Philadelphia is a vibrant city worth exploring, so step outside of University City as often as you can. Here are some of Philly’s best to get you started.
Everyone from Philly knows the great cheesesteak debate: Geno’s or Pat’s? The rivalry between Geno’s Steaks and Pat’s King of Steaks is all the hype, and trying both just to pick a winner is a part of the Philadelphia experience. That’s not the only place one can find a quality cheesesteak, however. Jim’s Steaks on South Street more often than not has a line wrapped around the block, for good reason. Philip’s Steaks on Passyunk Avenue is another great stop. [Editor’s note: also consider John’s Roast Pork on Snyder and Weccacoe Avenues.]
South Street in itself is an interesting area to explore. From Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, a non-profit mosaic installation well worth a Google, to the area’s eclectic collection of Bo, vintage, and specialty storefronts and restaurants.
Philly has enough food options to keep anyone eternally satisfied, including the glorious Reading Terminal Market. Reading Terminal, located in Center City, is the city’s oldest farmer’s market, housing over 80 vendors. It’s conveniently located right beside Chinatown, where shopping, eating and observing can be a unique experience.
Philadelphia is also packed with museums, offering something for everyone. There’s the Philadelphia Museum of Art (where one can be a tourist and run up the steps, Rocky-style), the Barnes Foundation (which houses an impressive collection of French impressionist paintings), the Franklin Institute (“The Art of the Brick” Lego exhibit is open until Oct. 4), the Academy of Natural Sciences (Drexel owns it; you get in for free) and the Mutter Museum, which showcases a number of medical marvels.
For a little of the city’s and nation’s history, check out Old City. Spend an afternoon at the Independence Mall visiting popular sites such as the Liberty Bell, the President’s House and the Constitution Center. Also in the area are the Betsy Ross House, former home of the woman who America’s first flag, and the Ben Franklin Museum, which features exhibits with personal artifacts, computer animations and displays detailing Franklin’s life.
Old City is only a few blocks from Spruce Street Harbor Park, one of the city’s newer hangout spots with food vendors, ambient lighting and relaxing hammocks. Rittenhouse Square is a bit closer to campus and a great spot to do homework or relax.
To keep up with Philly, the Uwishunu blog is a great way to stay up to date with the latest events and happenings.