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Fit the most into your first-timers itinerary with this two days in Philadelphia guide. 

America’s first capital, Philadelphia, appeals to visitors with its rich historical offerings and booming food scene. As a transplant to this city, I now understand how Philadelphia earned its nickname, “The City of Brotherly Love.” Philadelphia played a pivotal role in the USA’s establishment. This is where America’s early leaders debated and pursued life, liberty, and happiness as the framework for the government. Today, Philadelphia continues to uphold its democratic ideals and remains fiercely community-driven.  With only two days in Philadelphia, this itinerary will cover the must-see spots like Independence Hall and The Liberty Bell, but also celebrate the little quirks that make Philadelphia unique like Elfreth’s Alley and Cheesesteak Corner. Are youse ready?!?

Itinerary Day One Things To Do

MORNING (8:30 – 11:30 AM)

Neighborhood: Old City
Locations: La Colombe at 100 S Independence Mall W #110, Independence Hall, and The Liberty Bell
In short: The “most historic square mile” in America

Your perfect two days in Philadelphia itinerary begins in Old City, a neighborhood where many of America’s “firsts” began. Pick up a light breakfast at La Colombe, a recognized coffee retailer that was founded Philadelphia. Then get in line to see the Liberty Bell up close, a longstanding symbol of freedom. As a National Park Service, seeing the bell is free but the lines can get very long. Across the street, Independence Hall is the site where two of the most important documents in US History were signed: the Declaration of Independence and The US Constitution. While visiting Independence Hall is also free and open to the public, tickets are limited between March and December so make reservations in advance if you want a tour.

More around this neighborhood:

📍 Elfreth’s Alley: The oldest continuously inhabited residential street in the USA known for its picturesque homes. Although a courtesy reminder: people actually still live on this street.
📍 Betsy Ross House: An American heroine by way of thread and needle, Betsy Ross is the creator of the American Flag.
📍 Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History: A collection of Jewish stories and heritage marked by the bright yellow OY/Yo Sculpture, playfully expressive in both Yiddish (OY) and English (YO).
📍 Museum of the American Revolution: A celebration of America’s Revolutionary period, this is a must do for history buffs.
📍 The African-American Museum: The first museum funded by a city to preserve Black Heritage and celebrate Black experiences in American through culture and history.
📍 Benjamin Franklin’s Grave: Drop a penny on the grave of Philly’s most famous resident who is buried at the Christ Church Burial Ground alongside other signers of the Declaration of Independence.

elfreth alley homes in philadelphia

Be respectful when taking photos as these are people’s actual homes.

A cup of espresso at La Colombe's Independence Park location

La Colombe is a coffee roastery started in Philadelphia stocked in well-known grocery chain, Trader Joe’s

Elfreth Alley in Old City Things To Do

Elfreth’s Alley during a sunny autumn day


LUNCH (12 – 2 PM)

Neighborhood: Center Ctiy
Location: Reading Terminal Market

In short: One of the oldest indoor public markets in the USA

This next stop holds a very special place in my heart. Since 1893, merchants have been selling food, produce, baked goods, housewares, and confections at Reading Terminal Market. About 80 vendors congregate daily in this indoor market until 6 PM. And this spot is not just for the tourists; locals love eating here too. Don’t forget to feed a donation to Philbert the Pig, the market’s unofficial mascot and literal piggy bank. Here are the spots I make a beeline for when eating at Reading Terminal Market:

📍 Saami Somi: Georgian sibling duo sell khachapuri, cheese-filled boat bread topped with an egg, alongside an impressive aesthetic.
📍 Beiler’s Doughnuts: Operated by the Pennsylvania Dutch, descendants of German-speaking emigrants. They are gifted bakers so pick-up their baked goods that are traditionally made with fresh butter.
📍 Little Thai Market: A humble Thai canteen dole out a much raved about salmon curry with aromatic rice.
📍 El Merkury: Central American food stop known for their savory baleadas and churro ice cream desserts.
📍 Carmen’s Famous Italian Hoagies and Cheesesteaks: Cash only spot serving up a very patriotic cheesesteak, “The Franklin,” made with both American Cheese and Philadelphia Cream Cheese.
📍 Hershel’s: Jewish deli where corned beef is the star. Pick up a juicy Reuben sandwich.

reading terminal market philadelphia

Reading Terminal Market has four entrances. Find them on Arch, Filbert, 11th, and 12th streets.

