We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

First trip to Philly - Where to Stay, Play, & Graze?

Virginia
Level Contributor
31 posts
11 reviews
Save Topic
First trip to Philly - Where to Stay, Play, & Graze?

Hi, we will be visiting Philly for the first time Thurs April 5th through Sat April 7th. I am looking for advice on everything - areas/hotels to stay, things to see, and places to eat. We would like to stay in the city in an area that is safe to walk to attractions/dining. We also like to take pictures. I am thinking about the Van Gogh exhibit. As far as food goes, we love good food and I want a good cheesesteak within walking distance; but, don't want to hit a tourist heavy place such as Ginos/Pats. All advice is welcome and greatly appreciated!

Philadelphia
Level Contributor
4,856 posts
127 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: First trip to Philly - Where to Stay, Play, & Graze?

SLReed- check out our FAQ's at the right under "Top Questions about Philadelphia" You'll find most of your answers in the FAQs for Cheesesteaks, Where to Stay, Things to Do, and Favorite Restaurants.

Dearborn, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Mont Tremblant
Level Contributor
4,082 posts
73 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: First trip to Philly - Where to Stay, Play, & Graze?

Gino's and Pat's not only are "tourist heavy", they also are far from the best places to try a "cheesesteak".

Philadelphia...
Level Contributor
1,088 posts
579 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: First trip to Philly - Where to Stay, Play, & Graze?

SL - Here's my slightly off the beaten path (but not really) list of things to check out in Philadelphia.

Attractions: Philadelphia Magic Gardens, Mutter Museum, Laurel Hill Cemetery, The Masonic Temple Tour, The Dream Garden Mosaic by Tiffany & Maxfield Parrish in the Curtis Center near Independence Hall and First Friday in Old City. The Phila Museum of Art is great (& who doesn't like Van Gogh?) but also consider the Penna Academy of Fine Arts & the Institute of Contemporary Art in West Philly.

For sandwiches my non cheesesteak recommendations are the roast pork with provolone & greens or the veal scallopine sandwich from DiNIcs in Reading Terminal Market. In the Italian Market - Paesano's has a killer brisket, a great variation on a roast pork & an incredible sweet sausage sandwich.

Phila is a compact city & there are lots of photo opportunities everywhere. Have fun!

phila
Level Contributor
277 posts
118 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: First trip to Philly - Where to Stay, Play, & Graze?

SL - You didn't say how many of you and how old you are. Also, sounds like you are interested in art. How about music, history, culture and sports? Depending on your answers, we can guide you better.

I went to the Van Gogh exhibit a couple of weeks ago. It was OK, but really just OK. It was organized along subject matter (generally), so sunflowers were with sunflowers, wheat fields with wheat fields and so on. It was interesting because you could see Van Gogh's progression in each area, but the audio tour was a bit disorienting because it's hard for them to go back and forth between in the span between 1887-1890 when he really changed a lot. I would definitely try to go during the week because it's really packed on the weekend.

Don't miss the 3-4 rooms of impressionist art right near the Van Goghs. There are a lot of other great artists there (from Manet to Renoir to (particularly good) Pisarros) and almost nobody going in the Van Gogh exhibit bothers to look. Also a few really good Sargents.

Too bad you will miss the opeing of the Barnes museum a few weeks later. Oh, well. Hopefully you will be back.

At the top of other categories are: music - Philadelphia Orchestra at the Kimmel Center. Really good under the new conductor!

The Constitution Center - Fantastic and modern. And it's a quick stroll to the liberty bell and independence hall, though those places aren't nearly as interesting.

For culture, you're already going to the Art Museum, but if you have even a passing interest in science, try the Franklin Institute.

For sports - if the weather is nice and the Phillies are in town, go to Citizen's Bank Park. There is no better place to see a ball game. Unfortunately, the games tend to be sold out so you will have to go through stub hub or a local ticket broker - there are plenty and your hotel will know where to send you.

For food -go to the Reading Terminal Market. It's a lot of fun and you will find cheesesteaks there.

If you can afford it, stay at the Four Seasons and 18th Street and the Parkway. For your itinerary, it's a great location and beautiful. If not, try the Sheraton at 16th and Race or the Doubletree on South Broad street.

Bucks County...
Destination Expert
for Philadelphia, Train Travel, Bucks County
Level Contributor
8,910 posts
94 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: First trip to Philly - Where to Stay, Play, & Graze?

The Franklin Institute is geared towards kids. I would not suggest it for adults. I don't understand how anyone could say that. Independence Hall and The Liberty Bell aren't as interesting as other places. The bell is certainly worth a short visit, and Independence Hall and accompanying buildings should not be missed. Also, the Sheraton mentioned above is not in a terribly convenient location for most activities.

Edited: 19 March 2012, 02:20
Philadelphia...
Level Contributor
3,840 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: First trip to Philly - Where to Stay, Play, & Graze?

I was really impressed with the Van Gogh exhibit. It doesn't have his most famous paintings - or even paintings in the style of his most famous paintings - but I thought the exhibit was stronger for that reason. It's a remarkable collection of various painting styles he tried out and for me at least was a revelation. It is crowded, even on weekdays.

Virginia
Level Contributor
31 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: First trip to Philly - Where to Stay, Play, & Graze?

Hi everyone, Thanks for the input! We are a couple in our early 30s. Just the 2 of us. We will be driving up from Richmond.

I definitely want to try DiNics. I am pleased to hear other places in Reading Terminal have Cheesesteaks and Brisket!

I have been to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and through most major museums in Europe, so I'm wondering if I may be disappointed in the current exhibit. I have heard though from a friend that the Art Museum is a great attraction, even better than the historical attractions.

Thank you so much for the hotel recs. That's the one area I was really stuck and the FAQs didn't clear that up for me! So, if you have any further recs I greatly appreciate them.

The Phillies are great idea. Will look into it!

Also, since we are driving up from Richmond and love to take pictures, a friend and her mother suggested going out of our way to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square. Do any of you have an opinion on that?

Thanks again - I really appreciate all of you taking time to help!

Calabash, NC
Level Contributor
25 posts
156 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: First trip to Philly - Where to Stay, Play, & Graze?

Long wood Gardens is beautiful in the springtime. Kenneth Square is the mushroom capital too. Driving along old Route 1 is fun. IOU can also Che lout the Chadds Ford Winery. Sometimes they have music on the weekends.

Back toPhilly....you could see Betsy Ross House and visit Elfreth's Alley. Love the old church!

Philadelphia...
Destination Expert
for Philadelphia
Level Contributor
3,351 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: First trip to Philly - Where to Stay, Play, & Graze?

I agree with your friend that the art museum is a great attraction. It's one of my favorites in Philadelphia.

Bucks County...
Destination Expert
for Philadelphia, Train Travel, Bucks County
Level Contributor
8,910 posts
94 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: First trip to Philly - Where to Stay, Play, & Graze?

If you can tell us what your main interests are, we can steer you to the hotels that would work best for you.