Philadelphia Weekend Trip Things to Do and Best Places To Eat

Things to Do in Philadelphia - Independence Beer Garden
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Whenever I need a change of scenery, I can visit Philadelphia and count on having an amazing time. Something is always happening in town, making it one of my favorite cities to visit on the East Coast. I especially love that history and art are woven into the city’s fabric. Where else can you run up the Rocky Steps and visit the first American penitentiary? 

If you’re short on time and want to plan a Philadelphia weekend trip, there are plenty of things to do. I stumbled on unique finds exclusive to the City of Brotherly Love during my recent trip. If you’re into food, art, or history, you’ll want to add these Philadelphia restaurants and attractions to your itinerary.

Reasons To Visit Philadelphia

Philadelphia is one of those cities I can visit repeatedly without ever feeling like I’ve seen it all. Although I’ve visited Philadelphia dozens of times, each visit has been incredibly unique, leaving me wanting more. Bigger cities like New York City and Washington D.C. may get a lot of attention, but Philadelphia is a gem that should not be missed if you’re on the East Coast.

One of the things that makes Philadelphia truly special is its art scene. It’s not just about finding art in museums and galleries; it’s about the thrill of discovery. Art is a living, breathing part of Philadelphia, with over 3,600 murals waiting to be found. One of the most captivating art installations I stumbled upon was a house adorned in mosaics – a true testament to the city’s unique artistic spirit!

For a truly inspiring view of the city and its neighboring states, make your way to either the top of the Philadelphia City Hall Tower or the One Liberty Observation Deck. These vantage points offer more than just a view-they offer a new perspective. One Liberty allows you to gaze down at the city from the 57th floor, while the City Hall Tower opens up a wide horizon view, inviting you to see the city in a whole new light.

Lastly, the food scene in Philadelphia is serious. The iconic Philly cheesesteak and federal donuts are great starters, but you can find just about any food at the Reading Terminal Market. This lively food bazaar has over 80 merchants, and you can find restaurants, bakeries, ethnic groceries, meats, and seafood all under one roof.

Where to Eat in Philadelphia

1. Federal Donuts

Federal Donuts serves coffee, chicken, and donuts. But we’re not talking about just any chicken – we’re talking about Korean-style fried chicken with succulent glazes. And we’re not talking about just any donuts – we’re talking about fancy, butter pecan, chocolate eclair, and guava poppy donuts. During your trip to Philadelphia, get your hands on these delicious donuts exclusive to Philly.

2. Sabrina’s Cafe

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 from the Italian Market.

There are often long lines at Sabrina’s Cafe, so I recommend going early and bringing an appetite. While you wait, head back 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.

The café was warm and cozy and 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 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!

Reading Terminal Market food court in Philadelphia.
So many food and drink options to choose from inside!

2. Honey’s Sit ‘n Eat

Satisfy your inner foodie with brunch at Honey’s Sit ‘n Eat. Honey’s offers hearty Jewish cuisine with a southern comfort twist. I ordered “Toad in a Whole” and shared “Three Giant Pancakes.” Can you say finger-licking is good?

3. Independence Beer Garden

Things to Do in Philadelphia - Independence Beer Garden
Good food, great beer, and a laid-back atmosphere.

Across the street from the Independence National Historical Park, the Independence Beer Garden creatively combines food, beer, and games in a unique way. The open-air space has many different sections, including a shady rock garden and outdoor seating. Picnic tables accentuate the casual ambiance, and the “picnic” menu is perfect for sharing.

My favorite snacks were the pickle chips and the “Everything” Pretzel Bites. There’s lots of regional and domestic craft beer to choose from. Expect good food, great beer, and a laid-back atmosphere.

4. Italian Market

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, it’s a lively foodie haven. 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.

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 in such an urban city.

Things to Do in Philadelphia

Fun things to do in Philadelphia - visit LOVE Park in Philadelphia
LOVE Park in Philadelphia!

