Travel Guide: Philadelphia, PA

In all my travel blogging, this is only the second blog post about the US! I’ve been other places, really.

Last week my parents and I turned a wedding in New Jersey into a short vacation that included three days in the City of Brotherly Love. My dad has been there a number of times for conferences, but neither my mum nor I had ever visited. We loved the architecture we saw, the history we learned, and the food we ate.

Philadelphia looks like this:

Anyone who has ever studied American history knows that many discussions about the formation of the US took place here. We visited Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed . . .

. . . Congress Hall where the first US Congresses met, way back when Congress actually did anything . . .

. . . and the Liberty Bell, so named because it has been the symbol of liberty for various groups working for freedom and justice in this country. . . .

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We spent a while in the National Museum of American Jewish History, too. I particularly liked the section on Judaism in colonial America because that’s what I know the least about. My knowledge of modern Jewish history is much better. As a result, I wasn’t as captivated by the museum’s exhibits as someone new to the topic might be. The museum was really well done, and I’d recommend a visit.

For a dose of local life and fresh vegetables, we visited Reading Terminal Market on three separate occasions, which I absolutely loved:

Philadelphia is also home to Eastern State Penitentiary, which struck me as ironic considering the love infused in so much of Philadelphia’s portrayal of itself. There is a dark side to everything human, a side that reminds us that there is more than one story. Through audio testimony, we learned how prison design and the purpose of prison in the US has changed over time. The exhibits also asked visitors to consider important questions about the prison system today, like whether prison is rehabilitative, whether it is objective, and whether punishments truly fit crimes. That was the most important section for me because it put visitors in uncomfortable positions and asked them to think about humans rather than numbers.

We also spent a good deal of time at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which has multiple buildings with a wide variety of exhibits. Tickets are good for the day of purchase and the following day, so we took advantage of that. That’s where the Rocky statue and steps are, too. Yes, I ran up the steps and I’m pretty sure my mum took a video as proof.

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Everything I’ve heard about food in Philadelphia turned out to be true. We enjoyed the following:

Breakfast: Pearl’s Oyster Bar and Dutch Eating Place, both at Reading Terminal Market and both delicious
Lunch: Lucha Cartel and OCF Coffee House
Dinner: VedgeZahav, and Abe Fisher
Coffee: La Colombe Coffee Roasters

The DNC is taking over now and that’s pretty cool, too!

As an added bonus, I got to meet up with my friend Lauren from Singapore! That was the icing on the cake, really.

If you have a couple days, I’d recommend a visit. After all, what’s not to love about a city with a sense of humor?

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