My college roommate, Stephanie, came to Philadelphia for Labor Day weekend, and we packed in as much as we could over four days! We went all over the city and ate a ton of amazing food. I decided to do a post on everything we saw if anyone is visiting the city and wants to know some things to do in Philadelphia while they’re here. You’ll notice that we didn’t visit any museums, and that was because the Made in America festival was going on and it was hard to get to the museums (but I do have a Philadelphia Museum of Art post up). I definitely recommend going to any of the museums in Philadelphia though!
Also, the food pictures were taken with my phone, so I’m sorry for any low quality pictures! All the food was much better than my pictures show. And side note, Stephanie flew in on Thursday evening, so we walked the Schuylkill River Trail that night and it’s definitely worth walking it if you have the time.
Without further ado, here are some things to do in Philadelphia in four days!
Knead Bagels has a great aioli for their breakfast sandwiches and awesome combinations like lavender bagels and honey cream cheese! It’s also right near Washington Square, so you can get your breakfast and eat it in the park.
Independence Hall Tour
If you’re ever visiting Philadelphia, you HAVE to do the historical tours. I know they can get busy with tourists, but the history is fascinating and Philadelphia is where our country was born! (Plus, the tours are free!) We reserved tickets for an early tour of Independence Hall on Friday morning (you don’t have to wait in a long line if you reserve tickets, but you have to make sure you pick them up 45 minutes before your tour time. Learn more about tickets here), and it wasn’t too busy. I figured a weekday would be less touristy than the weekend, and the earlier in the day, the better!
Our tour guide was a retired teacher, and he really knew his stuff (I’ll have a blog post up soon with all the information we learned!). On the tour, you get to see the room where the Founding Fathers sat when they risked their lives to establish our country more than 200 years ago! And it’s also a spot where Nicholas Cage filmed for National Treasure if you’re a fan of those movies. You can read a lengthier review of our tour on my Independence Hall Tour post.
The Liberty Bell is right across the street from Independence Hall, and it’s free, too! Again, the earlier in the day you can go, the better. There were quite a few people there when we went, so we had to wait a little bit to get the perfect shot with no one in the background. You can about the history and my review of it on my Liberty Bell post.
Old City and Elfreth’s Alley
There’s a lot to see just walking around Old City, like Benjamin Franklin’s grave and the Betsy Ross house, and one of my favorite places is Elfreth’s Alley. Not many tourists know about it since Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell are so prominent, but Elfreth’s Alley is very historically important, too. It’s the oldest continuous residential street in the country, and you can explore around the whole street for free!
Many of the Founding Fathers sat in the pews at Christ Church, and they still have the same baptismal font used for Benjamin Franklin’s children! Like most of the historical sites, it’s free (but you’re welcome to leave a donation).
After seeing so many Instagram posts with the huge sundaes from Franklin Fountain, I finally got to go! The sundaes are amazing, and they also have old-fashioned drinks, like rickeys and phosphates.
Right next to Franklin Fountain is Shane Confectionery! We didn’t get anything because we were so full from the sundae, but all the chocolates looked amazing.
Reading Terminal Market
Reading Terminal Market has tons of restaurants and shops, and we picked up a wedding present and pretzels from an Amish restaurant. Pretzels are a must if you visit Philly! You can get more information on my Reading Terminal Market post.
I always say this, but City Hall is my favorite building in Philadelphia. It’s way bigger and more ornate than you see in pictures, too. All the tours to go to the top of City Hall were booked, but you can check out my pictures from the last time I went to the top on my The Top of Philadelphia post. It’s definitely worth it if you get the chance!
Good Dog Bar
Good Dog Bar is one of my favorite bars because they have good food and drinks, AND they have pictures of dogs covering all the walls! The Good Dog Bar burger is amazing and they fill the actual burger with cheese, and this time I tried their macaroni-and-cheese. Yes, those are cornflakes on top! It was pretty amazing and I definitely recommend it.
Bob and Barbara’s
Later, we went to Bob and Barbara’s, Matt’s favorite bar, for live jazz music! They have a band play every Friday and Saturday, and it’s always a lot of fun (it’s also the home of the citywide special).
Day 1 Recap
Miles walked: 13.2 (THIRTEEN!!!)
As you can see, we walked a TON on the first day. It was totally worth it with everything we were able to see though! I definitely recommend doing the more touristy spots on a week day and early in the day if you can. It’s also helpful to have your busiest day on the first day so you don’t get too tired later in your trip and miss some sights.
Rittenhouse Square Farmer’s Market
The farmer’s market is every Saturday and Tuesday, and I definitely need to go back for more produce! The variety there was pretty great.
Thanks to Stephanie for this photo!
We went to The Dandelion, an awesome British pub, for brunch, and I was so hungry that I ate all my food before getting a picture, whoops. I always get the brioche French toast, and it’s AMAZING and very filling.
One Liberty Observation Deck
Since we weren’t able to go to the top of Philadelphia, we went to the One Liberty Observation Deck. Some of the pros of that tour were the observation deck was a lot bigger, there isn’t a time limit, and you get to see City Hall. Some of the cons were the price was more expensive and since it’s next to bigger buildings, they block some of the view, like the art museum. I enjoyed both tours, so you should do them both if you get the chance!