Reading Terminal Market

The quieter hours are typically before 10 am and after 2 pm

el merkury in reading terminal market

I love the baleadas, a grilled flour tortilla smeared with mashed refried beans, creama, and crumbled queso duro for a lunch refuel at El Merkury


AFTERNOON (3 – 5 pm)

Neighborhood: Old City
Location: Cherry Street Pier
In short: Public mixed-use space overlooking the Delaware River

You’ll walk off that big lunch on your way to the Delaware River waterfront. Score some great views of The Benjamin Franklin Bridge from the docks of Cherry Street Pier. The suspension bridge connecting Philadelphia to New Jersey is also accessible to pedestrians. Down below, Cherry Street Pier is a communal space for artists-in-residences and their respective studios, flea markets, an interactive gallery, and even a beer garden. There are also live performances like the Philadelphia Ballet. See the full schedule of special events here.

two days in philadelphia ben franklin bridge

The Benjamin Franklin Bridge connects Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Camden, New Jersey

Cherry Street Pier Delaware River Philadelphia attraction

At the far end of Cherry Street Pier is a steel garden with food, drinks, and seats perfect for a semi-al fresco pitstop on your two days in Philadelphia itinerary


EVENING (6 – 9 pm)

Neighborhood: South Philly
Locations: Pat’s King of Steaks, Geno’s Steaks, Garage Philly on 1231 E Passyunk Ave, and Bok Bar
In short: Cheesesteak rivalries and a skyline sunset

Your two days in Philadelphia would not be complete without tasting a Philly Cheesesteak. The iconic sandwich is made with shaved ribeye steak, onions, and cheese, slapped inside halved Italian bread. A visit to “Cheeseteak Corner” (9th and Passyunk) is a tourist rite of passage where longstanding rivals Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks face off daily for best cheesesteak. Pat’s is credited as the inventor of the cheesesteak and gets my personal endorsement between the two, although there are way better places in the city to get cheesesteaks. I love coming at night because Pat’s and Geno’s food showdown only intensifies under the light of their neon signage. You can also bring your cheesesteaks into the neighboring Garage Philly, a sports bar fashioned like an old auto garage with stockpiles of canned beer in their glowing fridges.

If you want a more local feel of the South Philly, then head to Bok Bar, a casual rooftop terrace hidden atop a repurposed public school building. Bok Bar is a place where locals come together for fiery sunsets and boozy beverages. Bok Bar also partners with different Philly restaurants for a monthly showcase.The lineup always features the trendiest in Philly’s food scene. Disclaimer: Bok Bar is only open April to November and can get rained out so manage your expectations.

pats king of steaks in south philly

Pat’s King of Steaks is cash only

genos steaks cheesesteaks war in south philly

Geno’s Steaks is part of the showdown but also has done some controversial if not somewhat racist things so just a fair warning for progressive diners


Itinerary Day Two Things To Do

MORNING (9 am – 1 pm)

Neighborhood: Logan Square and Center City
Locations: Federal Donuts at 1776 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia Museum of Art, LOVE Park, and City Hall
In short: Get your camera ready for iconic Philly spots featuring Rocky Balboa, Billy Penn, and the LOVE sign

Begin day two of your weekend in Philadelphia with gourmet donuts at Federal Donuts. These cake donuts are served one of two ways: Fancy (glazed and decorated) and Hot Fresh (fried to order and tossed in flavored sugars). The inventive flavors change constantly so you rarely get the same thing twice (and that’s also because they always sell out!) What makes the donuts unique is like their fried chicken batter—because Federal Donuts is also a fried chicken AND coffee shop— they’re whisked with a special ingredient: baharat, a popular spice mix from the Middle East.

Burn off the donuts recreating Rocky Balboa’s famous 72-step climb on your way to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. If you want to spend your morning at this world-class museum, the first Sunday of the month is Pay-As-You-Wish admission. Next head over to LOVE Park where Robert Indiana’s four letter stacked sculpture makes for another prized Philly photo opportunity. This is one of 50 LOVE sculptures worldwide but the typographic art has become synonymous with The City of Brotherly Love.

two days in philadelphia love park

The LOVE statue is cute, but did you know there is also an ‘Amor’ sculpture at the nearby Sister Cities Park?

Across the street is City Hall topped by an imposing bronze statue of the founder of Pennsylvania himself, William Penn. William Penn has been perched atop the building since 1894 commanding the development of the Philadelphia skyline thanks to an informal agreement that no skyscraper would be built higher than the brim of Penn’s hat, which was ultimately broken in 1986.

city hall center city philadelphia, pennsylvania

Inside the City Hall courtyard, the painted compass on the ground marks the geographic center of Philadelphia.

Not in a rush? On the weekends at 11 am or 2 pm, you can book a mural tour around different parts of the city. Mural City Walking Tours is run by non-profit Mural Arts, which has helped Philadelphia become the mural capital of the world. All the tours run 90 minutes long and fund the upkeep and creation of more street art. All tickets must be purchased in advance. Book a mural tour today!

Murals in Philadelphia street art queens village

A Queens Village mural, “All At Once” by artist Ali M Williams honors Philly’s Black trans women on the intersection of 5th and Bainbridge streets.

two days in philadelphia book a mural tour with mural arts philadelphia

My favorite mural in East Kensington by muralist Jess X Snow entitled “the coming years will be hard, but the future is worth the fight, just hold on and you will see.”


