Philadelphia / Destinations

Are You Underrating Philly? 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn't

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Are You Underrating Philly? 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn't

New York City and Los Angeles tend to steal the spotlight when it comes to blockbusters but Philly is slowly stealing America’s heart. 

The more patriotic folks are fond of the city because of its history and the significant role it played in the American Revolution. For those less interested in the past, the city’s famous Philly Cheesesteak is enough motivation for a visit.

If you’re still part of the uncool club that doesn't know what Philly has to offer, keep reading and I’ll give you plenty of reasons to leave the club and stay in Philly. 

Eats

Zahav

Inspired by the hidden courtyards of Jerusalem, this Israeli restaurant will provide you an unforgettable gastro-experience. If the golden limestone floors and hand-carved tables aren’t enough to impress you, the “Tayim” tasting menu certainly will. For the prestige of the restaurant and the exquisiteness of the dishes, the price of the menu is said to be the best value in the city.  Now here’s the bad news—it’s definitely tricky securing a reservation, so plan in advance! On Zahav’s defense, it couldn’t be any different given the chefs’ collection of James Beard Awards and this year’s Outstanding Restaurant Award (yes, you’ve read that correctly. The best eatery in the US is in Philly 👊).

Dish at Zahav restaurant in Philadelphia

Photo by @anjlm

Suraya

Located in the trendy neighborhood of Fishtown, this Lebanese restaurant is a must-go. You’re probably thinking I’m in some sort of Mediterranean food craze. Well, you are correct. And also, you should join me. Even if you’re full from Zahav’s hummus, the trip to Suraya is still well worth it. This spot is also a café, an all-day market, and has a massive courtyard garden. So don’t let the restaurant dishes limit you—the morning pastries are just as equally amazing!

"Mezze" Dish at Suraya, restaurant in Philadelphia

Photo by @heidisbridge via @surayaphilly

Shops

King of Prussia Mall

How does adding a short road trip to your itinerary sound? My vote is ‘yes’ if it means coming back with new bling. King of Prussia is located just outside Philly and the mall is the second biggest in the United States (shopping and cardio? 😏). The staggering number of almost 400 unique retailers will satisfy any shopping needs you may have. 

Women strolling around King of Prussia Mall, just outside of Philadelphia

Photo by @nienepienn

Rittenhouse Row

Surrounding a beautiful open-park called Rittenhouse Square, this area was dubbed to be one of North America’s top retail corridors. I’ll name-drop since avid shoppers get picky about their brands. Here goes a few: Vince, Rag & Bone and Intermix. Fast-fashioners, don’t fret! H&M and Urban Outfitters are there to save you a few bucks along with a few outlets and department stores (Nordstorm Rack, I got my 👀 on you). Go for the shopping, park or alfresco dining! This area has it all.

Man strolling along Rittenhouse Row

Photo by @rittrow

Arts

Philadelphia Museum of Art

A visit to this museum is a no-brainer! It’s hard to pick what’s most special about it. Is it its Parthenon-like structure? Its Friday nights after-hours featuring cocktails and live music? Its huge collection of Rodin sculptures—one of the biggest outside of Paris? I can’t decide. What I can tell you is that you should definitely block a few hours for your stop here as there will be plenty to see, learn and enjoy.

View from above of Philadelphia Museum of Art

Photo by @mc_shutter

Isaiah Zagar’s Mosaics

Philly possesses a good amount of remarkable painted murals. But the city’s street art doesn’t stop there! Visitors can also appreciate more unexpected urban artwork such as local artist Isaiah Zagar’s mosaics. Zagar has covered many of South Street’s walls, garden fences, shop fronts and buildings in colored glass. His most notable work is the Philadelphia Magic Garden plastered with poetry, quotes, portraits, and many other majestic quirks.

Pro Tip

Available at the Magic Garden is a map that marks the locations of all of Isaiah Zagar's works.

Girl posing  at Philadelphia Magic Garden, art installation by Isaiah Zagar

Photo by @oricar

Strolls

Liberty Bell

Let’s brush up on some US history: The Pennsylvania Assembly had the Liberty Bell made in 1751 to mark the 50th anniversary of the creation of Pennsylvania's original constitution by William Penn. The bell is a symbol of independence because of the popular legend that suggests that the Liberty Bell was rung when the Declaration of Independence was read on July 8, 1776. Now let’s get to the praxis—the bell is located in the Independence National Historical Park with the Independence Hall (where the declaration was signed, duh) as its backdrop. There are many theories about how the bell cracked, but I’ll leave it up to you get lost surfing the web trying to figure it out.

Liberty Bell and the Independence Hall

Photo by @gaa.young

Schuylkill River Trail 

For those who want to escape the center of the city, this tip has got you covered. Bordered by water the city faces the Schuylkill River to the west and Delaware River to the east. You can walk along both banks and indulge in spectacular views. The Schuylkill River Trail, a pedestrian and cycling path, is over 25 miles long going beyond Philly all the way to Phoenixville. If you’re a little tired from the workout at King Prussia Mall, stop along the way at Boathouse Row. The row consisting of 15 boathouses from the 19th century lights up at night, giving the city one of its most charming views. Pro Tip: There are many events taking place along the trail all year round—from outdoor movie nights to fishing competitions. Check-out www.schuylkillbanks.org/events/upcoming before your stroll!

Outdoor movie night at Schuylkill River Trail

Photo by Schuylkill River Development Corporation 

Nights

Graffiti Bar

Hidden behind renowned Asian restaurant, Sampan, is Graffiti Bar. The open-air patio and the tall mural painted by local artist Ali M Williams makes this bar the perfect spot for warmer weather. The Asian-inspired drinks are not the only reason why Graffiti Bar offers one of the best Happy Hours in the city. They have a happy hour food menu too! Satays, Dumplings, Spring Rolls, Bao Buns, yum, yum, yum 🤤

Cocktail at Graffiti Bar, Philadelphia

Photo by @sampanphilly

First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia

This is not a typo, it actually is a tip for a great night out. This religious sanctuary hosts in its basement numerous indie rock, independent hip hop and punk concerts. The intimate setting mixed with the forbidden feeling sends chills down your spine (the good kind). The church is known for its forward-thinking stance having supported abolitionism and the LGBTQ community. The church doesn't sell alcohol but the concerts are BYOB 🥳. Heads up— no glass bottles allowed.

Concert at First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia

Photo by @colinkerrigan

NYC and Cali, I’m sorry but Philly is coming after you to take the world (and the movies) by storm! From awarded Mediterranean food to parties in churches, there’s no way you won’t fall in love with Philadelphia. Get ready to cross off beautiful parks, world-class museums, historical landmarks and plenty of other things from your fall bucket list!

ARTICLE BY
F. Bruna Ferreira
F. Bruna Ferreira Writer Portugal, Lisbon
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