October 31, 2008 / 10:30 AM / 10 years ago

Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters Life!) - Got 48 hours to spend in Philadelphia? With the presidential election just days away Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors enjoy the historic sites in the City of Brotherly Love.

Philadelphia’s beloved Benjamin Franklin (played here by Ralph Archbold) in an undated photo. REUTERS/GPTMC/Handout


6 p.m. - For a pre-dinner beer or two, check out the Nodding Head Brewery and Restaurant in Center City. It’s one of a number of independent local breweries that is helping to restore Philadelphia’s reputation as a center for craft beer making.

8 p.m. - The Tin Angel, a cozy second-floor live-music venue near the busy corner of Second and Market Streets, regularly hosts nationally known artists. Past acts have included Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and Richie Havens. It’s joined with the Serrano restaurant.


10 a.m. - Time to see the sights. The Liberty Bell is Philadelphia’s most famous historic landmark. The cracked bell was rung on July 8, 1776 to summon the people of Philadelphia to a reading of the newly written Declaration of Independence. It’s in a special pavilion on Independence Mall, the center of Philadelphia’s historic area.

11 a.m. - Independence Hall. Within walking distance of the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall was where the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776 and the U.S. Constitution was drafted in 1787. It contains reconstructed rooms where the “founding fathers” including Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison argued and labored to create the documents that laid the groundwork for the United States, and its independence from England. The National Park Service provides free tours on a first-come-first-served basis.

12 noon - Congress Hall, next to Independence Hall, was built in 1787-89 as a court house and became the meeting place of the fledgling U.S. Congress from 1790-1800. It also housed the presidential inaugurations of George Washington and John Adams.

1 p.m. - Reading Terminal Market. It is a bustling city-center food emporium where you can buy anything from bagels to brisket to bananas, as well as prepared food from many nations. Grab lunch in the no-frills food court and watch the world go by.

2 p.m. - National Constitution Center, housing a permanent exhibition on the U.S. Constitution, is at the opposite end of Independence Mall from Independence Hall, and an easy walk of about 10 minutes. It includes a multimedia theater called “Freedom Rising”, tracing the origins of the Constitution. Visitors can also walk among life-sized bronze statues of 42 men - 39 delegates who signed the Constitution and three who dissented.

3 p.m. - Franklin Court: the site of the house where Philadelphia’s most famous son, Benjamin Franklin, lived while serving in the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, and where he died in 1790. It commemorates the life of the statesman, politician and inventor with an 18th century printing office and a postal museum.

4 p.m. - The Schuylkill River. Take a stroll behind the Art Museum and watch the boating crews working out along the river where the 19th century painter Thomas Eakins depicted some of his most famous scenes.

6 p.m. - Take a walking tour of the Kimmel Center, Philadelphia’s main classical music concert hall beneath its distinctive glass roof on Avenue of the Arts near City Hall. A few blocks away, on the elegant Rittenhouse Square, it’s worth looking into the ornate lobby of the Curtis Institute of Music where some of the world’s most talented young musicians are trained. Students sometimes give free concerts.

7 p.m. - Dinner time. Choices in a famously foody city include:

— Pod: a futuristic restaurant on University of Pennsylvania campus in West Philadelphia. You may be able to choose your own “pod” (alcove) or eat in the main restaurant serving “contemporary pan-Asian cuisine”

— Le Bec Fin: venerable, elaborate, expensive French restaurant that is consistently near the top of the ratings in Philadelphia restaurant guides.

— Maggiano’s Little Italy: a chain that produces high-quality Italian family cooking in prodigious quantities for large groups in bustling restaurants.

9 p.m. - Head to Warmdaddy’s, a renowned blues club and restaurant that has recently moved from its Front Street location to a new space on Columbus Boulevard at Reed Street. Taste the southern cooking while listening to a selection of blues and soul.


10 a.m. - For brunch try the Marathon Grill, a popular deli/coffee shop chain with five locations in central and west Philadelphia. It serves eggs, sandwiches, salads and a range of brunch fare.

11 a.m. - Mural Arts Program: With almost 3,000 of the wall paintings throughout the city, Philadelphia is known as the world capital of murals. They range from naturalistic depictions of neighborhood residents to portraits of historic figures and complex allegories of urban life. Tours are available through the Mural Arts Program, which is celebrating is 25th anniversary in 2008.

1 p.m. - Time to try another icon of Philly culture, the cheesesteak. Philadelphia’s most famous culinary offering consists of a torpedo roll filled with shredded beef and melted cheese. It is served by many long-established restaurants that all claim to make the authentic steak. They include Geno’s in South Philadelphia which has drawn national attention, and some criticism, for its sign instructing customers to speak English when ordering.

2 p.m. - Take a tour of City Hall. This national historic landmark is the world’s tallest masonry building, and with almost 700 rooms, the largest municipal building in America.

Slideshow (7 Images)

Its ornate style, dating from 1871, stands out from the bland modern office buildings and hotels that surround it at the very heart of the city. With its statue of William Penn on top, it was the tallest building in Philadelphia until 1985 when a nearby skyscraper broke a gentleman’s agreement that no building in the city should be higher than Billy Penn’s hat.

3 p.m. - Philadelphia Museum of Art. One of America’s largest art museums, it contains some 225,000 works of art including paintings, sculpture, textiles and metalwork. From the top of the front steps you can look out over Benjamin Franklin Parkway with City Hall at the other end.

Visitors can, and frequently do, do the famous Rocky run up the Art Museum steps and pay homage at the bottom to the statue of the boxer played by Sylvester Stallone.

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