Philadelphia: What to See and Do In a Weekend


A weekend in Philadelphia is a big undertaking but I'm confident you can cover a lot of bases in 24 hours. Personally, I like to focus on a few iconic stops while mixing in some of my favorite haunts. In a few short weeks, I'll be having some family over to take this itinerary on a test drive. I'm beyond excited to take my family to some amazing places over the course of the week. I'll begin with sharing my newfound love for the City of Brotherly Love.

As a girl born and raised outside of Manhattan, I have some strong ties to the city. In college, this changed when my boyfriend introduced me to the city of Philadelphia. I never looked back. Each city has their charm and I'm afraid I have to say I love them both. Ever since that premier introduction, I've been lucky enough to venture through a lot of the neighborhoods Philadelphia has to offer. I am by no means an expert but I definitely have tested a few restaurants and frequent a lot of popular spots.

This is what I would suggest one should do if they have roughly 24 hours in Philadelphia. A day trip should suffice as long as you have enough energy to seize the day. To preface, I am aware we will be in Philadelphia for 2 separate days. This is due to their flight coming in at the Philadelphia airport. It would be a waste not to get brunch or explore a bit before we go home to relax.

Day 1:

Brunch at the Dandelion

Oh how I have fallen in love with this pub. From the green exterior to the cozy dog lined walls upstairs, everything is quaint and cozy. The first time I came to this British inspired restaurant, I was in love. The Dandelion has you covered with offerings from Brunch to Afternoon Tea as well as the usual Lunch and Dinner. My favorite, like those before me, are the Fish and Chips. They are fantastic to be frank. The fish is a perfect combination of crispy and juicy and pairs beautifully with the thickly cut potatoes that accompany it. I'm an avid fan of their dessert menu as well as the local brews offered. If brews aren't your poison, they offer floral teas such as the classic earl grey. I feel like this restaurant has something for everyone and is worth a stop when in town.

The Schmidt's Commons & Piazza Makers Market

I'm excited to explore the Piazza Makers Market offerings. There will be vendors featuring their crafts and repurposed goods from around Pennsylvania and the country. In addition, there will be a cute pop-up beer garden which always calls for some pretty seating, food, and games. This market will be running on Saturday July 22nd if you care to explore this area of Northern Liberties.

Day 2:

Reading Terminal Market

We will of course be starting our day with a sustainable meal at Reading Terminal Market. This bazaar of food is a haven for foodies and culinary minds alike. It's a perfect place to get lost and try something new. I suggest going with friends who like to share food and sampling a few of the large array of vendors. I've been here multiple times and I've barely made a dent in the offerings. My favorites include DiNic's Roast Pork, Bassett's Ice Cream, and Keven Parker's Soul Food Cafe. Could this be the perfect place for the indecisive? I think so.

Philadelphia City Hall

I think every Instagram feed needs a picture of this or it didn't happen. The best view of city hall, in my opinion, is on Broad Street in the middle dividers. You can get pretty creative with pictures as long as you are careful of the traffic. In the winter time, there's a pretty Christmas market I recommend which includes a skating rink and some other merchants as well.

One Liberty Observation Deck

I love the views from here, especially at sunset. I think this is a perfect activity to do for a date or even just as friends. It's fun to see all of Philadelphia and there are interactive maps that explain many landmarks.On one occasion here, we ended up seeing people in their offices working using the binoculars. (This is totally not creepy). By going here, you can definitely see all of Philadelphia in 24 hours.

Liberty Bell

If you haven't seen it, I think you should pay the liberty bell a visit. It's free and it's part of our history and what makes Philadelphia so rich in history and culture.

Old City

I love this part of town for it's historic architecture and quaint streets. I think this is the perfect place to walk a dog or just sit out and grab drinks. There is a cafe named Happily Ever After that also serves dragons breath puffs (corn puffs in liquid nitrogen) as well as interesting ice cream flavors and Buldalk ramen (fire noodles). If you know me personally, you know I'm shamelessly addicted to Buldalk. It hurts so good. Old City is also home to some great night life and Big Ass Slices which is perfect to end your night and satisfy your pizza cravings. They are also not kidding when they call them Big Ass Slices. Their slices are gigantic but it's well worth the wait at 1AM.

Philadelphia's Magic Gardens

Honestly, this place is a little small and was underwhelming but I think it's a great place to visit for the pictures. I mean did you really visit Philadelphia if you didn't visit this? I think the best part of this place are the mosaic inscriptions and ability to be as creative as you want with photography.

Federal Donuts

I really like donuts and fried chicken. So this obviously gets a mention from me. If an establishment can get me to eat the pickles in my sandwich with no regrets, it's 100% the bomb dot com.

Philadelphia Museum of Art & Oval+

I love this museum and recommend going in if you have longer than 24 hours in this city. If not, there always the steps and the Rocky statue to admire. Additionally, in the summer months the Oval+ is a short walk away. The Oval+ comprises of a beer garden, yoga/kickboxing classes, movies at dusk, Quizzo, and games for family and friends. I've yet to visit this installation and have heard many good things about it this year.

Boat House Row

I haven't actually made a point to walk around this area but it's always been nice seeing those houses illuminated when driving into center city from Manayunk. It would be nice to actually go along the Schuylkill River Trail and get some fresh summer air.

Spruce Street Harbor Park

This is the first place I visited in Philadelphia contributing to a lot of my fondest memories. It's a prefect place to bring a date. There are hammocks to lay if you can find a moment to snag one as well as more food and beverages. I love the nets over the water by the waterfront that you can lounge in. Also the Franklin Fountain is usually a vendor here and they have some great ice cream flavors. It's the perfect place to kickback and relax for a bit under the trees.

Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest (Winterfest)

Depending on season and timing one or the other will be open. In the winter there is an ice skating rink, some fire pits and a covered Lodge that offers food and drinks. Make sure to grab a s'mores kit from the Franklin Fountain at Winterfest to satisfy your sweet tooth. They have some cozy couches and chairs to hang out in as well as an arcade. In the summer, the ice skating rink is converted into a roller blading rink and mini golf is available. The Lodge is converted into a summer crab shack theme as well. Most notably this year an amusement park was added, featuring a ferris wheel, carnival games, and some rides.

I love Philadelphia and there are honestly hundreds of recommendations I haven't listed above. If you ever get a chance to explore the city for a longer stretch of time, I highly recommend it. In the meantime, I hope that this itinerary sheds some light onto what there is to do during a weekend in Philadelphia. Let me know what cities or places you would like me to cover next in the comments below. Good luck and may you all seize the day.

With Love,

Christine Celine