Philly Bucket List
Welcome to Philly! If this is your first time visiting our great city then this Philadelphia Bucket List is a great place to start planning your itinerary. You’ll find some obvious items like, “Run the Rocky Steps” and also some local secrets. Wherever you end up, we’d love to hear about it. Please share your stories and photos with us on social media by tagging @SlateandHearth on Facebook or Instagram.
Go To The Top of City Hall
Philadelphia’s City Hall is the largest municipal building in the United States and is an architectural beauty. You can visit over and over again while always discovering a new sculpture, detail or dedication; but the real secret (that most locals don’t even know about) is that visitors can travel all the way to the top of City Hall to visit the 37-foot-tall William Penn statue and soak in a panoramic view of the city. On a clear day, you can see straight down to the Art Museum, the sports stadiums, and even in to New Jersey.
Tours are only offered during government business hours (Monday-Friday 9:30 AM - 4:15 PM) and last 15 minutes. Only four people are allowed up at a time, so be sure to book tickets in advance ($8 for adults) and arrive at the security checkpoint at least 10-15 minutes early.
Run The Rocky Steps
Yes, it’s silly and touristy and everybody does it but… when in Rome...whoops, Philadelphia, you gotta “run the steps.” So cue up “Gonna Fly Now” on your Spotify account, throw on some headphones (or don’t, there’s always someone there blasting it as they run), and head on over to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and get your butt up those stairs.
Be sure to take some time to soak in the view from the top and get some souvenir photos. Once back down at the bottom, head over to the left of the stairs to get your photo taken with the Rocky statue.
Walk, Run or Bike The Ben Franklin Bridge
One of the best views of Philadelphia can be taken in while crossing the Ben Franklin Bridge from New Jersey to Pennsylvania. This iconic bridge is often used in movies and TV shows and is featured in the opening credits of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. When opened in 1926, it was the world’s longest suspension bridge. You can walk, run or cycle the safe and popular pedestrian walkway anytime between 6 AM and 8 or 9 PM, but we recommend timing your trip so that you can begin your journey back towards Philadelphia about a half hour to an hour before sunset.
Eat As Much As You Can At Reading Terminal
Reading Terminal Market is America’s oldest, continuously operating farmers market and gets its name from the Reading Railroad (think Monopoly). The market has a complex history which began in the 17th century with open air stalls until 1859 when the merchants were forced to move due to concerns over sanitation. About 30 years later, the Reading Railroad Company purchased the location and built a terminal above the market. This encouraged growth for the market as individuals who lived in towns serviced by the railroad were able to call in orders and have them delivered by train. Today, the Market offers a variety of food stalls serving up everything from comfort foods (like fried chicken and grilled cheese) to Middle Eastern dishes, Philly Cheesesteaks, and traditional Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine. There are also bakeries, an ice cream shop, and a grocery section where customers can shop for produce, fresh seafood, and meats.
Visit the Liberty Bell
While I’m sure you need no introduction to the Liberty Bell, you may be surprised to learn about what else you will come across while visiting this historic bell. Directly outside the entrance, you will notice ruins of an old building. These are the remnants of the first Executive Mansion (White House) where both George Washington and John Adams lived during their terms as President of the United States. This exhibit brings attention to the paradox of President Washington bringing at least nine slaves from his Mount Vernon home to this Executive Mansion while fighting for American freedom and proclaiming, along with the forefathers, “All men are created equal.”
Within the Liberty Bell Center, you will not only have the opportunity to stand face to face with America’s most famous bell, but you’ll also have the opportunity to learn about the many ways it has been used to represent activist groups, including abolitionists and advocates of women’s suffrage throughout American history.
Walk In The Shoes Of America’s Forefathers Through Independence Hall
Independence Hall is THE birthplace of America, where all of America’s forefathers sat, debated, and dreamed about a new land with great freedoms… It is where they met up, sometimes in secret, to make their revolutionary plans, and it’s where they first declared our freedom.
Tours of Independence Hall are free and offered about every fifteen minutes or so, but you must obtain a ticket from the Independence Visitor Center across the street. If you’re here in the busy season, stop by the visitor center first thing in the morning to pick up your tickets. While they’re free, they do “sell out.”
Catch a Game
The one thing the world can agree on is that Philadelphia is known for being home to some tough sports fans. While some media outlets claim we’re the worst sports fans in America, we’d beg to differ. We are, however, passionately committed to our teams - Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, and 76ers. While you’re visiting, head on down to the stadiums in South Philly and judge for yourself.
Get Your Science On At The Franklin Institute
The Franklin Institute is a local treasure. Anyone who grew up in the area will, if asked, fondly recall stories of school aged field trips here. The lucky ones will reminisce about girl-scout or boy-scout troop sleepovers in the museum.
Named in honor of the great Ben Franklin, the Institute is dedicated to inspiring a passion for learning about science and technology.
Hands-on and interactive exhibits allow visitors of all ages to explore the science behind everything from airplanes and trains to optical illusions, 3D Printing, and the theories of Isaac Newton. You can also travel through space in the planetarium, and through the human heart and brain inside giant re-creations; and you can investigate connections between the human body, nutrition, laws of motion, and technology in sports.
Stroll Down The Oldest Residential Street in British North America
Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest residential street in British North America, can be found in Old City between 2nd Street and the Delaware River and will immediately make you feel as though you have been transported back in time. Here in this small alley, 32 Federal and Georgian residences pay tribute to the early days of Philadelphia.
To learn more about Elfreth’s Alley through the years, visit www.elfrethsalley.org
Find The Best Philly Cheesesteak
According to local legend, the Philly Cheesesteak began in South Philly in 1933. Supposedly Pat Olivieri, a guy with a hot dog stand, was grilling some chopped steak and onions meant to serve as his own lunch when a regular asked to try it. Afterwards, the customer suggested Pat forget about hot dogs and start selling those chopped steak sandwiches instead.
Pat quickly took the man’s advice, and by 1940, Pat’s restaurant opened on the same corner. A couple decades later, in 1966, Joey Vento decided to challenge Pat’s cheesesteaks by opening his own stand directly across the street and naming it Geno’s. Over the last 50ish years, Pat’s and Geno’s have maintained a friendly rivalry as visitors (and locals) queue up down the street for their own opportunity to weigh in on the age old question, “Which is better, Pat’s or Geno’s?”
Read more about our thoughts on the best cheesesteaks in Philly here.