How to Spend Three Days in Philadelphia

Philadelphia Skyline

Philadelphia has always been on the back burner of my travel to-do list. For a girl that's traveled all over the world and lives in Connecticut, it's almost embarrassing to say I'd never been there before. I'd heard it was a cool city from several friends, so when my mom suggested a short trip there I agreed and began asking around for tips and researching the best places to go.

Day One

After a quick search on Airbnb, I booked a beautiful spot in Rittenhouse Square just outside the city center. We left for Philly on Sunday morning and arrived around noon after an easy drive. Check-in wasn't until 3pm, so we parked just down the street from our Bnb and began to walk down towards Independence Mall.

 
Philadelphia Architecture
 

Lunch

The streets were pretty quiet on Sunday afternoon and unfortunately we had cold, windy, and rainy weather for most of our trip. After practically being blown away by the frigid wind we decided to make our first stop at Reading Terminal Market. It was a much needed respite from the chilly tempurature and the perfect place for lunch. The neon signs lit our way through the crowded stalls, all offering different treats. We made our way past meat and cheese stands, chocolatiers, bake shops and fruit stands until we saw a sign for Profi's Creperie. We ordered one sweet (for me) and one savory (for Mom) and managed to grab two seats amidst the constant bustle.

 
Independence Hall
 

Independence Mall

Once we had our fill it was back out into the cold, heading straight for Independence Hall. Unfortunately tickets to the Hall were sold out so I highly recommend booking a few days in advance if you have your heart set on seeing it. We decided to walk around the area and ended up visiting Benjamin Franklin's grave before heading over to see the Liberty Bell. The building was mercifully warm and we happily took our coats off to go through security. We walked through the display of history and read about the Bells creation and infamous crack. The Bell itself is at the very end of the exhibit surrounded by beautiful windows with tulips blooming just outside. We snapped a few photos and then regrouped to head back outside.

Our next destination was the Betsy Ross House. This historic landmark is now a museum which you can tour and learn about the woman who was thought to have sewn the first American flag. The house is simple and hands-on; great for families and history buffs alike. Once we had explored all the rooms we crossed the street to grab a much needed coffee at the corner Starbucks.

It was now after 3pm so we began the walk back to our Airbnb in Rittenhouse Square, stopping at the car to pick up our things. Our Bnb was located directly above Vernick Food and Drink, a classy looking restaurant that we decided would be our dinner spot that night. We walked up a few flights of stairs into the apartment proper, and followed our host's directions to access the keys to our place. It's one of the best Airbnb's I've stayed at, hands down. If you're new to Airbnb use my code for $40 off your first stay. See the photos and read more about it here.

 
Philadelphia Airbnb
 

Dinner

Once we were situated, we made ourselves at home and took a little break to rest our legs. Then it was on to dinner downstairs. We didn't even have to go outside! Vernick Food and Drink was truly wonderful with stellar service and delicious menu options, although it is pricey. My Mom and I make it a point to have one proper, european-style dinner when we travel. This means starting off with drinks, ordering an appetizer, then a meal, getting dessert, and finishing with an appertif or hot drink. This is one of my favorite things to do for special occasions; eat slowly, enjoy yourself, and let go of all your worries. 

 
Vernick Food & Drink
 

Day Two + Breakfast

After an amazing meal Mom and I walked back up to our Bnb and called it a night. We awoke to...yes, you guessed it, more rain and bleak skies. Thankfully it didn't last for long. We decided to do a casual breakfast at P. S. & Co. which was just a few blocks from our place. We both ordered an acai bowl and I ordered a coffee with Brazil nut milk and coconut sugar; it was freakin' awesome. Two tips here: 1. Acai bowls are deceivingly filling; plan accordingly. 2. You can ask for extra granola. P.S. & Co. was slow on a Monday morning but I imagine they are popular on the weekends. The cafe is decorated in lots of wood and plants, with worn red floors and a counter with stools up by the front window. It's much bigger than you think so don't be deterred if it seems crowded when you first walk in. Although the prices are higher, it's perfect if you're looking for a healthy, vegan, or organic fix.

 
P.S. & Co.
 

