Philadelphia Weekend Guide
The city of Philadelphia truly surprised me with its hospitality, friendly environment, and trendy hot-spots. Of course, Philly still has loads to offer history lovers – but this Philadelphia Weekend Guide isn’t that kind of guide.
I want to emphasize how genuinely nice everyone in Philly was! We had one Lyft driver joke and say “Philly is the worlds largest small town,” and it showed!
Getting to & around Philly:
I live in southern VA, and my small town is lucky enough to have its own Amtrak station. So we were able to get on the station right in town and ride all the way up to Philly. It is around a 7-hour ride from Danville to Philly, but I have been very impressed with Amtrak – specifically with how comfortable the seats are, how much space and reclining room you have, the fact that you can get up and move around, and the cafe’ and dining cars.
As far as transportation while in Philadelphia, we either walked (using the maps app) or used Lyft. Philly is a very walkable city; but as it was pretty cold while we were there, we used Lyft more often than not. I prefer Lyft to Uber because it is usually cheaper and they often send me coupons to use. Use code KATIE16833 on your first Lyft to save!
My Philadelphia Weekend Guide & Itinerary:
*I am sharing more details and information about each itinerary highlight in a separate section below*
- Arrive via Amtrak around 1 pm
- Check into Hotel (Sonesta Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square)
- Grab a Philly Cheesesteak at Reading Terminal Market
- One Liberty Observation Deck (57 Floors Up)
- Shop & Explore The Shops at Liberty Place & Chesnut
- Drinks at The Art Bar (located inside Sonesta Philadelphia)
- Dinner at Pizzeria Vetri
- Abbondaza Italian Market Tour and/or Dessert First Tour with Taste 4 Travel Tours
- Mutter Museum (Museum of Medical Oddities)
- Wine Flights at Pinot Boutique
- Shop & Explore Old Town Philly (the area where Pinot Boutique is located)
- Dinner at The Capital Grille
- Brunch at Amis Trattoria
- Time to Explore the City (Independence Hall/Liberty Bell, etc)
- Get to Train Station around 3 pm
Where to Stay:
Sonesta Philadelphia is located in the downtown neighborhood known at Rittenhouse Square, which is home to the city-block-sized grassy square and some of the city’s best boutiques and craft restaurants. Rittenhouse Square is an extremely safe and central location for anyone wanting to get a good taste of Philyl!
Inside of Sonesta Philadelphia, the rooms have an excellent mix of modern chic and comfortability. The large windows allow for great city views and a collection of natural light. Everyone at Sonesta Philadelphia made us feel right at home! And I could definitely get used to their amazing king-sized beds (I literally think it was the best hotel bed that I have ever experienced).
- Art Bar
- Ruth Chris Steakhouse on site
- Rooftop Pool
- Valet Parking
- Room Service
- In-room refrigerator
- Concierge Service (for Club Rooms)
- Fitness Center
The Best Food/Drink in Philadelphia:
At first glance, Pizzeria Vetri is just a small Philly pizzeria. However, we were PLEANTLY surprised by the amazing quality and craft that they put into both their business and their food. With an outstanding staff and a classic-modern vibe with long tables that can be shared and a beautiful bar overlooking the wood-fire oven, Pizzeria is a must in Philadelphia!
We ordered the Rotolo, Ceasar salad, a classic pepperoni pizza (which was to DIE for), and an incredible Sanviogese (Mon Vin, Italy) on tap. On top of that, the staff and chef went over and beyond by letting us try seven of their newest menu pizzas and appetizers.
- Cavolfiore Arrosto – roasted cauliflower with truffle pecorino fonduta (appitizer)
- Gamberetto – rock shrimp, salsa verde, scallions, parmigiano (pizza)
- Pepperoni – classic
- Speck – pork speck, pistachio pesto, balsamic, mozzarella
- Spinaci – baby spinach, onion, roasted garlic, mozzarella
- Tiramisu – the worlds best dessert
The Capital Grille
We found The Capital Grille last year in Washington DC and LOVED it! So when I got the chance to work with them in Philadelphia, I was ecstatic. The Capital Grille is the definition of fine dining, and their Philadelphia location was no exception.
We started with a bottle of our favorite Malbec and an order of their Pan-fried Calamari with hot peppers For the second course, we tried their delicious Lobster Bisque – creamy and perfect. As the main dish, we ordered Filet Mignon with a side of Lobster Mac & Cheese. And I think that I could eat Capital Grille Mac & Cheese every day of my life and be just fine!
