When I can’t travel very far, visiting nearby cities satisfies my wanderlust and adds a bit of excitement to my sometimes bland routine. Philadelphia is one of my favorite cities to visit on the East Coast and since it’s only two hours away from home, it’s a perfect weekend destination. Even though I’ve visited dozens of times, there are so many interesting things to do in Philadelphia. It never gets old.
If you’re into food, art or history, you’ll definitely want to add these sights to your itinerary. You can easily do these things in a day or extend your stay for an entire weekend.
Things to Do in Philadelphia
Take a stroll through South 9th Street and check out the South 9th Street Italian Market. It’s the oldest market in the country and on Saturday mornings, the market is a lively foodie haven.
Fresh produce for sale at the Italian Market.
Flooding the narrow streets, the market has been active since the 1880s! The strong smells of cheese, fish, meat, coffee beans, and vegetables are distinct and I had fun watching all the buzz and commotion.
Customers haggling for the best prices at the Italian Market.
The Italian Market is also home to butcher shops, bakeries and ethnic restaurants like Korean Barbecue, Vietnamese Pho, and Mexican. If you’re interested in taking a culinary tour or learning more about the market’s history, there are plenty of walking tours that you can book. The Italian Market is a refreshing sight to see in such an urban city.
Named after the owner’s daughter, Sabrina’s Cafe is one of the best brunch spots in Philadelphia. There are multiple locations throughout the city and you can find one a few blocks away from the Italian Market.
There’s often long lines at Sabrina’s Cafe so I would recommend going early and bringing an appetite. While you wait, head back over to the Italian Market and grab yourself a bottle of wine or beer. Sabrina’s Cafe allows you to B.Y.O.B (bring your own beer) while you dine.
Stuffed Challah French Toast: cream cheese, bananas, and vanilla bean syrup. Yummy!
The café was warm and cozy and was really unique because it seated a handful of guests at a time. My waitress was friendly and her super chill attire (casual jeans and a hoodie) made me feel at home.
I ordered a hot latte and stuffed challah french toast with a side of eggs and potatoes. When the bill came out to $15 USD, I left the café feeling so happy that I found a gem in Philadelphia.
For more recommendations on where to eat in Philadelphia, consider having lunch at the Reading Terminal Market or trying Big Gay Ice Cream!
Philadelphia has some of the most picturesque neighborhoods in the country. On my way to visit the iconic Liberty Bell, I walked through neighborhoods inspired by Georgian style architecture which is known for its symmetry and entrances.
I loved the exterior decor. So colorful and thoughtfully crafted.
A house completely covered in mosaics. Such a rare find!
Another interesting thing to do in Philadelphia is spot wall murals. I found 4 murals while walking towards the city center but there are over 3,600 wall murals in Philadelphia. They feature different art styles and are part of the Mural Arts Program that allows artists to showcase their talent all over the city.
Partial views of the Liberty bell – not too bad.
In 1776 the Liberty Bell summoned the people of Philadelphia to the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. The bell has been an iconic symbol for oppressed groups including the abolitionists and women’s suffrage movement.
If the line to see the Liberty Bell is too long, skip the close-up and get partial views from the side windows.
Once Upon a Nation Benches
In the summer, you can hear short stories and tales about events long ago exactly where they happened. Right behind the Independence Hall, I heard a short story about how the second floor of the Independence Hall was once a prison holding American soldiers during the British occupation. A few officers were able to sneak up to the attic and escape!
Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park is a beautiful park and a great place to people watch. It also houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that commemorates those who died in the American Revolution.
Experience the South 9th Street Italian Market with culinary and walking tours.
Once Upon a Nation Storytelling Benches hours and times.
Danielle is a travel finance strategist, writer, speaker and podcaster. She paid off $63,000 of student loan debt in 4 years, bought a house at 27 and has traveled to 25 countries. She refuses to let her financial responsibilities hold her back from living life on her own terms.