Shopping

After breakfast the rain had abated and we decided to walk around the area and do some shopping. Rittenhouse Square is the perfect neighborhood for wandering around. We stopped first at the giant Anthropologie just off the corner of Walnut and 18th St. With four beautifully laid out floors complete with a spiral staircase, this shop is worth stopping at just to look around. The skies were clear by the time we left and we continued to walk down Walnut Street. Walnut is a main shopping thoroughfare featuring an Urban Outfitters, Free People, H&M, Zara, and many other fashion behemoths. We stolled past the shop windows, stopping in here and there before heading back to our Bnb to drop off our purchases.

Mom ordered us an Uber and we found ourselves in Elfreth's Alley a few minutes later. I highly recommend visiting this quaint street if you're planning a trip to Philadelphia. The Alley is known as the oldest residential street in the nation and the apartments are still occupied to this day. We walked down the narrow cobblestone path, marveling at the beautiful architecture and colorful doors and shutters.

 
Elfreth's Alley
 

After snapping lots of photos, we decided to walk around the area. We were right by the water, close to the historic district and Race Street Pier. We made our way over to N 3rd Street, stopping in at a cute boutique called Lost & Found. As we walked, our hunger blossomed so we popped in at Luna Cafe for a quick breakfast sandwich and a coffee. The cafe is situated directly across from the first Post Office and the Ben Franklin Museum. We perused through a few more of the nearby historic sites, and then hopped in another Uber to head to the Barnes Foundation.

Art Museum

The Barnes Foundation was my favorite destination on our trip. It's a beautifully modern building that houses an art collection estimated to be worth 25 billion dollars. The artwork is curated in a very particular manner. Different artists are hung all together along with brass objects and antique furniture. One room leads into another room, each room with it's own pamphlets detailing the paintings and objects displayed. It's a very unique museum and a must see if you are an art lover like me! The collection features painters like Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso, and even Van Gogh.

 
The Barnes Foundation Art Museum
 

Dinner #2

After a quick stop at the gift shop, Mom and I were ready for dinner. We hopped in our final Uber of the day and were dropped off at Harp & Crown just a few blocks from our Bnb. I had come across Harp & Crown on Instagram and was not disappointed; the space is beautiful. I would highly reccomend coming here for brunch on a weekend and sitting in their front dining room. The light is beautiful, the tables and chairs are delicate, and the plants are abundant.

 
Harp & Crown
 

It was a bit too cold for us that evening to enjoy the front room so we opted to sit in the restaurant proper. Harp & Crown is a huge restaurant complete with a full bar, tables for larger groups, and cute tables for two where Mom and I were seated. These little spots are situated so that you and your dining partner sit next to each rather than across. It was the perfect spot for people watching. We enjoyed another lovely dinner and then walked slowly back to our place in the setting sun.

Day Three

We woke the following morning to some much needed sunshine. Check out was at 11am so we headed out to grab a breakfast treat at Federal Donuts. You can find this chain all across the U.S. with several locations in Philly alone. Nevertheless, it somehow manages to feel like a hole-in-the-wall find. We ordered a few freshly baked donuts and then made a detour to pick up coffee at Konditori. Once back inside the warmth of our Airbnb we munched on our feast and then began to clean up and pack.

 
Federal Donuts and Coffee
 

Mom and I planned to make two more stops before starting the drive back to CT. Both of them I had discovered when a friend sent me a blog post from Free People (which is based out of Philly). There are a ton of great finds on their list, mostly outside of the city proper. We said goodbye to our wonderful Airbnb, packed up the car, and drove over to our first stop; Cira Green. Oh, how I wish it had been a warmer day! Cira Green is a rooftop park overlooking the Philadelphia skyline. There was construction going on when we visited and a lot of powerful, chilly wind whipping our hair into our mouths so we didn't stay for too long. However I can absolutely see this being an amazing spot on warm summer days.

 
CIra Green
 

Shop My Look

The last stop on our trip was The Random Tea Room. I really wanted to like this place. It's a tiny tea room in a residential area of the city. It's very eclectically decorated, with odds and ends like CBD honey and tiny tea cup necklaces available for purchase. Perhaps on the weekends or in the evenings it's got a better vibe, but unfortunately it felt a bit awkward when we were there. Our hostess kept to herself and there were no pleasantries or salutations offered. We drank our tea and were happy to escape back into the sunshine.

Back in the car we were ready to head home. Our trip to Philly was truly wonderful despite the less than spectacular weather. I'm glad to say it's been crossed off my list! Have you ever been to Philadelphia? Where are your favorite places to go when you're there? Let me know if you plan to go in the comments below!

Until the next trip, 

Nicole


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