The service and quality of food at The Capital Grille Philadelphia
Pinot Boutique is an adorable Wine Bar and Tasting Room in Old Town Philadelphia. This is an excellent location to walk the streets and check out different shops and restaurants. However, I highly recommend stopping in for a wine flight at Pinot Boutique. The staff is extremely friendly and knowledgeable and they have something that everyone will love!
All of the wines offered at Pinot Boutique are local to Philadelphia, in either Pennsylvania, Deleware, or New Jersey. The inside of Pinot Boutique is both intimate and charming. They offer wine flights, wine by the glass, and bottles for sale – along with small plates and a small gift shop.
I ordered the Big Bold Red Flight (featuring Eidolon, Gaia, Chambourcin Reserve, and Veritas). My favorite was Eidolon (of Auburn Road Vineyards & Winery), as it boasted of a deep blend of complexity with a subtle simplicity that everyone would love. We also ordered a delicious classic cheese tray, with three outstanding
Amis Trattoria is the definition of your favorite Brunch spot. Offering crafted cocktails and unique blends of classic brunch favorites with a hip twist, Amis Trattoria is guaranteed to offer a memorable Brunch for everyone.
We started with two Mimosas made with freshly squeezed orange juice. Next, they let us try a deliciously unique Brussel Sprout Caesar Salad and Bufala Ricotta Bruschetta. For our main dishes, we ordered the Soft Scramble (eggs topped with mozzarella and marinara) and the Sweet Potato Pancakes.
Absolutely everything we had at Amis Trattoria was created by adding a modern twist to a brunch classic. I could not have been more impressed with their creativity and taste.
Tours & Things to Do in Philadelphia:
Taste 4 Travel Food Tours
If you only do one tour or “touristy” thing in Philly, it should be a Taste 4 Travel Food tour with Chef Jacquie. In order to maximize our time together and the information for me to share with you, I took part in both her “Abbondanza Italian Market Tour” and her “Dessert First Tour.”
Both of these tours take place in the Philadelphia Italian Market, which is the home to 100s of authentic, locally owned shops and restaurants – most of which have been owned by the same families for generations. When their families migrated to the US (in mass quantities), they started by selling goods on the streets out of
Chef Jacquie’s tours are not only delicious but also very fun, educational, and inspiring. We had a great time on the tour and ate enough food for breakfast and lunch on that day (LOL)!
Tour Highlights & Favorite Stops:
- DiBruno Bros. (top-notch cheeses and meats – we tried a delicious asiago here)
- Cardena’s Tap Room (amazing olive oils and balsamic vinegars)
- Isgro’s Pastries (personal pastry chef to The Pope + fabulous cannolis)
- Grassia’s Spice Company (every fresh herb and spice that you can imagine)
- Ralph’s Italian Restaurant (founded in 1900 and is the oldest Italian Restaurant in the United States)
One Liberty Observation Deck
The One Liberty Observation Deck is the perfect spot to end a day of exploring Philadelphia. Ride the elevator 57 floors to the top of the building for the best views in the city. I recommend getting there 30 minutes before the sun sets so you can see the city during the day and at night!
You can spend as much time at the top as you like; and they even have tables and a large variety of board games set up so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the views. An evening at One Liberty Observation Deck would be the perfect date night!
I am honestly not a huge museum fan. Mainly because I don’t like to read (lazy I know). But the Mutter Museum was incredibly fascinating. Founded by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the Mutter Museum is home of a large array of medical oddities and mysteries. Their tagline is “Disturbingly Informed,” and that is exactly how you feel when you leave.
I can honestly say that Philadelphia has become my favorite “big city” (so far). With all of the perks and experiences of a large city and the hospitality of a small town, Philadelphia should definitely be on your travel bucket list! And again, if you are on the East Coast I highly recommend riding the train into the city. The train itself is a unique experience; and with little-to-no hoops to jump through or lines to wait in, the train is a win in my book!
Upcoming Philly Events: Philadelphia Wine Week – April 1-7 2019!
Thanks for reading my Philadelphia Weekend Guide! I would like to say a special thank you to Donna Schorr at VisitPhilly.com for helping me throughout the planning process, Sonesta Philadelphia for hosting me, and to all of the wonderful restaurants and businesses who participated in this project!
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Until next time,
A large portion of the trip was complimentary in exchange for coverage on this blog post and on my social media. However, all reviews and opinions are honestly and organically my own.