Headed to Philly in June, where to catch a snooze and hang out
May 8, 2019 7:25 AM   Subscribe

I haven't been to Philly since a 6th grade field trip and need some guidance. Details inside.

I bought tickets to take my young adult daughter to see a show on a Sunday evening in June at the University of the Arts in Philly not far from City Hall. We are about a 2 hour drive away and would like to stay overnight after the show. As I scan hotels, nearby they are rather expensive ($300 a night). Cheaper options seemed to be booked already. We really just need a safe, clean place for sleeping. We also would like to do some things on Sunday before the show and Monday after checking out. Touristy stuff is fine, she likes quirky art and stores.

I thought if we stayed near the theater we could just park and go do things. Not sure what public transportation is like. So I am looking for recommendations for safe, clean hotels, things to do, places to eat. If it is better to stay further out let me know that too.
posted by maxg94 to Travel & Transportation around Philadelphia, PA (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I would stay in town. The hotels are a bit pricey because they're in the city, but the downtown areas of Philly are very vibrant and there's lots of stuff to do. I don't know too much about specific hotels, but when my in-laws visited town back before my wife and I got married, the Club Quarters was pretty economical and in a good location.

Definitely check out Reading Terminal (a great place to grab a bite to eat), the Historic District (the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the Betsy Ross House, Elfreth's Alley), walk the Ben Franklin Parkway and see the Art Museum. If she likes shopping, check out Walnut Street—the whole area around Rittenhouse Square is really nice.

Public transportation is pretty good in town—you can buy day passes for SEPTA that let you take any trolley, bus, or subway in the area, as well as the regional rail. It also works on the Phlash, which is a bus that makes a circuit around the different historical sites in town. There's also the Indego bike sharing program.
posted by vitout at 7:39 AM on May 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


Check priceline for hotels - the Marriott downtown by the convention center shows 160 on a june sunday night. I can vouch for safe and clean there. Right across from Reading Terminal Market.

There are other express deals for that area for less for a 3.5 to 4 star hotel. I walked from a parking garage to the hotel at 11 pm by myself and felt safe. Keep in mind though parking at the hotel will cost a fair penny - I assume that is true for most hotels in the area. ParkWhiz can reserve you a space for cheaper than parking at your hotel.

Definitely check out Reading Terminal (a great place to grab a bite to eat), the Historic District (the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the Betsy Ross House, Elfreth's Alley), walk the Ben Franklin Parkway and see the Art Museum.

Ill second all these things - we didn't wait in line for the bell though because the line was long and it was raining. That area is awesome though. Great brunch ( but pricey) at Tallulahs near there.
posted by domino at 8:02 AM on May 8, 2019


If the weather is nice, the waterfront parks like Spruce Street Harbor Park will be open and are really fun to stroll around, particularly after a stop at The Franklin Fountain.
posted by telegraph at 8:06 AM on May 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


If your daughter is into quirky art, may I suggest Philadelphia's Magic Gardens? We visited when we were there, and it was fun.
posted by needlegrrl at 8:07 AM on May 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


I stayed at the Le Meridien last summer for about 150 bucks using Hotel Tonight. you cant book early but they usually have availability (id make sure there isnt some huge event starting that monday you'd leave).

Also, on your way out on monday, do yourselves a favor and get tacos and consomme at south philly barbacoa in the italian market.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:10 AM on May 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


Public transportation up and down Broad street, like from your theater to Reading Terminal, is easy. There are just two lines, one on Market (east west) and one on Broad (north south). I would try to stay at the Doubletree if it was in my budget. Or Airbnb.
posted by OrangeVelour at 8:10 AM on May 8, 2019


Hotel Tonight has great deals for this.

However, if you're driving in, budget up to $50 for parking your car at the hotel. Alternatively, if you're staying at a hotel near City Hall (and there are a lot for cheap on HotelsTonight), park overnight at the cheapest lot in Center City at 15th and Spring Street (and NOT 15th and Spring Garden), and do the 10 minute walk to your hotel.

Center City between the Schuykill and the Delaware, south of Vine Street and north of South Street, is very pedestrian-safe. The worst you're likely to encounter are panhandlers and street preachers.
posted by joyceanmachine at 8:16 AM on May 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


The Liberty Bell viewing experience is IMO overrated but the buildings nearby like Independence Hall are good. If you're in that area, hit up the Bourse's new food court-- independent restaurants all over the city relocated there (I'm grumbling about losing two in my neighborhood) and are almost uniformly great. More space than Reading Terminal and all quick-serve restaurants (though both are worth the visit).

I've had guests stay in AirBnBs where hotels are thin (near me in South Philly, west of Broad) and they haven't had anything but decent experiences but I know it only takes one shady renter.

