This month Luis and I celebrated 14 years together. While I usually plan a fun night out or relaxing staycation for us to enjoy, this year I had been so busy that I procrastinated big time. And since the kids are on mid-winter recess, we already had plans to head to South Jersey to visit family with the kids at some point. So being that Philadelphia is just a short 25 minute drive from our family’s home, I decided that it would make for the perfect overnight escape for us. After checking out the Visit Philly website, I stumbled across a great overnight package that several hotels participate in. With your stay, the package includes: free valet parking, two tickets to the Franklin Institute museum, ice skating tickets at the Riverrink down at Penn’s Landing, and a $25 gift card to a group of restaurants. While hotel prices were pretty steep from Saturday to Sunday, I was able to book a room at the Le Meridien right across from the infamous LOVE park for only $130. So combine this amazing deal with my frugal planning, and I was able to put together a fun itinerary to cram as much Philly as I could into two days. Follow along to see more of our stay in the City of Brotherly Love.
We arrived in Philly around 10 am. Guests taking advantage of the Overnight Philly option are able to valet their vehicle and grab their overnight package from the front desk to get started on the fun. We were also able to check our bags so that they were already inside the hotel when we arrived for check in later.
First up on our itinerary was to go for a stroll down to Sister Cities Park to see the Amor structure and walk around a bit before heading to the museum. This gave us the opportunity to stop and read about the history of Philadelphia as we took in the city’s architecture.
At the midpoint on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway between City Hall and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Sister Cities Park adds a picturesque swath of green to the heart of Philadelphia’s notable arts and cultural district. From here, panoramic views bring skyscrapers, historic cathedrals and museums into harmony, while the Sister Cities fountain, a unique representation of the world with Philadelphia at its center, is close enough for adults to touch and children to run through. The fountain’s 10 geyser-like spouts mark our 10 sister cities, each positioned according to its global relationship to Philadelphia.- Center City District Parks
We continued our stroll along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway- home to quite a few of Philly’s museums, art, and cultural institutions.
Benjamin Franklin Parkway is a scenic boulevard that runs through the cultural heart of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Named for Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, the mile-long Parkway cuts diagonally across the grid plan pattern of Center City’s Northwest quadrant. It starts at Philadelphia City Hall, curves around Logan Circle, and ends before the Philadelphia Museum of Art.– Wikipedia
Around 11 we made our way to the Franklin Institute and used our vouchers to pick up tickets for the current Terracotta Warriors exhibit, which is on display until March 4th, 2018. The museum itself was a lot of fun to explore alone- but we will definitely be back with the kids as it was very kid friendly and we found ourselves saying how much they would enjoy it.
Since it was just Lunar New Year on that Friday, we stopped by Chinatown to witness some of the celebrations. There were firecrackers galore and dancing- it was such a sight to see. While there are huge celebrations in the Chinatowns of NYC, the loud firecrackers were something we hadn’t seen before! On a normal day, it would have still been nice to just stop in and sample some food too.
Beyond the colorful China Gate at 10th and Arch Streets lives Philly’s vibrant Asian enclave, settled in the mid-19th century by Cantonese immigrants. On any given day or night, Chinatown bustles with activity and authenticity, from the steaming platters of hand-stretched noodles to the seasonal street festivals to the locally guided tours and the bubble tea. Stretching from Vine St. on the north and Arch St. on the south, and from 8th St. on the east and and 11th St. on the west, the neighborhood is packed end to end with restaurants and stores that represent Hong Kong, Cantonese, Fujianese, Northern Sichuan and Taiwanese cultures, with a sprinkling of Korean, Thai, Malaysian, Burmese, Vietnamese and hipster thrown in for good measure. – Visit Philly
On our way to our next destination, we passed some more sites like the Betsy Ross House, the United States Mint, and the National Constitution Center.
Finally, we made it to our destination- Elfreth’s Alley. Known as the oldest residential street in the country- I was determined to pay a visit during our time in Philly. We even snapped a cute photo thanks to a passerby.
