A local’s ultimate guide to visiting Philadelphia [Insider: PRESS]

Jun 30, 2022 | Press

Philadelphia is the sixth-largest city in the United States.

Although it’s famous for its avid sports fans, ubiquitous cheesesteaks, and the “Rocky” film series, there’s much more to explore in this creative metropolis. 

In addition to boasting world-class cultural institutions, the City of Brotherly Love is home to top-notch restaurants and a lively music scene.

As a life-long resident of the Greater Philadelphia area who also lived in Philly after college, I’ve compiled a list of must-see sites and have identified some of the best places to stay, visit, and eat.



Things to do and see


South Street is home to the whimsical Magic Gardens, a popular cheesesteak spot, and boho businesses

Designed by mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar, the Magic Gardens are a whimsical urban oasis tucked away on South Street, a famously avant-garde corridor known for spots like cheesesteak joint Jim’s Steaks and the Theatre of the Living Arts, a music venue currently in use as a vaccination site.

Zagar’s mosaics, which also adorn the sides of buildings in the area, creatively meld materials including handmade tiles, glass bottles, and bicycle wheels.

Tickets must be purchased online in advance and cost $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, and $8 for children ages 6 to 12. Entry is free for kids 5 and under.

Tip: At night, this museum hosts monthly pop-up events, from concerts to craft nights. If you’re feeling inspired to make an art project after your visit, there are several options in the area: Wax + Wine, a candle-making and BYO wine bar, and The Expressive Hand, a paint-your-own pottery studio.


Where to eat and drink


Bloomsday Café has a vegetarian-friendly menu and happy-hour specials

Located in Headhouse Square, Bloomsday borrows its name from James Joyce’s novel “Ulysses.”

This all-day, vegetarian-friendly café is open for brunch, dinner, and happy hour. Bloomsday is closed on Monday and Tuesday.

It offers new spins on comforting classics, from a “waffled” croissant to seared mushrooms with polenta, and has an extensive wine list. If you want to take a bottle of vino with you, there’s an in-house wine shop, too.

Tip: During happy hour, you can order a riff on Philly’s Citywide Special, a 3-ounce burger and a can of Lambrusco, aka a “Lambrewski.”


Nomad tops pizza with gourmet ingredients

Located near South Street, Nomad is a pizzeria that tops pies with gourmet ingredient combos like fig and guanciale (cured pork) or arugula and bufala mozzarella. Pair your meal with a classic Italian cocktail such as a Negroni or a spritz.

Tip: Nomad has some can’t-miss appetizers, from arancini (fried risotto balls) to a salad with roasted beets, carrots, and goat cheese. There are also two locations in New Jersey with a few menu items you can’t order in Philly.


Dottie’s Donuts is a vegan bakery that sells eye-catching creations

Dottie’s, a vegan donut shop with locations in Society Hill and West Philly, produces innovative, eye-catching pastries in flavors like raspberry vanilla, cold-brew Oreo, and maple tahini.

You can also choose from classics such as rainbow sprinkle and Boston cream.

Tip: Flavors change daily, so ask what’s available when you go.


Tattooed Mom is a funky bar on South Street.

A mural of mermaids greets patrons at Tattooed Mom (affectionately called TMoms), a funky bar on South Street currently offering outdoor seating and takeout.

With a graffiti meets rococo aesthetic, this watering hole serves playful cocktails like the Pop Rocket, a drink made with raspberry vodka and Pop Rocks candy, and the Fortune Fish, which contains blackberry schnapps and Swedish Fish.

There’s also a full food menu that includes a section dedicated to fries and tater tots.

Tip: Tattooed Mom’s cheesesteaks, burgers, and fried-chicken sandwiches can be ordered with plant-based protein substitutes.


Originally published by Insider.
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