Philadelphia has many claims to fame. It was the first capital of the country – one of the capitals of the United States during the revolution – was a meeting place for the Founding Fathers, and was home to the Continental Congress, among other things.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, Philadelphia became a major industrial center and railroad hub. Today, the city is a bustling city with hot restaurants, luxury hotels, and plenty of American history.
Some of the city’s highlights include Independence National Historical Park, which is home to many of the sites important to the American Revolution, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the National Constitution Center. Below are my picks for a two-day itinerary in Philadelphia.
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Two Days in Philadelphia: Where to stay.
Philadelphia has a number of places to stay, from luxury hotels like the Four Seasons and the Rittenhouse to bed and breakfasts and guesthouses. Any of the below would be perfect for your stay in Philadelphia.
Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center: The Four Seasons Philadelphia is a brand new luxury high rise with spacious guest rooms and suites brimming with the latest technology. The 57th floor boasts a state-of-the-art spa, infinity pool, and more.
Dining options at the Four Seasons Philadelphia include restaurants by Michelin-starred Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and inventive flavors by local James Beard Award-winner Chef Greg Vernick. The choice of luxury hotel lovers everywhere.
Chestnut Hill Hotel: Located in Germantown, the Chestnut Hill Hotel is just nine miles from the city center. Germantown is where colonial residents would “summer” and is central to many nearby historic attractions including Valley Forge.
The neighborhood offers plenty of dining and shopping options as well as a local farmers market. Rooms are spacious and modern. This hotel is ideal for lovers of local guesthouses or b&bs.
Hyatt Centric Center City: Center City is a vibrant neighborhood of downtown Philadelphia. Its bustling streets offer shopping, dining, and plenty of local flavors. The Hyatt Centric is smack in the heart of this and boasts modern, spacious rooms and excellent service. Perfect for two days in Philadelphia.
How to spend Two Days in Philadelphia, a Perfect Itinerary
Philadelphia in 2 Days: Day One
Tip: A great way to get around Philadelphia is the hop on hop off bus. You can choose from a 1 day, 2-day or 3-day ticket. Click here for more information.
You cannot go to Philadelphia and not visit Independence Hall. Located at Independence National Historical Park, the Hall is the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. In 1787, the US Constitution was drafted here. The Hall is the centerpiece of the Historical Park.
The Liberty Bell is also located at the Independence National Historical Park. The bell was cast in England, and recast again here in the US in 1753. During and after the revolution it was adopted as a symbol of freedom for many groups. It is assumed that the bell cracked on its first use.
Betsy Ross House
Set up as an 18th-century upholstery shop, visitors can “meet” Betsy Ross and learn about her history and what led to her creating the first American flag.
Just around the corner from the Betsy Ross House is Elfreth’s Alley, a cobblestone street that dates back to the late 1700s. Though the modern city of Philadelphia surrounds it, the alley preserves three centuries of urban evolution through its old-fashioned shutters, Flemish bond brickwork, and other architectural details
Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Rodin Museum
Be like Rocky at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. These iconic steps feature in several movies, notably Rocky, and people-watching here is definitely fun. Inside the museum, visitors can spot works of art by Cezanne, Matisse, Monet, and more.
There is a new Frank Gehry-designed space too. Just down the street from the Museum of Art is the Rodin Museum, which features the largest collection of Rodin sculptures outside of Paris.
Fan of the Rocky Movies? You might want to check out this Half-Day Private Rocky Movie Locations Tour.
National Constitution Center
The National Constitution Center is dedicated to the most important document in the history of the United States. There are life-size statues and exhibits dedicated to the amendments to the Constitution, including the 13th amendment (abolishment of slavery) and the 19th amendment (allowing women to vote).
The Mütter Museum is one of the best medical museums in the country, if not the world. It’s known for its disturbing yet informative exhibits, one of which is a compilation of slides of Einstein’s brain.