Elfreth’s Alley is a historic street in Philadelphia which is referred to as “Our nation’s oldest residential street,” dating to 1702. As of 2012, there are 32 houses on the street, which were built between 1728 and 1836. The Elfreth’s Alley Museum is located at #124 and 126. The alley is a National Historic Landmark. Located in the Old City neighborhood, it is between North 2nd Street and North Front Street, in the block between Arch and Race Streets.- Wikipedia
By then, it was 3pm and time to check in to our room and freshen up before our next destination. We were given one of Le Meridien’s newly renovated king suites- which was perfect for us. We freshened up, toasted to our anniversary, and headed back out.
Next stop was the One Liberty Observation deck. Just a few minute walk from our hotel, I planned to get there around 5pm so that we could see Philly from up top in the light, as the sun set, and then all lit up. At $14.50 a ticket, it was the perfect addition to our evening plans. The observation deck also has tables with board games and vending machines with drinks and snacks for those who want to hang out and enjoy their time until the sun sets. They even offer a ticket option where tourists can go twice in 48 hours- for those who wish to see it both at night and during the day.
After, we headed back to the room to relax a bit before heading to dinner. Across from our hotel, we passed the LOVE sculpture lit up with the Philadelphia night sky behind it. Such a beautiful way to kick off our evening in Philly.
When it was time to head to dinner around 7pm, we used UberPOOL- which made our cab less than 5 bucks.
With our $25 gift card from the overnight package, we opted to try out Tinto- a tapas bar located not too far from Rittenhouse Square. There we enjoyed a glass of white sangria and I chose the braised Short Ribs with bacon, asparagus, and celery root aïoli. Luis enjoyed the pulpo with octopus, smoked green olive aïoli, and spicy tomato. We didn’t want to eat too heavy since we had plans to hang out after, so we only spent ten bucks more than the gift card- score!
After dinner, we jumped in another Uber and headed to the BlueCross Riverrink Winterfest over at Penn’s Landing. It wasn’t a cold February night, so we enjoyed the rest of the evening sitting by the fire and taking in the views of the Ben Franklin Bridge. In addition to the ice skating, there are fire pits scattered around with food and drink options- including s’mores for the fire! This place was such a gem- and open until 11pm! After, we took a Lyft back to the room to finally relax and enjoy a night cap.
Check out time at Le Meridien is normally 12pm, but they honored my 4pm check out request (amazing!) so we slept in a bit and then awoke to plan out day 2 in Philly.
First up, we walked a few minutes down to Reading Terminal Market- one of America’s largest and oldest public markets. We explored their amazing selections of food- and grabbed a cup of coffee and bite to eat while we walked around.
One of America’s largest and oldest public markets, housed since 1893 in a National Historic Landmark building, the Market offers an incredible selection of locally grown & exotic produce, locally sourced meats and poultry, plus the finest seafood, cheeses, baked goods, and confections. You’ll find everything you need to create a memorable meal, from cookbooks, to table linens, to kitchenware, to fresh cut flowers, and more. Plus the widest variety of restaurants under one roof. –Reading Terminal Market
After, being that it was President’s Day, we headed to the Liberty Bell. There is no cost to see the bell, but visitors must wait in line to pass a metal detector to get inside.
After, we passed by more museums and pieces of history on our way over to the seaport area. Around here, you’ll find the Museum of the American Revolution, Carpenter’s Historic Hall, the National Liberty Museum, Independence Hall, and more.
We made our way over to the Delaware River, where we were able to see the riverrink that we had been at the night before. It was nice to see the views during the day as we walked along the river to the seaport area. We planned to come back in the summer with the kids to truly enjoy all that the Independence Seaport Museum has to offer as well as the Delaware waterfront.
Finally, we jumped in another UberPOOL to head to the infamous intersection of Geno’s and Pat’s where we opted to try a cheese steak sandwich from each location. It was starting to drizzle, so we decided to take our lunch back to the room and enjoy our last hour in Philly and sans kiddos.
As we headed to the front desk to check out and wait for our car, we realized what a perfect time our stay had been in Philadelphia. With the awesome overnight package and a little bit of planning, we were able to fit in quite a bit of the city and plan some of the activities we wanted to come back to see- all for around $200! For more information about the current overnight package deals and other resources, visit www.visitphilly.com.