I went to Philadelphia in the winter of 2008 and had such a great time I was even interviewed about it later on. I was only in the city for a few short days but I spent all of my time walking around and seeing as much as possible.
My top five things about Philadelphia.
1. Rodin Museum
This is the main reason that Philadelphia was on my list of places to see while I was in America. I am a huge Rodin fan and the museum, although small is wonderful.
2. Mrs K’s
I had breakfast here on my last morning in the city. Great food, and more importantly, great people. I was the only tourist in the place and people were super friendly and talkative.
This place can be found at 325 Chestnut Street if you’re in the area.
(Clearly, I forgot to take a picture of this one, so you’ve got a view of the city from City Hall looking down Benjamin Franklin Parkway instead)
3. New City Hall
This was recommended to me by a ranger I met at the Liberty Bell. You can go all the way up the tower and get an amazing view of the city below. It only costs $5 and when I went I was the only person up there. The guide was fantastic and pointed out all of the sights across the city. I would recommend this as something to do to start with so that you can get your bearings and see what you want to do with the rest of the time in the city. It’s also right next door to the Masonic Hall which is a geometrical wonder of architectural weirdness and well worth a look at.
4. The Library
This is a great building even if you don’t want to go and read anything when you are there. I almost always go to the library when I visit a new city and Philadelphia was one of the best that I saw while I was in the States. The statue outside (pictured) is the Shakespeare Memorial. Once inside, straight in front of you is a stunning staircase. The whole library was wonderful to wander around and the people who worked there were brilliantly helpful. They recently survived an attempt to close the libraries to save money and so are even more deserving of support and a great example to the UK of how much libraries really matter to people.
5. Independence Hall
Okay, it may be very touristy and when I was there the obligatory hoard of school-children were blundering around but I am a politics graduate. I had to go. It was in fact very interesting and all of the staff around there are great. You can easily do Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Congress Hall and the Old City Hall. The buildings themselves are much more worthy of your time than the visitor centres which were disappointingly twee and uninformative. Probably a lot more appealing if you have kids though.
I also feel that I should point out the wonderful hostel I stayed in while I was there. I met some great people and the staff were helpful and good fun. I stayed in a 28 person room and it didn’t feel at all over-populated.