One of the most coveted perks at Travelzoo is the Travelzoo Experience, in which Deal Experts and other employees take advantage of the same travel, entertainment and local deals we publish to our subscribers and report back on their experience.
As a relatively new New Yorker, I get very excited about the prospect of taking weekend escapes to destinations around the East Coast. Growing up in the Midwest, I didn’t have the opportunity to spend weekends at the ocean, take ski trips to Vermont or explore the wonderful historical cities where our country took shape. So when Travelzoo ran an Amtrak deal for just $26 each way to Philadelphia, I couldn’t pass it up.
The train ride was quick (about an hour and a half), easy and comfortable. I didn’t know much about Philadelphia before arrival, but I quickly felt comfortable in The City of Brotherly Love. It was small, easy to get around and friendly. With just 48 hours on the ground, I was able to get a true taste of Philly (and not just the cheesesteak). So if you have just a few days to spare, here’s what to see and do:
Experience History: In addition to being the birthplace of American democracy, The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are also free to the public, so there’s no excuse not to take a peek. Take advantage of Independence National Historical Park’s cell phone program, which allows visitors to listen to information about the buildings 24/7. Some other historical highlights include Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest residential street in America (also free) and the home of Betsy Ross, which can be toured for $5.
Eat! We found that Philadelphia has some really great restaurants. We had wonderful dinners at Zahav and Amis, but learned that reservations are helpful in this city, so make a few ahead of time. We also checked out the options at Reading Terminal Market where you can find DeNic’s famous pork sandwich, among hundreds of other food options. And of course, no trip to Philly would be complete without a cheesesteak showdown. After taste-testing a “Whiz Witout’ (Cheesesteak with Cheese Whiz and no onions) from Geno’s and Pat’s -- rivals located across the street from each other -- my travel buddies and I gave the win to Geno’s. But I highly recommend trying both for yourself since loyalties among locals are divided evenly between the two.
Just Walk Around: Prior to arrival, I had no idea that Philadelphia has more public art than any other city in the country. But I noticed right away that there were sculptures everywhere we turned. We even had a view of one from our hotel room. There are also signs placed at historical sites around the city so you can easily see that you’re passing the childhood home of a famous Philadelphian or a site where something significant took place.
Looking for a deal in Philly? Check out our Philadelphia Local Deals for offers on dining, spa days and activities.