Hi friends, welcome back! Every year, Jon and I go on a fall getaway, and this year we decided to spend a long weekend (October 8th – 11th) in Philadelphia. We chose Philadelphia because it’s less than a two-hour drive from NYC, we love learning about history, checking out museums, and surprisingly neither of us had ever been. We also looked forward to running up the Rocky steps and indulging in a Philly Cheesesteak.
Jon and I left on a Friday afternoon, stopped by a cider mill, and then checked into our Airbnb in Old City. I decided to stay in Old City because I figured we would spend most of our time exploring the historical sites, and I’d highly recommend staying in this area on your first trip to Philly. I’d also highly recommend our Airbnb because it was quiet, cozy, safe, had free parking, and extremely walkable to all the main sites. I looked into staying in Center City, but I’m glad we didn’t because the area seems very chaotic and loud.
After settling in, we walked to Oh Brother for dinner and Jon took charge of the ordering. We were both starving so we split a Philly Cheesesteak with American Cheese, Brisket Sandwich, Truffle Parmesan Fries, and Fried Oreos to top it all off! Surprisingly, we didn’t feel terrible after eating all of that. My first Philly Cheesesteak experience was a great success! I know “The Best” Philly Cheesesteak may be a controversial topic, but this one tasted incredibly delicious and the restaurant always seemed busy when we walked by! Oh Brother is definitely not a tourist trap which was what we were trying to avoid.
The next morning, we went to United by Blue for coffee before getting ready for our walking tour. I’d highly recommend taking this walking tour I found on Viator. It lasted about two hours and hit all of the major historical landmarks with quite a bit of humor thrown in. This tour also provided a great history of everything we walked by and gave us a good lay of the land. I highly encourage taking a walking tour at the start of your trip to Philly!
Some of the highlights from our tour: The Arch Street Meeting House built in 1810 as a place for Quakers to worship.
A Ben Franklin Statue next to the fire station he helped create in 1736. Back then it was the first volunteer fire station in America. Ironically in 2013, there was actually a fire at this fire station.
I love the mural outside the fire station.
We stopped by Betsy Ross’s house that has been converted into a museum, but the museum wasn’t included with our walking tour, so Jon and I returned on our second day. It took us about half an hour to walk through the museum and I’d recommend stopping by. It was interesting to learn more about Betsy and see where the first flag was allegedly sown. It was never announced or documented during her time because it would’ve been treason against England. Betsy’s grandson spoke at the Pennsylvania Historical Society in 1870 and told the crowd that his grandma sowed the first American flag, and as they say, the rest is history.
We stopped by Elfreth’s Alley the oldest, continually habited, residential street in America and now a National Historic Landmark. The oldest home dates back to 1703. I love how cute this street is and that it was decorated for fall while we were there. The homes are quaint, but I don’t think I’d want people oogling my house all day long or tour groups outside while I’m trying to watch tv.
Moving along, Christ Church was founded in 1695 by the Church of England as the nation’s first church. They outgrew their space and the church you see today was constructed from 1727-1744. The steeple was funded by a lottery Ben Franklin created and made it the tallest building in America for 56 years. George Washington, John Adams, Ben Franklin, and Betsy Ross even attended some services here back in the day. Currently it’s an active Episcopal parish, but it’s also open to the public as a National Historic Landmark for tours. Somehow I forgot to take a picture of the church, so the below can be found here.
The First Post Office, also established by Ben Franklin who became the first postmaster general. He was clearly a very busy guy 😉
Carpenters Hall served as a key meeting place before the Revolutionary War. In this building the First Continental Congress met, Ben Franklin secretly met with a French ambassador to secure their help in the war, and as one of the first defiance’s of the King, delegates from twelve of the thirteen colonies gathered and voted to support a trade embargo against England. It’s free to visit the small museum inside, but we didn’t make it in during our time in Philly.
The New Hall Military Museum next to Carpenter Hall. This building is a reconstruction of the office of the Secretary of War in 1791. It currently features a museum showcasing the founding of the Army, Navy, and Marine Corp from the American Revolution to the late 18th Century. The museum was closed when we were there, but it sounds pretty interesting.
The tour ended across from Independence Hall so Jon and I ran and grabbed lunch at High Street before we had another tour at Independence Hall. We split a Reuben Pastrami and High Street Hoagie to give us energy.
I hope you enjoyed part one of our long weekend in Philly…stay tuned for Part 2!