In October last year we visited Philadelphia for the first time as a family. My husband had been there a few years ago for a Pearl Jam concert and since there was another Pearl Jam concert there last year, the whole family went (unfortunately only my husband attended the concerts) and made a sightseeing trip out of it!
Prior to the trip, we watched The Layover with Anthony Bourdain about Philadelphia and we knew that it would be a food and art-centric visit. So here are our 2 days itinerary that is suitable for families traveling with children or not.
Since we were staying at a hotel by the airport, we took the train to Center City (downtown) and started our visit at the Love Park and City Hall. Love Park is really a small park with the Love statue and you could see lots of tourists like us taking the iconic picture.
From there we walked around and through the City Hall and headed towards Philadelphia’s Chinatown, which we were really looking forward to since we really needed some dim sum! 🙂 We couldn’t find the restaurant we were looking for, so we settled for a hand-drawn noodle restaurant, cash-only, that seemed very popular as there was a little line for people to be seated. We weren’t convinced and then we tried that bowl of goodness. Amazing!
After that we strolled some more around Chinatown and headed towards the National Constitution Center. While we originally wanted to visit it, the sun was so shiny and the grass so inviting that we decided to just sit down on the front lawn and appreciate the view…
From there, we headed towards the Independence Hall and Liberty Bell. To visit the Independence Hall is free, but you do need to have tickets for the timed visit. We got our tickets and had about 40 minutes wait, so we walked by the Liberty Bell and decided to visit it right away! It was so cool! You could see many generations of families there, tourists and immigrants, all learning a bit more about the history of the country.
Needless to say, we missed our timed visit to Independence Hall, but we really enjoyed our visit to Liberty Bell (admission free, no need to obtain ticket beforehand). We had reservations to have dinner at Zahav, but my daughter’s allergies were really taking over and decided it was best to cancel our reservation and go back to the hotel. At least I have an excuse to go back to Philly!
This was the art day, as we visited The Barnes Foundation and the Rodin Museum. The Barnes Foundation was a museum I was really looking forward to, as the artwork is not arranged by period or artist as in other museums and it usually draws some very strong opinions about it. I honestly wish we had skipped it; it felt like we were being followed everywhere, and if you think about it, we were. There is a strict no picture taking policy and in every room there are security personnel watching your every move – and that is really uncomfortable. Not to mention that the staff was overall very unfriendly and it seemed they didn’t want people to be there. For a relatively expensive museum, I would expect at least a few smiles. Our visit was really shorter than expected as 1) the way the artwork is displayed really is a bit overwhelming and 2) we really didn’t feel welcome there.
From there we went to the Rodin Museum, and what a change! The staff was so nice, all smiles and they would come and offer you explanations and were glad to answer questions – and also offered a kid friendly visit guide. This museum is a very small one, but worth the visit, and I saw kids enjoying it as well.
Just down the street is the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Although it was closed, we couldn’t miss it for two reasons: Rocky Balboa and the view! It was fun to somewhat reenact Rocky raising his arms while looking over Philly’s skyline! My daughter doesn’t even know who Rocky is, but she sure joined in on the fun!
After that, subway and then a good walk to South Philly! Our goal there was to try the classic Philly Cheesesteak, but which one to try? Pat’s or Geno’s? Our idea was to try both, first Geno’s and then Pat’s but… we tried Geno’s and we didn’t really like it, so we will give Pat’s a try next time we’re in town.
And that was how we spent our 2 days in Philly. We didn’t cover a lot of ground and it was just fine with us. Now I think it’s time to plan for a second visit!
* For more information, Visit Philadelphia website is a great source of information, as well as DK Eyewitness Philadelphia and The Pennsylvania Dutch Country guide.