Boathouse Row is located in Northeast Philly along the banks of the Schuylkill River. It consists of ten 19th-century boathouses – still in use today – and is a National Historic Landmark. The park and the waterfront are popular local spots for picnics or weekend relaxing.
Reading Terminal Market
The former railway terminal was converted into a popular farmers market in 1892 — yes, over 100 years ago! The first business to sign a lease was Basset’s Ice Cream, and it still exists today. Reading Terminal Market is an excellent place to stop for dinner or a drink.
The market features a number of vendors that sell local produce, cheeses, meats, and more. The city center location even offers some popular Amish vendors who serve traditional dishes like scrapple.
Philadelphia in 2 Days: Day Two
One of the oldest penitentiaries in the United States, the Eastern State one operated from 1879 to 1970 and housed notorious criminals like Al Capone. It was one of the first to solitary confine inmates. Visitors today can explore the history of the US justice system and learn more about the infamous inmates that lived there.
Philadelphia Delaware River Waterfront
There are several great places to stop along the waterfront. First, Spruce Street Harbour Park is a popular summer destination for locals. The boardwalk offers bocce ball, hammocks to relax in, floating barges, beer and food options, and more.
The nearby Blue Cross RiverRink offers ice skating in the winter and roller skating in the summer. Just up the river are Race Street and Cherry Street Piers. Race St Pier features seating areas while Cherry St Pier has multi-use facilities and more food and drink options.
John F Kennedy Plaza, aka Love Park
LOVE Park gets its name from the iconic LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana. It marks the start of the grand Benjamin Franklin Parkway and is a popular tourist and local attraction. A short walk from LOVE Park is the AMOR sculpture, located at Sister Cities Park, and the Spanish version of the LOVE sculpture.
The interactive Museum of the American Revolution brings to life the 18th century with compelling displays. Some of the artifacts on display include George Washington’s headquarters tent, weapons, documents, personal items like diaries and letters, and works of art. The museum opened in 2017 and is highly technological with films and digital touchscreens.
African American Museum in Philadelphia
The African American Museum in Philadelphia is the first institution built by a major US city to “preserve, interpret and exhibit the heritage and culture” of African Americans.
It opened in 1976 and highlights the role of African Americans in the American Revolution through to the modern-day. The museum also shares the stories, history, and culture of the African diaspora.
Where to Eat in Philly
You can’t go to Philadelphia and not eat a Philly Cheese Steak. This is an iconic dish, and well made at many local restaurants. Other iconic Philadelphia dishes include soft pretzels, tastykakes, anything Italian, and water ice. You might even find some traditional Amish dishes like scrapple on the menu at local restaurants.
Most visitors stick to the Downtown neighborhood, which is made up of the Historic District (Old City), Gayborhood, Rittenhouse Square, Midtown, and Washington Square West. There are so many incredible restaurants in this area, from swanky The Wayward to speakeasies and more. Any good hotel concierge can recommend the best place to eat on any given night.
For lunches or casual meals, most locals hit up the sandwich shops or grab a cheesesteak. There are also casual Israeli eateries, vegetarian restaurants, and pizzerias. Don’t miss Reading Terminal Market (mentioned above) for casual grab-and-go food, gifts to take home, and more.
Practical Info for your 2 -day Philadelphia Itinerary
Best time to Visit Philadelphia
Philadelphia is at its best in the spring and the fall (April to June, September to November). It’s located on the east coast of the USA, and as such is prone to hot and humid summers, and cold snowy winters.
How to Get to and From the Airport
If you do not have a car, you can get to and from the airport by taxi, Uber, or train. The SEPTA airport line connects to 30th Street Station and onward to many other cities by Amtrak. Taxis into and from the city are a flat rate of $28.50 (as of this writing) while Ubers could be less or more depending on demand.
How to Get Around Philadelphia
Philly is a very good city to walk around. For people staying outside of the city, an Uber or taxi will be the best way to get into the city center. I don’t recommend renting a car for two days in Philadelphia, as you’ll spend more on parking than you would just use an Uber.