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Philadelphia, PA
Weekend Vacation Getaway

Destination Overview

For the longest time, Philadelphia was a city you passed on your way to New York or Washington. Today, Philly is "hot". National Geographic Traveler Magazine called it "The Next Great City".

The city of "brotherly love" (the actual meaning of the word Philadelphia) began with a grant from the British crown to William Penn's father for a debt owed to him by the crown. The Declaration of Independence was written and signed here, the Constitution was adopted here and Betsy Ross made the first U.S flag in Philadelphia. The city was the first "planned city" in the New World, the first multi-year capital (after 1 year in New York) and had the first public library, volunteer fire department, hospital, university, zoo and computer.

Click picture to enlargeIndependence HallArt Museum at NightRouge on Rittenhouse Square

How did the transition in this historic town come about? Many credit former mayor Ed Rendell for the revitalization. He got people back to Center City, cleaned up the streets and encouraged major building. Under his tenure The Kimmel Center, The National Constitution Center, The Liberty Bell Center, the Independence Visitors Center, a major convention center and two new  sports stadiums were built. All that money brought new restaurants, bars and clubs and forced people to take a new look at this wonderful city.

Where New York can be overwhelming and Washington a somewhat transient town, Philadelphia is a city of great neighborhoods. There is a wonderful ethnic diversity here and the people are friendly, welcoming and passionate. Don't start a conversation about the town's sports teams unless you have a few hours to spare.

I love walking through different areas of town, each with its own character and eccentricities; funky South Street, the narrow streets, cobblestones and gas lamps of Society Hill, the art galleries of Old City, the smells of the Italian Market and the beauty of Rittenhouse Square just to name a few. Like Boston, this is a city that I could easily call home.

How can you not love a city that brought us Rocky, Tastykakes, hoagies, cheesesteaks, hot pretzels and even Scrapple? Fortunately, they have some great hospitals too!

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Click picture to enlargeDad Vail RegattaPhiladelphia's Famous Mummer's ParadeOld City at Night

Making Your Travel Plans

To make your travel plans you can go to our Weekend Planner for all the contact information.

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Getting There

Philadelphia airport is a major eastern hub with flights coming in from all over the country and the world. The city is on the primary North/South Amtrak thoroughfare and easily reached by train from Washington or Boston. By car the drive from New York is under 2 hours and from Washington, about 3 hours.

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When To Go

As with most major cities, Philadelphia is a great weekend getaway at any time of year. Summer is busiest, Spring and Fall, crowds are fewer and the weather is pleasant. Winter is a wonderful time to visit because the crowds are minimal, pretty much everything is open and there's just something special about a winter weekend with fires roaring and a little snow on the ground.

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Getting Around

No need for a car in Philadelphia, taxis are plentiful and mass transit is efficient and readily available.

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There’s no longer any need to roll the dice on where you stay or to settle and stay at a “safe” national chain. BestWeekends Travel Advance Team takes the worry out of where to stay when you go away.

The BestWeekends Travel Advance Team does all the work for you. We research each destination by scouring the guidebooks, articles, blogs, reviews and rating systems. Then we visit the destination and stay in the properties. Finally, we talk to the locals to be sure we didn’t miss anything. The result: we post on our site only the best of what we experienced. You can book with confidence knowing that “we’ve been there” and that no one pays us for a review.

One of the great things about traveling to Philadelphia is that you have access to wonderful hotels and inns without paying the exorbitant rates of places like New York and Washington. For example, the weekend rate at the Four Seasons in New York in January is $725, in Philadelphia, it's $320. We've even found a wonderful small hotel with weekend rates generally under $300 and sometimes under $200. Those kind of rates alone make a trek to Philly worthwhile. Inside see our Featured Properties.

When you are away on vacation, there’s few things worse than a bad dining experience. We agree, so we follow the same process for identifying restaurants as we do for accommodations, but with an extra step. We believe that the best dining experience has the strongest combination of food, ambiance and service. Good food is a given in our recommendations, but the best food in the world just doesn’t taste as good in a poor setting and the best setting with poor service just doesn’t cut it for us. The BestWeekends Travel Advance Team only presents those restaurants that meet our strict criteria. Mangia….enjoy!

For years Philadelphia was never mentioned in the same breath as New York, Washington or even Boston when foodies discussed their favorite restaurants, save for the venerable Lec Bec Fin. But that has changed for two reasons. First, hotel dining here has taken that genre to a new level with some spectacular restaurants. Second, Stephen Starr's string of successful restaurants has transformed the restaurant landscape to the degree that he is now transporting concepts to New York and Atlantic City. Pubs, bistros, tapas, old world Italian and fine dining are as good here as any city and sometimes better. Inside see our Featured Restaurants.

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Things To Do

As with most major cities, there is no shortage of things to do in Philadelphia. Visits to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and other historical sites are a must. You can walk or bike along the  Schuylkill River, ice skate at Penn's Landing, take in the full range of professional sports, visit some wonderful museums, enjoy music, dance and theater, browse the art galleries in Old City and the antique stores along Antique's Row. There are wonderful markets in which to sample local fare and of course, there is shopping and more shopping. See our full list of Things To Do.

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BestWeekend' s Exclusives

After selecting our favorite places to stay and eat, we sat down and made a list of all the other things that would save you time and make your stay more enjoyable. The result is “Special Things” and “Good To Know, Good To Go,” BestWeekends Exclusives.

Special Things identifies unique, fun and romantic things for couples to do together in a particular destination. Good to Know is our list of the “best” of everything from breakfast to burgers, cocktails to after dinner fun and much, much more. Why stumble around trying to find the “best”….we’ve already done it for you!

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Don't Miss

  • Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell
  • Boathouse Row
  • Fairmont Park
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • A stroll through Society Hill
  • Elfreth's Alley
  • The Italian Market
  • A Philly Cheesesteak

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News and Resources

The daily newspapers are the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News. Both have web sites as well. Philadelphia Magazine highlights all the activities and events each month.

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