What should I do in Philadelphia in a day?
January 20, 2013 4:15 AM   Subscribe

I will be in Philadelphia from 9am to 5pm today with my wife to celebrate her 30th birthday. It's our first time here. What are some things that we can do and a brunch that we can have to make it memorable?
posted by libbrichus to Travel & Transportation around Philadelphia, PA (18 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
If you want to do art and don't want to do the full Philadelphia Museum of Art, the nearby Rodin Museum (on the Ben Franklin Parkway) is pretty great. You can still run up the steps of the art museum - it's a pretty tremendous view from up there.
posted by graymouser at 4:52 AM on January 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

If I were in Philly today, I'd go to the Morning Glory Diner on 10th and Fitzwater in South Philly. There might be a wait depending on when you get there, but there are delicious things there. The monkey french toast and the smoked salmon frittata are favorites.
posted by sciencegeek at 5:12 AM on January 20, 2013

You don't mention what part of the city you're in, but if you happen to be over in University City, The White Dog Cafe has brunch from 10:30 to 2:30. I've only had dinner there, but really enjoyed it. (it's where my fiancee and I went on our first date, yay).
posted by cali59 at 5:13 AM on January 20, 2013

I know it's a tourist trap, but since it's your wife's 30th birthday - the Reading Terminal Market is located at 30th Street Station, and the Flying Monkey Bakery has delicious cake. It might be worth a stop if you're in that area, and if you both love cake.
posted by wheek wheek wheek at 5:59 AM on January 20, 2013 [4 favorites]

Concerning the Reading Terminal Market - the Auto Show is in town right now at the Convention Center and that area can get quite congested and unpleasant to be in.
posted by sciencegeek at 6:22 AM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Totally agree you should do the Reading Terminal Market for all kinds of amazing food and dessert, but it is definitely NOT located at 30th St. Station or near it. It's at 12th and Arch and very close to all the historical stuff if you're wanting to explore some of that.
posted by dayintoday at 6:31 AM on January 20, 2013 [5 favorites]

IIRC, b/c it's Sunday, the Amish merchants who make the Reading Terminal Market such a unique place will not be there, and their stalls will be closed, giving the market a less-than-vibrant look and feel.
posted by hhc5 at 6:40 AM on January 20, 2013

I would go to the Italian Market instead of Reading Terminal. Morning Glory and Sabrina's are close and both would be excellent for breakfast. Be sure to get samples of awesome cheeses and cured meats at Di Bruno. Federal Donuts for lunch (fried chicken!); there is a location in Center City (16 and Sansom I think) and one on 2nd just south of Washington. After you're done in South Philly, do PMA or Rodin, or better yet, the Barnes or Mutter Museum. Then Monk's (Belgian) for dinner followed by a nightcap at either Tria (wine, beer, cheese, snacks) or Franklin Mortgage (awesome cocktails). If you're vegetarian or vegan, be sure to go to Vedge. Call ahead to see if they can fit you in, maybe sitting at the bar. (If you do sit at the bar and Daniel is bartending, tell him Patrick sent you.)
posted by supercres at 6:45 AM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Fun! I second the art museum and Italian market. For a more upscale lunch or brunch option, there is parc on rittenhouse square - we had a great meal with wine there last time we were in Philly.
posted by yarly at 6:48 AM on January 20, 2013

The Mural Arts Program is pretty great. I'd encourage you to check out Love Letter.
posted by smirkyfodder at 6:52 AM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you're interested in medical curiosities (many of which won't be seen again in the developed world, because we take care of that stuff with surgery and medicine before it gets to that point), swing by the Mutter Museum. It's just south of Market on 21st. Takes about an hour or two.
posted by chengjih at 6:55 AM on January 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Re: historical stuff-- I love history almost as much as anyone, but if you're only around for a day, the time/payoff ratio just isn't worth it. Lines and waits for anything worth seeing. Plus, there's not a whole hell of a lot else to do in that area when you're done. Honestly, in Center City, I would stay West of Broad if you're only here for a day. It shrinks the city and makes it seem much more "doable".

I also just realized how food-focused my list is. There are CVSes all over for antacids :)

Have fun!
posted by supercres at 6:59 AM on January 20, 2013

N-thing Mütter Museum, Rodin Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Monk's and Reading Terminal Market. Make a reservation in advance if you're planning to go to the Barnes Foundatiion. That's how we didn't get to go there last time we were in Philly.

Kanella, on Spruce Street, is a wonderful Greek restaurant we discovered. BYOB.
posted by emelenjr at 7:16 AM on January 20, 2013

If museums aren't as much your thing, there is ice skating along the river at Penn's Landing, close to Old City's bevy of restaurants and shops. I really like all of the Garces places for drinks and light food, if you didn't want a full dinner in the city after brunch (Amada, Tinto, Village Whiskey, JG Domestic...) They're sort of scattered throughout Center City, with JG Domestic next door to 30th St station. Tria is lovely. I would stay far away from any food by Market East (the Convention Center area) aside from maybe the larger Vietnam restaurant because the auto show is probably swamping everything. Kanella (Cypriot) is amazing but definitely phone ahead.

If you do like museums and you are in University City, White Dog has nice food and it's close to the Penn Museum, which has mummies and Greek pottery and the glittering remnants of the Tombs of Ur (caveat, I volunteer there, but it is a cool place and it's smaller than tackling the PMA or the Barnes.) The Rosenbach Museum and Library, at 20th and Delancy, is beautiful and has Maurice Sendak's papers among other cool things.

