Considering a trip to Philadelphia? Not only is it the largest city in Pennsylvania, it’s also the sixth most populous city in the entire US. This city has everything: history, great food, and art everywhere, but what is it most known for?
Philadelphia is known for being the City of Brotherly Love. Attractions include the Liberty Bell, cheesesteaks, and many famous sports teams like the Flyers. Rocky fans can run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It’s also the setting for the sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
There’s so much happening in Philadelphia! No matter what you are into, this city has something to offer all travelers. Here’s a list of our favorite things to see and do in Philadelphia.
The City Of Brotherly Love
Let’s start with Philly’s famous nickname: The City of Brotherly Love. The nickname derives from the name of the city itself. “Philos,” and “adelphos,” are both Greek words that describe a friendly love.
Ever wonder who came up with that name? That would be the city’s founder and famous Quaker, Willam Penn. Does that name look familiar to you? The state Philadelphia resides in, Pennsylvania, means “Penn’s woods.” Before the name Philadelphia became official, it was known as “The Quaker City.”
The city’s name lends itself to one of Philly’s best-known landmarks: the LOVE statue. This iconic installation resided in John F. Kennedy Plaza, but you can just call it LOVE Park. It was originally designed in 1976 by Robert Indiana. The LOVE statue was briefly moved to New York, but a local businessman purchased the installation and returned it to Philadelphia.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Perhaps you’re one of the many people driven to go to Philly by the longest-running comedy series, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. What you may not know is that the show was originally set in LA, and the original title was It’s Always Sunny On TV. The pilot was about a bunch of struggling actors.
When FX picked up the show, they insisted that the writers change the setting. Rob McElhenney, who plays Mac on the show, decided to set in his home town of Philadelphia. While the iconic Paddy’s Pub is actually a set in LA, there is a Paddy’s Pub Old City that pays homage to the show.
In the series, the Gang visits many sports venues around Philadelphia. These include the Liberty Bell, The Wells Fargo Center, and Lincoln Financial Field. This is no coincidence: Rob McElhenney is a huge fan of Philadelphia sports.
The Liberty Bell
The legend goes that people made the Liberty Bell for the American Revolution. The truth is, it predates the Revolution. It was actually made in 1751 to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of Pennsylvania’s first Constitution.
While the bell’s crack is iconic, on one knows exactly how it first got cracked. It is a subject debated by many historians. We do know that the last major crack occurred on President’s Day, 1846. After the last big crack appeared, people stopped ringing the bell.
What visit to Philadelphia is complete without a cheesesteak? The delicious sandwich combines thinly chopped ribeye steak, fried onions, provolone, and Cheez Whiz. It was originally created in the 1930’s by hot dog vendors Pat and Harry Olivieri, though that is subject to debate.
The original sandwich the hot dog vendors created lacked a key ingredient: cheese! The delicious steak sandwich allowed the Oliveri brothers to purchase several restaurants. A restaurant manager, Joe “Cocky Joe” Lorenza, was the one who added the famous and delicious cheese. While the subject of which cheese belongs in a cheesesteak is up for interpretation, most Philadelphia residents insist that proper cheesesteak is made with Cheez whiz.
Cheesesteaks are amazing, but they aren’t the only famous Philly sandwich. Hoagies are the Philadelphia version of a sub or a grinder. It was originally made by Italian immigrants who labored in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. This was known by locals as “Hog Island.” The original name of the sandwich was a “Hoggie.”
The sandwich is made on a roll of Italian bread and is filled with various deli meats and cheeses. Because it was originally made by Italian immigrants, the meats tend to center around Italian flavors like salami and provolone.
There’s more to Philadelphia food than sandwiches! German immigrants brought their pretzels to Philadelphia. They’ve been a popular street food for centuries.
Street vendors twist and turn dough into delicious pretzels. We recommend you enjoy it with a little mustard or cheese sauce.
So Many Sports Teams!
Philadelphia is home to five major league sports teams. The city has major league franchises in baseball, basketball, football, hockey, or soccer, so there’s bound to always be a game. In addition, Philadelphia has a Lacrosse team and an Overwatch team. Here’s a quick list of Philadelphia’s sports teams, what they play, and where to find them.
- Philadelphia Phillies – Baseball – Citizens Bank Park
- Philadelphia Eagles – Football – Lincoln Financial Field
- Philadelphia 76ers – Basketball – Wells Fargo Center
- Philadelphia Flyers – Ice Hockey – Wells Fargo Center
- Philadelphia Union – Soccer – Subaru Park
- Philadelphia Wings – Lacrosse – Wells Fargo Center
- Philadelphia Fusion – Overwatch – Fusion Arena
The Rocky Steps
Fans can re-enact the famous scene in Rocky where the title character runs up the 72 stone steps leading to the east entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There’s even a statue of the famous fictional boxer. The statue was located at the top of the steps during the filming of Rocky III, but now it’s placed at the bottom of the steps.
Don’t forget to check out the Philadelphia Museum of Art while you’re there! First opened in 1928, it holds massive collections from all over the world.
Avenue Of The Arts
The Avenue of Arts. It’s located on Broad Street and is a center for arts and entertainment. The avenue has live music, restaurants, ballet, art galleries, shopping, and much more. Visitors could spend an entire week just on this avenue and not see everything.
This historic building is a UNESCO heritage site. It’s where America’s Founding Fathers debated and later adopted both the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.
It is also the site of a 1915 political convention. In this convention, President Wailliam Taft announced the formation of the League to Enforce Peace. This later became the League of Nations, and then finally the United Nations.
William Penn Statue
Here’s the man the state of Pennsylvania was named after. The statue of William Penn sits atop Philadelphia City Hall. It’s 37 feet (11.3 m) tall and weighs a whopping 53,348 pounds (24,198 kg). Alexander Milne Calder created the massive sculpture. He also made the other 250 sculptures that decorate City Hall.
The Franklin Institute
The Franklin Institute is both a science museum and a center for education and research. It’s one of the oldest places for science education in the United States.
The museum features several permanent exhibits, such as Electricity, The Franklin Airshow, and The Giant Heart. No matter what scientific discipline you’re interested in, there’s an exhibit about it. The Franklin Institute also hosts many traveling exhibits.
Philadelphia is home to the Association for Public Art. This is America’s first private nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing art to public spaces. They commission and preserve the city’s many murals.
According to the Association for Public Art, there are thousands of public art pieces in the city. The Smithonian lists over seven hundred.
The Philadelphia Zoo is America’s first zoo. While the people of Philadelphia first started building in 1859, they had to pause due to the Civil War. They completed it on July 1, 1874. When it first opened, there were 1000 animals to see and admission cost a quarter.
Today the zoo cares for 1,300 animals, including many rare and endangered ones. The Philadelphia Zoo was one of the very first zoos to breed animals that have difficulty breeding in captivity.
Other fun features include the petting zoo, the ropes course, and the multitude of interactive exhibits.
The Mummers Parade occurs on New Year’s Day every year in Philadelphia. The clubs of Philly compete in different brigades. These brigades involve elaborate costumes, performances, and scenery. New Years Brigades require months of preparation.
The Parade itself represents a melting pot of cultures. It uses parts from five blended European heritages, as well as African heritage. It’s named after Mummers plays, which are a working class Christmastime street celebration. In Mummers plays, people go door to door acting out various holiday scenes for cake and ale.
From Philly, With Love
Whether you’re an American history buff, an art lover, or a foodie, the City of Brotherly Love is an excellent destination. It’s fun for both families and lovers of night life. And if you’re a fan of the famous sitcom, you’ve got to check out Philadelphia, even though the weather might not be sunny.