I used to live a couple of blocks from Magic Gardens but actually never went inside! It’s only $10, and all the mosaic work is really incredible. There is usually a line to get in, so the earlier you go the better. You can read a lengthier review of our tour on my Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens post.
Open House, shopping, and gelato
Philadelphia has quite a few artsy stores that are great for gifts. I recommend Open House if you want any souvenirs or Philly-themed items because they’re high quality and not your typical cheap souvenirs. We also needed to cool down with some gelato, and you can’t go wrong with Capogiro!
Mass at St. Patrick’s
Philadelphia has a lot of beautiful churches, and St. Patrick’s is one of my favorites. It has Saturday and Sunday masses and the times change depending on the season, so make sure you double check before you go.
Sorry for the bad picture! The food was amazing, even if it doesn’t show in this picture
Tria is one of my favorite restaurants in Philly! There are multiple locations around the city, and the wine and cheese is to die for. They also have small plates to share, and we got the fennel sausage, figs, and homemade rosemary chips. Their cheese menu is always changing, and I’ve never gotten a cheese I didn’t like!
PHS Pop Up Garden
Beer gardens are one of my favorite things in the summer, and my favorite is PHS Pop Up Garden on South St. It’s a fun environment, and they have a lot of great summery drinks!
Day 2 Recap
Miles walked: 7
We had a slower day since the first day was so busy and were able to relax some in the afternoon. It’s also nice to leave some wiggle room in your itinerary because we weren’t originally planning on going to One Liberty Observation Deck, but decided to go since we weren’t able to visit City Hall.
South St. has a ton of brunch places, and Little Spoon is one of my favorites. It has a variety of menu items, and the inside is really cute and hipstery.
Valley Forge isn’t technically in Philadelphia, but it’s only a 30 minute drive if you have a car. It’s a great piece of history to explore, and the park is huge with a lot of walking trails. It’s really beautiful and green if you need an escape from city life!
Triangle Tavern’s “adult water ice” is the best thing you will ever drink.
Pat’s King of Steaks and the Italian Market
I know, Pat’s and Geno’s are tourist traps (but still worth experiencing). The place we wanted to go for cheesesteaks (because you HAVE to get a cheesesteak if you visit Philly) was closed for Labor Day, so we ended up going to Pat’s. It worked out though because we got to walk through the Italian Market on the way back.
More Than Just Ice Cream
We stopped for ice cream on our way to Penn’s Landing. More Than Just Ice Cream (or as Matt and I call it for their graphic design sign blooper, Justice Cream) has a variety of flavors and the inside is pretty art deco and artsy. And, of course, they do have more than just ice cream.
Penn’s Landing and Spruce St. Harbor Park
Penn’s Landing is one of my favorite places to walk around, and Spruce St. Harbor Park is a lot of fun at night. They have hammocks, colorful lights hanging from the trees, and lots of food! We got Chickie and Pete’s crab fries so Stephanie could have the true Philly experience.
Day 3 Recap
Miles walked: 11.1
We walked quite a bit again! I wouldn’t suggest going to Spruce St. Harbor Park on a holiday weekend because it was packed more than usual. I also highly recommend walking around Valley Forge (Annika loved it!) if you get the chance! I love living in Philadelphia, but it’s nice to get out of the city every once in a while.
I absolutely love bagels and Spread Bagelry is one of my favorite bagel places in the city. They make Montreal style wood oven bagels, so they taste a little different from your typical bagel and they’re amazing!
Walking around Center City and the Wanamaker Building
Thanks to Stephanie for this photo!
Not many places were open on Labor Day, so we walked around Center City to see some of the buildings. We went into the Wanamaker Building (which is now Macy’s) to see its famous organ – one of the largest pipe organs in the world. Fun fact: the Wanamaker Building was dedicated by President Taft in 1911!
It took a while to find a restaurant open on Labor Day (even Reading Terminal Market was closed!), but Moriarty’s Pub was open, thankfully. If you haven’t been there yet, I recommend the buffalo wings because they’re HUGE and really good. I couldn’t finish mine the first time I went!
Eastern State Penitentiary
I hadn’t been to the Eastern State Penitentiary before, and it was pretty interesting! Also, Steve Buscemi narrates the audio tour, so random! It was really neat to see such a different piece of history, and I definitely want to go back for a Halloween tour now. You can read a lengthier review of our tour and get more information on my Eastern State Penitentiary post.
Rita’s Italian Ice
We ended the day with Rita’s Italian Ice (or water ice if you live in Philly).
Day 4 Recap
Miles walked: 8.9
If you visit Philadelphia on a holiday weekend, make sure the places you want to go are open! I wasn’t expecting so many places to be closed. It was also fun just walking around the city and seeing all the different buildings (I have a post on downtown Philly here). Philadelphia has such a variety of sights that you could easily just walk around all day taking pictures of buildings!
Even though we covered a lot of ground in four days, there’s still so much we didn’t get to see. There are so many things to do in Philadelphia and I’m already planning for Stephanie’s next trip! Here are a few honorable mentions if you’re looking for more to do in Philadelphia:
The Barnes Foundation
Philadelphia Museum of Art
American Swedish Museum
National Constitution Center
The Franklin Institute
Yards Brewery Tour
Visit the LOVE statue
Walking around Society Hill
Let me know if I’ve missed anything on my list! If you’ve visited (or live in) Philadelphia, comment below with your favorite thing to see here! 🙂