitely have to make reservations in advance as it is a pretty small joint.

I have plenty more restaurant recommendations, as I would often pair them up with a trip to the Ritz at the Bourse downtown, which always has a great selection of indie and foreign movies. But I suspect that’s not really what you’re going for, so I’ll stop.

Philly even has its own half-assed wannabe Greenwich Village, meaning South St. from around 14th to the river. If you like ghetto indie record stores and random street/building/person “art”, you will love South St. Once again, your mileage may vary, but I liked to walk around there at night and get a few beers. There’s usually a pretty strong police presence there making it surprisingly safe, but again I wouldn’t know what to do with kids.

I don’t know about beaches since I pretty much resigned myself to not going to the beach the whole 4 years I was there, so I’m sorry I can’t help you there. All of my information is as of almost four years ago, so I’m not positive this will be very useful to you. But it’s worth a shot, right?

For a nice, clean beach, you can go to Brigantine (it’s just N of Atlantic City). Should take less than 2 hours to get there. Atlantic City is there as well, but it’s not as clean.

For the kids in the city, go to the Franklin Institute and/or the Please Touch museam. Franklin Institute is more interesting and my kids enjoyed it (3 and 6 at the time). Liberty Bell is also fairly close to the Philadelphia Mint, so if your kids are into coin collecting, it can be fun. There’s also plenty of things in walking distance to the Liberty Bell, just make sure you don’t wander too far N or S.

From the Liberty Bell, W towards Center City you’ll find the Reading Terminal Market, which has a lot of small food venders and such, good for a lunch while in town. Take a map, as the city is larger than what most people expect, and you don’t want to get lost.

Adult entertainment is really pretty good around 2nd/3rd and Market + a few blocks S. Called Old Town, it has lots of restaurants and live music.

If you’re into walking/biking, the area along the Schuykill river near downtown (and also near all the nice museums) is absolutely gorgeous. My wife and I were wandering around there two years ago and watched the little crewies row, row, row their boats for an hour or so.

Liberty Bell, Ben Franklin museum, leave.

Philly’s an armpit.

I know that’s not helpful, since you’ve already bought tickets. Do the mint tour, don’t hang around downtown after dark. If you like drinking, there’s a bar every three blocks or less.

There are nice areas in Philly(near the Liberty Bell, just south of that), and then there is the area near Temple.

Holy God.

Dirtiest city I’ve ever been in.

Center City Philadelphia is quite nice with plenty of upscale places (Rittenhouse Square comes to mind). The city also has great fine dining and as other mentioned, there are just insane amounts of lounges, clubs and bars.

Old City has many touristy things like Independence Hall and such, but I’m not sure how long you’ll be kept occupied for.

If your 9 year olds are boys that like gross things, Mutter museum FTW.

Franklin museum is just like every science museum ever. Meh.

Best thing about Philly is leaving it.

Ooooh, this is excellent information. I follow the kids around and do pretty much whatever they want to do (or what I think they’ll like) on these visits, but when it comes time to eat I get to call the shots. I’ll have to sit down with a map, but I hope we can try that Afghan place. We have one here in Seattle and I love the food.

Thanks guys. Looks like the general opinion is that Philly is an armpit, but has a few redeeming features. I’m glad we’re only in and out for a day. I’ll be sure to take a cab from the airport to the hotel.

Mutter, it’s all about Mutter. If it doesn’t give you nightmares, it’s not a proper science museum. I would have mentioned the Franklin institute, but I only listed edutainments I’d be willing to inflict on myself. Plus I forgot about it.

I’ll have to sit down with a map, but I hope we can try that Afghan place. We have one here in Seattle and I love the food.

Chestnut St is a pretty central thoroughfare just south of the main e-w route, Market St. If you follow it towards the river you can’t miss it. Of course, I forget which streets are one way where, so you might want to ask b/c Philly can be pretty brutal in that respect. I used the mediocre subway/trolley system the whole time I was there, and a bicycle. The few times I was forced to drive were murderous.

Just prior to Kabul, there is his brother’s Afghan restaurant (or some close relative) on 2nd street or thereabouts. They feuded before I started eating there, and I picked my side based on nothing more than where I went first.

Philly is an acquired taste, and one difficult to pick up on a short visit I think. I enjoyed living there, that’s for sure, with all of its ups and downs.

I was about to recommend NOT taking your kids anywhere near that. My wife works at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, which is nestled admits the “East Siiiiide” ghetto land best known from the Wire.

She’s from the suburbs of Philly, and kept saying there was no place in Philly as bad as where she works.

So the next time we went up to visit the in-laws, I took her around Temple.

Or as I like to call it, Beirut in America. That place…seriously. At least the crack dens in Baltimore have plywood over most of the broken windows.

The buildings around the Temple campus don’t even have walls…

Yeah, Temple is a wasteland.

Is Temple near North Philly?

Yup. It’s part of North Philly. It’s actually not too bad directly on campus but go two blocks out and it’s horrible.