[USA Series] A Winter Weekend in Philadelphia — A 2-Day Itinerary

The City of Brotherly Love has more to offer than cheesesteaks and Rocky Steps.

Home to the US Liberty Bell, Philadelphia is known for its rich history and its contribution to the formation of the United States Constitution and governance.

People would usually spend a day trip to Philly either from New York or Washington DC. However, since I had the luxury of time, I decided to spend 2 nights in the city. I flew from Manila to New York and took a 1 1/2 train ride to Philly.

Got 2 full days to spare? Head on to Philly and check some of the best things to do in the city.

1.Stay at a Local Hostel

If you are traveling alone, I suggest opting for local hostels. It is cheap, yet safe and vibrant. It was my first time to stay in this type of accommodation as prices of hotels are high in the United States, especially during peak season.

For only $30-40 per night, I’d like to believe I was able to score a pretty good deal. I requested the lower bunk bed, which they gladly granted. The hostel also comes with a play area and a common kitchen and dining area. Majority of the bed-spacers are students and people like my age…so mingling had never been a problem.

Get a 10% rebate with your first hotel booking by signing up from this LINK.

Apple Hostels Philadelphia
Image from Booking.com

2. Go on a Ghost Tour

Tomb of Unknown Solider
Tomb of Unknown Soldier

Contrary to its name, it’s not exactly a ghost tour, where you would look for ghosts and call the presence of unknown spirits. It is rather an educational tour on the history of Philadelphia and the United States, in general. Facilitated by students from nearby universities such as Temple University or the University of Pennsylvania, tourists will traverse the 2 km Independence Hall, passing through the Liberty Bell, Tomb of Unknown Soldier, banks, and offices.

I suggest doing this on the night of your arrival to save time. Reserve your slots from Grim Philly Twilight Tours.

3. Eat Breakfast at the Reading Terminal Market

Fresh lobsters at Reading Terminal Market

Forget about Chelsea Market in the meantime. While you’re in Philly, don’t forget to check out Reading Terminal Market — home to delicious and freshly baked donuts, cookies, and seafood.

I had the most sinful donut I have ever eaten in my life at a local donut store towards the back entrance of the market. Maple Bacon Donut!!

4. See Philly from the Top at the One Liberty Observation Deck

Philly from the Top

No time to see everything Philly has to offer? Take a short cut and go up to One Liberty Observation Deck. You’ll see everything in perfect grids. The urban planner in me is screaming!

5. Discover the Magical Elfreth’s Alley

Elfreth’s Alley

Considered as a national historical landmark, Elfreth’s Alley tucked in the middle of busy Philly, with around 32 houses to date. It is the oldest residential area in the United States. I am not sure if locals reside here, but it would be awesome if they actually do.

6. Explore How Prisoners Lived at the Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary

Ever wondered what it feels like to be a prisoner way back in the early ’90s? The penitentiary is a bit far from the city center, but if you’re a history buff or if you’re just curious about how prisoners were treated before, then going to the Eastern State Penitentiary would be worth the travel.

Spend 1.5-2 hours wandering the different corners and alleys of the building. Upon presenting your ticket, you would be given a set of earphones with an audio guide, which narrates stories and facts that transpired before, as you traverse each area.

It is very educational, yet it may give goosebumps, for some.

7. Be Artsy Fancy at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Museum of Art

To be honest, I am not really a fan of museums in general. So when I travel, I usually skip them. However, since this is included in my Philly Pass, I decided to give it a try.

Lo and behold! It did not disappoint. I spent 2 hours exploring various pieces of traditional, modern, and contemporary art. I enjoyed every single room I entered. My favorite was the Royal Room.

Inside the Royal Room
Philadelphia Museum of Art

8. Ring the Liberty Bell

At the Liberty Bell

Of course, you can’t ring the bell.

You can’t leave the city of history without learning its history. The US Liberty Bell is an iconic symbol of American Independence. It is America’s symbol of freedom and liberty. Hence, I guess this why the guards were very strict with our baggage.

9. Be Nerdy at The Franklin Institute

The Franklin Institute

Kids would surely enjoy this. From the human body, animals, space, and virtual reality, the interactive museum showcases matters of science creatively and innovatively.

I enjoyed the 3-min virtual reality, where I was subject into a cage, submerged underwater, while sharks came chasing me.

10. Decide Who Wins–Pat’s or Geno’s Cheesesteak?

Pat’s King of Steaks

Now, for the main course: the battle of the best cheesesteak–Pat’s or Geno’s

Didn’t try both, but based on the pictures and reviews from other blogs, Pat’s King of Steaks is better. So, I went there.


I ordered the classic cheesesteak with Polverone cheese. The meat was super juicy and tender, the oil was dripping so bad huhu, and the serving— my oh my… let’s say I ate the other half the next day.

So, that’s it! Your top 10 things to do when you’re in Philly. My tip is to purchase the 1-day Philly Pass. The pass will give you access to free bus rides, and to most, if not, all the places I have listed in this entry.

2-Day Philly Itinerary

Reading Terminal Market

1st Night

Bus to Apple Hostels of Philadelphia
Check-in at Apple Hostels of Philadelphia
Walk to Grim Philly Twilight Tours
Grim Philly Twilight Tours

Day 1

Travel to Pat’s and Geno’s Steaks
Breakfast at Pat’s or Geno’s Steaks
Travel to Independence Visitor Center
Claim Philadelphia Pass
Travel to Eastern State Penitentiary, Pass-through Elfreth’s Alley and City Hall
Eastern State Penitentiary
Travel to Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia Museum of Art / Rocky Steps
Snacks / Travel to The Franklin Institute
The Franklin Institute
Walk to One Liberty Observation Deck
One Liberty Observation Deck (Sunset view)
Christmas Village at LOVE Park
Dilworth Park Wintergarden and the Holidays at City Hall

Day 2

Reading Terminal Market
Walk to the Liberty Bell
Liberty Bell
Christ Church Burial Ground
Elfreth’s Alley
Blue Cross Riverlink
Walk to Sonny’s Famous Steaks
Sonny’s Famous Steaks
Go back to Apple Hostels Philadelphia, Get Bags
Travel to 30th Street Station, Amtrak
Wait for Amtrak Train to Washington DC
Rocky Steps and Philadelphia Museum of Art

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