1. Board Game Art Park

After visiting LOVE Park, I ran into giant board game pieces at the Municipal Services Building Plaza. I couldn’t resist taking photos with a few Monopoly pieces. There were also giant Dominoes, Bingo chips, and Chess pieces scattered around. 

I wonder if the artist was trying to poke fun at our messy and childlike government.

Lastly, if you’re into people-watching, the Board Game Art Park is an interesting place to people-watch. Grab your camera and take action shots of the skaters as they skate by.

2. Rooftop Vegetable & Herb Garden

Sofitel Philadelphia at Rittenhouse Square has a really cool rooftop garden that features all sorts of fruits, vegetables and herbs like strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, lemon thyme, mint, parsley, and sage. The herbs and vegetables infuse fresh flavors into Sofitel’s contemporary French-inspired cuisine.

Tour of Sofitel's Rooftop Garden with Chef Luke Rogers
Touring Sofitel’s rooftop with Chef Luke Rogers.

I enjoyed meeting Chef Luke Rogers, Sofitel’s Executive Chef. He guided me through the rooftop garden and explained its importance and uniqueness. Sofitel’s rooftop garden also houses one of Philadelphia’s largest collections of honey bees. It has over 100,000 honey bees. They help pollinate the garden, and their honey sweetens a variety of the hotel’s beverages.

3. Philadelphia City Hall Tower and Observation Deck

Visit the beautiful Philadelphia City Hall built in the 1860s and marvel at one of the largest municipal buildings in the USA. It was once the tallest building in the world and it has over 700 rooms.

Head over to the observation deck for spectacular views of the city and neighboring states. Above the observation deck stands the statue of William Penn, the founder of Philadelphia.

In 1682, William Penn named Philadelphia The City of Brotherly Love in Greek. He envisioned Philadelphia being a place where anyone could worship freely.

The elevator ride to the top took 2 minutes. You’ll only have 15 minutes to explore the observation deck, so take as many pictures as possible before heading back down.

Helpful Tip: Arrive early to secure your observation deck reservation. Tickets sell out fast because only four passengers can ride the elevator simultaneously.

5. The Rocky Statue and Steps

The Rocky Steps are a symbol of perseverance and rising to the occasion. Climb the 72 steps leading to the Philadelphia Museum of Art while singing the iconic “Gonna Fly Now” song by Bill Conti. At the top, recreate the Rocky movie scene and throw your hands up in the air in triumph.

6. Porch Street at 30th Street

Porch Street at 30th in Philadelphia best recreational spaces in Philadelphia.
One of my favorite recreational spaces in Philly!

Porch Street at 30th Street offers a colorful outdoor space with chairs, tables, and green grass. One of my favorite things about The Porch is the adult-size swings. Individuals, couples, and even families could swing and lounge around. The swings come in all different sizes and made me feel youthful. This is a great place to appreciate Philadelphia’s playful side.

7. Rittenhouse Square

Rittenhouse Square is one of the oldest parks in Philadelphia. It has some of the most dramatic art sculptures, like the ferocious “Lion Crushing a Serpent,” symbolizing the fight for good and evil, and the sculpture of the girl carrying a duck under her arm.

8. Wall Murals

Another interesting thing to do in Philadelphia is spot murals. I found four murals while walking toward the city center, but there are over 3,600 murals in Philadelphia. They feature different art styles and are part of the Mural Arts Program, allowing artists to showcase their talent throughout the city.

9. Liberty Bell

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.

10. Once Upon a Nation Benches

In the summer, you can hear short stories and tales about events long ago, exactly where they happened in Philadelphia. 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.

11. 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, commemorating those who died in the American Revolution.

Best Hotels in Philadelphia

Lastly, here are some of my favorite places to stay in Philadelphia.

Sofitel Philadelphia at Rittenhouse Square

Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia

Best things to do in Philadelphia this weekend.
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