LUNCH (1-3 PM)

Neighborhoods: Center City
Location: Dizengoff at 1625 Sansom Street
In short: Take a trip to Israel at Philly’s first hummusiya

Refuel with a hearty and protein-packed lunch Dizengoff. Hummus is the star at this fast casual eatery that pays homage to one of Tel Aviv’s most popular thoroughfares known for its many hummusiyas. If you’ve only thought of hummus as a condiment and not the main course, this place is here to change your opinion. Ask for extra pita and on a hot day, the frozen lemonade is as refreshing as the bright and tangy hummus. Did you know that Philadelphia is home to one of the oldest and largest Jewish populations in the USA? There are also a number of Middle Eastern restaurants in Philadelphia like Zahav and Suraya so Levantine cuisine should be on your two days in Philadelphia itinerary.


AFTERNOON (3 – 5 pm)

Neighborhoods: South Philly
Location: Magic Gardens
In a nutshell: Visionary folk art glitters in an outdoor labyrinth

A tourist favorite and for good reason: the Magic Gardens lives up to its name. This mosaic garden contains the life work of mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar, whose dreamy mosaics made from piecemealed bits and bobs feel a world apart. Everything from bike wheels to broken china, chipped mirrors to empty wine bottles decorate and mesmerize visitors as they walk through a mosaic maze. The artwork is heavily influenced by Zagar’s travels and inspire creativity in its originality. You need a reservation in advance and the reservations are timed and sell out often so book immediately

two days in philadelphia

Inside the maze of mosaics at The Magic Gardens

Philadelphia attractions The Magic Gardens

If you go inside the visitor center, there is a scavenger hunt children can take inside the Magic Gardens

free things to do in Philadelphia Isaih Zagar's mosaic murals on South Street

If you can’t make it inside the gardens, many of Zagar’s tiled creations have spilled out onto South Street and are free to view.


EVENING (5 – 8 pm)

Neighborhoods: Fairmount and Manayunk
Locations: Boathouse Row, Dalessandro’s
In short: Rowers, joggers, and cyclist share trails with pedestrians to the farthest reaches of Philadelphia

Your two days in Philadelphia itinerary come to an end on the banks of the Schuylkill River (pronounced skoo-kull). Boathouse Row is a block of ten local boating clubs made famous by the nighttime illuminations. Unfortunately, their lights are undergoing a much needed renovation and will be off all throughout 2023. Not to worry though— you can still have a ton of fun jogging or biking the trails that snake past 19th-century boathouses. Rent a surrey or double surrey by the hour at Wheelhouse Rentals. These bike carriages are super family friendly and you can even take them for a cruise at night. Peddle all the way to Manayunk Bridge, a remnant of the Pennsylvania Railroad that is now open only for non-motorized use.

End your time in the city with a worthy contender for Philly’s best cheesesteak at Dalessandro’s. This mom and pop shop is known for their crispy rolls and freshly made cheesesteaks and they even offer a chicken steak too. For an extra gooey version, order one up with all three cheeses. This is also a good spot to sample the hoagie, another Philly staple, crammed with salami, peppers, and provolone cheese. This wraps up your perfect two days in Philadelphia itinerary!


Map of all Philadelphia locations 🗺️

This map was made with Wanderlog, for making itineraries on iOS and Android
👉 Is there anything you would recommend if you only had a weekend in Philadelphia? Share your must-dos in the comments below!

Give me a shout-out on Pinterest pretty please?

Two Perfect Days in Philadelphia Itinerary | The Next Somewhere Blog

Filipina-American Millette Stambaugh is a thirty-something former expat who has traded her nomadic ways for Philadelphia living. Corporate worker by day, content creator by night, Millette specializes in visual storytelling and joyful journeys and wants to help others find their "next somewheres." Follow her escapades on Instagram, Youtube, and Tiktok @thenextsomewhere.

Comments:

  • May 11, 2023

    Good itinerary! Add the Mutter (and not just because my kid works there) and The Ranstead Room (speakeasy) and you’ve got all the good stuff!

    reply...
  • Dre

    May 11, 2023

    Love!!! You covered some serious ground here!! I’d pack in a stroll through 9th Street on my way down to South Philly to get some Mexican, Central American, or Italian food!

    reply...
  • May 25, 2023

    I’ve never been to Philadelphia before. The Magic Gardens look amazing!

    reply...
  • Kim

    May 25, 2023

    There is so much more to Philadelphia than I thought. It has been on my list of places to visit, but now I have so much more to do thanks to you.

    reply...
  • May 25, 2023

    Only had a brief morning in Philadelphia where we got to see the Liberty Bell. Wish we had had time for more. Your post features a lot of cool things to do in Philadelphia.

    reply...
  • May 25, 2023

    What a great itinerary for Philly! Saving for when I visit next year (:

    reply...
  • May 25, 2023

    Amazing photos! Adding Philadelphia to my to see list.

    reply...

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