Short getaways in Philadelphia – 48 hours of early American history, museums and dining

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You can’t see it all on a short getaway in Philadelphia, but you can certainly try. Squeeze in the best experiences with just a few nights in a Philadelphia hotel by following this itinerary.

Philadelphia short getaway day one, morning

Start your day with a hearty breakfast at Reading Terminal Market’s Dutch Eating Place. This Pennsylvania Dutch Mennonite diner within the extensive indoor farmers’ market has the best blueberry pancakes in town. Fortified, head east into Old City, where early American history is alive on every corner. In fact, the entire mile-square area is a National Historical Park. Start your tour at Independence Visitor Center at Sixth and Market streets, and then be sure to check out two of the top attractions – the Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall.

Start: Reading Terminal Market


Although it traverses the Old City, Market Street is filled with trendy art galleries and a wide variety of spots for lunch, such as the fancy Fork bistro or the more casual Farmicia. Spend the afternoon exploring some of the historic area’s less well-known locales, Elfreth’s Alley, for instance, the oldest continuously occupied street of homes in the United States (since 1702). And, if it’s summer, a cast of costumed Colonials will be at most historic sites to greet you and provide some oral history.

Start: Market and Second streets


Take your pick: Sports or culture are almost always on the itinerary in Philly. For sports, grab a cab to the south end of town where there’s live action nearly year-round, from 76ers basketball to Eagles football. If inspirational music is more to your taste, don’t miss the excellent Philadelphia Orchestra in centrally located Kimmel Center downtown. Whatever your choice, ask your Philadelphia hotel concierge for details about who’s playing what, where.

Start: Wachovia Center, Lincoln Financial Field or Kimmel Center

Philadelphia short getaway day two, morning

Start your second day in Philadelphia by picking one of the museums by Logan Square’s Museum District: Both the Academy of Natural Science’s dinosaur skeletons or the Franklin Institute Science Museum’s hands-on demos are great for families. Art lovers should head up the iconic stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art or to the small treasure-trove within the Rodin Museum. 

Start: Logan Square, Benjamin Franklin Parkway


From Logan Square it’s an easy stroll to the green meadows of vast Fairmount Park. Not only is it a great respite from city streets, but it’s also the location of a number of majestic Colonial homes, including grand Woodford and elegant Mount Pleasant. They’re beautiful any time of year, but are especially magical to visit when they’re decked out in Christmas décor. 

Start: Fairmount Park


Partake in one of Benjamin Franklin’s favorite pastimes, a drink in a Philadelphia tavern. After all, the ever-wise Franklin opined: “There cannot be good living where there is not good drinking.” Rittenhouse Square may be posher than old Ben had in mind, but there’s no better place in the city than 18th Street’s alfresco (and propane-heated) bistros to have a cocktail and a sophisticated nibble and enjoy the best people watching in the city. 

Start: Rittenhouse Square