48 Hours in Philadelphia

Wednesday, 30 August 2017
My second weekend away since I moved to the US was to the beautiful Philadelphia. I booked it on a whim as it was an opportunity to visit my friend Lila, who did her year abroad in Edinburgh last year. After I booked the trip, I heard a lot of negative things about Philadelphia but I actually really loved it as a city. We managed to do all the things I wanted to in the time that I was there and the city was so beautiful. Despite being a big city, it doesn't feel cramped with sky scrapers like NYC.

I arrived at around 11 am on a Saturday morning after an early morning train. Our first port of call was the Reading Terminal Market - a food market with so many options. I was tempted to try a Philly cheese steak as there were so many stalls selling them but I knew that we had plans to have some the next day. Instead, we had chicken fried rice from a Chinese stall. It was the perfect opportunity to catch up and also fuel ourselves for the rest of the day.

Next on our list was the Liberty Bell and the Independence Hall. Whilst it looked like there was a huge line to see the bell it actually moved really quickly. There was also a lot of info to read up on which helped as I have to admit I didn't know too much about it before. After the bell, we headed across the road to see the Independence Hall. There are guided tours but I wasn't too fussed about going in as we had a lot planned for that day!

By this time it was around 30 degrees and my pale Scottish skin can't quite handle that. So we went to the Benjamin Franklin Museum which is located underground at the site where his house used to stand. Not only was he one of the founding fathers of the USA but he was also a scientist which piques my interest. The museum was fantastic and $5. Plus, because it was underground it was nice and cool and a great way to escape the midday heat. The museum has a lot of interactive exhibits which I love as it makes them so much more fun.

By this point, we were really close to the waterfront so we had a little wander down there too. After that we were in the mood for ice cream so we went to Sweet Charlie's a Thai ice cream rolls place. Whilst there was a long line it was definitely worth the wait. I had Nutella and banana ice cream with strawberries, banana, oreo and toasted marshmallow. It was sweet, indulgent and absolutely worth it!

An outdoor theatre in Philadelphia was showing Hidden Figures to celebrate the upcoming solar eclipse so that was where we went at dinner time. We had a fantastic picnic - with wine - whilst watching the movie. I had already seen it but it was great to watch it with such a big crowd. People were cheering and clapping at certain points and it just made the movie that little bit more inspiring. Afterwards, we drove back to Lila's house back Boat Row House - a section of the river where all the boat houses are lit up at night. It was gorgeous!

The next morning we went to the Eastern State Penitentiary. This prison has a really long and fascinating history and it was a great place to visit. May have been my favourite thing that we did in Philly! An audio guide is provided which is excellent and really helps you to see what the prison would have been like in its hey day. This was also the prison where Al Capone was incarcerated and his jail cell is still decorated - he got a lot of special privileges! We spent around 2 hours exploring the prison and it was so interesting! It got a little hot and there's a lot to see outside so I'd recommend bringing cold water and sun screen.

After that we were pretty hungry and wanted some brunch. We went to a famous place called the Green Eggs Cafe which is known for brunch. We waited around 20 minutes and when we finally got around to reading the menu it took forever for me to pick! Eventually, I settled on the banana and salted caramel stuffed french toast! It was amazing! Lila ordered red velvet pancakes which were also massive. We didn't get close to finishing so I had the leftovers for lunch the next day. We also ordered french fries to share which was totally unnecessary in the end as we had enough food to feed about 6 people.

We'd booked tickets for the Magic Garden after they were sold out the day before. It's a large outdoor/indoor art installment made up of mosaic. It's really pretty and a nice place to wander around for an hour or so. There's so much to look at and I imagine that every time you go you'd see something different. I also bought a really cute mug from the gift store as I wanted one to keep at lunch.

Our last few stops included stopping at a place called Geno's Steaks to try cheese steaks! I wasn't overly keen on mine if I'm honest but I was still so full after the brunch! After that, we stopped briefly at the Art Museum - not to go in but to run up the steps and imitate Rocky! The steps also give a fantastic view of the city so it was the perfect way for me to end my time in Philadelphia. I had a fantastic weekend and absolutely loved the city! Thank you so much to Lila and her family for letting me stay.

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