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For those budget-conscious travelers who would like to experience what Philadelphia has to offer, but they don't want to spend much cash in the process.
Want to get a great Philly hotel at a bargain price? There is no less expensive way to do it than Priceline. Just make sure to not go below a 3 star designation when choosing your criteria for hotels and only pick the Center City Philadelphia district when choosing where you'd like to stay, and you'll be good to go - and, then, bid away! You can get rooms as cheap as $50-some dollars a night at the like of the following hotels: Hyatt Regency at Penn's Landing, Downtown Marriott, the Hilton Garden Inn, Sheraton Society Hill, etc...they are all brand-name hotels and it's a great way to save more than a buck on accomodations when visiting the City of Brotherly Love.
OK, after checking into your oh-so-cheap-but-chic digs, you've built up a Philly-worthy appetite. Of course, everyone comes to Philly to eat the cheesesteaks (and you should too), but those of us in the know head down to Oregon Ave in South Philly to the illustrious Tony Luke's and order the Roast Pork with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe sandwich. Mamma mia! The best sammie in the city hands down.
Now that you've stuffed yourself on Tony Luke's delights, head over to the historic district and see some sights that have made this country what it is - great. The Liberty Bell is arguably Philly's most famous attraction with taped presentations in a dozen languages as well as video presentations and exhibits about the famous Bell. Don't expect this 2000 lb, mostly copper Bell to ring anymore, due to its famous crack. It's beautifully displayed in a magnificant glass chamber with Independence Hall in the background. Oh yeah, and did I mention - visiting the famous Bell, is yep, you guessed it - FREE!
Right behind the Liberty Bell sits historic Independence Hall - where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were both signed. This attraction requires a tad more planning than the Liberty Bell, because you need to get a FREE timed ticket during the months of March-December. But, hey, it's free, it's a famous historic building, it's worth a little extra effort. Tickets are issued on a first come, first serve basis. Get to the Hall early (by 8:30 a.m.) and you should be golden for your tixs.
This one will cost you - $5 for adults and $1 for kids, 6-18; however, under 6'ers are FREE! Tucked away among art galleries, coffeehouses and fashionable restaurants is America's oldest residential street, dating back to 1702. Comprised of 33 homes, it's old, cobblestone-laden and it's gorgeous. And yes, people still live there. The fee supports the small Elfreth's Alley museum and its accompanying educational programs. Do take the guided tour, it's very interesting and worth your money. You can visit one of the homes - the Chairmakers House - (#124) as well.
If you want a REAL meal but still don't want to break the bank., head over the the heart of the Italian Market in South Philly and you'll find the place where the locals eat - Villa di Roma. It's an establishment where the ever-famous Philly atty-tude prevails, but you'll get a darn fine meal here at moderate prices. This is red-gravy, Sicilian Italian food - no truffles or Chilean sea bass here - and it does a great job at being just what it is, completely good food at the right price and unpretentious. The meal starts off right as your waitress drops off baskets of buttery-crisp garlic bread. Everything on the menu is delicious, but if steamed clams, fried asparagus, baked ziti with asparagus, shrimp scampi, veal parm, and my personal favorite, the Chicken Neopolitian (tender chicken with at least a stick of butter and melt-in-you-mouth mushrooms) are your kinds of eatin', then Villa di Roma is your kind of place. It's cash only, FYI.
Get up the next morning and work off last night's sins by heading over to Fairmount Park. You'll be amazed by this place - it's one of the world's largest municipal parks with over 9,200 acres and a great place for a jogging or biking. Often touted as "a little piece of country in the city," you can watch the early morning rowers on the Schuykill River, visit the stunning Japanese House and Gardens, check out Memorial Hall and Waterworks, along with many gorgeous historic homes...and one of the most famous sights in Philly, Boathouse Row - all the rowing clubs. If you can catch a glimpse of the Row at night from West River Drive, it's enchanting - the clubs are outlined in tiny white lights the reflect off the river. And, all of this is (of course!) FREE!
You won't believe this place. Truly. It's unique and so very, very Philly. It's got about 100 vendors under one roof - fresh produce, Amish specialties, ethnic foods galore, great hoagies, handcrafted pottery and jewerly from around the world, seafood, meats, exotic cheeses, cookware - that and more - it's all here under one roof. It's a super-sized farmers market and then some. If you leave here hungry, it's your own fault. If you can get a seat, go have breakfast at the Dutch Eating Place - for delicious pancakes as big as your the plate and delectable apple dumplings, you can't beat this place for breakfast and it's reasonably priced. Or discover your own piece of culinary heaven while you're there - this is definitely a must-visit while in Philadelphia.
So you have the itch to shop but those high-end Rittenhouse Square boutiques aren't in your price range? Well, look no further than Philadelphia's Daffy's, right on the corner at 17th and Chestnut - high-end clothing, housewares and accessories at low-end prices.
Come to Philly in the summer and check out the Philadelphia Orchestra series at the Mann Music Center right in Fairmount Park. They offer concerts throughout June and July and lawn admission is a mere $10 - pack a picnic, sit underneath the stars and enjoy the music. Quite the bargain!
Philadelphia's answer to funky? Craving ecletic? Take a stroll down South Street where antiques, art galleries, body art, bars, unique stores, coffeehouses and restaurants prevail. The stroll is free - but...if you choose to get that tattoo you've always been wanting, it'll cost you!
Head over to one of the hottest growing districts in Philly - Northern Liberties - and you can't miss the big white building at 2nd and Poplar with the words "Standard Tap" blazed across the side. If you are looking for practically gourmet fare at bargain prices, that's one of the many reasons to visit the Tap. It's a pub atmosphere and completely unpretentious...but the quality of the food here is simply amazing. The ever-changing blackboard boasts of seafood specialties (whole black sea bass perfectly seasoned and fall-off-the-bone tender), as well as their famous mussels and sausage, as well as being home to one of the best burgers in the city. They also have one heck of a local beer selection. The rooftop deck is a great hangout in the good weather as well - great views of that Philly skyline. And that, my friends, is priceless.
Want to escape the summer heat for a few hours? Head to the Ritz at the Bourse, where independent produced. art and foreign films are shown here in Philly. If you go before 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, there is a bargain price of $6/pp (as opposed to the $9 peak price.) On Wednesdays, all shows, all day are $6. Sneak your candy in from CVS and enjoy!
This is really cool and it won't cost you a cent - unless you're into purchasing artwork, that is! Philadelphia's art scene is happening and alive on every first Friday of every month, one of Philly's most vital and signature cultural events. Go to Old City and wander through the 40+ galleries (some will even have free eats and drinks) and soak in the diverse atmosphere. Most galleries are found between Front and Third and Market and Vine Streets.
It's a world-class art museum and on Sundays, you can pay-what-you-wish to enter. (It is usually a $14 admission fee for adults.) Kids 12 and under are always free. Throw them a few bucks and spend hours touring the exhibitiions, collections and galleries.