It may take just 90 minutes to get to Philadelphia but we promise a true getaway awaits. That’s because the City of Brotherly Love offers everything—culture, history, Greenwich Village-like shops, boutique hotels, and a burgeoning food scene. And, yes, you could spend your entire time at tourist spots like the Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross House, the Benjamin Franklin Museum, and Independence Hall, but that’s just the one facet of this awesome city to our south.
#1: Eat a cheesesteak.
Cheesesteaks are to Philadelphia what bagels are to New York City. And, just like the ongoing debates about bagel authenticity, ask a Philadelphian and you’re likely to hear dueling visions of which place sells the best one. We sampled the overstuffed cheesesteaks—‘wit’ onions and Cheez Whiz—at Pat’s King of Steaks in South Philadelphia, which is open 24/7, FYI, and found them to be pretty darn tasty.
Visit: Pat’s King of Steaks, 1237 East Passyunk Avenue, 215-468-1546
#2: Run the Rocky steps.
Before you check out the exhibits at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you and your kids will want to jog up the 72 steps brought to life in the Rocky films. Tap into your inner Sylvester Stallone and, for maximum authenticity, take ‘em two at a time.
Visit: Rocky Steps, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 215-763-8100
#3: Tuck into a home away from home.
If you’re looking to reinvent a typical hotel experience you’ll want to book an overnight at Lokal, an Old City brownstone, that’s a cross between an AirBnB and a boutique hotel. Not only will you feel super chic—you will want to redecorate your apartment after staying here, we promise—but these ‘rooms’ offer full kitchens, and some are equipped with bunk beds and even washer/dryers. Just note that there is no front desk or onsite staff—you’ll plug in a coded check-in number and your in-room iPad is loaded with service-driven apps, should you want to order in. Also, there’s no elevator in this historic building, but not to worry: You’ll be so revved by the in-room Rival Bros. Coffee that you’ll be racing up the stairs no sweat.
Stay: Lokal, 139 North 3rd Street, 267-702-4345
#4: Experience Colonial-era cuisine.
At City Tavern, get ready to walk back in time to the 18th Century when pepperpot soup, sweet potato biscuits, and turkey pot pie were culinary delights. At this Philadelphia fave, a reconstruction of the original tavern built in 1773—a place John Adams called the most genteel tavern in America—you’ll be served by servers in authentic Colonial garb and the food is delicious: Especially the fried tofu, a surprise treat that was invented by Ben Franklin.
Visit: City Tavern, 138 South 2nd St., 215-413-1443
#5: Check out three family-friendly Philly eateries.
While you’re in town, pop into High Street on Market, 308 Market Street, 215-626-0988, for a yummy breakfast sandwich—daring kid eaters will love the breakfast Reuben—or a fresh-baked pastry; the glamorous Bank & Bourbon at the Loews Hotel, 1200 Market Street, 215-627-1200, serves a tasty Kids’ Menu for kids ages 7 and younger and we were thrilled to spot grilled chicken breast and steamed veggies on the menu; and at Porta, 1216 Chestnut Street, 267-534-2135, the pizzas will delight your kids. If you’re in town on a Sunday, this stylish spot serves for breakfast for dinner, too.
#6: Pick a hotel with a pool.
To really feel like you’ve gotten out of town now before the weather improves, book an overnight stay at the Sheraton Society Hill, One Dock Street, 215-238-6000, tucked right in the heart of the Old City. The hotel boasts oversized rooms and an indoor pool that teems with families relaxing and splashing after spending the day visiting such nearby historic sites as the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. And, on weekend afternoons, treats like donuts or lemon squares and hot cocoa are served in the lobby—a perfect warm-up after a day spent exploring nearby Penn’s Landing, a family-friendly Delaware River waterfront hub featuring parks, concerts and festivals, as well as the fascinating Independence Seaport Museum, with its historic vessels to board and exhibits chronicling the city’s contributions to naval and commercial maritime history.