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Philadelphia holidays

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Share in the brotherly love

America’s original capital is sometimes known as New York’s sixth borough, such is its popularity with commuters. In truth, the City of Brotherly Love comfortably holds its own against the Big Apple and it’s easy to see why. Philadelphia is crammed with fascinating historic sights, world-class museums and galleries, parks bursting with civic pride, and a lively food and drink scene. All this is set in an eminently walkable city that has retained its sense of small-town charm.

Follow in the hallowed footsteps of the Founding Fathers and tick off attractions like the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence was signed), the National Constitution Center and the Museum of the American Revolution. See how the Old City comes alive at night - treat yourself to Royal Boucherie's charcuterie selection, hole up in legendary corner bar Rotten Ralph’s, raise a glass in McGillin’s Olde Ale House - the city’s oldest pub and catch a band at the Khyber Pass Pub.

Take a leisurely stroll down Benjamin Franklin Parkway, a thoroughfare modelled on Paris’ Champs-Elysees and home to the Franklin Institute. Then get lost in charming cobblestone lanes like Elfreth’s Alley, America’s oldest residential street, which dates from 1703 and is only six feet wide in places. Jog up the famous Rocky Steps – stopping for a selfie by the statue - to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, crammed with so many treasures that your entrance ticket’s valid for two days. Make time for the Barnes Foundation, with its huge collection of Impressionist art. The Mummers Museum celebrates Philly’s colourful New Year’s Day parade and PhilaMOCA is an avant garde art space in a former mausoleum showroom. It’s in an area dubbed Eraserhood in homage to filmmaker David Lynch, who once lived there. Grab your flights to Philadelphia and see what all the fuss is about.

 

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Make the most of your Philadelphia holiday

Philly is a veritable cornucopia for foodies. The home of the best Philly cheese steak is a local bone of contention, but you can avoid the queues by heading to Dalessandro's in Roxborough. The large Reading Terminal Market showcases tempting cuisine from across the globe - try the butter-dipped pretzels – while the Italian Market is well worth a visit too.

What are the best things to do in Philadelphia?

1. Tour the spooky and derelict cell blocks of the Eastern State Penitentiary. The infamous 19th Century house of correction was designed to inspire true remorse in its inmates, who included Al Capone. The attraction now offers hands-on tours, audio guides and acclaimed artworks.

2. Philadelphia is known as the mural capital of the world, with over 3,800 public artworks to marvel at. Visit South Philly’s Magic Gardens, home to countless galleries, a mosaic masterpiece and a large outdoor labyrinth made from hundreds of found objects. You can also view Steve Powers’ Love Letter, a collection of 50 artworks, from the city’s elevated railway.

3. Relax in one of the city’s pleasant parks. John F Kennedy Plaza is home to Robert Indiana’s iconic Love statue, Rail Park – the answer to NYC’s High Line – is an elevated urban greenway full of lush trees, metalwork art and giant swings, while pop-up urban oasis Spruce Street Harbor Park offers floating barge restaurants, boardwalk bocce, hammocks and an award-winning beer garden.

4. Dip into Hersheypark. Explore this chocolate-themed, fun-filled theme park offering over 70 rides that range from gentle carousels for young children to high-octane coasters for serious adrenaline junkies. There’s also a large water park to splash around in. Try the floorless rollercoaster and take a chocolate factory tour complete with a free sample of the sweet stuff.

5. Swing by Sesame Place. This theme park dedicated to Sesame Street is a 30-minute drive north of Philly. It offers a wide variety of rides, shows and water attractions suited to young children, including the Vapor Trail coaster, Sesame Neighborhood, Elmo's World, and the Sesame Streak water slides.

Which holiday type in Philadelphia is right for me?

Are you looking for a hotel that’s perfect for a city break in Philadelphia? We’d recommend the Hampton Inn Philadelphia Center City Convention Center. This hotel offers great value – guests get a free hot buffet breakfast, while all rooms come with a handy microwave and mini fridge. Alternatively try the Holiday Inn Express Philadelphia Penn's Landing. This waterfront hotel is within easy reach of all the main sights and offers guests a free Express Start Breakfast. Finally, there’s the Hotel Monaco Philadelphia. Just across the street from the Liberty Bell sits this 1906 building, complete with the Red Owl Tavern for dining and a spacious rooftop bar overlooking Independence Park.

Where are the best places to stay in Philadelphia?

Take a day trip to the capital of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. This historic city played an important part in shaping US history. Enjoy a free tour of the impressive, domed State Capitol, then cross the plaza to explore the State Library. Browse quaint shops and galleries, and take a cruise down the Susquehanna River on a paddle wheeler boat or picnic in Riverfront Park.

Hire a car and drive two and a half hours from Philadelphia to Gettysburg, the site of one of the most important battles of the US Civil War and the largest land battle ever fought in North America. Visit Gettysburg National Military Park Museum, tour the battlefields, go on a Lincoln’s Lost Treasure scavenger hunt and catch a showing at Gettysburg Majestic Theatre.

Drive through the heart of Pennsylvania Amish Country on a day trip to Lancaster County, taking in gentle rolling hills, lush farmland and picturesque windmills. This area has become synonymous with the old-fashioned charm and simplicity of the Amish way of life. Buy a quilt, an example of authentic craftsmanship, or enjoy a buggy ride.

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