Is there anything your wife would be especially excited about-- fancy drinks, particular museum, gallery, shopping?
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:35 AM on January 20, 2013

NOTE: I do not live in Philadelphia, though i am from the area and have family in South Jersey, so i come around a couple times a year.

Philly really has a million gazillion amazing restaurants. Whether or not a place is romantic or not often depends on 1.) who you're taking there and 2.) when you're going. Anyhow, here are a couple of my recommendations:

Reading Terminal Market is the be-all, end-all for lunch. It really is the best lunch spot in the city. granted, it's busy as all hell at lunch time. But your options are really endless. The crepe place is great. They have one of the first ice cream places in the country as well.

Morimoto has a really reasonable lunch menu, as well. Way to expensive at dinner, but for lunch it's great. And of course, it's fucking Morimoto. Last time i was there, i had some sushi and a bowl of miso soup. The miso was out-of-this-world good. My wife had pork belly ramen that was equally amazing. I don't even need to say anything about the sushi, it's fucking Morimoto.

Same with 10 Arts by Eric Ripert - they have this bit called a "5 bite lunch" that's about 20 beans, but is really good. 10 arts also has the distinction of being in a super-super cool building. 10 Ave of the Arts (building with the big dome) used to be a bank, and you can see when you walk in, where all the bank shit used to be. The bathrooms in the back are right outside the bank vault, the circular center area where the tellers would have been located is now wine storage. Really cool architecture. Also, the exec chef is Jenn Carrol (from Top Chef).

Take that touristy bus thing down to the art museum in the AM, and then walk down the hill to Water Works for lunch, eat on the patio. Phenomenal view out near boathouse row, and a really nice menu.

There's this place on Ave of the Arts called Ted's Montana Grill (I think that's what it's called), it's right next door to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. In my opinion, the steaks are better, and it's less than half the price. Ruth's Chris is great if you wanna get real dressed up and pay $75 a plate.

The Italian Market on 9th has some great shit too. There's a great gelato place there (Anthony's Italian Coffee House), way better than the overrated Capogiro gelato place.
Go get a slice at Lorenzo and Sons on South (around the 300 block).
on the 1300 block of Walnut (I think), there's Naked Chocolate Cafe. Phenomenal bakery with amazing drinking chocolate. I usually get a Spicy drinking chocolate, european style, with a shot of espresso. Man that shit is good.

If you like Chinese, you HAVE to eat at Han Dynasty on chestnut. They have some of the best Chinese food I've ever eaten, EVER.

Thirteen, the restaurant in the Marriott on 12th & Market (right across from RTM and right around the block from Melting Pot, which is certainly a fun meal as well, if a bit overpriced - but chicks dig it!), is a great dinner spot. It's nice looking and pretty quiet inside, and the prices are pretty reasonable, as far as Center City goes.

On Sunday Morning, hit up Jones on Chestnut for brunch. Possibly the best Eggs Benedict i've ever had.

Continental Midtown (two in Philly, i forget exactly where) is a great place to go for a date. Quirky upscale menu, great drinks. When you go in and you're at the host stand, look up and you'll see that the chairs at the tables around the upper level are hanging baskets. Very cool. My wife dug this place real hard.

Jose (Iron Chef) Garces' Amada is a tapas place that i've heard really good things about, though i've never been there.

Take a trip down to Penn's Landing and walk a couple blocks up to Franklin Fountain (on Market). Real legit old-school soda-jerk shop, and hand-made ice cream. Really tiny place, and be aware, they only take cash. Love me a vanilla egg creme.

Hopefully some of this info was useful to you. I'm sure I've been to more places, i just can't think of them at the moment. And i haven't even been to Le Bec Fin or Budakkan, or Alma de Cuba, ZINC, or any of the myriad other great places in Philly.
posted by frmrpreztaft at 8:51 AM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

> I know it's a tourist trap, but since it's your wife's 30th birthday - the Reading Terminal Market is located at 30th Street Station,

Huh? Reading Terminal is not a tourist trap, which is an attraction that holds little real value for locals but reels in the tourists who think they're seeing something important. Reading Terminal is certainly a convenient place for tourists to get lunch, but it's a real market where we locals (rich and poor, it's not just yuppie stuff) buy our food groceries and also eat roast pork sandwiches at DiNics and warm cookies from Famous 4th and giant Amish breakfast and yes, cupcakes at Flying Monkey. And it's not at 30th Street Station, it's at the...(old) Reading Terminal at 12th and Arch.

Most of the 9th Street Market shuts down by 2 pm on Sunday.

frmrpreztaft, you're gonna want some new favorite places in town. Eric Ripert and Jen Carroll departed 10 Arts this past fall. Naked Chocolate closed a couple of years ago. Lorenzo's burned down last summer. Ted's Montana Grill left a year ago. Water Works is, um, troubled. Also, the Phlash bus only runs in the spring and summer (Memorial Day through Labor Day.)
posted by desuetude at 10:40 AM on January 20, 2013

Be sure to get super tasty gelato at Capogiro, there are a couple locations. 13th & sansom, 20th & sansom, another one over by penn, and one in south philly.
posted by TheAdamist at 11:43 AM on January 20, 2013

The Phlash isn't running this time of year, but the tour buses are. I always suggest visitors buy a ticket on these (if I'm unable to show them around), and they always thank me profusely for the recommendation. They get you within a few blocks of most tourist destinations (except the Italian Market, unfortunately), are cheaper than cabs, and you don't have to worry about parking tickets.
posted by jshort at 10:54 AM on January 21, 2013

« Older Where should a nature lover and illustrator move...   |   Help me figure out the best strategy around... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.