The Perfect Day in Philadelphia

Your perfect day in Philadelphia can include iconic cultural attractions and delicious local treats. Taste coffee and creative donuts, take a trip through Independence Hall, munch on a classic Philly cheese steak... and a trip to the general store, the art museum, and a Prohibition-era cocktail bar. Sounds like a perfect way to enjoy a perfect day in Philadelphia.

1500 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19102, USA
That the Mad Men-esque Butcher & Singer has landed on Philadelphia Magazine’s 50 Best Restaurants list for two consecutive years speaks volumes about serial restaurateur Stephen Starr’s keen design sense and unparalleled stagecraft. Although the plush leather banquettes, imposing ceilings and throwback supper-club experience are certainly striking (“an homage to Old Hollywood,” Starr says), it’s the archetypal steaks and chops that really shine here. Those harboring an obsession with sandwiches, like myself, should opt for the 10oz dry-aged beef burger—a more than suitable strip substitute. As for that tempting third course, don’t be surprised if tuxedo-bedecked waiters encourage you to save room for their signature dessert, the Baked Alaska. Whatever you do, just say yes. Unbutton your pants if you have to, the wait staff will understand. A vintage experience, masterful steaks and a killer ambiance means yet another success story for the Starr empire and a big win for Philadelphia. Reservations recommended.
1727-29 Mt Vernon St, Philadelphia, PA 19130, USA
Philadelphia is an ideal destination for lovers of outdoor spaces and beautiful art. Combining the two is the city’s Mural Arts Program, which was originally developed in 1984 as an anti-graffiti initiative and which has blossomed into one of the nation’s largest public-art projects. Buildings and neighborhoods all around the city have been transformed and revived by the colorful works. The program collaborates on 50 to 100 new public-art pieces each year, providing opportunities for thousands of participants of all ages. There are more than 3,600 artworks covering structures in every district of the city. Tours sponsored by the Mural Arts Program are the best way to view the highlights of the citywide “collection” of outdoor canvases.
1219 S 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19121, USA
Federal Donuts, which sells wacky-flavored handmade doughnuts, coffee, and Korean-style twice-fried chicken, is just one example of how chefs in the City of Brotherly Love are pursuing their culinary obsessions. The original Center City shop has been joined by branches around town (including one at the baseball stadium) as well as a satellite shop in Miami: The owners’ whimsical impulse to pick up a doughnut machine on Craigslist in 2011 now seems less crazy and more like the first steps of delicious empire-building.
51 N 12th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA
There is no better place for visitors interested in one-stop souvenir shopping than the Pennsylvania General Store, located inside the Reading Terminal Market. You’ll find everything from Amish quilts to just-made fudge, as well as food items unique to the region, including locally treasured Asher’s chocolate-covered pretzels. Also recommended are decadent, fresh-baked Hope’s Cookies, and tins of Rosie’s butterkins (butter cookies). If you’re not hungry, maybe you need a soft pretzel T-shirt, City of Brotherly Love shot glasses, or a bawdy coffee mug touting the town of Intercourse, Pennsylvania? Former Philadelphians who miss their regional treats can order care packages online from the General Store’s website.
520 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA
Prior to being rechristened as Independence Hall, this building was used and known as the Pennsylvania State House. The founding fathers of the United States met here in the Assembly Room to debate and adopt both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. For a time the building fell into disrepair, but an 1824 visit from the Marquis de Lafayette (who had served as a soldier under George Washington) compelled the city to rescue and preserve this historic site. Entrance to Independence Hall is by guided tour only; tickets are required from March through December, but no tickets are needed in January or February. Fun fact: For a short time, the basement served as the city’s dog pound!
124-126 Elfreth's Alley, Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA
Visitors seeking an immersive-history experience can get a chance to travel back in time and check out the homes, stories, and daily routines of early Philadelphians, from everyday citizens to the city’s better-known inhabitants from the past. Buildings along Elfreth’s Alley, the country’s oldest continually occupied residential street, reveal the lives of the city’s earliest residents. Most of the houses on the block are private homes, but houses numbered 124 and 126 have been preserved as a public museum. Guided tours begin in the Museum Shop (Number 124). Private tours of the Alley and Museum House are available all year round.
1221 Locust St, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA
Opened in 2011 in a historic brownstone, Vedge is widely considered one of the best vegan restaurants in America. Even such veganism-averse food critics as Alan Richman have sung its praises, and chef Rich Landau and his wife, Kate Jacoby, the pastry chef at Vedge, have both been nominated for James Beard awards. Landau works with ingredients that traditionally send carnivores running (tofu, seitan), but inventive dishes—such as salt-roasted beets layered with avocado, smoked tofu, and pickle mustard, a play on pastrami on rye—upend their hippie-dippie reputation. Save room for dessert: Jacoby’s creations, such as caramel-and-pecan-topped NOLA mud pie, have their own cult following.
51 N 12th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA
This historic market has been in operation since 1892, and is beloved by locals as a destination for lunch, grocery shopping, or buying regional gifts at the Pennsylvania General Store. More than 70 businesses sell fresh wares here, including ice cream, cookies, meat, seafood, produce, Mexican cuisine, and artisanal grilled-cheese sandwiches—just to name a few. Philadelphians line up daily for just-baked goods from the Amish-owned Beiler’s Bakery, which also runs a separate doughnut stand in the Pennsylvania Dutch section of the market. The market’s location, across the street from the Pennsylvania Convention Center, can mean throngs of visitors on convention days; try to get to the market as early as possible to avoid the crowds.
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