By Lauren McCutcheon, Carrie Havranek
History permeates Philadelphia. It's easy to imagine the Old City crowded with the nation's founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson -- and founding mother, Betsy Ross. After seeing the historic sites, check out Philadelphia's more contemporary side. Dine around the world in Center City, watch coins being made at the Philadelphia Mint or dig into a Philly cheese steak. You'll find a lot more than history in the City of Brotherly Love.
Things to Do
Philadelphians proudly boast of their role in the founding of the American nation, and most historic sites lie within an easy walk of one another. You can feel the spirit of the great Americans who once frequented these cobbled streets. No less than forty early American sites are preserved within Independence National Historical Park, including Independence Hall and the beloved Liberty Bell. Other sites worth a visit are Franklin Court and Christ Church, where George Washington worshipped.
Philadelphia loves its independent shops. Even in Center City, where you'll find all the chain stores, locally owned boutiques, book stores and art galleries lie tucked between the big box stores. Sneaker emporiums, vintage clothing shops and costume jewelers rank among the trendy independent retailers on South Street in the arty Old City. For colonial-era furniture and silverware head to Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill.
Nightlife and Entertainment
West Philadelphia and Center City shine after hours, home to some of the city's finest performing arts. The Philadelphia Orchestra performs at the stunning black, glass, accordion-shaped Kimmel Center, a venue that also stages theater, ballet and modern dance performances. In the summer months classical music lovers follow the orchestra to its outdoor digs, at the Mann Music Center. For a nightcap or to kick back, head to the Avenue of the Arts, Rittenhouse Square or the Old City.
Restaurants and Dining
Philly cheese steaks and Italian dishes used to sum up eating in Philadelphia. No more. A vibrant restaurant scene allows diners to feast on contemporary global cuisine these days. Mouthwatering Japanese fare is served in the spaceship-shaped Morimoto. Alma de Cuba dishes up Cuban and Caribbean specialties in a Havana-inspired Center City restaurant, while Moroccan spices fill the air and the menu at Tangerine. And if you really want a cheese steak or lasagna, you'll find it in South Philadelphia.