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Every resident knows (and secretly loves) Will Smith’s Fresh Prince of Bel Air lyric “In West Philadelphia, born and raised … ” Not obvious from the 1990s theme song is the dynamic culture that thrives inside the large area—due to historic characteristics, large educational and research institutions and new developments and residents.
Separated from Center City by the Schuylkill River, West Philadelphia resembles a microcosm of the city itself, with a number of smaller, distinct neighborhoods inside it. Many of its attractions and events—community gardens, Ethiopian restaurants, offbeat performances and the like—were created to benefit the people living in the...
Philadelphia’s Bike Share program, to begin in spring 2015, is just the latest news in the city’s eco-friendly efforts. Long a pioneer in the environmental movement, Philadelphia is attracting increasing global attention for efforts to become a leader in urban sustainability. Attractions, organizations and the city itself hold prestigious designations, including a major award from the Environmental Protection Agency. Not to be outdone, the region’s service amenities and modes of transportation are also advancing the green revolution.
Here’s a look at Philadelphia’s green cred:
- The Clean Air Council’s 5K Run for Clean Air is Philadelphia’s largest Earth Day
A pizza museum; a heart-shaped pie; Sicilian water-moistened dough—and that’s just the tip of the crust, as it were. There’s a world of pizza secrets to explore in the Philadelphia region, from a suburban “speakeasy” to some rightfully picky pizza makers to dough-throwing classes in chefs’ open kitchens. Here are just a few ways to take passion for the pie even deeper:
Quirky Spots & Slices:
- Neapolitan pizza is more than a hobby in Italy—it’s the law. Chef-Owner Joe Cicala of Le Virtù hopes to bring true, certified pies to Philadelphia at his new Brigantessa. He even went to
Graduate Hospital goes by many names (Center City South, South of South, G-Ho), which is fitting for a neighborhood that draws its personality from the people inside it: young transplants, born-and-raised neighbors, hip urban professionals, craft beer crowds and more. In recent years, the area stretching from Lombard Street to Washington Avenue and from Broad Street to Gray’s Ferry Avenue has accumulated a healthy dose of restaurants, bars, cafes, shops and markets that reflect the area’s residential and cool vibe.
Restaurants & Bars:
- Bob & Barbara’s Lounge – The Philly Special—a shot of Jim Beam and a can of
A richly textured, wonderfully layered dining scene combines history and growth, innovation and tradition, local and global influences. Philadelphia has all of these attributes and more: homegrown bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) spots redrafting the rules of elegant eating; a distinctly local sensibility informed by a fertile food shed; a wildly diverse array of ethnic eats; a nationally lauded vegetarian and vegan culture; and much more. Here are 17 reasons why Philly food scene rocks:
- Just Bring It: The BYOB Phenomenon
Though the bring-your-own-bottle restaurant first emerged in Philly more than a decade ago, a steady stream of brilliant chefs with a do-it-yourself...
With autumn comes falling temperatures, changing leaves and, in Philadelphia, a harvest of new restaurants. In the coming months, diners can enjoy French fare at the FringeArts building, Vietnamese-Italian hoagies, Japanese barbecue and hummus like no other. Here are just some of the new flavors around town this fall:
- Israeli food takes the plate at Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook’s hummusiya Dizengoff. The Center City West quick stop focuses on rotating hummus variations (with ground lamb; with tomato pepper salad and Sephardic slow-cooked egg) served in platters of fresh-baked pita, salads and Israeli-style pickles. 1625 Sansom Street,
Beyond the colorful Friendship Arch at 10th and Arch Streets lives Philly’s vibrant Asian enclave, settled in the mid-19th century by Cantonese immigrants. Stretching from Vine to Arch Streets between 9th and 12th Streets, the neighborhood is packed end to end with restaurants and stores that represent Hong Kong, Cantonese, Fujianese, Northern Sichuan and Taiwanese cultures, with a sprinkling of Korean, Thai, Malaysian, Burmese, Vietnamese and hipster thrown in for good measure. On any given day or night, Chinatown bustles with activity and authenticity, from the steaming platters of hand-stretched noodles to the seasonal street festivals...
So far this year, Philadelphia has appeared on many national best-of lists.
“This good press is a good example of the city’s momentum. It goes with the story that’s unfolding right now—the new restaurants, more outdoor dining, throngs of people on Independence Mall and all over the city, more people visiting and visiting for longer periods of time,” said Meryl Levitz, president and CEO of VISIT PHILADELPHIA™. “Philadelphia is a premier destination, and the place to be. VISIT PHILADELPHIA is happy to be the promotion agency for a city that over-delivers.”
Here’s just a sample of what people have been...
With geography, climate and growing conditions that mirror those of the Bordeaux Region in France, southeastern Pennsylvania continues to emerge as a major force in America’s wine industry. In fact, Pennsylvania wines as a whole are making steady gains in quality, quantity and recognition. The Commonwealth ranks seventh in the nation for number of wineries; more than 150 wineries operate within its borders, marking more than a 500% increase over 30 years ago. In 2013 alone, Pennsylvania vintners won awards at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, International Women’s Wine Competition, San Diego International Wine Competition, International Eastern Wine Competition,...
The Sonesta Philadelphia’s Art Bar opened in July 2014, joining the ranks of cool hotel bars in a city that knows its cool bars. With a stylish interior and an art program courtesy of The Center for Emerging Visual Artists, Art Bar welcomes guests with craft cocktails, beers and wines that complement its modern décor.