Even though the Barnes Museum has some of the most famous impressionist works in the world housed within, I would classify it as quirky (though in an obviously different way than the also-great Magic Gardens). Barnes was an interesting dude and the museum is unlike any you'll ever visit. Get the tour-- it's worth it.

For quirky shops I personally like East Passyunk. The stretch between Cheesesteak Vegas (9th-Passyunk-Wharton intersection; avoid) and Broad has my favorite restaurants, tchotchke shops, bike shop, barber, coffee shop, and some really great boutiques; South Fellini is worth a stop for sure. Also very close to the Italian Market and excellent S. Philly Barbacoa mentioned above.
posted by supercres at 8:41 AM on May 8, 2019


Meant to say-- I walk from 4th and Market through the East Passyunk area (to 20th and West Passyunk fwiw) twice a day every weekday.

That's a lot, but it is super walkable IMO except for a short stretch around Washington Ave that's still walkable but requires just a touch more awareness.
posted by supercres at 8:44 AM on May 8, 2019


On things to do, the Magic Gardens suggestion is great. Your daughter might also enjoy a Mural Arts tour if it lines up with your schedule. If you're right there, I'd also suggest stepping to the lobby of the Comcast I tower and scoping out some of the art.

On shopping, Center-center City doesn't have a lot of cool retail or art because it got razed in the 1960's and 1970's, and replaced with boring office buildings or condos with chain stores at the bottom, including in the Rittenhouse area that vitout mentions.

But if you're willing to go for an easy, safe 15-20 minute walk, you can get to two neighborhoods that have more stuff, Old City and the area that Philadelphians call the Gayborhood, which you can walk around and window shop. I'm a big fan of - Omoi Zakka, Philly Independents, and Tartes.

(Also, pro-tip: If the line at Franklin Fountain is wild, keep going, skip both the line and the "Philly's Gourmet Steaks" place right door and hit up either of the places immediately after that. They're run by the same folks who do Franklin Fountain -- the place with the glossy black tiles out front makes a variety of ice cream treats and shakes using Franklin Fountain ice cream, and the blue-fronted old school candy store right next door not only has delightful fancy candy, but if you go all the way to the back, you step into a delightful tiny wood-paneled cafe where they'll serve you chocolate drinks and sometimes ice cream based on historical recipes.)
posted by joyceanmachine at 8:47 AM on May 8, 2019


Seconding downtown Mariott. It's surprisingly inexpensive for the location, in great shape, and has a nice lobby bar/restaurant. Parking is expensive, at least $40/night.
posted by sacrifix at 10:05 AM on May 8, 2019


Sidebar: you used to be able to park your rental car for free at a rental car location. Possible to reduce the parking cost? Haven't done it in recent years but might be worth asking.

You can get tickets in advance for Independence Hall. You have to be there within a window of time or you lose your tickets. Found that out the hard way.

Constitution Center costs a bit but it is pretty well curated. I don't think it is super close at hand.

South Street can be a fun walk, lots of shops and boutiques.

Have fun in Philly!
posted by zerobyproxy at 10:37 AM on May 8, 2019


Try booking.com - Club Quarters as mentioned above ($28 parking for 24 hours) seems reasonable at first glance.
The Bourse is a new food hall.
Monk's Cafe (Belgian beer, food) and Han Dynasty (Szechuan) are classics.
Tattooed Mom is a 'quirky' bar with an upstairs street art space.
The Dream Garden is a glass mural at the Curtis Center (closed Sun).
The Rodin Museum (pay what you wish) has a garden with bar and outdoor music.
Book Corner is a cheap used bookstore (closed Sun).
Here's my current map of to-gos.
Safe travels, and have fun!
posted by eyeball at 11:31 AM on May 8, 2019


I'm headed to Philly tomorrow for work and I found numerous Air BnBs in the City Center area for around $100 a night.
posted by COD at 2:43 PM on May 8, 2019


You got some really great ideas from the MeFis above, and there is not really anything I can add.
Just enjoy your time in our city.
posted by james33 at 5:55 AM on May 9, 2019


Thank you for so many great ideas. Now we are going to wish we had more time to stay and explore. My issue is still the hotel room. I have tried all sorts of the discount sites but it seems to be our date causing the issue with price ($400-600). I thought I was doing something wrong until I tried the weekend before our date and prices were so much lower ($150-200). And so many seemed to be sold out. I don't know if it is a big weekend or if it happens to be when schools everywhere are officially finished for summer. I think we will take our chances with Hotel Tonight. Thanks again.
posted by maxg94 at 11:35 AM on May 13, 2019


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