PHILADELPHIA HOLIDAYS

Named in 2016 as the first US World Heritage City and Lonely Planet’s best US city destination, Philly is currently the place to go if you fancy a vacation full of relaxing locales, beautiful sights and a hearty serving of American history and culture. A veritable beehive of outdoor activity, this walkable city has so much to offer the hungry (and thirsty) visitor. There’s a buzzing dining scene, a plethora of open air beer gardens, colourful farmers’ markets and vibrant public art, as well as plentiful well-kept public parks and open spaces to explore.

Named in 2016 as the first US World Heritage City and Lonely Planet’s best US city destination, Philly is about to take off big time. Now is definitely the time to visit America’s Birthplace. If you love being at the centre of things, then put Philadelphia on your must-see list. A hive of outdoor activity, this walkable city has so much to offer the hungry (and thirsty) visitor. There’s a buzzy dining scene, open air beer gardens, colourful farmers’ markets vibrant public art, plentiful parks and public spaces. Shopping too is pretty amazing.

Clothing and shoe purchases are tax-free so go ahead and get that second pair of jeans at the King of Prussia Mall or browse the upscale boutiques of Rittenhouse Row. And of course, there’s all that history. It’s a diverse and contemporary city that’s full of life, but Philadelphians are just as proud of their role in founding modern America. Many historic buildings are within walking distance. Retracing their steps along the cobbled streets, you can sense the spirit of the great American founding fathers who frequented places like Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were both signed), the beloved Liberty Bell and the first seat of Congress, Carpenter’s Hall. Independent thinking is a way of life in Philly. From spreading hometown pride pint-by-pint to promoting their historical importance, the people of Philly do it all their own, unique way.

The Philadelphian people are rightly proud of their city’s integral role in the founding of modern America. Many of this proud nation’s most historically significant buildings are within walking distance. Retracing their steps along the cobbled streets, you can sense the spirit of the great American Founding Fathers who frequented key locations such as Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were both signed), the beloved Liberty Bell and the first seat of Congress, Carpenter’s Hall. You can visit all of these inspirational locales, any many more, on the Constitutional Walking Tour of Philadelphia.

No trip to Philadelphia would be complete without a visit to the National Liberty Museum. Located only two blocks away from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, this museum is a testament not only to the great patriots forged a path for America to become the home of liberty and freedom, but also heroes from around the world as well. Among the international displays at the museum are replicas of The Flame of Liberty (as held by New York’s Statue of Liberty), Nelson Mandella’s jail cell and Anne Frank’s secret annex.

One of the oldest, and arguably most famous, Philly sports team are the Philadelphia fliers, a National Hockey League side who play their home matches in the 20,000 seater Wells Fargo Center (which is also home to the 76ers basketball team and the Philadelphia Soul Arena Football squad, winners of the 2016 ArenaBowl tournament).

The newest kid on the block in terms of major sports are Philadelphia Union, who participate in the fast-growing MLS soccer league, Making up the rest of Philly’s eclectic mix of sports teams are 2008 Major League Baseball League Championship winners the Phillies and the Eagles NFL side, the oldest professional sports team in Philadelphia and residents of the enormous, 70,000 capacity, Lincoln Financial Field.

Philadelphia is a haven for shoppers as all clothing and shoe purchases are completely tax free. With this in mind, a great many high-class clothing stores have set up stall in Philly. The most famous of these is the King of Prussia Mall which contains over 400 shops, boutiques and eateries, including no less than seven full-sixed department stores, making it the largest retail space in all of America.

Other fine Philly shopping experiences include the upmarket boutiques of Rittenhouse Row, the vibrant Italian Market and the world-renowned Jeweler’s Row, the East Coast’s premiere diamond and precious stone market, where shoppers can get anywhere between 30 and 50% off normal retail prices and choose from over 300 jewelers and designers.

With so much to choose from at such great prices, you had better pack yourself an extra suitcase to bring home all the goodies you pick up. Scratch that, at these prices you can just buy a new suitcase!

Last, but by no means least, is the fine food of Philadelphia and the assortment of finely crafted beers that the locals use to wash them down. The most renowned of Philadelphian dishes has got to be the Philly Cheesecake sandwich. Now, you’ve probably tried a version of this in a local sandwich bar, but it’s just not the same as getting the real deal, the ‘Cheese Whiz’ as the locals call it. Other popular Philadelphia snacks include tomato pie, Philly-style soft pretzels and Irish potato candy (it’s made from coconut and cream cheese – amazing!). You can try out all of these local cuisines on the Philadelphia Iconic Foods Tour.

The first Philadelphia brewery was set up by German immigrants in 1682 and before long, English settlers were joining in on the fun. They left behind a great legacy in the form of Philly’s diverse brewing culture, which encompasses everything from German-style Weissbeer to English-style porter and everything in between. You can sample the best of these delights by taking part in the Philadelphia Brewery Tour, where you will learn all about the beer-making process, and the Prohibition Pub Crawl as you reenact the secret history of the Prohibition era and visit some culturally significant taverns and speakeasies.

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