The Sonesta isn’t the only property raising the bar. It seems Philadelphia’s hotels are vying for the top bar scene, which means locals and out-of-towners win. On the menu: craft beers, fantastic wines, inventive drinks and delicious bites, plus distinguishing features (skyline views, outdoor dining,...
Visitors to Philadelphia can choose from an assortment of options to explore the region, including those of the air, automotive, audio, culinary, self-guided and water-based varieties. And the sightseeing fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. Those who come out at night can join tours that feature behind-the-scenes action and even spirits from beyond. Here’s a selection of tours available throughout the region:
History Lessons By Day & Night:
- The Constitutional Walking Tour of Philadelphia – Visitors get an up-close look at history during this 75-minute walking tour to more than 20 sites. It runs daily from April
Pet lovers are crazy about their animal companions and spend $61 billion a year in the U.S. on pet services and accouterments to prove it. For those who love to spoil their pet but hate to leave him behind while traveling, the Philadelphia region proves to be the “purr-fect” getaway. Pet-friendly hotels, restaurants and retail shops welcome visitors and their animals in all sections of the city and its suburbs. With canine-friendly parks to VIP (Very Important Pet) hotel programs, it’s easy to bring furry friends along for the ride. Here’s how:
- At the Four Seasons Hotel
Long known as the edgiest street in Philadelphia, South Street welcomes more than just hippies these days. Shoppers searching for a statement-making look, visitors hungry for a real Philly cheesesteak and music lovers who want to catch an up-and-coming band head to the storied boulevard. Ethnically diverse restaurants, bars that keep the party going long after dessert and galleries and performance spaces help make South Street the place where everyone meets. Over the past decade, the development of South Street’s east side has spread west of Broad Street, but the traditional definition of the district (depending on who you ask)...
The wave of coffee enthusiasm is clearly here to stay in Greater Philadelphia. La Colombe plans to open a 15,000-square-foot outpost in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood. Housed in a former distillery, the new spot will produce rum—yes rum—infused with coffee, in addition to serving food and its signature coffee, of course. The second annual Coffee & Tea Festival, to be held November 8-9 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, will celebrate local love for the mighty bean with exhibitions, tastings, classes and more.
The region’s java scene has been percolating for years now: Cafes roast their own signature beans, baristas specialize...
The hub of Latino culture and life in Philadelphia, El Centro de Oro is home to international non-profit organizations, many third- and fourth-generation family-owned businesses and residents descending from almost every Latino country. Visitors to this lively enclave—just a short cab ride from Center City Philadelphia—can feast on authentic Latin/Caribbean dishes at Isla Verde, find inspiration in the work of Puerto Rican artists at Taller Puertorriqueño or feel their way through a flamenco dance lesson at Raíces Culturales Latinoamericanas. Here are some ways to get a taste of the Latin flavor in El Centro de Oro and beyond:
The growing popularity of culinary and travel shows have inspired Americans to explore the countries of their ancestral heritage and the cultural traditions of their neighbors. Philadelphia and The Countryside™ adds to this global sense of community with a number of pan-African restaurants, enabling epicureans to use their plate as a passport to dine across the Diaspora. Here’s a look:
- A local institution, Abyssinia is a hit with vegetarians and the meat-eaters in their lives. Authentic Eritrean/Ethiopian preparations of lentils, beans, chicken, beef and lamb dishes wonderfully mix and match with the bar’s assortment of beers.
While Philadelphia offers a variety of authentic and top-notch attractions, exploring this vibrant city takes some planning—especially for first-time visitors. With so much to see, do and taste, it’s challenging for a novice to know where to begin. From the historic Liberty Bell to the deliciously indulgent cheesesteak, here’s a look at Philly 101:
- Independence Hall – While historical attractions abound in Philly, Independence Hall has particular significance to the development of the nation. In this building in 1776, the Founding Fathers came together to sign the Declaration of Independence. Eleven years later, representatives from a dozen
Historical Sites & Attractions:
- Wannabe sailors can visit the nation’s most decorated battleship, the Battleship New Jersey, and take tours of the ship, ride the 4-D flight simulator, climb into the onboard helicopter and sleep in the sailors’ bunks as part of its award-winning Overnight Encampment program. 62 Battleship Place, Camden, (856) 966-1652, battleshipnewjersey.org
- America’s most famous flag maker greets guests in her interactive 18th-century upholstery shop at the Betsy Ross House. Visitors learn about Betsy’s life and legend from the lady herself. Summer brings a weeklong, annual Flag Fest celebration with free events every day. Also,
Say it five times fast: Philly’s fallen for food trucks. From Temple University’s campus to South Philly, the beyond-fun dining craze has truly boomed. If a diner craves something, chances are he or she can find it on wheels: brick-oven soppressata pizza, green-tea macaroons, gourmet mac and cheese, Spam musubi, sweet-cream ice cream, pour-over coffee, along with staples such as soul food, cheesesteaks, crepes and falafel. Lunch seekers can find trucks all over the city, especially near universities, but they know to check Twitter before they make a trip. These trucks have wheels and often use them to feed new...
Just when it seems like they’ve thought of everything, Philly chefs have gone and cooked up some brilliant new ideas. This summer brings a fresh batch of restaurants that exemplify the excitement and innovation of the regional dining scene. From a quick-service eatery specializing in sushi-esque burritos to a hearth-based bistro to the area’s first vegan bar to a completely gluten-free café, here’s a look at some of the newest additions:
Notable New Entrées:
- Passyunk Avenue adds another fine dining establishment to its files with Townsend Wentz’s eponymous bistro Townsend. The Lacroix-trained chef’s modern French sensibilities shine in dishes